Everybody knows the Yukon has its share of folk music and roots rock, but they don’t often think about electronic music. According to Kevin Jack, they should. Four years ago, when Jack opened to the public what had been an invite-only affair for 10 years, he did it because of the huge amount of electronic talent he saw in the Yukon.
“Just looking at the artists who were playing at that time … I was like you know we have a huge network of really cool artists that are really evolving and I’d love to be able to showcase this and to bring this to the public and to show that there’s every spectrum of music out there.”
“A big push was giving exposure and helping other artists excel and providing a unique setting in Kettley’s Canyon,” he said of the venue, tucked between Marsh Lake and the Yukon River.
That’s what Paradise has done every year since, he said. From local artists, including DJ Dash and Jeremy Parkin (both will appear this year) to international acts such as DJ Krafty Kuts, Jack said the event has proven to be one that engages a broad cross-section of Yukoners every year. This year is no different, with a line-up featuring the Fort Knox Five from Washington, D.C., SkiiTour from Whistler, and DJ Smoothie and Breo from Vancouver. Local artists include Dustin Miles and Stosh from Mayo, Benny Lahobbit from Dawson City, and DJ Dash and Usagi Forest from Whitehorse.
Jack said it’s more than just “a rave in the woods” – it’s something that brings out merch and food vendors, families, music-lovers and more. In fact, breaking down the barriers and stigma around rave culture is part of the point of the festival as well, Jack said. Paradise has a harm reduction team, security guards and a great first aid team.
“Last year temperatures were above the 30s and it was another year with zero first aid requirements. That’s a huge wonderful thing.”
Jack credits volunteers with a lot of the festival’s success. That includes everyone from the board members of the Paradise Music Festival Society, who put the weekend together each year, to the people who are out and about during the event, taking responsibility for everything from garbage clean-up and vendor assistance, to looking out for attendees.
“Now we see the potential and the feedback and support has been unreal. It’s nice to be able to bring something totally different this far north.”
And it’s not only nice for the residents, but for the performers who come from across Canada and beyond. (Krafty Kuts is from the UK.) Jack said they’re always amazed by the experience. It’s the combination of the vast landscapes, pristine air, complete lack of skyscrapers and the intimacy of the crowd that comes out.
“They’re really engaged in the music,” said Jack. “They come together in this little community that’s growing every year and everybody contributes their part to it, which is important for it.”
This year, he said audiences can expect everything from funk to reggae beats on Saturday afternoon to house, breakbeats, drum & bass and dubstep.
“It’s a great opportunity for people to see the dynamic nature of electronic music.”
Paradise takes place from Friday July 26 to Sunday July 28. Tickets are available as a day pass or a weekend pass. They can be purchased at Triple Js, Whiskey Jacks, the North of Ordinary Experience Centre and online at TicketSpice.com.