What to expect when you are booked to PLAY Electric Forest
– An Artist’s Perspective
Hi I’m Alfiya, I get anxious in big crowds, I hate camping, I don’t have a single rave outfit, and here I was, reading an email from the organizers of one of the largest Insomniac Festivals:
“Hi Alfiya, Thank you for your submission and congratulations! We would like to invite you to perform at Electric Forest…”
My heart dropped along with my jaw and my phone….
My Reaction When I Was Booked For An Insomniac Festival
When I was filming my audition tape so many anxious thoughts were running through my head. But here I was, in an official line up of an Insomniac-produced festival, amongst my idols Above & Beyond, Alison Wonderland, Kygo and many others. Filled with excitement and anxiety which can be better described as a mini panic attack, I didn’t know what to expect, in fact I didn’t know anything about going to an EDM festival, let alone be an artist at one. My mind went “OMG, I need to figure out everything – getting there, camping gear, what to wear, and most importantly my set, it has to be amazing, nothing like I’ve played before!
I have decided to share my experience here, because when I was booked, I wish there was an article from another artist with guidelines on what to expect when being booked at Electric Forest.
1. Make Connections
The first time I played was in June 2017. I was lucky to be a member of Nap Girls Int’l for those of you who don’t know, it is a female collaborative organization. Many of the Nap Girls members are EDM artists, creatives or somehow connected in the EDM industry. So, I made a Facebook post in Nap Girls private group wondering if anyone is going, and quickly got connected with another female artist M.O.B. (Jill) from Chicago who was also booked to perform at EF. To my huge relief she’s been to the festival multiple times and knew her way around very well. Jill became my electric forest guardian angel.
I flew from Philly to Chicago, met up with Jill, and we drove together to Electric Forest grounds. Electric Forest crew was in touch with us via email a few weeks prior with instructions about artist wristbands, artist camping, soundcheck times etc.
2. Be Prepared: WiFi, Camping & Weather
I was so glad I screen shotted all the emails, because service got worse the closer we got to the Forest. Once we arrived there were signs to point us in the right direction to check in, get wristbands and parking permit. After getting those we went straight to the artist camping grounds. Make sure to bring your camping gear! I simply checked in my luggage on the plane with the camping gear, and picked up some missing stuff at Walmart on the way to the forest.
Being a female DJ at a festival is dope! Your artist wristband gets you everywhere. There is an artists village with green rooms, pool, free drinks, massages and free wifi. Even camping is not as damaging as I thought it was going to be. We had nice bathrooms, showers, and a locker if you want to store your gear. The only thing is that the temperature gets crazy low during the night and crazy high in the afternoon. So, make sure you bring UGGs and a bikini. We were assigned to our artist liaison and she helped us to get around and such. Did I mention the forest is huge and walking everywhere isn’t fun? Don’t worry, a bunch of golf carts are assigned to get you anywhere in the forest thanks to a magic artist wristband.
3. Soundcheck Goes Smoothly
Soundcheck is usually on the day of your performance, in the morning. I often encounter confused sound guys who either think I’m just a Dj or just an electric violinist. But this time all of my tech needs were met, the soundcheck went fast and smooth, and I was back to perform later. Gosh, I was nervous as hell. My slot was during the day and not a lot of people were out in the forest just yet, but to my huge surprise, after I started my set, the crowd migrated toward my stage and loved it so much that organizers immediately booked me to play another slot during the same festival weekend.
4. Friendly Staff
Many Electric Forest articles say how nice, kind and helpful everyone is in the forest, and it is so true! As a festival “virgin” I expected a war zone, and kept praying to just get through the weekend. However I actually enjoyed the experience so much and I believe mostly because of the people, everyone brings such a high-vibe positive energy. It felt like a community, it felt safe. The first night before going to sleep, my camping neighbors noticed that I didn’t have a blow up mattress and offered me an extra one they had. I didn’t even ask them, this just made me feel like I was the member of a 40,000 plus family.
I was surely so happy to be booked again this past summer of 2019 for the silent disco takeover. My favorite part is to meet people after my set, talk to them, hug them and just connect. I am sure not a raver, probably will never be, but sharing my music and energy with the crowd is one of the best feelings!