You’ve surely heard of it, it’s one of the most profound concepts and lavish line-ups for a festival. They’re rigging a Monastery to host a 3-day festival that is the legendary Gardens of Babylon with the most beautiful artists We tried to write about it to tell this side of the world how amazing The Gardens of Babylon is, but instead figured it would be best to interview the founder; Shishi. We really enjoyed talking to her and understanding what drove her to bring such a beautiful festival to life. Here’s how it went.
You’re the founder of The Gardens of Babylon. Tell us a bit about your journey bringing the gardens to life. What really inspired you to take this path?
Years ago I traveled to Burning Man for the first time. It absolutely changed the course of my life. I met so many amazing people there. Adventures, music. Everything. I just never understood why it was limited to that one week. Surely we could find a way to gather these people in the real world. That was the beginning of The Gardens of Babylon.
The Gardens of Babylon announced their first three-day festival “The Monastery”. Can you tell us what you have in mind for that?
With our events, we started to meet interesting people. It was limited to our events and how much do you get to know a person on a night out? We started to organize family weekends with about 100 people. The festival is just that, a family weekend, just a bit bigger, with a lot of music and A LOT of other activities.
We had the chance to meet part of the family in the Dubai edition a couple of weeks ago. It’s all about love and support. How did you manage to nurture such a unique collective spirit?
We are all in close contact. We basically share a vision. I think we only facilitate the moments where people can find each other. They are the ones that nurture this unique collective spirit in the end.
Events as big as The Monastery are bound to come with difficulties. What are some challenges you’re facing as you get closer to the festival?
We are going to host this summer festival at a very unique location. This choice had some consequences. We had to respect the property for example. We are the only festival that is allowed to camp there for almost five days. For various reasons, they didn’t want us to bring food and drinks on the terrain. That was a big disappointment for some of the trained festival campers, so we try to avoid discomfort by bending the rules a little. We create a sort of supermarket and they can send us suggestions in The Monastery Facebook Group. It becomes difficult when people express their disappointment in harsh ways. We work on this project 7 days a week with all our heart and so much love. If you see things you want to see differently, why not ask? I mean, it’s our first festival, we all live and learn, right?
Art and music have obviously influenced your life. Name some of your favorite artists and musicians that have left a special mark.
The music you hear will touch you, change you, shake you, leave you with love or tears. That list is endless. But the respect I have for the incredibly hard work that both artists and musicians put in their life’s work is endless. It took me a while to understand that drive they need. To feel that. And I am not sure if a lot of people get it. It all looks flashy and cool from the outside, but you need a very strong vision and mind to grow in this industry. The artists and musicians that left a mark have opened my eyes. I try to work as personally with them as possible, welcoming them to our events and making them feel at home. Give them a break basically. Behrouz was one of the first ones to really open my eyes to the life of DJs, to understand them more, to become one with our musicians and I will forever be grateful for that. Like some, he’s family to me. Sometimes we drift, sometimes we work very close. But we are never far apart.
Inner peace and spiritual healing are some main features of your festival, with all the available activities offered. What advice would you give attendants of The Gardens of Babylon to fully take in the experience?
The spiritual program is a beautiful way to enjoy but also to rest. Go do the yoga, the meditations, find the secret cinema to lie down. We have a 24 hours a day program, but the most important thing for you is to enjoy and get some rest.
You have some of the most eccentric and talented artists playing at the festival. How do you go around building your line-ups and timetables? Is it challenging curating all these talents in one place?
It was definitely a beautiful puzzle. I can’t wait to share the full-time table. It absolutely makes you want to clone yourself. But in the end… Every set you choose is the right one.
If you were to send a global message to tell the world about the essence of The Gardens of Babylon, what would it be?
Let’s dream a little, tell us about the wildest ideas you had for Gardens of Babylon that might someday come to life?
We are spreading out internationally. By the time we are 2 years old, The Gardens of Babylon is taking place in ten countries. I hope we can one day say that we are still active in those ten countries and of course many more countries around the world.
Get your ticket: www.themonasteryfestival.com/tickets