Kiwi music fest Camp a Low Hum calls it quits

By Chris Schulz

Dan Deacon performs at Camp a Low Hum. Photo/Ben Butcher
Dan Deacon performs at Camp a Low Hum. Photo/Ben Butcher

Kiwi music festival Camp a Low Hum has called it quits, with organisers announcing that the 2014 event will be its last.

The three-day festival, held on a rural campsite near Wellington, will end after the 2014 February event, organiser Ian Jorgensen confirmed today.

He told nzherald.co.nz that he didn't want the event, which started in 2007, to "fade away" and he felt the time "was finally right".

"I don't want the event to end for reasons beyond my control and want to go out on a high note rather than on a bummer," he said.

"Camp was never meant to be a permanent thing, but I think people got used to it being a regular fixture somehow and forgot that it was just me throwing a party, not a 'music festival'."

Jorgensen said he was making the announcement now so the festival could be given "the send off it deserves".

"I realised that it would be a bummer for me to announce on the last night of the event that it was the last one as it would create more of a buzzkill and depressed vibe than the celebratory party that I am hoping it will be," he said.

Camp A Low Hum attracts an eclectic line-up of Kiwi and overseas bands. It is attended by up to 1500 people each year.

Next year's event is held on February 7-9 near Wainuiomata and will feature 10 international acts, 25 acts from Australia and around 50 New Zealand bands.

The festival is unique in that it never releases a line-up or timetable. Bands often play multiple shows over the three days.

Previous performers at the festival have included Liam Finn, Bachelorette, So So Modern, Phoenix Foundation, Beastwars, Watercolours, Shocking Pinks, Die! Die! Die and Collapsing Cities.

A QUICKFIRE Q&A WITH IAN JORGENSEN:

How much work is Camp a Low Hum to put together?

I work on the event I guess "full time" for around 4-6 months of the year but I don't think a day has gone by the past seven years that I haven't thought about Camp. It's become my entire life, I take it way to seriously, though I think that's why the event works. I go to sleep and wake up thinking about new places I can have bands play. I have plotted out the various distances between stages and environments and production elements at the event and when I go to the gym I role play these ridiculous scenarios like, "Quick, you gotta get petrol to the generator at the journey stage," so, then I time a sprint to the production office and back. Haha, man, I take this s*** WAY to seriously.

What was your initial plan for the festival, and has that been seen through each event?

I'd spent three years touring 60 bands around New Zealand and just wanted to throw a party to celebrate the end of that. I hated the music festival format so just kinda had a laugh and wrote down everything that I hated about festivals and then did the opposite. I didn't realise so many people thought the same way as me. It was too taxing on me touring several bands around the country every month, so Camp became a way of rather than me going out on the road and spending a year touring all those bands around the country, selfishly, I would just bring all the music fans to me and show them the same bands I would have toured. I guess that philosophy has remained through all the years - pairing my favourite new acts with a selection of my fav established ones.

Everyone who goes seems to rave about how unique Camp a Low Hum is. Was it modelled on any other events?

It was based on my experiences at summer camps, youth camps, school camps and scout camps growing up. The first event was me returning to a site I'd been to multiple times as a kid. Taking inspiration from that and the movies Dirty Dancing and Wet Hot American Summer, I basically pieced together something stupid. I really had no idea what I was doing and that was what made it so magical I think. I'd only really been to a few festivals prior to Camp and they were only big corporate messes, so all my inspiration was trying to make the opposite of that happen. I'd never been to a boutique festival before, but have been to MANY since, trying to find something similar to Camp.

When you did the first one, did you ever think you'd wind up doing it for seven years?

I never thought it would continue after the very first. Once everyone had such a great time and I realised how important it was to continue I planned out a trilogy and intended to finish in 2009, after that event I had finished with the concept, but upon finding the Flock House site in Bulls, I had to bring it back, though with some significant changes to how it was run. Since then I've always gone into each year thinking it might be the last, I decided however, now the time is finally right. I don't want the event to fade away. I don't want the event to end for reasons beyond my control and want to go out on a high note rather than on a bummer. Camp was never meant to be a permanent thing, but I think people got used to it being a regular fixture somehow and forgot that it was just me throwing a party, not a "music festival". There have been multiple projects I've been putting off, some since before the first Camp that I just need to get done, and like the Puppies venue project which will wrap up soon - I got a lot of things I need to cross off my list.

- nzherald.co.nz

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