Escapade is a 2-day festival happening this weekend at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa that is 93% sold out which will showcase some of the best DJs on the planet over 3 stages. Taking place just a few days before Canada day, Escapade is a special event in Ottawa that lets fans have a great time on the eve of Canada's 150 birthday. EDM Canada had a chance to speak with Ali Shafaee, the director of partnerships for Escapade, about the history of the festival, the lineup, location change, and how they made Escapade extra special for Canada's 150th birthday.
Can you give fans the history of Escapade?
We're going into our 7th year, we kinda grew from an idea which is a one day downtown parking lot party for Canada Day. After 2 years of doing that we grew into a 2-day festival with 3 stages and 30,000 attendance. So it's grown a lot. We're based in Ottawa but a significant part of our attendance comes from the GTA area, Quebec, upstate New York, and even out east.
What makes Escapade special?
What we hear from fans is that Escapade is a “really large small festival”, if that makes sense. We have a lot of attendees and some of the biggest acts in the world, but when they come here they all remark at how “intimate” the vibe is. Everybody gets along with everyone, everyone is really friendly. We don't have massive distances in between our stages, which makes it more like a homey feel, where people feel comfortable.
We get the same thing with the artists, as they feel how into the crowd are into their sets and they have a great time. We're this big festival, but in a small city like Ottawa that has had great success.
Escapade has changed locations to Lansdowne Park - how will this new location change how the fans interact with the festival?
Lansdowne Park is a 5-minute drive from the downtown core making it a central location for all festival goers and will be easier to get to using multiple forms of transportation. Our new home will also include free transportation via OC Transpo from anywhere in the city, two outdoor stages looking over the historic Rideau Canal and an Indoor arena stage with enhanced production.
Escapade is known for its diverse lineups – can you tell me the thought process on how you created the 2017 edition?
We tried to analyze what the fans want by doing a lot of polls throughout the year, and doing a recap at the end of the year with a survey. We want to know what the fan base wants in terms of music and festival. We've always been diverse in what we want to achieve and try to cover off as many genres as possible.
Richie Hawtin is an artist that is playing Escapade for the very first time and it's Canada's 150th birthday and he really wanted to make an impact by being in Canada and doing as many shows as possible and Escapade was a target of his. We're extremely excited to have Richie come and play the festival for the first time.
Tiesto also wanted to be a part of the 150th birthday for Canada and he's an icon who's played sold out shows all across the country. We jumped at the opportunity for him to come on board. We curated a Snails stage and he's Canadian from Montreal. So we tried our best to bring in as many genres and appease our fan base.
How many do you expect for the 2017 edition of Escapade?
We are on par from where we were from last year. 30 – 40% of our festival attendees come from outside of town. This is good for businesses and hotels in Ottawa to have that many people come from out of town to Escapade.
Who are you most excited to see at Escapade this year?
Richie Hawtin is definitely one that will be on my list. I don't think I've ever seen live so he's up there. I'm pretty excited to see Alan Walker, he's an up and coming act with a great show behind him. I think Alan Walker will be the surprise act of Escapade if I had to pick one.
What's your view on the current health of the festival outlook for 2017 and beyond?
There are festivals that are struggling or have been canceled in the last few years. A lot of factors go into that, like the over saturation of too many festivals. It could be the economy, the low Canadian dollar versus the American dollar, so there's a lot of different factors.
With Escapade, just as long as we evolve into what our fans are looking for, and looking at the trends on what our fans want, then we'll be okay. As soon as you start doing something that your audience isn't looking for, then you might have difficulties. Escapade tries to evolve every year and we'll continue to do that to 2018 and beyond.
Make your best pitch: why should fans go to Escapade this year?
To celebrate Canada's 150th, with in our opinion, the best lineup to date. A lot of people say that Escapade is one of the most fun weekends of their life.
Thank you to Ali Shafaee for the interview. For the latest information on Escapade including tickets, lineups, and upcoming set times - click here.