Music Export Denmark met up with Susanna Hulkkonen from Flow Festival for a little chat at Music and Media in Tampere. Flow Festival is a city festival held in August in Helsinki and is one of the biggest festivals in its category both locally and nationally. Musicwise, the focus lies on new, exciting music as well as bigger alternative acts.
The event co-incides with Way Out West in Gothenburg and Øya in Oslo, which all sport similar musical profiles and can therefore benefit from offering artists attractive deals in the region. However, Flow’s profile is also defined by the beautiful festival site and the excellent food.
According to Susanna, the festival also books artists that are not very well known in Finland, since the event attracts audience also from abroad and since a band having a fan base in another market is just as good a reason to book them as if they had a fan base in Finland.
”The Flow-concept, including the location, the food, the talks, atmosphere and music, is the idea of the festival. That’s why people keep coming back. There’s room for experiments in the line-up when people know the general atmosphere will still be the same” says Susanna.
So how do you book artists to Flow?
”There’s a booking team of seven people, lead by two artistic leaders, one for bands and one for DJ’s. Together they agree on what artists should play and they have all got their own preferences of course.”
Mø played the festival in 2014, how did you find her?
”I remember seeing her for the first time at Tavastia, the most popular rock club in Helsinki. It was a really great show and we managed to book her for Flow. Later, at The Great Escape, her show was sold out with a massive line outside the venue. That’s about as clear a sign as you can get that it’s going to be huge” says Susanna. ”Now, with a little perspective, you can tell that she has set a trend for a lot of music.”
Since the start in 2004, Flow has grown from a small local event to a national happening attracting more than 70 000 visitors every year. Still, the festival is fully independent and recently decided to expand its business. In June 2015, a couple of months ahead of the Helsinki event, Flow Ljubjana was held for the first time in Slovenia. The general concept was exactly the same as in Helsinki and the line-up boasted artists from Finland, Sweden, the UK, Germany, Poland and the US, including Metronomy, José González and Run the Jewels.
How was the idea of Flow Ljubjana born?
”It all sprung out of personal relations to locals. The idea of exporting a festival is not new per se – Sónar, Primavera and others have done the same, but they are huge events. Internationally, we’re relatively small, and we’re also independent. A great thing is we had some booking benefits when promoting two festivals at the same time.”
Hulkkonen says Flow Festival will definitely continue developing the international event concept further. No artists have been announced for the 2016 Helsinki edition yet, but the event will be held on 12th -14th August.