The Evolution of RAMfestby Roger Young / Images by Kevin Goss-ross / 14.02.2012
Now in it’s sixth year RAMfest was started by the brothers Fourie (with Dawid as project manager, Henk on logistics, and Janneman managing the line-up) when they returned from travelling and realized that there were no alternative local festivals that could compete with the major internationals. RAMfest has since become a staple on the South African festival circuit; it’s multiple stages catering to all manner of niche and subcultural tastes. This year, however, the Fouries changed the three-day Cape Town festival to one day inviting ire from all quarters. We had a brief chat with Dawid about the reasoning behind the change and RAMfest’s future plans.
Mahala: How does it feel to be called a cunt on the internet?
Dawid Fourie: I try and laugh it off, because I know if that guy calling me a cunt were in my seat he’d be an even bigger cunt.
Do you think Capetonians have taken the change to a one-day event as a betrayal?
We understand that it caused some negativity, but we’ve also said that we’re trying something new, something that we see as the only way forward. It’s this or nothing for 2012. Cape Town has always been a smaller crowd than Joburg, and, unless that changes, I don’t see Cape Town getting the Saturday night slots for any big international band coming to South Africa. The Killers was on a Sunday night, Rammstein was on a Wednesday night… the list goes on. If people in Cape Town came out in bigger numbers, and supported us, it would have been a completely different story.
Are Capetonians being weird about the Sunday thing?
I think it is more the initial disappointment that RAMfest 2012 is just one day, than it actually being about the Sunday. If it were any other show, with four relevant international acts, people would be talking very differently about it.
Why did you choose the Saturday for Joburg?
In Flames are only able to be here for three days this time round. They arrive on Friday night and leave on the Monday morning. Joburg is the biggest crowd so they got the Saturday, Cape Town is a smaller crowd, and they got the Sunday. We’re trying to grow the other cities so it is worthwhile to keep the international acts here for longer so that Cape Town and Joburg both get a proper weekend festival, but it cannot happen in one go. It has to build naturally. Let’s all hold thumbs the other cities support and we can grow this to what we have in mind.
How are the sales going?
Joburg is doing incredibly well with pre-sales. We think that the event might sell out. Cape Town is not bad; we’ve definitely sold more than we had at this time in previous years. In Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth and Durban the tickets cost a lot less, and we expect the people in the smaller cities to buy at the door. There is also the fact that two of the cities don’t have internationals acts as a draw card, yet.
Is there a viable alternative music audience in South Africa?
It’s difficult, because the bands you want are not always available. There is sort of a hierarchy; you first need to bring these acts before you are given those acts. And this is not something people here understand, because there is only one promoter doing things on that scale and they have been running for 26 years, so they can bring who they want. And I think it’s time for an alternative organization to Big Concerts, an organization that can cater to alternative tastes.
Do you see yourselves staging more international shows during the year as well as the regular RAMfest?
We have plans to bring more acts during the year. Look, sometimes we lose a lot of money, but we’re not complaining about it. We’re trying to grow every year. We are trying our utmost to bring the biggest acts we can and it is getting easier every year. Look how far we’ve come in just six years. We have big plans ahead.
How did you go about choosing AWOLNATION?
AWOLNATION is a great band. They might not be that well known here yet but they are very relevant on the international scene. They are on their way up and this is what SA needs. The days of only bands that are on their way out, or twenty years too late, touring South Africa, are over.
The line up this year is obviously much shorter; do you feel you’ve got the same diversity of sounds as you did at the festival?
I believe that every act on there deserves the slot. We have newcomers and old hands. The music is diverse, and then we also have an electronic stage for all the electro heads.
The good people of Bloemfontein have accused you of being Satanists and/or the Illuminati. Apparently they are going to be praying for you. How are you dealing with this?
They have caused quite a lot of trouble for us in Bloem. We had to change venue as a Christian pressure group convinced the University not to allow us to stage it there. So be it, that’s rock ‘n roll.
How does camping, swimming and all of that work at the new Cape Town venue?
The campsite opens on the Saturday morning, 10th of March. We will have communal braai areas; there will be the Metal4Africa bar playing rock and metal tunes. There will be clean ablution for campers. As per usual campers are allowed to bring booze into the campsites. I wouldn’t advise swimming in the dam, but we’re working on sprinkler systems for cooling off.
Are you gonna let me ride the ostriches during Infected Mushrooms’ set?
The ostriches are being moved away for the festival, so no. But I’m sure it’ll feel like you are.