The Ringmaster Returns: Circus Paradise Promoter Interview

  • Written by 
  • Thursday, 21 February 2019 16:40
Published in Music  
Mark James is the promoter of Circus Paradise Music Festival (Gold Coast). Mark James is the promoter of Circus Paradise Music Festival (Gold Coast).

From the mind that brought us Summafieldayze and the Future Music Festival touring series comes the next great addition to Gold Coast's live music scene, Circus Paradise Music Festival.


Roll up to Broadbeach for a day of world-class, live electronic music from over 30 international and Australian artists including Charlotte de Witte, Oliver Huntemann, Bag Raiders and Hot Dub Time Machine.

It's all thanks to promoter and DJ Mark James, who we track down for a chat about his new festival baby.

With the recent proliferation of boutique festivals, what makes Circus Paradise special?
Firstly, the line-up. We think we have great cross-over selection of electronic international and local artists. Secondly, the venue. You can't beat a festival by the beach with tree-lined areas and public transport right on the door step – it ticks all the boxes.

This will be the first music festival on the Gold Coast in more than 5 years; what has the response been to Circus Paradise; is the area ready to embrace festival culture once more?
The response has been amazing with the local community, clubs, venues and regulatory bodies fully embracing the festival.

We are using local suppliers for production and infrastructure, and involving local student volunteers to help out. It seems everyone one is embracing the festival culture once more on the Gold Coast.


Your background in the industry includes running Future Music Festival and Summafieldayze; how does that experience translate into organising a music festival in 2019?
Obviously my experience in staging large events is a benefit when it comes to health and safety, and presenting a quality production.

Personally, how have you found returning to the industry after an extended break? What has been the biggest surprise you've encountered?
It was great to have break for a few years.

It was kinda strange stepping back into it, but the fundamentals never change as long as you have your priorities right; being proper talent, quality production, good location – then the recipe for a good event stays the same.

I'm not trying to break any records, we just want to hold an awesome event for Queensland keeping it at an affordable ticket price, which I think we have achieved.

Why a circus theme for this festival?
It was a sort of tongue-in-cheek type thing with the name. I was talking to a friend from Melbourne on the phone and he was asking what it's like living in Surfers Paradise; and I replied, jokingly, 'it's a bloody circus up here', and he said that was a good name for a festival – Circus Paradise.

How is the circus theme implemented across the three stages?
We have the same set designer that has done many festivals including Future, Splendour In The Grass and more. He's come up with some amazing circus-themed stage designs. I reckon you're just going to have to wait and see. :)

It's a great line-up you've curated; are there any acts you're particularly proud of securing?
I'm proud of them all, but stand-outs are Charlotte de Witte; she is an amazing new talent taking the world by storm. Oliver Huntemann is a personal favourite of mine. Banoffee I'm looking forward to and I'm very interested to see Hot Dub Time Machine – it will be my first Hot Dub experience.

The festival is driven by quality music acts; but the day isn't just about great music, right?
Yep, correct. There will be loads of stuff happing on-site: roaming performers, circus artists, circus games and rides – tonnes of stuff to keep your day fun-filled.

If you were a punter, what would be your plan of attack for getting the most out of your day at Circus Paradise?
Staying safe, responsible and looking after your mates is first and foremost. We are also encouraging people to dress up and take part in activities. [And] try and see some of the acts if possible and dance like there's no tomorrow.

You'll also be performing as an artist at Circus Paradise; what do you have planned for your set?
I'll be playing most of my own music incorporating a DJ set with a live set-up.


You have a long history with electronic music in Australia; in your time, how have you seen Australians' attitudes towards EDM shift?
As everything, it started off underground back in the day. Then a few years back became this monster of a commercial, dirty word that is EDM. Hence my taking a break for a few years.

It's starting to return to the underground roots and that's what we are all about – quality, electronic music; not so much for the masses, but for boutique-quality, like-minded people.

As a promoter, how are you addressing the recent festival legislation in NSW?
It hasn't really effected Queensland in the way it has down south.

At the end of the day, we are all for safer festivals; it's the number one priority and we work closely with the local regulatory bodies, health and safety to make sure we are doing the very best we can to prevent any incidents that may arise.

Do you have any other projects you're working that you'd like to discuss?
Apart from working on some more events for later in year and early 2020, I have been working very hard in the studio for the last year.

I currently have a few singles out and hopefully a big, new one out in April featuring US-based singer diva Inaya Day, called 'Dance All Night'. It comes with awesome remixes from three great Australian producers: Jolyon Petch, Modern Citizens and Markus Knight.

Circus Paradise Arts Music Festival takes place at Broadwater Parklands (Gold Coast) Sunday 10 March.

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