Summadayze 2013: Behind The Line-Up

Future Entertainment’s New Year’s institution Summadayze has come a long way since its early days as a small-scale Melbourne kick-on. While the hometown festival remains the flagship Summadayze event on New Year’s Day, it has grown into a multi-stage spectacle at Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Melbourne’s main event is now also surrounded by festival stops in Adelaide, Perth and the Gold Coast for Summafieldayze.

The line-ups have evolved over the years, too. While Summadayze remains the “light-hearted, big, hands-in-the-air party”, in 2013 the roll-call of acts runs deep. At the top of the bill sits the blockbuster names: the Chemical Brothers in a rare DJ performance with a custom-designed show, live renegade M.I.A., big-room hero Fedde Le Grand and 2012 success stories Knife Party, returning after a blistering tour with Future Music Festival in March. Then there’s Mark Ronson with some of his prodigious friends, Booka Shade showcasing a new live show and Summadayze pro Eddie Halliwell.

What impresses about the 2013 line-up, though, is how wide-reaching it is: to live acts with buzz-to-burn like Disclosure and Breakbot, celebrated DJs Maya Jane Coles, Scuba, Erol Alkan, John 00 Fleming and Hudson Mohawke, an iconic performance from Carl Craig under his 69 alias, and much more. Ahead of the festivals, we spoke to Future Entertainment director Brett Robinson about what makes Summadayze.

When it comes to building the line-up for Summadayze, what are you looking for?

Summadayze is genuinely about a New Year’s celebration – delivering a great party that’s definitely centred on dance music. Summadayze, musically, is pretty fun, hands in the air and accessible to our core demographic. The Chemical Brothers obviously are a huge part of that; Knife Party too. We’ve really tried to explore new sounds too with Disclosure, Hudson Mohawke and acts of that nature that generally haven’t been showcased at Summadayze before. We’re trying to put some new upfront sounds on there.

Over the years, Australia has developed the vibe for being the place to be in summer, especially for those in freezing cold Europe. They come from a white Christmas to the beautiful sunshine and beaches here. Summadayze has developed a lot over that 14 year period; it started very humbly as a 1,500-person kick-on after Welcome 2000. Obviously Future Music Festival is the real blockbuster, and it’s far more diverse and bigger in its offering.

Something that stands out about Summadayze this year is that there’s depth to the line-up once you scroll past the headliners.

It’s definitely got a lot of depth to it once you look beyond the Chemical Brothers and M.I.A. Booka Shade have designed a brand new live show that they’re debuting at Summadayze. They’ve been fine-tuning that. Mark Ronson started as a DJ set, but now he’s bringing Andrew Wyatt from Miike Snow and Spank Rock to make it more of a live show. He’s got a bit carried away, which is cool.

Fedde Le Grand is a great addition. He hasn’t been here for a number of years, but he’s been busy playing all the big ‘EDM’ shows in America. It’s exciting to have him back. This year is a super-cool line-up and it’s a test to see how much people love all those acts like Disclosure – sounds we haven’t really showcased before. We tried to make sure that when you read that mid and bottom tier, there are some great artists that could be headliners of another festival. It can be hard to communicate that to someone who just looks at the top four acts on the bill.

What can you tell us about the Chemical Brothers DJ show?

I’ve seen them DJ at Space in Ibiza and they’re not bound by just the tracks they’ve produced. They get to play everything they love. They are remarkable producers of course and they know how to make a dynamic live experience, but when they DJ, they can play a whole range of music. They’ve designed a brand new production for us, and they’ll be road-testing a lot of material they haven’t played out yet. They’re designing a new live show for 2014, but in the interim they’re coming to Summadayze, which is known as a DJ-oriented festival.

They’ve got a light and video show they’ve designed exclusively for the DJ set, and there’s not many places in the world that get the Chems DJing, so it’s a unique thing for us to have four DJ sets from them in two weeks. Generally they’ll do one in Ibiza, and one in South America. Everyone saw that mind-blowing live set at Future Music Festival, but those guys in the DJ environment, with videos, lights and road-testing new tracks, is exciting.

The huge momentum of Knife Party has been fascinating to watch, and it seems to me like they’ll be a defining set of Summadayze.

Yeah, they invested a lot of time in Pendulum and watched it blow up internationally. Then to come back to Future Music Festival as Knife Party and purposely present the sixth stage as the underdogs, it ended up being the stage of the festival, rammed from start to finish. That line-up, Porter Robinson, Flux Pavilion, Kill The Noise, was amazing. That really surprised me, the impact they had on such a small stage at such a large festival. Since then we’ve seen Knife Party conquer America and the phenomenon really take off. We’ve had an awesome relationship with those guys, and they’ve chosen to come back here for New Year’s.

It was extremely smart for them to go from touring 20 people on the road and four tonnes of freight to stripping it back down and hitting the mark. They’ve adapted quickly. I think there’s something to be said for those acts that are more music-focused than [stage] production-focused. Skrillex, for example, when he was on Future Music Festival: he had the smallest production of all the acts on the mainstage, but the largest audience and vibe. It’s not always about the spectacle and how much CO2 gas you can spray. I think that’s brilliant, but unless the music is amazing, it doesn’t mean a great deal.