SXM Festival: Unearthing St. Martin’s most ambitious effort yetWILSON 17 MARCH TANTRA 006

SXM Festival: Unearthing St. Martin’s most ambitious effort yet

SXM Festival: Unearthing St. Martin's most ambitious effort yet

Now in its second year, Saint Martin’s (French side) /St. Maarten’s (Dutch side) SXM Festival is making great strides in the festival game. Having emerged seemingly from thin air, the fledgling, five-day affair has made its mark on the Caribbean island and the global electronic music community as a distinguished experience molded by an unparalleled setting and only the finest talent from the house and techno realms. From promising Brooklyn-based duo Bedouin to world-class acts like Jamie Jones, Nina Kraviz and Richie Hawtin, SXM Festival’s superior ear for curation – paired with the relatively untouched setting of Saint Martin – have played a key role in its credibility as an exceptional contender.

SXM Festival is the untainted brainchild of Montreal native Julian Prince. As the island’s most ambitious electronic music experience to date, the festival takes place at a breadth of open-air venues and nightclubs spanning Saint Martin. Offering a great deal for visitors to do and even more to see, the festival’s strengths lie in its elite roster of talent, a devoted audience, attentive decor, a generous sound system, and an unmatched atmosphere. Though still quite young, SXM has grown considerably in just one year. As its team becomes even smarter with execution and overall strategy, by 2018 it may very well have ascended to the top one percentile of the music festival hierarchy. A lot can be accomplished in 365 days. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Relive SXM Festival with us as we indulge in some of the festival’s best moments.

Do Not Sit by the Furniture brings a little bit of Miami to Saint-Martin

Coming straight out of Miami, venerated music venue Do not Sit on the Furniture hosted its own, similarly titled Do Not Sit by the Ocean showcase at SXM Festival’s crown jewel: Happy Bay. Operating as the festivals’s backbone, Happy Bay served as revelers’ day-to-night destination from 12pm-12am, while various other parties took place at venues including Mercure and Sky Beach. With Behrouz at the helm and support from an army of talent including Nu, Atish, Audiofly, Birds of Mind, Nico Stojan and YokOo, SXM Festival’s opening party – planted directly on Happy Bay Beach – couldn’t have been the more perfect start to its second edition.

Black Coffee demonstrates the real meaning of 'house music'

Just days before releasing an unlikely collaboration with Drake, Black Coffee reigned supreme on day two’s lineup. House music fans flocked to the foot of Happy Bay’s palm-lined main stage following Âme’s riveting performance to catch the man of the hour in his element. Meanwhile, the dichotomy between the jungle-inspired stage and Saint Martin’s cerulean waters created a special type of experience not found anywhere else on earth. Just a short stroll down the beach was a small marketplace adorned with string lights where those seeking reprieve could purchase a rum-filled coconut or sequined garments. A few steps more, and fans found themselves at Happy Bay’s more intimate Ocean Stage, which played host to Tara Brooks, BLOND:ISH and more.

Lee Burridge and Bedouin usher in sunrise during a seven-hour celebration

Best known as one of the main attractions of this year’s SXM Festival, there was no stopping festival attendees from preserving their energy to ring in the fest’s final early morning celebration with Lee Burridge and Bedouin. Some returned to their hotels following the previous night’s festivities while many others powered through the night at Tantra, Refuge or Sky Beach, making their way back to Happy Bay at the top of the morning. Lee took the decks as the sun rose slowly and intermittent rain showers created a vibrant rainbow that bled into the ocean’s skyline. Whether it was magic or a coincidence, we’d like to think Lee had this planned all along.

A VIP experience to remember...

Arguably the selling point of SXM Festival’s VIP Pass, ticket holders were admitted entry into the festival’s off-site VIP Villa Party. Boasting an infinity pool, water slide and magnificent views of the island, the luxurious villa was swarming with dedicated fans and industry folk alike, rubbing shoulders with YokOo, Tara Brooks and more. Whether you’re there for the scene or because you can’t go another day without hearing another set from BLOND:ISH, Behrouz and Thugfucker, it’s hard not to smile as you soak in every last bit of sun and realize that paradise isn’t so unattainable after all.

Ricardo Villalobos & Richie Hawtin close out SXM Festival with an impressive turnout

Saving the best 12-hour bender for last, SXM welcomed techno powerhouses Ricardo Villalobos and Richie Hawtin to its leafy main stage for one final dance. As day five’s only scheduled party, it was no surprise that the pair drew in the largest crowd Happy Bay had seen all week. Though still a decently sized event, one of SXM’s greatest assets is its intimacy, allowing partygoers to see familiar faces time and again as the fest progresses. Scores of dance music enthusiasts gathered together as Ricardo Villalobos eased into his commanding set. Despite several spurts of torrential downpours that had many running for cover, the most committed of fans powered through the elements as Richie took the decks. Come midnight, fans started to filter out of Happy Bay one last time. A heavy silence hovered over the beach as tired partygoers realized the fun was finally over–but underneath was the unshakeable feeling that we’d helped build and participate in something beautiful.