Your Paradise Fiji: A destination music experience that lives up to its hype
“It’s called ‘Your Paradise’ because everyone can define the experience for themselves — fans and artists alike.”
The festival market is oversaturated. It has been for years.Every new festival promises some shiny new experience and oftentimes under delivers on the lofty expectations sold to ticket buyers. Immaculately art directed drone footage and oversaturated Instagram photos make for great marketing, but not so great festivals. After all, millennials love experiences — they’ll pay to go based on influencer promotion alone — look no further than Fyre Festival for proof.But tropical, off-the-beaten path locations are where the similarities between the ill-fated Fyre Festival and Your Paradise end. Yes, it’s a remote festival on an untouched tropical paradise, but while the former was all hype and no delivery, the latter has spent years honing the experience by being connected to industry, the artists, the culture, and the local population.There’s no overpromises here. Everything is exactly as advertised. And guaranteed to leave a lifelong impression.
“We’re very transparent in terms of the product we’re trying to deliver. We don’t oversell, we don’t overpromise.”
The Your Paradise concept is the brainchild of Hadi J, Ignacio Garcia, Daniel Farley, Steve Pillemer, and Dominic Furber, a team of Australian events and dance music veterans who saw an opportunity to create something unique in one of the world’s most remote locations, the Fijian Islands. The team knows what they are doing, having all been embedded in Australia’s dance music industry for over a decade. Hadi J and Ignacio became fast friends during their younger, more party-fueled years. It was during this time that they met Dominic backstage at a Laidback Luke show in 2011 and Steve during his stint as a social media photographer. Then came Dan, a 15 year veteran on the DJ circuit, and Dom’s first partner on the project. With just an idea and a dream, Dan and Dom brought the concept to a meeting with Hadi J and Ignacio. A few days later, the two were jetting to Fiji to do the initial scouting for the festival’s first year.Four years later and the guys have established their humble brand as one of the best destination festival experiences in the world. And they’ve had their praises sung by both the guests and the artists who perform.
When it made its debut in 2014, the festival’s lineup focused on taste-making over showy headliners. They tapped Jack Beats, Doorly, Touch Sensitive, Alison Wonderland, Thomas Jack and more for their first time around the block. Since then Your Paradise has attracted the attention of Skrillex and OWSLA, as well as Justin Martin and Dirtybird, who have now become defacto members of the Your Paradise family. Martin is going on his 3rd year performing at the fest — his only request? a pizza party.
The beauty of the festival is in its intimacy. In the same way that Holy Ship puts artists and fans side by side, Your Paradise does the same but on a smaller scale. Imagine it as summer camp, in paradise, with your favorite DJs supplying the soundtrack to every day.
“The whole concept is what gave us a point of difference in my opinion. There are destination festivals in proven more cliché locations, but we’re the first promoters in the world to do something on this scale in a country with zero infrastructure or music industry.” Dominic tells us “We’re bringing A-list artists to Fiji and the idea has always been to allow the artists and audience to connect in locations and ways they never have before – and can’t anywhere else.”
It’s with this in mind that Your Paradise sets itself apart. The artists may as well be guests at the festival. They surf Cloudbreak in the morning, relax in the crystal clear water during the day, and perform to the entire crowd of 600 every night. And even when the main stage closes, the island’s housing — group lodges with connecting rooms — beg for late night afterparties that are attended and thrown by the talent on the lineup
Last year, Skrillex spent his time in Fiji as if he were on vacation. He mingled with guests and made appearances during nearly every set including a surprise main stage set with Doorly, Justin Martin, and Miguel Campbell only hours after arriving on the island.
How did a small 600 person boutique festival convince Skrillex to headline? A boat party. On the largest catamaran in the South Pacific — the Fiji One.
Your Paradise boasts a ton of additional experiences as well. There are the usual resort offerings — surfing and fishing trips, snorkeling, and skydiving. But the music excursions are where the festival shines. Take Cloud 9 for example, a floating barge, bar, and wood-fired pizza grill where Gary Richards played for 8 hour straight during last year’s festival.
And then there’s the Sandbank Sermon. When the tide rolls out, the party rolls in. The experience brings the entire festival out into the middle of the ocean — a half mile off shore — where the morning’s low tide creates a dance floor unlike any other.
Running a large scale music event on a remote tropical island comes with a whole host of challenges. But the team of over 20 talented staff make it run without a hitch. The entire experience feels seamless — just as the founders intended.
The island itself is about a fifty minute boat transfer from mainland. So the festival needs to consider connections, transfer times, and flight delays in everything they do. The amount of required attention and customer service is staggering. They have contingency after contingency in place in case things go sideways — and on island time that can be often.
“Because of its remoteness we have to make doubly sure that from a customer perspective we provide a seamless experience.” Hadi J explains. “We start organizing Your Paradise a year before the actual event to cover all of our bases. That why we have everything organized in a way that guests don’t have to think about anything.”
Transportation isn’t the only challenge. The team has to ship and power their high quality production on an island that runs on generators.
“We have to work very closely with the resort to make sure that there’s enough generators and electricity on the island to be able to power a main stage, an audio system, lighting production and the guest houses. So there’s transportation, there’s production, and then there’s working with the artists to make sure we can deliver an amazing experience that makes the trip worth their while.”
“Every one that I’m aware of that’s attended the event in the last three years has had the time of their lives.”
The team also plans to expand the brand to other locations without losing what makes it great in the first place. The strength of its open-ended concept is what sets the festival apartment from its ilk. And its why the festival is attracting attention from artists and fans across the globe.
Your Paradise 2017 is going down on December 6th through the 12th. OWSLA All Stars, Justin Martin, NGHTMRE, L D R U, Snakehips, Billy Kenny, Mija, Oski and more are already announced.