Interview | A chat with Transylvania Founder: JP Roelofse

In this day and age, with the economic climate ever changing, the event/festival landscape is not an easy playground to master as some may think. New on the scene but winning none the less is Mr JP Roelofse, founder of trance extravaganza, Transylvania. We’ve decided to catch up with the brainchild behind the 31-hour psytrance gathering making waves in our local scene and chat the industry, the curation of his parties and of course -the long-awaited- Transylvania Redemption Part II taking place this weekend.

MCBN: Thanks for taking the time to chat to us JP, we know it’s close to festival time and there’s a million and one things you’re doing, so we are excited to pick your brain a little. Building a festival, getting all the right elements together and making sure everything runs smoothly, isn’t as easy as everyone thinks. What made you crazy enough to decide on starting up a psychedelic trance festival?

It not easy at all but so rewarding, which in itself becomes the driving force behind why one would expose oneself to a stressful situation like hosting an event. Psytrance picked me, not the other way around. Most people are content with pitching and experiencing the event, whilst I get my kicks out of knowing I’m responsible for the happiness that follows. THAT makes the blood sweat and tears worth it.

MCBN: Can you give us a rundown of the preparation from your end. When does it start, when are you most focused and what’s your favourite time during this preparation period?

Preparation starts with finding an available date and venue, that’s THE most difficult part. It’s often the case that you find a venue you think is perfect then discover it borders the land of a “platteland tannie” that thinks our beats are made by the devil. Then it all goes up in flames. When you do find that elusive perfect party paradise AND you figure out a way of convincing the locals we aren’t evil, you have the MOMENTOUS task of convincing the local municipality that you know what you are doing. That’s the most stressful part of the process, the license application. The payoff to all the drama and admin comes on the day of the event when that queue starts growing and growing at the gate. It becomes a physical representation of the effort you have put in, which is a very humbling and beautiful experience.

MCBN: What is one thing you can say to anyone wanting to host events from an outsider’s perspective? Is there any advice that you would like to give them?

Know from the start that this is a GROUP effort and not a one man show. I don’t know jack shit about rigging a shade and would completely lose my cool with some of the things security have to deal with. My advice would be to assemble your team from the bottom up with the idea in mind that you can’t do this on your own. You are only as strong as your production team is collectively.

MCBN: How long would you say you spend ‘on-site’ at the venue?

Its 07.45am and I’m about to move into my little tent on the island. During production week you do not leave the site once, and I have kind of lost count of how many times I’ve visited in between. I go every time I get a chance. I LOVE Moreson, it’s like a second home to me.


MCBN: You took the jump into the unknown leaving your 9 – 5 day job to peruse this journey. It was an incredibly risky jump to make but like everything in this world, we all got to start somewhere. How did this happen for you?

After school I started studying psychology all the way to the year my Masters was due to commence, then I bailed. It was an expensive mistake to make, but I don’t regret it. I’m just wired differently to other people. We spend half of our lives working our asses off for other people and not reaping the rewards of our labour ourselves. Transylvania is my way of saying fuck the system. Every year I get closer to being independent from it and it’s been an exhilarating experience to say the least. If it doesn’t work though I’m screwed, but let’s hope for the best haha.

MCBN: How long have you been listening to trance and attending the festivals in Cape Town? What events are favourites on the Cape Town calendar for you?

I honestly love them all. It’s Impossible to choose because i get something different from each of them. I can remember a couple of year’s back i maxed out my credit card by buying tickets to every single psytrance festival on the calendar. You would think I have a favourite by now, but it’s similar to being a chocoholic – they are all yummy.

MCBN: Curating a line up for over 24 hours can be a tough task with loads of back and forth & picking and choosing until you have perfected your line up. Do you do it yourself or is there a team of people helping you choose? The same goes for the international Gonzi, that insane Italian, how did you end up deciding on Gonzi as you’re international for the festival?

I’ve chosen every single act on every one of my line-ups myself. Redemption Island Part 2 is particularly special to me because it represents my own personal fantasy line-up. I have, however, had help from one or two sources as to which time slots the acts should fill – thanks Lyle Jensen – but the rest is my doing. Gonzi, well, he’s a crowd pleaser and the cheekiest Italian you have ever met. He has been chosen because his music speaks for itself and his persona even more so. I’m a little nervous to see what’s going to happen at 9am on Sunday morning to be honest. It’s going to be WILD.

MCBN: Your event has quite an interesting twist, you’re adding a Silent Trance to the dark hours of the festival. Current laws within the Western Cape municipality have slowed down the 24 hour scene in Cape Town. How did you come about the idea to adapt to this and let the party continue throughout the night into the sunrise?

Adapt or die. To be honest, we just wanted to avoid becoming a Day Party at all costs. I actually got the idea from one of the members of the MyCityByNight team, Leah, and after that it just started snowballing. The response has not always been positive because people fear what they do not know.  The Silent Trance allows us to keep the party going instead of finishing at 12am. At 8am, as the 11 hour long Funday starts, we switch back to blasting tunes through our MONSTER rig. This is also a VERY FIRST for the trance scene, and if it does not go down well we will have to find a new venue which as you can imagine we want to try and avoid at all costs. It is after all an experimental exercise but we honestly believe people are going to be pleasantly surprised. We have, however, also made alternative plans for those not keen on Silent Trancing in the form of various other types of entertainment, so everybody will be taken care of. We are keeping this secret though.

MCBN: If you could take a step back from a promoter role for a second, taking a look at the greater Cape Town scene, what are your thoughts on it at the moment?

We are on fire! We are creating world class productions and EVERYBODY who is ANYBODY wants in on the action from abroad. We have most definitely claimed our spot in the sun on a GLOBAL Psytrance perspective, and people who matter from the other side of the ocean has noticed. If you get booked as an international act to visit our beautiful city it’s seen as a very big deal and one to be proud of.

MCBN: What can Transylvanians expect at this event? Any surprise you want to give away?

Expect the unexpected. Expect to feel pampered and special. Expect to be pleasantly surprised. Most importantly, expect to make the mission again in November because we aren’t going ANYWHERE.

We have been waiting all year long for season to close and attend this party, with less than a week away, we can barely contain ourselves. We’ll see you at Transylvania JP, thanks for the massive effort you’re putting into your events, it isn’t going unnoticed by us stompers. Tickets are running kids, better catch up, get yours right here!

Now bring on Gonzi!

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