When you’re a touring musician, life on the road can be tough. Despite the obvious perks, reality – with its early mornings, tight turnarounds, and lonely nights – can make world travel feel relentless.
During festival season, this feeling is amplified. With thousands of events happening across the world, it’s become the norm for musicians to travel back and forth, from continent-to-continent, to keep up with the summer festival crowds. After all, the more lineups you appear on, the higher your profile becomes.
One of the biggest of these is Dimensions – Croatia’s famed underground dance festival. The event, which is held each August on the Pula coastline, brings together some of the biggest names in house, techno and electronic music. Mixing a beautiful, sun-soaked setting with expertly curated lineups, the festival rounds up both iconic names (this year saw Kraftwerk and Nils Frahm lead the charge) to the most exciting emerging talent in the industry.
As this year’s edition of the festival drew to a close, we caught up with six women who fall into the latter category to find out how they’ve been coping with the change of pace. Is life on the road all its lived up to? And what are the most valuable lessons they learnt so far?
Travelling is my favourite thing in the world. It opens your mind and inspires you. The only thing I don’t enjoy is getting stopped and investigated at airport security because of ‘random selection’ or, in most cases, my underwire.
The best thing about Croatia, in particular, is the clear sky. I can get lost sitting by the water watching the stars at night. Oh, and when the lightning strikes there it’s no joke – last time I watched it spread across the sky like an electric spider web. Nature humbles me.
What I’ve learnt from my travels is that it’s always good to keep your phone charged. You may find yourself lost somewhere and we all know the internet saves lives. Also, make the most of being in new spaces, explore the food, and talk to the people. One thing though, if you’re vegan like me you may need to bring some packed food on your travels. Always prepare for the worst, some countries don’t really provide for that lifestyle and you don’t wanna get hangry.
I really enjoy travelling. I’m not sure if it’s the destinations themselves or the actual journey, but I love ‘keeping it moving’ – trying different cuisines and enjoying the sunset from somewhere new. I’m a seafood enthusiast and prefer a warmer climate.
Travelling alone a lot for work can get lonely, and I find I miss out on experiences because I feel uncomfortable doing something without a companion. Being in a festival like Dimensions in a place like Croatia that wouldn’t otherwise be very multi-cultural is comforting, not to mention knowing that the thousands of people around you have a similar taste in a music. You get a feeling of being a part of something bigger, a worldwide family.
For me, the beauty of travelling is having the chance to discover more about people, culture, art and food. I’ve come to experience many memorable moments through local musician friends, and learned a great deal from their cultural values.
I love Croatia. The nature there is beautiful and the people are so nice. It’s a real treat to perform at festivals like Dimensions. The crowd have put in effort to get there so you instantly feel that the party spirit is high.
Maybe it’s because I’m just at the start of my career, but travelling is yet to feel like ‘work.’ I really can’t complain, getting to visit all these new places and cultures is always exciting.
Dimensions was the first big festival I’ve been booked for. I did feel a certain amount of pressure, which is only normal, until I started playing then got in the zone. It was an amazing and unforgettable experience. Last year I was going to volunteer to be a steward at the festival, so to be able to play there has definitely been one of my highlights.
The downside to work travelling is that, if I’m travelling solo, there’s no one to share the experience with – which for me isn’t quite the same. I’m not used to travelling alone at my gigs, early on in my career my friends have always been coming with me as they are just as excited as me! However, the more I’m playing abroad the more the novelty wears off for them, so I am definitely going to find myself travelling alone a lot more.
I love finding new places and having new experiences. You get the chance to be exposed to so many different things. I feel super lucky to be able to travel.
What have I learnt from being on the road? Eat healthily, look after your body, and be careful in the sun – no matter how much you think you can take. Drink water. Sleep well (or as well as you can if you’re on tour). Be open and find new things to experience. Most of all, enjoy.
Text has been edited for clarity and length.
Registration for Dimentions Festival 2019 is now open.