Suwannee Hulaween 2016 Recap, Photos, Interview w/ Ganja White Night

Suwannee Hulaween 2016: Ghosts, Ghouls, and Grooves

There are innumerable amounts of ways that you could have spent your Halloween this October, as is the case every year. But for the last four years, there’s been one party that has proven itself triumphant among a sea of celebrations. A place rich in culture, thriving in spirit; a beloved land draped in Spanish Moss, hammocks strung as far as the eye can see, a truly majestic musical wonderland. If you aren’t catching my drift here, I’m talking about none other than Suwannee Hulaween Music Festival in Live Oak, FL – an event that has aptly been dubbed the “Electric Forest of the South”, due to its aggressively expanding popularity and of course, multiple sets from the ever-talented String Cheese Incident. Hulaween has undoubtedly become Suwannee’s most successful ongoing festival, attracting tens of thousands of live music lovers from coast to coast, all swarming like moths to a flame to get a taste of the sweet spirit of Suwannee.

Spirit Lake, captured by Dave Vann

Spirit Lake, captured by Dave Vann

Unlimited Aspect

The four-day long extravaganza kicked off bright and early on Thursday, and if you’ve been to a Hula pre-party before, you know good and well that it holds a stick to the festival itself. Umphreaks and bass heads alike were in for some terrifyingly tasty tunes all day, starting strong with a high-energy set from live electronic trio Unlimited Aspect. Comprised of Ronnie Weberg (Unlimited Gravity), Jay Jaramillo (ProJect Aspect), and Steven Kuzma on drums, these three musicians proudly rep Colorado and The Mile High Sound Movement on their sleeves – yet they’ve conquered dance floors in nearly every part of the US. With a groundbreaking style that defies boundaries through a free-form of rattling bass lines and glitchy melodies, Unlimited Aspect is far more than entertainment for your ears; it’s a fully-loaded bass music experience. To no surprise, their pre-party throw down was one for the books as they dropped some unreleased material, including an ultra-hype remix of Hypnotize by The Notorious B.I.G. along with a slew of unreleased tracks from their upcoming LP.

EOTO

The weird and wonderful EOTO was joined by some close friends on stage for a mini super-jam of sorts with Borahm Lee (Break Science) and Jake Cinninger (Umphrey’s McGee). The quirky quartet must’ve been positively drained after the conclusion of the weekend, each of them performing multiple times over the course of the festival, but they were bursting with energy and attitude on Thursday evening. Both Jason Hann and Michael Travis took turns passing the mic as they played tracks like “Robotic Rock” and “Take that Unicorn” as the sun slowly set at the Amphitheater Stage.

Late Night Radio

Denver based Alex Medellin aka Late Night Radio helped bridge the gap between the EDM acts and live bands with his charged blend of hip-hop, electro-soul and funk; offering a timeless sound that every patron enjoyed, making for a smooth transition into some heavy-hitting Umphrey’s McGee.

EOTO & Friends

Interview With Ganja White Night

Making their first ever Suwannee appearance during their Halloween 2016 Tour, Belgian duo Ganja White Night made a lasting impression from what is sure to be one of the most insane sets to ever go down in Spirit Lake history. Their wonky, grungy form of dubstep shook the stage through lacerating bass drops as they dropped tracks like “Wobble Master”, “LFO Requiem”, and some unreleased material in anticipation of their forthcoming album, Mr. Wobbles. 

We were able to catch up with Ganja White Night in this interview that we welcome you to ready below:

MHSM: You guys just completed an extensive Halloween tour throughout various states in the US, including an off-the-wall throwdown that stole the show at Suwannee Hulaween’s pre-party. What was your favorite part about performing on the Spirit Lake stage? How did it feel to be one of the few “bass-heavy” groups performing for the weekend?

  • GWN: To be honest, we had never heard of Hulaween festival before we went there. We’re just starting to discover the culture of American festivals. We’ve got to say that the psychedelic culture is not really huge in Belgium. The amount of decoration, the atmosphere, all the costumes is something that impressed us a lot. It’s magic. It’s a huge honor to be able to bring our Belgian wobbles to this place where the culture of music is so big.

MHSM: It’s no secret that there’s an obvious difference in the EDM cultures within various regions of Europe versus America. Do you guys prepare your sets and performances any differently with this in mind when you play closer to home versus when you’re on tour in America?

  • GWN: Sadly, the dubstep culture in Belgium is kinda poor now. Most of the Belgians dubstep or bass music artists are playing out of the country. Anyway when we’re booked in Europe like in Amsterdam or Paris, We still play GWN show the way we believe and the way we like it. I don’t think the people in France would like us to change the kind of vibes we’re performing there just because it’s in France. We’ve have a lot of people from Europe waiting us to perform there the same show we did during our US tour because they’ve seen the recaps, they’ve seen the crowd reaction, and they know the vibes are solid during the live show.

MHSM: How did growing up in Belgium and being exposed to the broad array of European music develop and shape your styles as artists? Who are some musicians that influenced you in your earlier days of producing?

  • GWN: I think the force of european music culture is definitely the eclecticism. I think the way we produce dubstep is different because of the influence of lot of differents styles. Reggae, Hip-hop have strongly forged the way we structure and make our song evolved during all the years. But most than any other genre, we both felt in love for Drum And Bass and Jungle music. This is the style that made us going out on rave and really discover the underground culture of bass music. People like Pendulum, Dj Hype. there are too many… And now Noisia is clearly for us some of the people who are a constantly blow of fresh sound and a strong inspiration.

MHSM: You guys just released the official music video by Belgian street artist Ebo for your track LFO Requiem. Packing a powerful political statement within it’s animations, there’s no denying that the production couldn’t have come at a better time than right before the election. The video is definitely a game-changer considering not many artists go to the extent of visual aids to shine light on things like this. Do you think if more producers and musicians attempted to replicate concepts such as this that it could open people’s eyes to some of the corruption and distortion within society?

  • GWN: Some artists have a lot of things to say. politically or socially It would be interesting to see more artists point of view translated into original music videos. The main problem, i think, is the budget it takes to realize this kind of content. But that’s for sure an investment and it depends the concept and the universe you want to offer to the people that follow you. The fact that we chose a political side here was to show to our fans that we’re sharing the same point of view. We don’t think we’ve got a lot of Trump supporters in our fan community anyway.

MHSM: Over the years since you started producing, your music has undergone a series of transformations and tweaks, yet at the end of the day still manages to retain that distinct GWN sound that you’ve become world-renowned for. How do you manage to experiment with and tap into other genres yet still maintain originality?

  • GWN: Actually we’ve been exploring other music genre with a side project called Vice Vertu, which is an hip-hop/reggae/hybrid electronic live act. We also have been through a lot of different vibes into the album we made before Mr. Wobble, called “Hybrid Distillery”. We tried some jazzy hip-hop vibes, some funky wobbly stuff. If you add this to the fact we don’t listen to dubstep a lot, it would explain why our dubstep sounds different. And for the sound evolution, i think it’s directly linked to the evolutions of synthesizers and DAWs.

MHSM: How do both of your musical styles compare with one another?

  • GWN: We both like sames vibes. I don’t really remember one day we showed a tune to each other that he didn’t liked. I think I am more inspired by the cinematic music, funk and hip-hop, and Erwan is more inspired by Garage and Jungle Rhythms. But we always dig the discoveries we share to one another.

MHSM: What is the one thing you miss most about home when you’re on tour?

  • GWN: Without any hesitation, our beds. Just like anyone who is away from their country for a long time. The beer is the only thing that brings us back.

-BambY

Check out this recap of the GWN set at Hulaween

Umphrey’s McGee

Hulaween was a busy weekend for legendary rock band Umphrey’s McGee, starting with two sets during the pre-party. Suwannee’s Amphitheater Stage provided a picture-perfect setting to complement the group’s interactive improvisations; vivid lighting projections danced through the Oaks as UM shredded relentlessly while fans showed their “Umph love” by flailing their U’s above their heads. Thursday set one: Bathing Digits; Rocker 2, Blue Echo; No Diablo, Resolution; Robot World, Make it Right, Wife Soup, Cemetery Walk. Set two: Bad Friday, Mulches Odyssey, Let’s Dance, Nothing Too Fancy; Speak Up, Ocean Billy; Nothing Too Fancy Encore: Slacker; Ocean Billy.

SunSquabi

3-piece electronic-funk group SunSquabi has been tearing up the scene lately, attracting the masses with their form of organic dance music that incorporates elements of electro-soul, funk, hip-hop, jamtronica and more. The Boulder-based trio had a highly-successful tour stop at Suwannee Hulaween on the Spirit Lake Stage, where they dropped tracks like “Pablito” and others from their most recent album on All Good Records, Odyssey. As smooth as it is sexy, SunSquabi’s sound is delightfully easy listening. We are eager to hear the new studio album that they have been working on, which would should be hearing more about soon. Expect a big 2017 from the SquabTrain.

The String Cheese Incident

Cheese lovers far and wide travel to SOSMP every year to indulge in 3 days of The String Cheese Incident and their versatile portrayal of music. Since 1993, these guys have been revolutionizing the live music scene over a series of monumental tours and statement making albums; once you experience your first Cheese show, you’re hooked – there’s truly nothing like it. Comprised of Keith Moseley, Michael Travis, Jason Hann, Kyle Hollingsworth, Michael Kang, and Billy Nershi, SCI has established themselves as one of the most influential bands in history – their flawless ability to crank out perfect renditions of reggae, jam, rock, bluegrass, and even EDM tracks are what sets them apart from the masses. Not to mention their pristine cover game, including an 80’s themed “Stringier Things” set on Saturday, where the crowd reminisced to songs like “Come On Eileen” and Billy Idol’s “White Wedding”. Over the span of the weekend, SCI was joined on stage by a plethora of talented guests, including Dominic Lalli and Jeremy Salken (Big Gigantic), Tyler Grant (Grant Farm), The Travelin’ McCoury’s, and Joey Porter (The Motet). You can check out their daily set lists here.

Photo by Josh Timmermans

Gramatik

This has been quite a year both in and out of the studio for Denis Jasarevic aka Gramatik. The Founder of the label, Lowtemp, recently released his Epigram EP and has had some major event appearances including Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival, Summer Camp Music Festival (Big GRiZmatik), Basscenter VII, Red Rocks Amphitheater and more. Performing both original songs and remixes as well, The Patch Stage was popping off with funky bass filled, electro hip-hop vibes  from start to finish. Tracks like GRiZ’s “The Anthem” (ft. Mike Avery) and a “War of the Currents” remix had long-time fans smiling from ear-to- ear. He even laid down some heavier trap beats, yet kept the old-school vibe alive with vocal samples from artists like Busta Rhymes. Gramatik will most definitely finish out the year with a bang as he prepares to open for Bassnectar at his annual 360 NYE event in Birmingham.

Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals

and My Morning Jacket 

Rapper and vocalist Anderson .Paak and his band The Free Nationals gave power to the people during their set upon the Amphitheater Stage Saturday night; their energy is magnetic to say the least, and they sound every bit as good on stage as they do in the studio. “Come Down” was played along with other songs from his album Malibu, and performing with an entire ensemble instilled even more attitude within these tracks.

My Morning Jacket brought their signature experimental, indie style of rock to the table Saturday evening as they melted faces with twangy guitar riffs, upbeat rhythms and a certain overall precision that doesn’t miss a beat. The band surprised the crowd with covers like “Another Brick in the Wall”, which was fitting for the throwback 80’s theme at Hula. Originals like “Tropics”and “Rocket” were heard as well, showing off MMJ’s eclectic ability to adapt to old-school and modern rock alike.

Claude VonStroke

The boots n’ pants were in full force come Claude VonStroke’s turn; the Dirtybird Record Label founder and house music pioneer brought a sound to Hulaween that has never quite been adopted by or even really heard at Suwannee Music Park. His form of tech-house displays a balance of elements that are both in-your-face and subtle at the same time; the deep, groovy, ghetto character of his sound truly resembles the West Coast underground vibes, and the crowd couldn’t get enough of tracks like “Make a Cake”, turning the stage into a discotheque for the duration of his set.

Manic Focus and Lettuce

For the second year in a row, Manic Focus was joined on stage by Borahm Lee (Break Science) on keys, and the trio was accompanied by yet another superstar musician by the name of Marvel Years on guitar. Together, the All Good quartet delivered some devilishly delectable MF remixes, ones like “Dani California” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tracy Chapman “Give Me One Reason”.

Everyone’s favorite leafy green funkmasters brought the heat once again this year; Lettuce cruised through tracks like “Yakatori” and “Phyllis”, and were joined by vocalist Alecia Chakour for tracks like “Love I Left Behind”, adding a subtle delicacy to the lively songs.

Rufus du Sol and Bob Moses

Australian based, Rufus Du Sol, and their upbeat, soothing melodies intertwined with bouncy bass lines and live vocals as Rufus performed tracks such as “Tonight”, fittingly easing the transition into the nighttime sets. Playing shortly thereafter, deep-house electronica duo, Bob Moses brought a beautiful energy to the lineup with their endearing, indie-influenced styles of house music. Serenading our souls with songs like “All I Want” and “Far from the Tree”, freshening up the Saturday night vibes and revitalizing patrons with their smooth, sultry sound.

Sound Tribe Sector Nine

Following the release of their brand new album The Universe Inside, Sound Tribe Sector Nine took us on a journey through time and space via celestial soundscapes and energetic basslines. The jamtronica group is undoubtedly one of the most proactive and monumental bands within the festival circuit and beyond, and they’ve long since proven their skill to be every ounce as impressive in the studio as on stage. STS9 perfected songs like the new “Get Loud” and closed out with “Baraka”, followed by an encore of the crowd favorite “EHM”, leaving everyone wanting some more Tribe vibes afterwards.

Just when we thought things couldn’t get much sexier after Tribe, Disclosure dropped some dirty house goodness that had everyone in the crowd channeling their inner rave spirits. As expected, the duo dished out bangers such as “Latch” and “When a Fire Starts to Burn”, going out with a bang on The Meadow Stage and capping the headlining performances for the evening.

The Silent Disco provided the late night tunes for those who weren’t ready to stop the party after the live music concluded. Artists such as Marvel Years and Artifakts had the crowd getting down to some glitch-hop and electro-soul into the early hours of the morning.

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As is the deal with most of our favorite festivals, Sunday came in the blink of an eye. Some attendees were adorned in awesome Halloween costumes, some in casual clothing for the sake of comfort (but let’s be honest, everyone looks a little ridiculous on day 3). The Motet started the day off strong with a jazzy, high-energy set that included “Fool No More” and “Rippin’ Herb”, giving listeners a heavy dose of their Denver-based Funky Afro-beat origin.

Illenium and What So Not rattled the Spirit Lake Stage with high-intensity bass drops and grimy undertones, bringing out the headbangers for an all-out bass brawl. What So Not packed a punch with tracks like “Jaguar”, “Tell Me” and “The Quack”, some of his most popular masterpieces.

Big Gigantic returned to SOSMP to close out Hulaween 2016, and as always, they didn’t disappoint. The Motet joined Dominic and Jeremy onstage for the ultimate super jam to conclude the weekend’s festivities. The crew played an enormous stack of songs, including “Get em High”, “Good Times Roll” (GRiZ x Big G), “Brighter Future” and more, and the addition of The Motet members added an even groovier component to the mix.

Whether you spent it among your usual bunch of weirdos, or became close with brand new faces, one thing is for sure – there wasn’t a dull moment to be had at the fourth annual Suwannee Hulaween. This cultural gathering of music, art, and creation has become one of our favorite traditions over the years, due to it’s inspiring and infectious nature. Music truly does live and thrive at The Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, and we’re already hyped in anticipation for Hulaween 2017.

Thanks for tuning in!

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