Sunny Side Festival talk plans and how it all started

    Sunny Side Up event

    Since news came that the already established Sunny Side Up events would organise their debut festival as a weekend long soiree of sound, the buzz has been electric. With less than three weeks to go until the debut of Sunny Side Festival, anticipation around this sublime musical meeting is absolutely at its highest. It may be the first festival of its kind born on the beautiful island of Malta, however for the creative minds behind it this is by no means a first rodeo.

    Bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience, the crew behind SSF are well versed in bringing vibes of the party to boiling point and beyond. Ahead of the festival, which is set to take place from Friday 17th – Sunday 19th May, we caught up with said organisers to talk about where it all began and what can be expected at the event.

    Danny & Luke, Sunny Side Festival (press shot)

    Sunny Side were already well and truly on our radar. Resident DJs Danny and Luke have been playing music and organising events together as UJ/DV since 2014. Now, they celebrate 10 years leading the charge.

    UJ:DV – “Is there a better way to celebrate this milestone than with our biggest, most exigent and at the same time, most endearing project yet – Sunny Side Festival?”

    The pair have spent the last decade pushing boundaries. However on a small island like Malta with such a dense, competitive scene and a finite number of clubbers, it has been no easy feat. Thanks to perseverance and an eye for improvement, they spotted the gap and have well and truly closed it.

    UJ:DV – “Apart from us being DJs and producers we really love organising events and seeing people enjoying themselves to good quality music, but we weren’t inspired by the usual event formats. So we unanimously agreed on one thing. That if we were to organise or create something together, it must be completely different and out of the box.”

    They are joined from an organisational stand point by head booker Tracy Bakala, who started her career as a PR in Ibiza and has gone on to lead the charge of events at Yoyaku, one of the most respected brands in the industry. All this alongside an impressive list of projects and affiliations that Tracy is already involved in.

    Tracy Bakala

    Tracy – “I’m also the CEO of artist booking and management agency Interwave and partner at Mahara agency, which is a booking agency focused on the MENAT Region. As well as SSF, I’m partner at Zanzibar’s hottest new club Why Not and owner of Reepers events.”

    Sunny Side first started as a Sunday morning breakfast rave (Sunny Side Up), where UJ/JV have already hosted brands such as Yoyaku and Slapfunk and a longer list of artist favourites.

    UJ:DV – “We started bringing names not so familiar within our local scene, such as Ron Bacardi (Ben Sims), MAKAM, Chris Simmonds, Brawther, Jorge Caiado, Charlotte, Lamache, Janeret, Samuel Deep, Dou Dou MD, and many others, cementing their reputation for curating unforgettable and diverse musical experiences.”

    Naturally, a community has grown thanks to this unique vision, born from a desire to go against the grain of how and when beats are best served. This was the first event of its kind on the island, championed by the warm welcome of the morning and a forward thinking roster that would bring both a fresh energy and sound. Clearly the promoters were paving the way for something different in Malta. A turning point in the scene…

    Sunny Side Up event

    UJ:DV – “We shied away from the typical clubbing time frames, where people go out on a Friday or Saturday night, already worn out from their weekly routines. We wanted people to wake up fresh on a Sunday morning, have a good healthy breakfast at the venue and dance the day away with yours truly. It took a year or two for people to get on the bandwagon. The concept demanded a change in behaviour, a shift in culture and a great deal of commitment.

    This was the first event of its kind locally, which contributed significantly to the diversity of the Maltese clubbing scene.”

    The idea of the festival itself was born after Tracy had visited the island, getting to know the guys at Sunny Side through close mutual friends. Often the best ideas are formed through chance encounters of like minded figures. It’s therefore no surprise such a meeting of musical minds might have led to this point. The collaboration has grown quite naturally, from individual artist bookings with Tracy’s agency to a full blown Yoyaku showcase back in August last year.

    UJ:DV – “After sharing our vision with Tracy and seeing first hand what Malta has to offer, we all quickly saw the untapped potential of a festival within our spectrum of music. All three of us were sold, we pushed forward and never looked back.”

    Now we are presented with a stunning set up, promising to showcase a top-tier selection of artists, across three days of expertly planned hedonism. All this, whilst celebrating the beauty that the island of Malta has to offer. With the likes of Sonja Moonear, Raresh, Magda, Ryan Elliott, Tijana T, Satoshi Tomiie (live), Cabanne, Edward, tINI, Dyed Soundorom, Tomas Station and Dana Ruh at the helm (to name only a few), the soundtrack couldn’t be more fitting.

    Sonja Moonear

    Tracy: “Our idea is always to present the highest quality sound while showcasing an eclectic lineup. From Minimal, to Techno or House, it is very important for us to push forward the different genres of the underground scene. For us it’s also important to present international headliners alongside new rising stars, together with local talents.

    We are trying to focus more and more on music education and transmission between OG’s and young, up and coming artists. Cabanne b2b Shakèd or Magda b2b Morgan are the perfect representation of this. We also wanted to integrate live acts such as Aline Umber and their incredible show, in order to raise the experience of our guests even higher.”

    In addition to the artists, some of the most prominent  promoters and labels will be joining for the occasion. Musical partners include tINI & The Gang, Slapfunk, After Caposile, Yoyaku, Why Not, Half Baked, Dungeon Meat and yours truly. Bringing a range of stage hosts together like this remains an important feature, a gathering of brands so passionately pushing forward the sound.


    Tracy: This is an excellent way to show our unity and our dedication to the underground scene. I think that we have a very important cultural role towards the new generation and being able to do it all together, as a big family, is very special. Working with all those brands and being able to offer them a place where to showcase their artists, their ideas and their sound is very important to us.

    The program will unfold across three aesthetically beautiful stages, all equipped with the best sound systems on the island. You’ll find Treehaus and Tropicana at Malta’s premier open-air venue, Uno Malta (at the lively Tortuga beach) as well as at the afternoon boat party (tickets are sold separately for this one). All within the unique setting of the Maltese Islands, with stunning beaches, great food and feel good vibes all around.

    When we asked about the vision behind the Sunny Side Festival, it was quite clear to us that this is based on an intimate feel centred around community. A family affair, meant to bring people together through a shared bond toward the sound.

    UJ/DV: Our vision is to create a safe, comfortable space where underground music aficionados can let loose to good quality music. This initiative is driven by an unwavering passion towards music and a strong sense of fellowship which brings communities together on the beautiful island of Malta.

    Gnejna Bay, Malta

    The event is fast approaching and all hands are on deck to ensure for a memorable beginning to this new venture. Once the tried and tested blueprint is in place, we can already reveal the team will begin prepping for a second edition the next year. And of course in the meantime, Sunny Side Up will continue their Sunday morning summertime events with plenty of music expected in between. Bravo to the Sunny Side Crew, we really cannot wait to join you on those marvellous Maltese shores.

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