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Grauzone 2024 nightprogram byRaymondVanMill 1148Interview with

Natasja Alers & Marc Emmerik (organizers) from Grauzone Festival

The Grauzone Festival 2025 is scheduled to take place from February 9th to 11th in the heart of The Hague, Netherlands. This dynamic event offers a rich and diverse program that seamlessly integrates music, film, and art. Showcasing both emerging artists and established figures, the festival celebrates the underground music scene, spanning genres from New Wave and Electronic to Psychedelic and Experimental. Attendees can look forward to live performances by both local and international bands and DJs, engaging symposiums featuring lectures and interviews, captivating art exhibitions under the banner of GRAUKUNST, and a curated film program. Set in an intimate setting, the festival attracts an eclectic international audience. About the idea of the festival, line-up, audience and more with the event organizers: Natasja Alers and Marc Emmerik.

Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: Hello, first and foremost, I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations on the tremendous success of your festival! I’m curious, when did the idea of starting it first come to mind?
Natasja: Since the age of 12, I fell in love with Gothic and Punk music, but most of those bands I adored rarely performed in The Netherlands. So, I thought let’s just invite them like LEBANON HANOVER and LINEA ASPERA, so they did their first Dutch show in Amsterdam. In 2010, I studied in Berlin at the art Academy Weissensee Kunsthochschule for a year and was really inspired by the nightlife. The Berlin’s music scenes, particularly Cold & Dark Wave and Post-Punk were so inspiring, so when I returned to Amsterdam hoping for a similar energy or at least events, it wasn’t just there. Only some Punk shows. After graduating, I thought, why not make these events into an annual festival format instead of individual shows? So, together with Marc, who shared similar ideas, we approached the Melkweg in 2012, one of Amsterdam’s biggest venues, for the first edition of Grauzone (which sold out immediately), thus giving rise to the first Grauzone Festival. One evening, the name Grauzone was chosen during a brainstorming session, and LEBANON HANOVER, who stayed at my house, contributed to it as well. I find the name really cool, and it also radiates something of the Neue Deutsche Welle, but the most important was (and still is) to create a grey area and platform for a sort of disciplines related to the underground scene and like-minded people.

RoD: It’s no secret that many organizers struggle with low ticket sales, but clearly, that’s not the case for you - having the festival sold out is a remarkable achievement. What do you attribute your success to?
Natasja: True, for us it wasn’t always easy either. We started with the festival in 2013 and built from there, but for us it was also a long way to get the festival every year selling out faster. Maybe the success is just a combination of never giving up, taking risks, innovating, challenging yourself and staying critical and true to yourself?
Marc: In 2013 the music (Post-Punk, Wave, Electronic), and the bands that we programmed, were not very popular; new bands like LEBANON HANOVER, LINEA ASPERA, TR/ST, SOFT MOON, COLD CAVE, BOY HARSHER etc. were not that known yet. We did sell out but that was also because we had legendary older bands on the line-up like ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN, DAF, PETER HOOK, CHAMELEONS, etc. Nowadays Post-Punk, Wave etc is popular and those young acts from back then are now famous themselves. Together with them, Grauzone has grown and has become a name that everybody knows, and people from all over the world travel to visit Grauzone.

RoD: Who comprises the audience at Grauzone? How would you characterize them?
Marc: Open minded, friendly, music lovers, queer and not scared to express themselves. Actually, the most diverse and beautiful audience we’ve seen around at festivals, haha!

Grauzone2024 audience byRaymondVanMill

RoD: How do you go about selecting bands for your line-ups?
Marc: We select them through digging on the internet, being aware of what’s going on of the newest developments and to constantly / endlessly talking together about the line-up and disciplines. It’s sometimes a complicated puzzle and challenge we need to make every time. In our minds, we’re always occupied with Grauzone. We’re constantly moving forward because we aim to offer cutting-edge programming at all times. We strive to achieve a perfect reflection of what is currently happening, what is relevant, or what is yet to come.

RoD: Could you paint a picture of the overall atmosphere of the festival for someone who hasn’t experienced it yet?
Natasja: When you enter Grauzone festival, you enter a different world and forget about the daily things. The atmosphere is very open, relaxed and people are very much into the music, besides likeminded people from all over the world are walking around, which makes it very unique and international.

RoD: Are there any accompanying side events associated with the festival?
Natasja: We are an interdisciplinary festival so it’s not only music but also art, film, DJs, theatre performances, a symposium. We believe that these disciplines are all connected with each other and want to show our vision on this and show this to our audience.

RoD: What are your expectations for the 2025 edition?
Marc / Natasja: We hope to create something that people will always remember and to make a world where people feel free to express themselves and to present the new ideas we’re developing at the moment.

RoD: Thank you very much for your time!

Grauzone2024 Paard byParcifalWerkman

Pictures by Raymond van Mill, FETISH LND Studio and Parcifal Werkmann

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