FVDED In the Park Goes Back To Its Dance Music Roots with Swedish House Mafia, Kx5 and More
After cancelling last year's festival, FVDED In The Park is returning to its roots with a dance-focused lineup, featuring all-stars like Kx5 and up-and-comers like John Summit. Promoter Alvaro Prol tells Billboard Canada about the festival's new approach.
The party is coming back to the park this summer.
After a cancelled edition in 2023, music festival FVDED In The Park is returning to Surrey, B.C.'s Holland Park for 2024. The festival is invoking its origins as a club night with a dance-music focused lineup set for July 5-6, that brings together legends like Swedish House Mafia and the deadmau5 and Kaskade collab Kx5, as well as rising stars like John Summit and Dom Dolla.
FVDED In The Park is a co-production between Live Nation and Blueprint, who also put on festivals like Calgary's Badlands and Edmonton's Get Together. After a return to their Holland Park location in 2022, with headliners Rick Ross and Don Toliver, the promoters cancelled the 2023 edition and took some time to refocus the festival's mission. Following an in-depth survey of FVDED attendees, the festival has decided to pull back from programming genres beyond dance music to lean into what it does best, and what its community is asking for.
"We tried to make sure people were heard,” says Blueprint's Alvaro Prol of the decision. He explains that the promoters received extensive feedback — both on the survey and outside of it — from their community, indicating what they want from the festival. And what they want is to dance.
Prol thinks the desire comes in part from the pandemic having served as a re-set, in terms of how people engage with music. “The music industry froze in time, all of us promoters and creators," he explains. "It was hard to find inspiration. Music and experience, it’s almost like they live together.”
Prol suggests that people are less interested in festival lineups that bring together many genres, especially when many of those acts are already touring, and instead want lineups that cater to their interests, particularly where dance music is concerned. “It’s almost like we’re rebuilding communities," Prol says. He points out that more and more, people are discovering music at home, and don't look to festivals as places of discovery. Instead, they want to go see the acts they love, with the communities they belong to.
FVDED began in the early 2010s as a club night, before evolving into a festival that can attract tens of thousands of fans. As it expanded, the festival started booking other genres, particularly hip-hop acts. Putting together this year's lineup, Prol says the festival is emphasizing what it knows best — Blueprint came out of the house music and electronic music scenes of the '90s and 2000s. "It felt like we just wanted to take it home again,” Prol says.
Prol looked to his relationships in dance music to build the 2024 festival experience. This is only Swedish House Mafia's second festival performance in Canada, and so far, no other lineups this year feature Swedish House Mafia and Kx5 together as headliners. Prol was able to secure those bookings because of his deep roots in dance music: he booked Swedish House Mafia back when they were playing 200-cap rooms, and his first Kaskade show sold just 12 tickets.
FVDED In The Park is pairing those superstars with up-and-coming names like John Summit, who recently sold out Madison Square Garden. Festival-goers also told FVDED that they especially appreciate an experience-focused festival, so the promoters are investing in their third stage, to give it a unique forested atmosphere.
FVDED's emphasis on genre and experience is part of a larger process of festivals re-imagining live music after lockdown. Live Nation Canada also recently launched a new Vancouver festival, Coast City Country, which not only focuses on a specific genre but also aims to be about more than just the music, planning for a country takeover of Vancouver this April. Meanwhile, festivals with broader scopes aren't getting the warmest receptions online.
Does this spell the end of genre-fluidity for live music? Are listeners really siloing themselves off into pre-internet niches? And what does that mean for genres like hip-hop, which are already historically undervalued by the Canadian music industry? Prol says FVDED isn't planning to exclusively program dance music going forward, but that this was what felt right this year. Live music events big and small are figuring out how to approach a post-lockdown landscape, as pandemic-specific funding expires. Another west coast festival, the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, nearly shutdown last year, before the festival's supporters rallies to save it.
"These days it’s just trying to do your best to feel like you can have a conversation with your people that are coming to and interacting with your brand," Prol explains. “I can’t wait to give Vancouver their festival back.”
Pre-sale for FVDED In The Park starts February 13. Sign up here and check out the full lineup below.
With files by Richard Trapunski