Grauzone 2023 festival made a triumphant return celebrating its 10th birthday with the most iconic names in post-punk, but only / The interview with the founders & getting ready for another edition 2024

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Grauzone 2023 festival made a triumphant return, fully embracing its essence and celebrating the most iconic names in post-punk & 2024 is revealing its another edition.

The international festival based in The Hague, marked its 10th anniversary with an eclectic and avant-garde program that seamlessly intertwined music, film, and art.

We had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful capital with one of the best line-ups we could imagine.

Notable highlights included performances by SQÜRL featuring Jim Jarmusch, Icelandic post-punk sensation Kælan Mikla, the electronic music legend Ellen Allien, the iconic Zanias from Linea Aspera, and the British-German post-punk duo Lebanon Hannover, among others.

A standout moment came with SQÜRL featuring the renowned filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, who brought a unique fusion of sound and visual storytelling to the stage. Icelandic post-punk sensation Kælan Mikla added their ethereal and captivating presence, offering a glimpse into the cutting edge of the genre.

The British-German post-punk duo Lebanon Hannover further elevated the experience, infusing the venue with their distinctive blend of atmospheric melodies and poignant lyricism. Their performance encapsulated the festival’s commitment to pushing artistic boundaries and exploring the fringes of contemporary music.

These notable highlights were just a glimpse into the diverse array of talent that graced the festival’s stages. As we immersed ourselves in this celebration of creativity, it became evident that the festival had successfully curated an atmosphere where music and art converged, fostering an environment of exploration and boundary-pushing expression. The 10th-anniversary edition truly stood as a testament to the festival’s dedication to pushing the boundaries of artistic innovation and providing a platform for the global avant-garde community to converge and celebrate their shared passion.

One of the few locations during the festival is PAARD has been a prominent venue in The Hague, Netherlands, established on June 18, 1972, with the backing of the alderman of culture from The Hague. It is currently situated on Prinsegracht.
Ellen Allien rocking the main stage with her intense DJ set.

Showcasing a mix of emerging talents and established figures deeply rooted in or influenced by the underground music scene, Grauzone’s offerings spanned genres from new wave and electronic to psychedelic and experimental.

The festival boasted an array of (international) bands and DJ sets, a symposium featuring lectures and interviews, a compelling film program, and the GRAUKUNST art exhibition.

All events were curated in an intimate setting, fostering a connection with a diverse international audience.

Rue Oberkampf taking over the Grey Space.

Celebrating its milestone 10th anniversary, Grauzone promised an even more spectacular program.

Over the three-day festival, attendees enjoyed a vinyl records market, a vegan food stand, and an art exhibition featuring the solo works of Julia Kiryanova, titled ‘Dilating Arcana,’ at The Grey Space. Additionally, Friday and Saturday evenings featured captivating concerts and live DJ sets.

Grauzone 2023
Post-punk, dark wave, cold wave and gothic trio Kælan Mikla at Paard Main Stage.
Grauzone 2023
DJ sets at Paard main stage were accompanied by amazing performances.

The opening of the festival with performance and exhibition by artist Julia Kiryanova presenting her latest creation, ‘Dilating Arcana,’ at The Grey Space.

Highlighted in this edition of GRAUKUNST is Julia Kiryanova’s solo exhibition, ‘Dilating Arcana.’ This unique display delves into a highly personal reinterpretation of the well-known Tarot deck, crafted and conceptualized by Julia herself. The exhibit features expansive drawings and paintings, along with captivating performances where the artists’ bodies are intricately painted to mirror the characters depicted on specific cards.

Hailing from Kazakhstan, Julia Kiryanova is a versatile artist now residing in Amsterdam. Renowned for her paintings and performances featuring nude bodies, she fearlessly addresses vulnerability through the lens of sexuality.

Central to all her works are themes of freedom of expression, sensuality, and boldness. Kiryanova’s performances skillfully capture both the beauty and the harsh reality inherent in the exposure of nakedness.

The interview with the founders – Marc & Natasja

How are you doing? Thanks for chatting with us! Congratulations on your 10th Anniversary of the Grauzone Festival, which has been a spectacular celebration. As you just announced it’s been a huge success and around 5000 people attended through 3 days with in our opinion excellent curation of selected bands. How do you manage to deal with all the things around the festival as two of you are the founders & the brain of the project? How was the trip from the first edition to the recent one?

Natasja: The trip from the first to the 10th edition was quite an adventure. We started in Amsterdam in the Melkweg pop venue and after three sold-out editions, we wanted to grow further and involve the city more. That was very difficult in Amsterdam and we eventually moved to The Hague, where we now have more locations and options. In the past 10 years, we also got to know and meet many cool artists, all booked from our heart and passion for music and now grown into a three-day festival, which we still organize with the 2 of us.

Marc: We both come from the underground scene and have a do-it-yourself mentality. That’s also how the festival started as there was not really a festival yet that booked the bands we wanted to see. That’s why we started a festival ourselves.

And we not only wanted to have music, but also film, art, performances, literature, etc.

We were and still are involved in many aspects of the festival, not only booking the acts, but also making the artwork, and videos, writing texts, posting on socials, promotion etc. 

The first edition was in 2013 in Amsterdam and was focused a bit more on old names like Echo and The Bunnymen, and Chameleons, although we also had young acts like Linea Aspera (featuring Zanias), Lebanon Hanover, and Ice Age.

Grauzone 2023

You both have many talents and a creative life. Natasja is into art and studied ceramics in Amsterdam and Marc has a band. Do you have some secret interests your audience would be surprised about?

Natasja: Haha, yes we are both convinced that music and visual arts go together and are intertwined and it therefore feels very natural that we have a festival with so many disciplines and let them come together.

A secret interest of mine (Natasja) is perhaps listening a lot to old Jazz music and quite some exhibitions with my ceramic sculptures. Soon I will present some sculptures in LA & Antwerp, where I work together with some galleries.

But also I’m working on an art project for the public space, which I designed for birds and insects, to make it animal-inclusive, so not just art for humans haha! Marc is also busy with animal rights and nowadays part of the Dutch political Party of the Animals.

Marc: Yes, soon I will be installed as a member of the city council of the Amsterdam Parliament as ‘’raadslid’’ (eng. Board member). I’m representing the ‘’Partij voor de Dieren’’ which is like the greenest party committed to the interest of animals, nature and the environment. With Grauzone we also try to do what we can to be sustainable.

I also play in the punk thrash band Vitamin X, we worked with people like J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr), recorded with Steve Albini (Shellac, producer of Nirvana), and our latest album was released on Southern Lord Records.

Happy to see many artists and concerts spread around the city in 4 stages and even in the specially arranged chapel. Could you reveal what your personal highlight about the lineup at the recent edition and what would be the dream band/s to have on the next ones?

Natasja: One of our highlights was also Ellen Allien. What a wonderful woman she is! Artists like Jim Jarmusch who had specially moved his tour for us so that he could play with us, but also young acts like Thus Love, Lambrini Girls, and Patriarchy were real highlights for us. For the upcoming edition in February 2024, we also have very cool names and many young emerging artists such as Twin Tribes, Satin (Ireen Amnes), Buzz Kull, Nuovo Testamento and many more. 

Marc: Yes, Jim Jarmusch was very special and Ellen Allien, she is amazing! Ultra Sunn was great also, and I love everything Zanias does, but I can say that we love all acts that play Grauzone; we all choose them ourselves. As for a dream line-up: in the past, we’ve already had a lot of -legendary- acts playing Grauzone we were fans of, like DAF, The Fall, Michael Rother (Neu), Cabaret Voltaire, Psychic TV. For me personally a dream line-up would be Cocteau Twins, Nick Cave/Birthday Party, Wipers, The Cure, and Coil. And Suicide and the Gun Club 😉 

Natasja: Yes, exactly what Marc says, but a solo show of Rowland S Howard (guitarist of the Birthday Party and died a while ago) would be amazing too to add, and maybe PH Harvey and Lana Del Ray haha!

As we know some of the artists are regular guests of the festival, like we read via your interview that Zanias has beaten the record coming to the festival – 7 times out of 10 editions. If you could choose one artist/band that would visit you regularly from the recent lineup to visit, who would it be? 

Natasja: Phew, good question. Also, it has grown so much with Zanias and we have been following her from the start. An artist who would always be welcome .. Nick Cave perhaps with all his different projects, but unfortunately that is too expensive for us.

Marc: with many artists that play Grauzone we have a good personal relationship and we’ve become friends with several artists. This personal approach is very important for us. Grauzone is about having a great experience, with a combination of acts, movies, and art you can’t see anywhere else.

Grauzone 2023

We loved the opening of the festival and the Graukunst Performance: Dilating Arcana by Julia Kiryanova – An exhibition of paintings and performance by Julia Kiryanova and The Alternation performance project related the subjects like destiny for ourselves and the planet and the Tarot. How did you discover the project and get involved in the festival program? 

Natasja: We were already familiar with some tapestry work by Julia Kiryanova and had shown it at a previous Graukunst exhibition. But now she had done a big performance in Amsterdam and we asked if she could do an adapted version during this edition of Grauzone and it immediately became a space-filling work with all naked dancing performers.

Grauzone 2023

Could you tell us about your further plans? Any conclusions what could change for the next editions of Grauzone Festival? 

Marc: the festival is getting more popular every year and actually several other festivals say they are inspired by Grauzone to start their own festival, like Ombra Festival in Barcelona. Getting more popular also means we have more visitors, but can also grow in several ways and try out new things. In the next few years we will try to make Grauzone an even better experience, with surprising acts, surprising locations, and much more!

SQÜRL featuring Jim Jarmusch
Interesting live interview with Jozef Van Wissem – a Dutch minimalist composer and lute player based in Brooklyn. In 2013 Van Wissem won the Cannes Soundtrack Award for the score of Only Lovers Left Alive at the Cannes Film Festival. 

Time to watch: Grauzone sessions online

The exclusive studio sessions recorded during Grauzone 2023 feature performances by acts such as A Place To Bury Strangers, Ultra Sunn, Deadletter, Lambrini Girls, Belgrado, Thus Love, and many more!

One of our favorites is the release of the first recording, featuring New York’s postpunk/shoegaze trio A Place To Bury Strangers. Experience the set by visiting the Grauzone Recordings page and checking out Grauzone YouTube Channel, where there are showcased more electrifying performances.

Grauzone will return in 2024 once again for its 11th edition.

While the initial lineup for the upcoming edition has been revealed, specific event details remain undisclosed. For the latest updates, interested individuals are encouraged to visit Grauzone’s website.

Grauzone 2024 takes place from 9 to 11 February at several venues in The Hague, bringing together a wide range of disciplines such as music, art, performance, screenings, talks, and many more.

When ? Fri, Feb 9, 20244:00 PM  Sun, Feb 11, 20242:00 AM

Where ? 12 Prinsegracht Den Haag, ZH, 2512 GA Netherlands (map)

Check out the first names for 2024.

Tickets are available here.

pictures: Keyi Studio (c)

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