Shambspiration :: Part 2 :: Inspiration Born on Stage

Shambhala Music Festival, located in Salmo, BC, is known for inspiring not only its attendees, but its performers as well. I got ahold of Mr.Mercy from Moontricks, Vinyl Ritchie, and Luciterra Dance Company to ask about their performances at Shambhala 2014 and to investigate how Shambhala has inspired and continues to inspire them. I conducted a short survey to better understand how Shambhala has influenced these talented artists, and what exactly is so unique about this special event. All agreed that they enjoy playing as well as being a part of the audience, and Mr.Mercy exclaimed, “You’d have to be criminally insane just to show up for your set and then take off!”

First, I spoke with Robin Mercy (one half of Moontricks), who returned in 2014 to rock the audience with a blended style of live electronic music.
It’s a really easy crowd to play to. There is such an aura of uniqueness and specialness about this festival. It’s an energy that I find really easy to feed off and incorporate into the performance. The audience is very active, and there’s the feeling that anything could happen at any time.
Mr.Mercy, has Shambhala influenced your music in any way? Has the festival opened up any new opportunities that you may not have otherwise found?
It’s always inspiring getting to see such a large collection of other artists of high calibre, seeing what innovations they have been making in their sound and their performance. I remember seeing EOTO at the Rock Pit about 5 years back, and just thinking “Holy shit, there’s a way to make instrumental live music that doesn’t sound out of place at an electronic music festival!” That was a huge revelation for me, and probably one of the experiences that ultimately lead to the creation of Moontricks.[Shambhala] has given us a lot of exposure. [It is] somewhat of an institution, at least in the BC music scene, and having played there definitely gave us some credibility, and probably quite a few shows over the last year.
What has been unique about playing at Shambhala compared to other venues?

Well, just the fact that it’s so big without being corporate sponsored is huge for me; I think that this really affects the culture of it, of the participants and the staff. There’s no other agenda, it’s just a really cool, really big party where the weirdest things imaginable are going on around the clock.
How do you hope to inspire your audience at Shambhala?
It has always been one of our goals to subtly introduce people to musical styles outside their usual listening sphere. Our set is pretty eclectic, so you could be blissing out to something ambient and soulful one minute, and the next be jumping up and down to some banger you wouldn’t normally put on. Or vice versa, of course. I think it’s an inspiring feeling to explore new musical territory, and I hope we can help facilitate that for some people
Will Moontricks consider returning to Shambhala Music Festival?
Absolutely. We both have been coming here for years, and it’s still at the top of it’s class in terms of diversity of artists, stage and site design, and stokedness of attendees and organizers. There’s so much work put into the whole experience and it really shows.
Next up was Vinyl Ritchie, aka Scott Arkwell, who has been down with Shambhala for over 10 years, and in the electronic music scene for over 20. He attributes his DJ career to the support of some very special homies and homettes from Shambhala including a friend from over two decades ago, Rich E Rich from the Fractal Forest, as well as Hoola and Lioness who he has known for over 15 years.
The Shambhala audience is dedicated. They are ravenous savages for beats.
Has Shambhala influenced your music in any way? Has the festival opened up any new opportunities that you may not have otherwise found?
Shambhala has definitely influenced me musically. It’s hard to not be inspired by it all. It’s the Funkiest Place On Earth. Musically it’s influences are universal and transcendent. DJs get to test drive their tracks on the illest sound systems, for hungry appreciative ears. Playing music outside in a beautiful setting is magical.Without Shambhala I don’t think I could have maintained in the DJ game as long as I have. When everybody gave up on me musically, Hoola, Lioness & Rich E Rich had my back. When the game changed with technology, these people supported me playing my records which is almost a lost art. They’ve made me and what I do relevant with their support. I am eternally grateful.
How do you hope to inspire your audience at Shambhala?
I hope I inspire people to get on down & boogie. I dig it when people are stoked on the 45s, but I am also stoked to show people I can get busy on the cheater box as well. No parking on the dance floor!
Will you consider returning to Shambhala Music Festival?
I’m always stoked & surprised at the same time, when I get the call to come back.I have been fortunate enough to play many beautiful events in sick venues, but there are no venues that can compete with magic of the Koots. PERIOD!
Last, but not least, we spoke with Laura Albert from Luciterra, a fusion bellydance company from Vancouver who has returned in 2014 for their 6th year at Shambhala, with experience performing at 3 different stages.
Shambhala feels like home to us, it is a place where we have grown and gathered many important influences.
Has Shambhala influenced your performance style in any way? Has the festival opened up any new opportunities that you may not have otherwise found?
Shambhala has been a huge inspiration for us, and has definitely influenced us over the years! Our show is very interested in magic, and shambhala is a place where magic happens! The creative freedom and wonder that the environment encourages has been very inspiring for us.Shambhala is the kind of place where you can have a completely different experience from year to year, or even day to day! Among the diversity of people attending the festival, we have gained so many connections, dance students, and friends over the years. Shambhala has most definitely been a part of the continued growth of the community surrounding our dance and in particular our dance school in Vancouver.Shambahala is one of the big festivals where we get to hear the latest music, and really keep our finger on the pulse of where the underground electronic music and arts community is going. We love being surrounded by so much creative energy!

What has been unique about playing at Shambhala compared to other venues?
The audience at shambhala is so special! The crowd is ALIVE, ready to go, wanting to be lifted up into the world we are painting for them. Absolutely gorgeous people, and we are honoured to be counted among them for sure. Because Shambhala has been such a solid continuing presence in our growth as a dance company, it really holds a special place in our hearts.One of our members grew up in Nelson, and has been going to Shambhala since the first year!! Watching the festival grow for years and years, and feeling the professional community of artists and organizers at Shambhala develop alongside the growth of the festival has made us very invested in it as a particular community.
How do you hope to inspire your audience at Shambhala?
We have been working all year on our show for Shambhala! We hope to inspire the Grove audience with the magical world we have woven together with beauty, strength, discipline, and lightness. It is an epic show, a full hour of non-stop action, continuous edited music, with what we like to call a WALL of dance. It’s gonna be wild.

Many thanks to Mr. Mercy, Scott Arkwell, and Laura Albert for taking the time to shed some light on their perspective from the spotlight. I would like to encourage everyone attending Shambhala Music Festival to continue to fight for your reputation as one of the craziest, unpredictable, and most enjoyable audiences out there. Let us continue to inspire the people on stage, so that they may continue to inspire us, for decades to come.

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