Overjam Interview

Ljubljana, 27. avgust 2013 – The International reggae festival Overjam took place in the lovely town of Tolmin, Slovenia, from 14th to 17th of August. What do organizers think about the festival and what are the plans for years to come? We talked about it with one of the organizers, Sandi Maver.

Overjam is a very special festival, also because it is organized by three nations. You come from Austria, Italy, and Slovenia. Which are the organizations responsibilities for the festival-taking place and how did the collaboration even start? When and where did the first Overjam take place?

The first year, Overjam festival was organized by Fulvio’s team in Vrtojba, on Slovene-Italian border (26.-28.7.2012) and Kurz Rock Vibe was asked to help them regarding PR and catering, backstage organization and some other logistic, consulting matters. Italian’s part of organization consist of three different associations, mostly reggae fans that know each other and work closely in Trieste and knew that Italians and Slovene’s have moved from the years when Rototom Sunsplash to another location in Spain since they missed reggae festival. Austrian organization was asked to become part of the promotion for the festival this year and in order to expand with the name of Overjam also in Austria and bring together people of Italy, Slovenia and Austria.

Sitting from left to the right: Sandi Maver, Fulvio Impellizzeri, Andrej Težak Tešky, Andrea Kwalaman

Od leve proti desni: Sandi Maver, Fulvio Impellizzeri, Andrej Težak Tešky, Andrea Kwalaman

Overjam festival wishes to combine music, as well as social elements. You have prepared so-called Overjam University, where conferences and discussions have been held with wide range of topics. What are some of the topics that have been discussed?

As reggae is not just music, but a way of life, Overjam decided to also present debates and various cultural activities presentations.  This year’s motto “Think green” included sustainable development, sustainable economy, and covered different topics that concern all of us, irrespective of the country in which we live. Conferences and lectures, daily workshops, awareness about the importance of nature, animals and other people – these are the topics covered by the Overjam University. In three afternoons we had three different and interesting debates. On the first day we had a theme: Organic farming: opportunity, urgency or only a provocation, presented by Association of ecological farmers from Nord Slovenia, while the second day was reserved for presentation of Ethiopia and Africa foundation and activism of Empress and Menen Foundation. The last day of the festival Banca Etica presented the topic: how can your money make a difference? Alternative way of banking system and money operations in todays world.

You have prepared many sports activities and creativity workshops for the visitors. 

That’s right, location itself offers us various options for sport and many other workshop activities. We are located next to river, so beach is a perfect place for various workshops (dance, percussions, different crafts skills, etc..) while swimming in fresh Tolminka and Soča and other water games can help people to stay in close touch with the nature. For families with small children we organized children garden and workshops for the youngest audience on the festival. Every afternoon was very busy and interesting, while different stands and crafts enriched the festival with different cultural arts, colors and flavors.

“Three worlds, three different and very rooted cultures as Italian, Slovenian, Austrian-German, are brought together in the spirit of green-red-yellow music.« This quote is written on the website of the festival. We could say Overjam differs from other festivals, what is the difference that makes a change? Is it the positive energy or is the nature where festival is taking place, what is the magic touch? What was the message of this year’s Overjam festival?

Overjam is already different from their roots and because of connection between Slovene, Italian and Austrian partners. As far as we know, we are not informed that there are many similar partnerships, at least not in reggae world. That’s why Overjam brings something new, fresh and cultural so different to join into one big positive message and family.  The vision of the festival, that is taking place at the junction of three countries, is to become a symbol of integration, peace and bringing together diversity.

Why did you choose Slovenia, why not Italy or Austria?

Interesting question. Why not? Fulvio’s Italian team already knew that it makes more sense to start with the festival in Slovenia, I guess also because of the laws and regulations. On the other hand, most of the organization team is from Slovenia and Trieste is very close to Slovenia, while Tolmin, Sotočje is one of the best festival locations in Europe, where Overjam immediately got the support from the other two established festivals at the mentioned location: Punk Rock Holidays and Metaldays.

Is it too much to say that by organizing an international festival, where three countries, three cultures and three nationalities are working together, you are also giving a good example of connection and collaboration between countries in general?

Maybe this is a too exaggerated way of thinking and comparison, but on the smaller scale it is for sure a very important model how three nationalities or partners can work close together. We also need to invent and find the best way how to succeed and make it happen.

Are there many Slovenians that live abroad participating in the festival? Moreover, how do you think festival is connecting Slovenians in Italy and Austria with those who live in Slovenia?

We have some Slovenians that live in Italy also in our organization team so we believe many Slovenians from Italy or Austria (we call them Zamejski Slovenci) are among visitors of the festival and we are proud and happy to have them among us. Overjam can be a good opportunity for all Slovenians that live abroad to visit their homeland and to spend some nice time in the great nature on the festival and meet other nationality and know them better, not just their native population, but also many different cultural entities from Europe or around the world.

People could also participate as volunteers. What kind of things did they do?

Yes, this year we opened an option for volunteers to join us and help organize the festival. We had about 30 volunteers from different countries and they helped in different ways, like cleaning team, stage hands for band equipment, info point, press and Overjam University and parking workers, helping with all kinds of work on the festival. We are very pleased that so many people from Europe joined as volunteers and we hope that they will not regret this experience and we hope that many more can join us next year. We are very thankful to each of them and our other staff.

You have had a great line up for the festival; on the main stage only you have hosted great names of reggae music, among which Inner Circle, Barrington Levy, Jamaram, as well as many Slovenian bands. Could we say the festival itself is also a good chance for promoting tourism in Slovenia?

We also believe that this kind of festivals are a great opportunity for promoting tourism in Slovenia, that’s why we had close and very good relationship with local tourist office in Tolmin and in the future we will try to make better communication with national tourist office and government. We already contacted many foreign Embassies in Slovenia and will continue to inform them about our festival also in the future. It was just a shy start and we will work harder in the next editions of the festival.

Children were also welcomed at the festival; you have prepared a special children area. What sort of workshops and activities could they join there?

We had two girls that prepared many different workshops and simple games for our youngest audience. We are aware that this takes time so for the first year just a few parents decided to bring their children in custody, that’s why for the next year we will prepare full program for families with children to make them stay on the festival even longer and relax.

What is reggae anyway? Only music or is also the way of living?

Reggae is music, can be an expression of freedom or positive message, but for true reggae lovers can be more than that, can also be a way of life. That’s why the message and spirituality connected with reggae is so alive and still so present also among younger audience all over the world. It is not massive culture, but still present, for most of them remains just cultural and musical thing and there is nothing wrong with that either.

What are the plans for the next year? Maybe you could organize a course of Slovene, Italian and German language during the festival.

Why not, we are considering to learn different languages already among our team and idea is not bad. Overjam festival team knows that we have to improve in organization, we have many tasks to improve and make this festival friendly and safe for our visitors/audience, that’s why we will invest more in toilets/showers facility, it is very possible that we will put a fence around camping and some other important things that comes in time when festival grows.

What would you like to say to Slovenian people all around the world that are reading our magazine Moja Slovenija?

We would like to invite them to our festival and to spread around positive and good vibe about Overjam, peace and friendship. Together we can be strong and united. Welcome to our Overjam reggae festival on: 13.-16.8.2014!


Besedilo: Vanesa Kovač

Foto: Vanesa Kovač

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