Bogbain Farm dance festival Shenanigan returns for its third year on Saturday, once again featuring a line-up of the Highlands and Islands’ top DJ and producer talent. Ahead of the big day, Kyle Walker spoke to organiser Matt Lyon about the challenges of putting on a small festival, getting fresh faces involved, and the importance of keeping things local...
Hey Matt, thanks for answering these! It’s Shenanigan’s third year now – you’ve got four stages this year, and it just seems to keep growing! What do you think has been the secret to its success?
We don’t want to give away our secrets, now do we! I think it’s down to building up a good reputation between the artists, attendees and organisers – it’s all local folk and it’s a great wee community between everyone involved. Also the key is not to try and become too big too soon! We want to keep it as a small local festival that doesn’t become commercialised and we’re just really happy with the way it’s gone.
It’s all Highland-based acts at this year’s Shenanigan – what’s your opinion of how the region’s dance scene is looking? Anything you’d like to see happen that would help it out in some way?
It’s peaks and troughs, there’s nothing regular and steady here like there is down south. Saying that, there’s always been a keen thirst for dance music in the Highlands. There’s definitely a lot of talented dedicated people putting on events up here and if you check out the artists section on our website you’ll see just that. I’d just like to see everyone support them and work together really, it’s too small a place not to.
You’re not just helping to organise and put this event on – you’re also going to be performing at it. When did you first get interested in DJing and dance music?
I started listening to electronic music from a young age and as soon as I was old enough I began travelling the UK and even Europe in search of new and exciting techno inspiration. It must have been about 2010 when I bought my first set of decks and started blasting beats from my bedroom studio before branching out to playing at intimate venue gigs and secret forest raves. With a lack of decent club nights in the Highlands I was soon hosting my own club nights and events across Inverness as an alternative to commercial clubs and tunes.
Of all the acts playing at this year’s event, who are you particularly looking forward to checking out?
I’d like to have to chance to listen to everyone, buts there’s around 40 acts and it’ll be an incredibly busy day for me. I have to say I’m really looking excited about checking out the guys doing live sets, that’s Wavefunction and Submorph. It’s incredible the time they have put into preparing their sets and the equipment involved to do this. It’s all their own productions too, it’s quite something else. I’m really glad they are getting the opportunity to showcase what they’ve been hiding in their studios working on!
You hosted the DJ Battle recently to offer up a spot at this year’s Shenanigan – how did it go? Can you tell us a bit about Josh Ross and Bonanza?
All of the contestants did really well, making it a tough decision. As the night went on we narrowed it down to Josh Ross for his showmanship and track selection and Bonanza for his track selection and technical ability. We invited them both back on the decks again for the last hour of the night hoping to reach a decision but it was too tough so we decided it was only fair to invite them to play at the event as joint winners.
Josh Ross (20) is an up-and-coming DJ from Dingwall who was influenced at a very young age by the sounds of electronic dance music. Slowly building up his collection of techno music as he spent his free time looking for new sounds.
Bonanza (24) started listening to electronic music when he was 17 after discovering the sounds at a music festival. Originally from Lithuania he started producing his own music there before moving to Scotland and continuing to spend all his free time practicing and playing at house parties.
Along with yourself, how many of you are there that put on this event? What are the challenges of running a small festival like Shenanigan? How have Bogbain Farm been in hosting it? Have they been helpful?
We are a really small team of key members, but have many other people who help us out from time to time. The challenges are plentiful and this is one of the projects greatest strengths as it attracts those with tough minds and a thirst for adventure.
One of the most difficult challenges is tying creative ambitions to realistic time frames and resources. We do all have other commitments and day jobs outside of the project as well! The difficulties are outweighed by the fact that we are a group of friends who can have a laugh and meet so many awesome people whilst we work. It feels like we have an opportunity to do something really good for the electronic music scene in Inverness.
The team at Bogbain Farm are great to work with and the venue has so much character, there have been various improvements to the buildings since last year and that definitely makes our lives easier so yes, they’ve been very helpful!
What have been your main highlights of Shenanigan over its previous two years?
For me it’s getting to see all the local guys getting an opportunity to showcase their skills. It’s also a chance to catch up with everyone you haven’t seen for a while as well, it’s a massive group of friends all in one place, listening to good music – it’s a vibe you can’t really get anywhere else!
What would you say to folk who are sitting on the fence about coming out to Shenanigan this year?
It’s incredible value for money when you think about it, with such a wide variety of electronic music. There’s 40 different DJs on offer across four stages. It’s not very often you get a chance to see some of these guys perform either and Shenanigan is only once a year!
Shenanigan takes place at Bogbain Farm from 1pm on Saturday. Tickets for the day cost £30 – go to www.shenaniganinverness.com