‘Freaks of Nature,’ a music festival set to take place in Riyadh on the 5th and 6th of October, is causing all the current buzz within the city. We at Destination had the opportunity to dive into the mind behind ‘Freaks of Nature’ as we interviewed the festival’s organizer and musician, Yazeed Alhashim, also known as Sound of Yaz. Discover what makes the festival one of its kind and get a sneak peek at what’s in store for the event.
Learn more: Freaks of Nature: Riyadh’s First Boutique Electronic Music Festival.
What inspired you to organize “Freaks of Nature” in Riyadh, and what sets this event apart from other regional music festivals?
Freaks of Nature is a homegrown concept focused on the visitor experience. We wanted to create a uniquely Saudi property that can grow as a brand and represent the diverse creativity within the Kingdom. Boutique festivals as a concept have grown rapidly to outpace the major mega festivals as crowds appreciate a smaller, more focused lineup and the chance to see all the acts without prioritizing.
Our goal has been to develop this concept here in Saudi and connect with a crowd we always knew was there but just needed an outlet for their enthusiasm. We have it, and Freaks of Nature is approaching its fifth episode. Each event to date has been different and built on the success of the last. We have evolved the concept, added new elements, and been able to bring in some of the best international superstars to play alongside local talent for the ultimate in live entertainment and visual expression.
“Freaks of Nature” features a diverse lineup of international headliners and local performers. Can you tell us how you curated this unique mix of artists and what you hope attendees will experience through this blend of music?
We wanted to attract the best performers to Saudi and show that we, as organizers, understand what our audience wants. This guiding principle allows people from across Saudi, and those visiting from around the region and further afield, to experience new music from those at the top of the industry and a brand new concept for live entertainment in Saudi. It is also vitally important to show that Saudi Arabia is full of talent ready to explode onto the scene, so Freaks of Nature has also been a platform for local artists to grow their following, perform side by side with international superstars and learn from those they aim to emulate.
Freaks of Nature features two unique stages, so by inviting artists from around the world we are able to explore and learn more about subgenres while introducing techniques to the local audience. This exposure to a global music scene helps to keep audiences up to date with new music, grow local talent and inspire others by showing there is a place for their music in Saudi Arabia.
The event aims to showcase emerging Saudi talent. Could you highlight some of the local artists performing and share what makes them special in the music scene?
We have had the support of local artists such as Dish Dash, Igniter and Viva, amongst others, and each edition of Freaks of Nature is another chance for the local talent to perform, to develop, to learn new aspects of the entertainment industry. As well as performing, Freaks of Nature offers full marketing for artists, production for their set, and everything they need to establish and grow their brand. Every receives the ‘headliner’ treatment, and we are very proud to be able to share this experience with the artists.
Following Freaks of Nature Querencia, we will be going to the Amsterdam Dance Event with six Saudi artists to perform a showcase with international audiences, music executives and festival organisers in attendance. It’s an incredibly exciting opportunity and shows the strength of the Freaks of Nature brand. We are always looking to expand, shine the spotlight on Saudi music and support local artists.
“Freaks of Nature” offers more than just music with live shows, exhibitions, and pop-up stores. Can you provide a glimpse of some exciting non-musical attractions attendees can look forward to?
Freaks of Nature is more than a concert. It is a complete festival, featuring fine dining, a food court with some of the most innovative culinary creations in the region, and carnival games for even more entertainment. We are also showcasing local visual artists and fashion designers without our ‘Freaks Bazar’. These elements add to the artistic and creative vibe we are building and shows that Freaks of Nature can lift several other creative industries alongside the performers, producers and set designers associated with live music.
As a DJ and producer yourself, how has your personal journey in the music industry influenced your vision for events like “Freaks of Nature – Querencia,” and what impact do you hope the festival will have on the local music and arts culture?
Being a DJ and producer affords me a unique perspective when it comes to creating a festival. I have been backstage and understand the complexities of putting together a show and also putting together a set as a performer.
Now being in a position to create a festival in line with our vision for the live entertainment industry in Saudi means I have a chance to connect with the audience at every stage of production. I can be a promoter behind the scenes and go out to the crowd with my set. This instant feedback is exciting to be a part of and has made Freaks of Nature the most pioneering electronic music festival in the Kingdom.
Freaks of Nature – Querencia will be especially important as I will be premiering my first three-track release in front of a live crowd and I can’t wait to see how the audience reacts.
Looking ahead, what are your future plans and aspirations for the “Freaks of Nature” event series? Are there any surprises or exciting developments you can tease for the upcoming event on 5-6 October?
We hope to take Freaks of Nature global. We are currently working on organizing parties around the world and performing at more festivals in Europe. This will be a big opportunity for Freaks of Nature as a brand and for Saudi as an emerging entertainment destination. There are many options in progress, and we will announce them as soon as we can!
Freaks of Nature – Querencia on the weekend of 5-6 October will employ brand new technology never seen before in Saudi. The Underground stage will use this new tech to create an unforgettable show and show our capabilities to deliver something truly wonderful for our audience. The Main stage will focus on artistic side of Freaks of Nature with an emphasis on creativity and vibrant visual displays. Overall, Freaks of Nature – Querencia will be an event where Saudi can show the world that performers here can be creative, and audiences go wild to the freshest beats.
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