Interview with Rene from Dark Malta Festival by Tzina Dovve ( DJ Lady Davinia )… Dark Malta……A relatively new and growing festival to emerge on the dark/goth/industrial scene in the heart of the Mediterranean…Malta…Dark Malta……Rene Hades Ferrugia, founder and organizer, reveals all about this dark celebration…by Tzina Dovve ( DJ Lady Davinia )……
Tzina: Dark Malta Festival is a new music festival to emerge on the scene with its debut just in 2018. How did the idea to create such a dark/goth/ alternative event come about in sunny Malta? Who are the main founders of Dark Malta Festival?
Rene: In 2017, the Halloween Massacre 10th Anniversary Event was going to happen. Until then no big foreign Goth/Industrial act had ever come to Malta to perform. So me and my fiancée Aleera de Lune ( co-founder and co-organizer ) decided to host the band Suicide Commando. Also in 2018, we already had the band Covenant booked for February. One evening, Aleera told me that it was always my dream to host a Gothic Festival in Malta and that now that I also co- owned a club ( The Garage ) with a friend of mine we could give it a try. In-fact, we started to work on it and we hosted the first Dark Malta Festival in 2018 with the bands Diary of Dreams and Gothminister headlining the festival. Due to a good number of foreigners visiting the festival, the 2nd year we opted for a 2 day festival with a big International line-up headlined by And One, Lords of the Lost, Suicide Commando, Clan of Xymox, Aesthetic Perfection and many more bands in a bigger venue. The feedback we had, especially from the international crowd, was very encouraging. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic we had to skip two editions but we will be back in 2022, this time with a 3 day festival.
Tzina: Apart from an international band line-up with some well known acts such as Clan of Xymox and Diary of Dreams passing the Dark Malta stage your festival also has a line-up of international DJs, a goth exhibition, an alternative market and the list goes on.. In one sentence Rene how would you describe Dark Malta Festival?
Rene: For the first time Dark Malta will also be hosting an Art Exhibition with 3 local renowned artists. They will all feature a different theme in their paintings. We will also have an Alternative Market where people can buy official festival and band merch and other interesting products. And, of course, the line-up which will host big acts like Covenant, Project Pitchfork, Agonoize, Nachtmahr, Nosferatu and many more. We are currently in the progress of finalizing the headliner for Friday. Our vision for Dark Malta is to have Goths, Industrial lovers and also people who are into Gothic and Industrial Metal from all over the world under one roof celebrating what we love most – music. We do believe that Malta being an island in the center of the Mediterranean with one of the oldest histories in the world and also a great spring climate can be an ideal location for such a festival.
Tzina: As a new and growing festival on the competitive dark/goth/alternative scene what feedback has Dark Malta received by fans and the music press so far?
Rene: The feedback we have had so far has been great, both from the people that have attended and also from international media. This is what encouraged us to go for a 3 day festival, and also starting to plan for a long term project.
Tzina: As a promoter Rene what are your ambitions for Dark Malta Festival? How would you like to see your festival in the coming years?
Rene: Our idea is to have Dark Malta Festival in the yearly festivals calendar. This will need lots of sacrifices especially after the pandemic, but we are very optimistic and our vision is to continue hosting Dark Malta Festival on a yearly basis.
Tzina: Due to Covid breaking out your third edition scheduled festival had to be cancelled both last year and again this year. Fortunately, you have re-scheduled for April 2022 with some great names already on the bill and not only. How do you feel about live shows and events slowly slowly getting back to normal and the world finally re-opening?
Rene: Finally we can feel some kind of normality. For sure things will change after these past 2 years but the fact that soon we will be able to re-open the club and also planning next year’s edition with more positivity is already a big boost mentally. Finally meeting people at events and being able to travel abroad and live normally will also start giving us back what we missed most during these past months.
Tzina: How much do you think this pandemic will have an effect on the live music industry, both for bands and venues?
Rene: For sure it has affected the music industry very badly. Clubs have closed, some promoters have decided to quit and of course artists were not able to do what they love to do. I do believe that something that we should all learn from this pandemic is that all three sides should collaborate together and understand each other’s needs more. We should also not forget the fans whose passion for live music was taken away from them and that they are the most important people in the scene, because without them nothing will exist.
Tzina: You have also organized a Dark Malta Virtual Festival for next month, the first dark/alternative Maltese online festival. What are your veiws on these online events that have dominated social media during lockdown days? How does it feel to be part of this virtual world?
Rene: Yes, for the first time we will be hosting a virtual festival. I do think that these kind of festivals and events kept the fans and artists alive during the pandemic. If you ask me as a promoter which I prefer most to organize, that for sure would be the real physical festival. I do love live music and nothing is nicer than hearing and seeing a band performing live. But at least these online events kept artists and fans together during these difficult times. For sure once everything is back to some sort of normality, let’s re-start socializing and meeting in clubs for a good gig or festival again.
Tzina: As l understand Dark Malta Festival has just left its old home of Montekristo Estate and has moved to a new venue for next year. What lead to this move Rene? Can you elaborate…
Rene: Unfortunately this came as a surprise to us, since we were contacted by the management of the venue and were told that there were problems with the venue permits. We started working immediately on looking for an alternative location and we were lucky to find somewhere which we believe is a great venue. The Gianpula Main Room is Malta’s most popular venue actually. Their management have been very helpful and we will be the first Gothic/Industrial/Metal Festival to be held in it.
Tzina: Not only are you the key founder of Dark Malta Festival Rene, you have been an active DJ and promoter in your home country for years now.. What is the dark/alternative scene like in Malta?
Rene: Hades Events was founded in 2003 but before that I was involved in the organization of other events ( basically from 1993). The gothic scene in Malta is quite a small one while the metal one is bigger. Of course being a small country one would expect the alternative genres to have a smaller crowd. DJ wise I have been active for nearly 20 years now. DJing in Malta and abroad is different. I had the opportunity to DJ abroad and djing in festivals like Amphi was an unforgettable experience.
Tzina: Anything else you would like to share with music fans around the world? What can they expect from Dark Malta in the near future?
Rene: Hopefully next year people will be able to travel more freely so they can come and enjoy Dark Malta Festival with us. As stated earlier, our aim is to establish Dark Malta festival as a yearly festival and to celebrate our darkness all together under one roof.