One of the biggest events to hit the UK this summer comes via a band of visionaries known as Animal Crossing. In a relatively short space of time, they have taken the premise of an off-site event series and elevated it to dizzying heights.
From the beginning, Animal Crossing operated with a clear mandate and that was to offer unique musical experiences. This has taken the crew to Manchesters theatres, railway arches, rooftops, you name it they will throw a rave in it as long as it’s new, exciting yet done with passion.
This sort of attention to detail and foresight has led them to willing two-day festival Summer of Love into the world. With one of the biggest lineups of underground music in the UK this summer featuring the likes of RPR Soundsystem, Praslesh, Evan Baggs, Onur Ozer, and Dyed Soundorom we caught up with AC talisman Olli Ryder to find out more about his vision for the inner-city festival Summer of Love…
Let’s start at the top, how the hell are ya after the first full weekends out and your AC x Infuse party?
Feeling so grateful, honestly mate, it’s hard to summarise just how special that moment was. After the backlog of the last 18 months, to come back to that occasion, and for it to roll out with such positive energy and emotion just touches you inside and makes you realise just how lucky you are to do what you do. The whistle is very much wet and we’re officially back!
Is the concept of a “club” event firmly out of view now?
I think this was a major step for us to further share the narrative of Animal Crossing. The transformation of these unique locations plays such a pivotal role in what makes an ac party an ac party! A narrative that will forever change, it will be your first time, no matter how many times you have been before, and I feel this is what makes our concept so unique and so special.
So, Summer of Love…where did the idea come from? Was it a vision in a dream?
I think like a lot of things, we take inspiration from looking back in time, you get an understanding of how life works in cycles, fashion, music, culture is ready to be reformed and made into your own.
20 years back music was everything, it was life, the weekend offender found lifelong friends and joined the convoys of cars flocking far and wide to find the next rave. It was all about community and I feel after the hard times of the last 18 months people need that place to belong, this is where the narrative started to take place.
One night in the studio the penny dropped, the summer of love… you check the domains, you check the trademark and by fate, it was all available. The rest of the steps have followed since.
You are right, music back then was a way of life, do you think it’s changed recently to become more like a business model?
Not necessarily a business model, the UK has a bit of a stigma of lads lads lads and excess whereby raving = drugs = bad. I feel all around Europe it’s normal, Berlin, Amsterdam, this culture is widely accepted by governments which make life so much easier, a 24-hour club is standard. People respect the music and we take big inspiration from this. The brand has been built on community and that involves a level of trust with our dancers. We respect them to be free and have a good time, which in turn creates the right kind of energy for deeper connections. It’s a two-way thing that is essential for everything to work how it does.
What sort of events and festivals has influenced the way in which you have approached the concept for SoL?
It’s an interesting question, annually, as per the Animal Crossing events, the location for the festival will continue to change until we find a place to call home. The long-term vision is to create a mini Glasto / Secret Garden Lovechild who manages to meet up with Houghton & Sunwaves lovechild and make a beautiful Summer of Love baby (no pressure)
Concept, creative, sound, wellness, art & experience combined.
Talk us through the process of going from throwing excellent parties under Animal Crossing to a 2-day festival?
It all starts with a vision, daring to dream big, from the moment of inception we knew a festival was on the horizon, everything that had been before to create the next moment, the next bit of momentum, it has led us to this point. Once we found the location, we looked around and just knew this was our time to bring it all to life.
In the current climate it must have been pretty challenging to manage, what has been the biggest hurdles?
The full scenario is surreal and you can so easily get lost within it, for us, we just took a breath, saw the moment, and focused and placing the pieces together. You can’t control the wider circumstances, what it meant to be will be.
Was summer of love always part of the bigger picture when setting up Animal Crossing?
Our mission statement is to create adventures across the globe. The mural vision board in the garage has an Animal Crossing character holding a book that says AC festival on it. From day one we knew this is what we wanted to bring to the world and for it to be in these times, at this moment just makes it that little bit more special. We didn’t know when, where or how but we just knew it was going to be a part of what we did, and that every party, every decision had to steer us towards it.
Where do you go from here? What’s next on the agenda?
The world is our oyster, we’re here to create adventures go across the globe! There are some super exciting projects to follow the festival, it’s crazy to think minus the last year we’re still yet to celebrate our second birthday.
We have been meaning to ask but are your animal characters based on real-life people?
Haha not intentionally!!
The last remaining tickets for Summer of Love are available from the SoL website.