Gem Fest 2016! Guri Koiava: We want Georgia to have a huge international festival


Maybe you know or maybe not, soon there is gonna be the biggest electronic music festival in whole of the Caucasus called GEM FEST – from 10th to 14th August 2016 at a very special place – on the beach coast of Black Sea in Anaklia.

It is impossible to not know about GEM FEST if you are living in Tbilisi. Posters are simply everywhere and what is the most interesting is not only graphic design, but the names on them – as Paul Van Dyk, Paul Kalkbrenner, Stephan Bodzin, GusGus live, Fedde Le Grand and other famous names from electro scene. The festival is entering it’s second year, having been super successful from the beginning – last year came around 15 000 people and this year 40 000 people to come!

This year is kind of special for the Gem Fest team because they had  idea to try to use Erasmus+ and ask for EVSers (volunteers of European Volunteer Service) from abroad to help them and bring fresh ideas from different cultural background to upgrade the festival.  I asked one of the organizers – Guri Koiava, to tell me more about the festival and about the volunteers will help the festival grow.

I am really curious about a story of Gem Fest – how it all started, how it has grown and how is has expanded to so quickly after only one year?
Georgia is becoming very popular for hosting these kind of events. It started, I think, 10 years ago and grew really fast. We have many festivals going on and most of them are located in Tbilisi. First project which was organized in Anaklia was KaZantip. That was a Ukranian project which for many years was happening in Crimea. After the event called ”The place to go”, they chose Georgia. Georgian team was created and they worked a lot to bring this project here. Because KaZantip had a historical background it was very successful when it happened here, but after that, it finished and never happened again. People that came to KaZantip of course wanted to experience such a festival and we created a team, quite an international team, and started to work on totally Georgian project that was called Gem Fest – Georgian Electronic Music Festival. But “gem” also means a precious stone, especially when cut and polished or engraved, so there is also some hidden meaning.

How was the first year of Gem Fest?
The first year was really succesful, around 15 000 people came although our project was created in just two months. We had quite nice line up for the Gem Fest 2015 – one of the biggest names were Armin Van Buuren, Booka Shade, Ellen Allien and Luciano. The first year for an unknown newly created brand Gem Fest was of course quite difficult. It was challenging to attract so famous artists and get them here and to gain a trust not only of artists but also of sponsors. But we managed it and now for the second year we are happy we don´t have those problems any more, we have ambitions for certain artists to perform and this year we have more than 100 artists coming.

I have seen you have given a space to Georgian newcomers to present themselves during the festival, right?
Yes, we have a project called “Newcomers for Gem Fest” and we give a space and possibility to everyone (Georgian artists) to send their work and to play. We have selected some of them who are going to play on the Newcomers stage.

I also heard you have some kind of special opportunity for journalists from abroad to come and join the festival.
Last year we were so lucky to have CNN here and we are planning to invite them again and also we have a huge media trip going on to the opening of the festival. International journalists from Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan plus UK and some other European countries are coming, they will enjoy the opening night together with us and then they can write a review and we hope it could make us to be more international next year.

When all the preparations of such a festival are starting? Are you working on it whole year?
Yes, when Gem Fest is finished next Gem Fest is starting. No break, no vacations 😀 Now we are counting days and all the main team is working 24/7 and it is a normal thing because when the start of the festival is so close you have to invest of all your time to work.

But actually there is not so many people in the main organizing team right?
We are around 30 people and everybody is super busy these days. We have really nice organization structure, every person is responsible for specific tasks. We don´t want to be very commercial, we don´t call ourselves a “company”, we are an organization which has a lot of social directions. And we are still just a group of friends. We have also around 400 of volunteers who are helping and supporting us and we have the international volunteers too.

This is for the first time you have EVSers in your office, who came up with this idea and why?
I was with EVS volunteer myself in Poland and I think volunteers are doing a great job and when we had Georgian volunteers we thought why not to have international ones. They can bring you new ideas. For example few days ago we organized Gem Fest Parade “Walk the Gem” in Tbilisi to promote the festival with our so-called Gem Fest Dream Team of volunteers and it was quite successful, I have to say. This year we are trying to involve many volunteers and I hope next year it will be even more. All of the volunteers are quite smart and they are bringing individual ideas so they just need supervising. The ideas are coming from them and we can support them and discuss it with them. Right now this is their main task, because the main team is super busy and we appreciate that every volunteer is individual or they work in their own groups and then present us their ideas. But sure we also have some regular task which can do every volunteer, first of all they have to be active on social media.

gem fest paradaWalk the Gem – a parade of Gem Fest Dream Team of volunteers in Tbilisi

Can you try to describe for me every day “routine” in the Gem Fest office to show how is it going and what are you doing?
Of course it is not routine, every day is different, every day is spontaneous. Specially now when we are counting days and it is sooo hot in Tbilisi we all are tired but we can´t think about it and we are extremely excited to see the opening day!  I am personally working for this day the whole year 🙂

How is the Gem Fest going to be this year? Give me some reasons why everyone should come!
For the second Gem Fest we already have a history, we have big brand and we are doing now even more creative festival when we expect around 40 000 people and it is gonna be more international. In terms of sales we can say that minimum 30% of guests will be from abroad. We want Georgia to have a huge international festival where all the people gathering and they are experiencing the best quality music and enjoying the space. I believe Anaklia truly is a beautiful place, I mean, have you seen the sun set there? Gorgeous nature, modern architecture, we believe it represents Georgia quite well, it’s just a place that makes you warm in your heart, thus Anaklia makes you happy. We are trying to keep the place very friendly (including the costs – bars will have limited prices of alcohol), we have a very nice Camp City, there will be shade everywhere, there will be also many sport and fun activities (on the beach) and actually we will post more details about them very soon 🙂 Sooo come and see!

Find more info about Gem Fest and buy tickets here: http://gem-fest.com/

Gem Fest 2016! Guri Koiava: We want Georgia to have a huge international festivalhttp://recmag.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/13346832_1770920353194841_3989627696673320847_n-680x259.pnghttp://recmag.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/13346832_1770920353194841_3989627696673320847_n-150x57.png Kristyna Kyankova CultureEventsSociety,,,,,,,,
Maybe you know or maybe not, soon there is gonna be the biggest electronic music festival in whole of the Caucasus called GEM FEST - from 10th to 14th August 2016 at a very special place - on the beach coast of Black Sea in Anaklia. It is impossible to...
<b><i>Maybe you know or maybe not, soon there is gonna be the biggest electronic music festival in whole of the Caucasus called GEM FEST - from 10th to 14th August 2016 at a very special place - on the beach coast of Black Sea in Anaklia.</i></b> <span style="font-weight: 400">It is impossible to not know about GEM FEST if you are living in Tbilisi. Posters are simply everywhere and what is the most interesting is not only graphic design, but the names on them - as </span><b>Paul Van Dyk</b><span style="font-weight: 400">, </span><b>Paul Kalkbrenner</b><span style="font-weight: 400">, </span><b>Stephan Bodzin</b><span style="font-weight: 400">, </span><b>GusGus</b><span style="font-weight: 400"> live, </span><b>Fedde Le Grand</b><span style="font-weight: 400"> and other famous names from electro scene. The festival is entering it’s second year, having been super successful from the beginning - last year came around 15 000 people and this year </span><b>40 000 people</b><span style="font-weight: 400"> to come!</span> <span style="font-weight: 400">This year is kind of special for the Gem Fest team because they had  idea to try to use Erasmus+ and ask for EVSers (volunteers of European Volunteer Service) from abroad to help them and bring fresh ideas from different cultural background to upgrade the festival.  I asked one of the organizers - </span><b>Guri Koiava</b><span style="font-weight: 400">, to tell me more about the festival and about the volunteers will help the festival grow.</span> <img class="alignnone" src="https://www.residentadvisor.net/images/events/flyer/2016/8/ge-0810-805819-781308-front.jpg" width="960" height="658" /><b></b> <b>I am really curious about a story of Gem Fest - how it all started, how it has grown and how is has expanded to so quickly after only one year? </b><span style="font-weight: 400">Georgia is becoming very popular for hosting these kind of events. It started, I think, 10 years ago and grew really fast. We have many festivals going on and most of them are located in Tbilisi. First project which was organized in Anaklia was KaZantip. That was a Ukranian project which for many years was happening in Crimea. After the event called ”The place to go”, they chose Georgia. Georgian team was created and they worked a lot to bring this project here. Because KaZantip had a historical background it was very successful when it happened here, but after that, it finished and never happened again. People that came to KaZantip of course wanted to experience such a festival and we created a team, quite an international team, and started to work on totally Georgian project that was called Gem Fest - Georgian Electronic Music Festival. But “</span><i><span style="font-weight: 400">gem</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400">” also means a precious stone, especially when cut and polished or engraved, so there is also some hidden meaning.</span> <b>How was the first year of Gem Fest? </b><span style="font-weight: 400">The first year was really succesful, around 15 000 people came although our project was created in just two months. We had quite nice line up for the Gem Fest 2015 - one of the biggest names were </span><b>Armin Van Buuren</b><span style="font-weight: 400">, </span><b>Booka Shade</b><span style="font-weight: 400">, </span><b>Ellen Allien</b><span style="font-weight: 400"> and </span><b>Luciano</b><span style="font-weight: 400">. The first year for an unknown newly created brand Gem Fest was of course quite difficult. It was challenging to attract so famous artists and get them here and to gain a trust not only of artists but also of sponsors. But we managed it and now for the second year we are happy we don´t have those problems any more, we have ambitions for certain artists to perform and this year we have more than 100 artists coming.</span> <img class="alignnone" src="http://gem-fest.com/file/2016/06/11866334_1047508521927789_332649935120542903_n.png" width="960" height="640" /> <b>I</b><b> have seen you have given a space to Georgian newcomers to present themselves during the festival, right? </b><span style="font-weight: 400">Yes, we have a project called “Newcomers for Gem Fest” and we give a space and possibility to everyone (Georgian artists) to send their work and to play. We have selected some of them who are going to play on the Newcomers stage.</span> <b>I also heard you have some kind of special opportunity for journalists from abroad to come and join the festival. </b><span style="font-weight: 400">Last year we were so lucky to have CNN here and we are planning to invite them again and also we have a huge media trip going on to the opening of the festival. International journalists from Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan plus UK and some other European countries are coming, they will enjoy the opening night together with us and then they can write a review and we hope it could make us to be more international next year.</span> <b>When all the preparations of such a festival are starting? Are you working on it whole year? </b><span style="font-weight: 400">Yes, when Gem Fest is finished next Gem Fest is starting. No break, no vacations 😀 Now we are counting days and all the main team is working 24/7 and it is a normal thing because when the start of the festival is so close you have to invest of all your time to work.</span> <img class="alignnone" src="http://gem-fest.com/file/2016/06/MG_5337_.jpg" width="2400" height="1600" /> <b>But actually there is not so many people in the main organizing team right? </b><span style="font-weight: 400">We are around 30 people and everybody is super busy these days. We have really nice organization structure, every person is responsible for specific tasks. We don´t want to be very commercial, we don´t call ourselves a “company”, we are an organization which has a lot of social directions. And we are still just a group of friends. We have also around 400 of volunteers who are helping and supporting us and we have the international volunteers too.</span> <b>This is for the first time you have EVSers in your office, who came up with this idea and why? </b><span style="font-weight: 400">I was with EVS volunteer myself in Poland and I think volunteers are doing a great job and when we had Georgian volunteers we thought why not to have international ones. They can bring you new ideas. For example few days ago we organized Gem Fest Parade “Walk the Gem” in Tbilisi to promote the festival with our so-called Gem Fest Dream Team of volunteers and it was quite successful, I have to say. This year we are trying to involve many volunteers and I hope next year it will be even more. All of the volunteers are quite smart and they are bringing individual ideas so they just need supervising. The ideas are coming from them and we can support them and discuss it with them. Right now this is their main task, because the main team is super busy and we appreciate that every volunteer is individual or they work in their own groups and then present us their ideas. But sure we also have some regular task which can do every volunteer, first of all they have to be active on social media.</span> <p style="text-align: center"><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-580" src="http://recmag.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/gem-fest-parada-1.jpg" alt="gem fest parada" width="820" height="547" /><em>Walk the Gem - a parade of Gem Fest Dream Team of volunteers in Tbilisi</em></p> <p style="text-align: left"><b>Can you try to describe for me every day “routine” in the Gem Fest office to show how is it going and what are you doing? </b><span style="font-weight: 400">Of course it is not routine, every day is different, every day is spontaneous. Specially now when we are counting days and it is sooo hot in Tbilisi we all are tired but we can´t think about it and we are extremely excited to see the opening day!  I am personally working for this day the whole year :)</span></p> <b>How is the Gem Fest going to be this year? Give me some reasons why everyone should come! </b><span style="font-weight: 400">For the second Gem Fest we already have a history, we have big brand and we are doing now even more creative festival when we expect around 40 000 people and it is gonna be more international. In terms of sales we can say that minimum 30% of guests will be from abroad. We want Georgia to have a huge international festival where all the people gathering and they are experiencing the best quality music and enjoying the space. I believe Anaklia truly is a beautiful place, I mean, have you seen the sun set there? Gorgeous nature, modern architecture, we believe it represents Georgia quite well, it’s just a place that makes you warm in your heart, thus Anaklia makes you happy. We are trying to keep the place very friendly (including the costs - bars will have limited prices of alcohol), we have a very nice Camp City, there will be shade everywhere, there will be also many sport and fun activities (on the beach) and actually we will post more details about them very soon 🙂 </span><b><i>Sooo come and see!</i></b> <span style="font-weight: 400"><img class="alignnone" src="http://gem-fest.com/file/2016/06/11865005_1657134191240125_995431574105063360_o.jpg" width="2048" height="1367" /></span> Find more info about Gem Fest and buy tickets here: <a href="http://gem-fest.com/">http://gem-fest.com/</a>
Kristyna Kyankova
Human, women and animal rights activist from Brno, Czech Republic. Currently on EVS in Georgia for 10 months. Focused on various topics from different fields. Feminism, sexism, objectifying / sustainability, ecology, environment / refugees, minorities / gender, LGBT / culture, life style, fashion / Interested in visiting places in Tbilisi and Georgia and enjoying life here as much as possible!