If Heaven would be a place on Earth, we are certain that for most music passionate people out there, it would look just the way Waha Festival does. A place where the unhindered self can come out to the surface and connect over feelings of pure euphoria and love; a place that everyone desires to be inescapable; a place where new conditions of oneself can unfold; a place stripped of the sense of reality, where time stops and the individual becomes one with the Universe. Today, our dear Assonant souls, we shall find more about the depths of where the magnificent realm emerged and what awaits us, its true irreplaceable devotees, as far as its future is concerned. As you know, we are all about discovering mysteries and immersing ourselves into yet other Universes. In order to fulfill this desire, we’ve spoken with Ati de Chile, one of the “elders” and creative minds behind the Waha Festival. We hope you will enjoy this "conversation" as much as we did!
A.C.: Before discussing the current state of things, we would like you to describe a little bit how it all started? What did you have in mind? Which were your expectations from introducing Waha Festival to the Romanian underground community?
Ati: In 2011, I met Monica (Unda Moon) at a psy-trance festival where we both went. Unfortunately, the event was a complete failure. As soon as she saw that I was sad and disappointed, she suggested that we should host a proper festival. After that discussion, she called me after a while to let me know that she is ready to make the first steps towards the birth of Waha Festival. It was a concept that has never been seen in Romania, that of uniting the psy world with a different audience, one that is probably used to summer festivals.
A.C.: Can you tell us the secret behind the festival’s incredible line-up? Are there any particular characteristics that you’re looking for in the artists?
Ati: From the beginning, given that it was an independent festival (we do not have any kind of sponsorship), the budget was rather small. I cannot give figures, but I was supposed to put together a diverse and interesting line-up for several days with the budget I would normally have spent to host a good party but only on one night. That is why I called in my friends and acquaintances. I hardly convinced them, but after they arrived and spent unique moments, they thanked me and returned every year, either as artists or as participants. Currently, we are trying to bring top artists, in all the scenes and care to feel good in our "oasis" in the mountains.
A.C.: What do you think makes the public return to the festival year after year?
Ati: The festival has grown organically every year as it is promoted by our participants all over the world. We feel very grateful for being so loved. We received many kind words from people about how the festival changed their life or perception about it. Guess this is the main reason for their return. Also, Waha is a kid and pet friendly festival.
A.C.: Protecting the environment is a major concern nowadays. How does the festival affect it? Are there any measurements taken before, during or after the festival in order to preserve the environment?
Ati: Because we, as promoters and responsible parents, are very careful as we collect and recycle as efficiently as possible, and at the same time, create awareness about environmental protection. The place where the festival is held is a wonderful place, which when we are not there, is used as a place of pasture for the animals in the area. Therefore, we are even more obliged to maintain the place as it was received. The most beautiful thing is that everyone helps in the collection and selection of waste: volunteers, artists, organizers and the public.
A.C.: How about reprogramming the festival for next year? Which were the causes for this step? How do you think this will influence the way the audience will receive this change?
Ati: As I’ve mentioned earlier, the place where the festival is held is dedicated to pasture. We occupied it for only one month and last year it happened that it rained quite hard during the last days of the fest, a phenomenon which has caused the earth to crumble. Therefore, after we finished with the collection of the installations and the garbage, we had to dig large areas of the plateau. This made us postpone with one year the next edition of the festival, in order for the land to have time to recover itself. The public and the artists understood that this wonderful place needs a break.
A.C.: Last, but not least, we would like to emphasize the obvious, and that is how the festival scene in Romania is continuously growing. Could you forecast what the future of Waha will look like in this respect?
Ati: Honestly, and without false modesty, we can say that we have created a kind of "trend", namely, a festival in nature, without watches, without phones or Internet, with unexpected surprises, where the participants can find their inner peace and and discover the communion with nature itself. We do not compete with any other festival and we are extremely pleased that we have grown from year to year, in an organic and unforced way, especially outside the borders of Romania.
We hope to meet again next year, better organized, with many surprises and positive thoughts.
That being said, we cannot wait to return to Waha, this parallel Universe filled with goodness, happiness and joy where all there is and all there needs to be is put in considerate order, where visual art and music come together to feed the soul with cathartic powers. Although we are heartbroken due to its absence from this year’s list of festivals, we promise to recollect our forces in order to provide the best experience 'till now in the 2021 edition.
A.C. First of all we want to thank you and your entire team for that unique place in space and time that you’ve created from scratch. We want to thank you for all those beautiful moments and for all those special feelings that we’ve felt so intense with every edition of the fest! And when we say “Thank you!” we’re pretty sure that we’re speaking in the name of everyone attended and will attend the WAHA FESTIVAL!
Last but not least, we want to thank you for your time and for sharing with us a little bit of the Waha experience from behind the scenes.
Counting down the days ‘till we’ll meet again in that fairy-like place, a place where all boundaries are gone, where all of us are reuniting into a big happy family that shares the same love for music and the same love for people!
video: Waha Festival