Paradise Electronic Music Festival is a nonjudgmental space where people from all colours and walks of life are not only welcome, but celebrated unconditionally.
“We want people to come out and express themselves and who they truly are,” says festival founder, organizer and local DJ, Kevin Jack, who goes by the stage name of DJKJ. “Creativity is welcomed and everyone is accepted.”
Of course, face paint, fur, neon onesies and whatever other wild costume pieces help you celebrate your true you are encouraged.
“My idea is for us to have a space where priority number one is safety and we do everything we can to manage that,” says Jack. He explains that this extends to the inclusive nature of the annual event, which is set to take place from July 28th to July 30th at Kettley’s Canyon, located approximately 30 minutes south of Whitehorse.
“It swells my heart to be able to showcase this and to see who comes out of the woodworks, not for money, but to showcase local artists to the world.”
The Paradise Electronic Music Festival was born 12 years ago after Jack decided he wanted to showcase Yukon artists in the local electronic music scene. Jack has been making and producing music for over 15 years, and along with all aspects of the festival organization, also performs at the event each year.
“The biggest payoff is when it’s midnight and you have 200 people on dance floor and the DJ is is killing the music,” Jack says. “The energy gives me goosebumps just talking about it!”
Set against a visually pristine backdrop with a log stage located beside a flowing creek and encircled by scraggly spruce and pine, the festival is known for being organic, communal, artistic – and the Yukon’s only electronic music festival. Visual art pieces and dazzling lighting complete the unique forest setting, inspired by the likes of Burning Man, Bass Coast and Shambhala music festivals.From wholehearted-but-humble beginnings to now, the Paradise Electronic Music Festival has been growing in size and reputation, but consistently providing a unique venue for established and up and coming artists to brandish their voltaic beats.
“The first nine years were very underground, with not a lot of advertising and attendance mostly by word of mouth,” Jack says. “It was this renegade style party.”
But two years ago, Jack realized there was something truly extraordinary about this northern spectacle, and decided it was time to kick things up a notch and start bringing in big name headliners.
“We are now a not-for-profit society because we wanted to become more official and let the public know we are serious about this,” Jack says. “You live and learn the do’s and don’ts every year. In the last three years the festival has really developed in terms of infrastructure. We rebuilt the stage, hired a professional security team and have more food vendors and merchandise.”
The Paradise Electronic Music Festival also boasts sound equipment from PK Sound based out of Calgary, which is specifically designed for electronic music and features advanced bass quality.
Jack says that the festival audience is currently about 90 per cent local, but the hope is that with time the festival can start to draw in people from afar, throughout Canada and beyond, as its reputation grows.
For the festival’s 12th year, bass beats will be bumping even longer than usual, with the event taking place for three days. Music will be reverberating in the canyon from 6 p.m. on Friday until sundown on Saturday. While there won’t be any music on the Sunday of the festival, attendees are invited to stay for as long as they like to wind down after the festivities. Hightlists of this year’s festival include Neon Steve, a well known DJ on the Canadian electronic scene who plays slow dub tracks to underground electronic, demonstrating an impressively diverse range. Up and coming artist Silky Filth from Calgary will be entrancing audiences with his house, electro, dubstep and pop mixes.
Local female DJs will also be showcasing their musical chops, with acts like Breo, Ang Jackson and Mega Krahn. Other celebrated Yukon acts include DJ Dash and Kelvin Smoler, and newcomers Dustin Miles and Yusagi Forest.
Jack says the festival’s growth is evident by the fact that they have started to book artists in advance for coming years, disclosing “multi super star artist” DJ Dan, an original house music producer from the United States, will be headlining next year’s festival.
“It can’t get any bigger than that. It’s huge!” exclaims Jack excitedly. “The selling feature was coming up to a location like this in the Yukon.”
Jack extends a big shout out to coworkers Christina Sim, Josh Lindquist and a host of amazing volunteers who lend their time to get the festival off the ground.
The Paradise Electronic Music Festival is an age 19+ event and tickets are available at Triple J’s Tattoo and Piercing, Dean’s Music and Strings and Sandor’s Clothing (cash only).
Camping is available all weekend on the festival grounds, with lots of new campsites created this year. The festival will have full service food vendors onsite and shuttle service available for festival goers. For more information and festival prices, visit the Paradise Electronic Music Festival’s Facebook page or email [email protected] The Festival is happening at Kettley’s Canyon at Marsh Lake. It’s a 30 minute drive south of Whitehorse on the Alaska Highway.