Interview: Director of Livescape Asia, Adam Mathews

How did the idea of doing Future Music Festival Asia (FMFA) in Malaysia come about?
Livescape Asia’s three directors are major festival kakis. We’d also been in contact with the Future Entertainment guys in Australia and they were looking to extend their iconic festival into Asia. The timing, mutual admiration for each other, plus a stroke of luck and a pinch of good fortune allowed us to pull off the first show really quickly.

How did you go about finding and securing a suitable site?
One of the biggest challenges was to find a venue and site that could not only accommodate more than 25,000 people but also allow us to put on the level of show we wanted. The options were limited but fortunately, our main choice the F1 track (Sepang International Circuit) is a world class setup that has the needed infrastructure to stage FMFA. 

Were you nervous about whether it would be a success?
If any organizer tells you they are confident about the success before any show, then they are either delusional or on some serious meds! There are far too many factors at play to say that anything would be a success before it starts. Sometimes “success” has to be measured up to a month or months after the event. 

What’s the biggest challenge in putting on an event like this?
There isn’t one particular challenge that I would say is the biggest. As you can imagine, it’s just a crazy logistical puzzle that needs to be solved. Take for example the artiste liaisons. We had a team of over 60 liaisons, drivers and ushers to coordinate the movement of the more than 60 artistes we had. From airport pick-ups, hotel check-ins, sound checks, dinner, interviews, performance time and getting them back to the airport and on the flights, it was run like a military operation. But we have a great team of people working every single aspect of putting this show on and the results spoke for themselves last year. We’re very confident that we will raise that bar even higher for this year’s edition.

What was your favorite moment from last year’s festival?
When we knocked off work at 7am the next morning! The whole festival was a massive blur for everyone who worked on the show. But I have one memory that still makes me smile. It was seeing one of my heroes Grandmaster Flash dropping Duck Sauce’s Barbara Streisand to about 8,000 people on the helipad stage just as it was hitting dusk. The sight of all those bodies jumping up and down, fists pumping in the air will stick with me forever.

And the most worrying moment?
Any promoter will tell you that the worst moment of any show is the last half hour before the doors open. That’s when doubts creep in and there’s a mountain of work still left to do. I guess you would call that the necessary pains of the job. 

The best set you’ve seen at FMFA to date?
For crowd reaction, Pendulum absolutely smashed it to bits. They seriously took everyone by surprise. Musically I loved Jalebee Cartel’s live set. For sheer pride and admiration, it was seeing our local and regional heroes holding their own against the big boys. Goldfish and Blink (Malaysia), Bud Culture (Malaysia) and Agrikulture’s (Indonesia) sets went down well.

Who are you most excited about seeing this year?
I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t really looking forward to seeing PSY. We caught on to this very early on and recognized the sheer immense potential this performer and song had. I’m also really proud that we were the first festival series to take the out of the box approach in booking him. I am immensely excited to see Armin and the ASOT600 show happening. Not because it is an Asian debut but he has long been one of the top DJs. The fact that he is the most consistently voted #1 DJ in the world speaks for itself.

What’s going to be different this year from before?
We’re closer to realizing the complete festival this year. We took a lot of lessons learnt from last year to improve things this year. The festival lay-out is a lot better planned. There are a lot more things going on in different areas. For example, we’re curating a food village to feel like a Malaysian version of a village summer fair. There’s also going to be better chill out areas this year for you to take a breather in between sets from acts you want to see. I also am personally much happier with the acts on offer this year. At the end of the day, a music festival’s most important aspect is the music. And we have some great music this year.

How would you compare the live music scene in Malaysia to that (a) in Singapore and (b) elsewhere in the world?
Every country and every region has great things going on with the live music scene. I guess that’s what makes going to gigs in different shows so interesting. If things were the same everywhere, this would be a very boring world. What’s important is keeping an open mind and enjoying that diversity!

Future Music Festival Asia (FMFA) is on March 15-16 at Sepang International Circuit.

For more details, check out our news piece about the Future Music Festival Asia.