For two days and nights on October 22-23, Animas Festival will bring live music, art, and festival vibes to the RiNo neighborhood in Denver. The arts district will be blessed by this outdoor event featuring local creatives from all over who have teamed up to put on the very first Animas Festival. Their website says the event will eventually branch out to other cities, but Denver gets the first taste of what this fledgling crew has to offer. Everybody has to start somewhere, and having a grassroots attitude paired with a killer lineup might be the recipe for Mile High success. It’s nice to see something locally-owned and operated break into the festival market.
With a silent disco stage, live painting, fire spinning, AR and VR displays, a cannabis bus, food and drinks on the banks of the South Platte River, the elements are there to make this inaugural festival something special for the underground party culture.
Hippies and bass heads alike will be in attendance, as well as people curious to see what Animas is all about. Sporeganic will be putting on a Microdose VR visual display, while Jack LNDN headlines Friday, followed by Aztek and Psymbionic taking the helm of the soundsystem on Saturday. Denver-based dubstep producer/DJ Aimerie, and DJ duo Ghost Ride will represent for the home town throw down. In Denver’s music scene, it seems there’s always room for more, so hopefully the stars align and this becomes the first of many Animas Festivals. Tickets are affordably priced at $20 per day for a seven hour shindig from 5pm-2am. So if this piques your interest, check out their website for more deets.
We caught up with the director and visionary behind Animas, Alexandria Rowen to get the low down on the spirit behind the festival.
The Rooster: How did Animas get started as an event company?
Rowen: Animas was born during the pandemic, after I got connected with a collective in LA called The Rattle. They’re a community of artists, hackers, makers and inventors all committed to disrupting the paradigm of the music, art and tech industries. I was inspired by this collaborative spirit to break apart these monoliths that held so much control over creative communities. I was shown so many new ways to reclaim my autonomy as an artist and I wanted to give that back to my fellow creatives who deserve that same ability to flourish independently. So many of us have had to rely on bullshit algorithms and soul-sucking social media to showcase our art and connect. Major festivals had always been a source of opportunity for creatives and entrepreneurs, but to even get booked you had to play the numbers game. It was all about how many followers you had on FB or IG. We don’t operate that way. For Animas, it’s about showcasing pure talent and passion, not popularity.
What events have you held before?
I started with small pop up parties when I lived in Atlanta, just DJing with other artist friends. My first big(ish) event was Divine Calling, an all-female/womxn identifying event of artists, performers and vendors. We had A Hundred Drums as the headliner and donated profits to The Delores Project, a shelter for unaccompanied women and transgender individuals experiencing homelessness.
What is the ethos or mission statement of Animas?
Animas’ major goal is to design and develop interactive experiences in collaboration with locals that celebrate a city’s unique underground culture.
We challenge the standard festival experience, uplifting local talent and businesses without sacrificing high-quality production or selling out. We don’t just pay lip service to broad social issues like sustainability, but actively engage in and support local social and environmental activism embodying the phrase “Think Global, Act Local.”
Diversity and acceptance lie at the center of our ethos – we are dedicated to creating a festival experience where people from all walks of life are welcome and can enjoy the festival whether their lifestyle includes cannabis, alcohol, or not.
What atmosphere are you trying to create with Animas Festival in Denver?
Euphoric, magical, exhilarating, energizing, recharging. The best part about Animas is that you can find whatever vibe you want, you just have to look for it. We’ve got a cannabis bus where you can chill and relax with your homies. We’ve got the main stage with live music and fire performers to excite you. There’s a sonic healing booth where you can recharge. And then there’s an entire vendor village with food trucks and booths where you can shop and eat. We wanted to create a space for people to party however they want, whether you’re sober or not, introverted or extroverted, there’s something for you.
What other festivals or events do you liken Animas to, if any?
The down-to-earth community feeling you get when you walk into Sonic Bloom is closest to what Animas feels like. We’re not a massive production company, we’re just locals supporting and uplifting other locals. Everything is done with intention and heart.
What are some inspirations for putting something like this together?
To be honest, all of my artist and entrepreneurial friends. I’m so grateful to be connected to beautiful humans who pursue their dreams and live for their passions. It’s what fuels me. I wanted to provide a space where all of us could connect, play, interact and experiment. Electric Forest is another inspiration. The ability to deep dive into the imagination with all of the senses was a major part of Animas’ creation. I wanted to create a space for magic and exploration, without a massive price tag.
What challenges have you had to face while planning / throwing events?
The first challenge was finding the right venue that supported our vision, especially one that was independently owned. So many spaces are getting snapped up by AEG and other big corps that it’s hard to find spaces who care more about the community than the checks. We wanted to find a venue where we could nurture a long-term relationship and establish a space for locals to feel at home. After that, it was finding ways to do it safely in these COVID times.
Where are the artists that are participating in this year’s festival from?
99.9% of artists are locals. We’re bringing out Psymbionic who’s based in Austin, Aztek who’s in LA, and a couple artists are driving in from the surrounding midwest cities. Other than that, we wanted to book directly from Denver’s insanely talented pool of artists and creatives.
Who would you like to collaborate with for future events?
I’d love to collaborate with the artists and brains behind Meow Wolf. With every future Animas event we want to enable creatives to bring their imaginations to life in the physical world. I love how Meow Wolf explores that. It would be so fun to collaborate with the minds behind such installations by Kling Klang Klong in Berlin, Hush in NYC, HP Spectorium to name a few. With all of the new tech capabilities coming onto the scene, it would be so fun to just get a bunch of local creatives in the room with engineers, let them play, and see what magic happens.
Plans for the future?
Even though we’ve done several events in Denver, Animas is meant to be a traveling festival. We’re looking at select smaller cities around the US that have insanely talented creative communities, but lack the massive infrastructure that LA or NYC have. It’s more important for us to support and collaborate with locals to develop their towns into meccas of arts and music without having to sell-out to big companies to get it done.
Beyond that, there’s a VR/XR element in the works for Animas. We’re working to create an online platform that essentially turns a city into an online video game. Imagine the movie Ready, Player One had a baby with Pokemon Go…