Interview: Hybrid - A Masterful Debut
Two weeks ago, Melbourne played host to a new festival concept which unfolded over two days and four venues. A celebration of people pushing boundaries in electronic music, Hybrid was the collaborative achievement of organisers Crown Ruler, Le Fag and Bizarro. The festival showcased the work of thirty seven highly diverse performers and visual artists, spanning the gamut of ambient, electro, rap, and gabber. After an inspiring weekend, I decided to pick the brain of one of the key figures behind it, co-director of Crown Ruler, Laura Christoforidis.
How did you get started with Crown Ruler, and what is your role there?
I've been putting shows together for nearly 10 years — stemming from playing and organising house gigs and warehouse parties as a teenager, to my now full time job as a co-director of Crown Ruler alongside my dawg Jamie Bennett. I got started at CR about 6 or 7 years ago — I was playing live with Kirkis at one of Jamie's Melbourne Music Week shows and doing some intern stuff, so I asked him if he needed extra hands because I liked the music he programmed. He said yep, you can start on Monday, and since then I've learned a shitload of different skills and we've been able to expand our operation to a size that keeps us both juggling a million things at once.
What would you describe as the mission statement of Crown Ruler?
Tell the whole story, back the underdog and don't send yourself flowers.
How did discussions between Crown Ruler, Le Fag and Bizarro initially begin?
We got wind that we were planning separate events on the same date, which were all going to clash lol. So we sat down and chatted about our aims and ideas, and out of our mutual priority for community over competition, we decided to collaborate on one big monster project called Hybrid where we could represent heaps of different narratives and support each other's creative visions. We'd previously worked together in a few different scenarios, so there was already a huge mutual respect that laid out a great foundation to bring Hybrid to life and it just got bigger as we started the project.
How different/similar was the event that took place to your initial conceptions?
The timeframe we had to plan and execute Hybrid was thin given the nature of how we came to collaborate, so to be honest it only started to reveal itself bit by bit each day the event grew closer. We refined our concept as we worked on it, and I have to say people really received it the way we had planned. Hybrid's audience behaved and engaged with compassion and respect, and it was a bit of a miracle that most of the artists we hoped to book (and then some) were available and in support of what we wanted to do. So all in all, very close to our end goal.
What was the most challenging aspect of bringing Hybrid to life?
Definitely money. We could have taken over the whole city, built portals to each stage, consensually cloned all the performance artists, anti-gravity meditation chambers, dressed everyone in Iris Van Herpen, made an AR butterfly enclosure etc but we just had to bite the bullet and keep it chill for the first year.
What are you most proud of in regards to Hybrid?
A huge highlight has been hearing from attendees and artists that they've felt represented, strengthened, challenged and educated by elements of their experience at Hybrid, which was core in what we wanted to happen. Our focus on technology, spirituality and otherness, and how all those things connect was received with sensitivity and support, and the people that showed up respected different facets of physical and metaphysical space that often get trampled on at music events and in day-to-day life. Our community backed us and we were able to present four really well attended shows across the weekend in our first year of operation. A lot to be proud of really!
What was the most surprising thing about the weekend for you?
That there weren't really any disasters — anything can happen at electronic music events, usually things do. But we (safely) partied harder than we stressed, which was a bonus :)
Any particular lessons or anecdotes to come out of the experience?
If something doesn't feel right, change it up straight away!
Words: Finnian Langham