Last week we had a chat with Mattias Hedlund, founder of the brilliant and beautiful Into The Valley, a unique and highly discerning Techno festival on the cusp of a massive expansion. Outgrowing the gorgeous environs of it’s home these past years – the singular Dalhalla, an old limestone quarry north of the town of Rättvik, Sweden – the organizers have announced no less than six new festivals in the works, in places as far reaching as Estonia, South Africa, and beyond. Read the full interview, and see some exclusive shots of the new locations beneath.
Into The Valley is expanding significantly this coming year – were there any major reasons besides having more capital and reach that spurred this decision?
MH: We have a long way to go until we can say that we have capital to spend. All money we’re earning from now on till 2019 will be re-invested in the project to improve and get the brand moving. This journey we’re on is very time consuming and if you’re not extremely passionate about what we do, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.
The main reason for the expansion was intuitive, we felt it was time to really go for it due to how we perceive the state of our culture. I’m also pretty restless so this kind of had to happen. 🙂
All of us working in the organization (Music Goes Further) and the festivals are true enthusiasts with a common goal of creating something unique that we really love being part of.
In a couple of sentences, how would you sum up your mission statement with the festival? What core elements distinguish ITV from other forward-thinking electronic festivals?
MH: Our ambition is to do something no one else does. To create festivals with 100% quality all the way through the whole concept. Also to do so at venues and in areas where no one’s done festivals like this before. What I mean with 100% quality is to maintain the high level of music, art, technique, food, drink, environmental awareness, all-in-all service and experience. All festivals will be set up on the same fundamentals, but at the same time built to be unique due to the local scene, culture and environment. As a recurrent guest at our festivals you should never be bored by the sense of repetition. Guests will experience music curated exclusively for every region and venue together with big artists within the scene.
Something very important for us is our focus on social and gender equality. Everyone should feel welcome, be it as a visitor, artist, crew or partner.
On that note, it’s been noted before that ITV’s lineups tend towards the more diverse side of things gender-wise. Is this a conscious effort on the part of your A&R, or something that has simply happened naturally in the past?
MH: We work in a traditionally male-dominated industry and we really want to be a part of changing that. We feel that Sweden is getting closer to an equal scene and we’re of course taking that momentum with us as we expand internationally. We’ve always worked actively with this and will continue doing so. We hope more festivals will do the same and help create a platform where all artists are equally valued. Festivals are obviously a perfect place for people to meet, regardless of race, status, gender or sexual orientation.
It sounds like there are many truly incredible venues on the horizon for the festival next year, was there a reason for moving the original festival away from Dalhalla?
There were several reasons interacting for this decision, but the deciding one was the lack of options for accommodation. The camping site was too small and there weren’t enough hotels or Airbnb’s available in the area. This limited capacity in lodging made it impossible for us to sell more tickets.
There were various complaints leveled not at the festival, but at the sheer number of law enforcement officers present at the venue in Sweden this year – is this one of the reasons for moving the events internationally?
MH: No, that’s not why we are moving (and expanding). But I want to say though that the local authorities’ way of working around our festival this year made us very disappointed and makes our move even more important. As the visitor’s experience is the most important thing we have, we take every comment and complaint from our guests very seriously, always eager to improve. Our visitors will definitely feel our experience growing and shape our vision step-by-step for the ultimate boutique festival experience.
Do you expect continued expansion beyond the six festivals you have planned in the coming years?
MH: I believe that six festivals are more enough hahaha. The idea is also that these festivals will change location moving forward. We don’t really know what the future holds and that’s making it all very exciting. One location might just be used one year, another one for three years etc. We’re aiming to continue making magic together with our visitors, and there are so many beautiful places all over the world to discover, you just have to know how to find them. 🙂
Are there any specific DJs that you personally would like to book for the upcoming events?
MH: That’s a very tricky question that I struggle with every single day. There are so many great DJs, so many I want to book. The reality of producing boutique festivals always means struggling with a tight budget to say the least. Having said that, we obviously learnt a lot along the way and the line-ups at the upcoming festivals are so good that I almost want to cry. Ulrike, our booking agent, and I, put a lot of effort, heart and energy in order to curate a musical ensemble we are extremely proud of. Next year is very exciting since we have two new festivals (in Talinn and Stockholm) each with its own unique profile, at an equal standard but with different artists.
You can follow Into The Valley, get more information, and sign up for their mailing list here: http://www.intothevalley.se/.