A Trance festival in the middle of the Sahra desert? Sounds spectacular. So here we go with an extensive interview with the promoter.
Roberdo: Transahara: This name evokes lots of associations. Can you please tell us a little bit about the history of this festival? What is the general idea of the event?
Abdou: Quite simple, I first visited Merzouga in 1997. We climbed to a 150m hill and I told my friends: "Wow! Can you imagine a festival where people come from all around the world to dance and have fun in this place?!" That evening, there was an amazing sunset and a friend replied to me "That would be nice ... but it is impossible. It's too far away from everything, who would be able to come to your festival? Come on, let us go back, the night is coming ... just stop dreaming..."
A couple of years later I decided to try - to try without money and without experience. I set up an application form and I started to talk about it. Then a couple of months later I found this website: Morocco2001, and I got introduced to the manager. We talked about my project for a Sahara festival. He liked me and hired me as his supply chain manager of his festival. That was the first psytrance meeting in Ouarzazate, Morocco and I definitely fell in love with the idea at this precise moment.
In 2002, I launched the first one. Only 50 persons came because I wanted to keep it small. I lost every single penny I saved that year but I decided to start again a couple of years later. For that one, I partnered with a another events producer, Evan Graj from London. It was his 30th birthday and we got 100 people to come that year. We knew each other from the New York Trance scene, previous Morocco parties, and Evan's amazing camp Disorient at Burning Man . This time was so special, a lot of time and energy went in to planning it.
The first night, after everyone had arrived, we sat down all together to eat in beautiful tents setup outside. Minutes later I went outside to smoke a cigaret, and when I looked into the sky ... WOOOOOOWWWW, i saw a big light and i started yelling for everyone to come outside! I must have sounded serious because everyone ran outside very quick. What we saw was life changing ... it was a like 1000 shoting stars all at the same time concentrated into a single flaming ball. A thick ball of fire blazing through the sky right above us. It was a meteor crashing in to the desert! It lasted for just a few seconds but when it was done everyone started hugging everyone else. From that point I knew I had to keep going so I launched another one then again another one. And as people started to talk more and more about it, its fame started. People realized it was a sole and mere experience to embody. And here we go...
Sahara's amazing beauty, and its powerful energy which it shows us, gives up to us, as well as the unexpected amazing people you meet there. Both artists and travelers who experienced this festival agreed: Transahara is magic and unique! The landscape will give the impression we are an isolated Trance tribe living in another dimension ... in a no mans land: Just wait for a pure tribal atmosphere reminiscent of Mad Max!
Roberdo: Lets get to the most important point, the music: What is the stage concept of Transahra, which music will be presented? Can you also tell us about some highlights?
Abdou: Sensient, Ajja, Absolum, Emok, Earthling, Johnson, Flip flop, Edoardo, Psyberpunk, Pena, Billy Casazza, DeepR... Just thinking of their performance in the Sahara creates electricity in my entire body!
Roberdo: Some people from the North might expect it to be really, really hot in Morocco - what about water and shade at the festival?
Abdou: Transahara is different from any other festivals as we are giving priority to comfort. Around the dancefloor, we are building very cosy tents with cushions, tables, chairs and so on. They are used as a possibility for resting and as a space for shade. In addition, the spirit of the festival and people is leave no trace so you will not see people throwing trash on the ground thinking someone else will be picking it up. We respect the desert and for that we can continue the festival and get a lot of energy back from the Earth.
This time of the year in Merzouga is a period of change and transition which is absolutely extraordinary. The weather is actually ideal, neither too warm nor too cold. After such a long winter we really enjoy starting to feel the sun feeding us with energy. Transahara triggers the summer!
Roberdo: Can you please give some tipps for travelling to Transahara? How to arrive at the festival best?
Abdou: My advice: take your time: at least 7 nights: Land in Marrakech, then drive to Ouarzazate, and sleeping in Todra (wonderful landscape in the middle of the famous and amazing Atlas mountains). Waking up in such a beautiful place is always a must! Then continue the drive to Merzouga.
For those who are in a rush they can use our buses or 4x4s which are go directly to the festival.
After Transahara, you can visit Chefchaouen, amazing village located in the North and Essaouira, legendary city where Jimmy Hendrix used to live.
Roberdo: Anything left to say?
Abdou: I am looking forward to experiencing this with everyone. More than anything else I enjoy seeing other people's reaction when they are there for the first time. The festival is growing up and is more mature. We are constantly working in order to improve how our principles and culture flow through to the festival so that people can absorb this unique experience. This festival will be happening every two years: this will indeed give us enough time first to prepare and then enjoy at its best. Do not miss our coming 2011!
Roberdo: Thanks a lot for the interview!
Transahara Festival will be held from 22nd - 26th April 2011