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Published on January 24th, 2014 | by Dedee W


Off The Radar Festival

Jan 31 – Feb 2, 181 Atkins Rd, Te Arai, Wellsford

Dedee W chats to Thomas Lengefeld and Kathrin Schmidt from Off The Radar about bringing this DIY festival all the way from Hamburg to New Zealand.

Off The Radar. The name says it all. This festival sounds like something a bit different, not just another lost weekend of drinking and dancing in a field, but a unique place to find yourself discovering some new music, or art, and quite possibly some new friends. It’s a brand new festival in an unexplored location up north, next to Lake Tomarata and a short shuttle bus ride to the beach. Having just discovered Te Arai for myself on a New Year’s camping trip, I found it the perfect spot to escape to.

The idea was born when a New Zealand landowner visited the Fusion festival in Germany and dreamed of staging a similar festival in New Zealand. As things fell into place he happened to meet some of the organisers. A couple of years later a group of potential organisers made the trip over to Te Arai, and decided this was definitely the place to have it. Thomas Lengefeld was the only one who wanted to stick with idea of a smaller non-commercial festival.

“There’s no brands or sponsorship. This is a self-made DIY festival,” he says.

It is very much a collaborative effort, spanning the globe from the US to Germany to New Zealand

Festival organisers Thomas Lengefeld and Kathrin Schmidt – an ex-pat German who lives in Kerikeri  – have both worked at festivals in Europe, and met through the early stages of organising Off The Radar. It’s their first time staging a festival here. The site has a capacity for 3000, but they’re expecting around 1000 since the festival is relatively unknown so far. They’ve shipped over a huge self-made sound system made for events with 10,000 people, so that should be plenty.

The line-up is a mix of Indie, Hip Hop, Electronica, Drum ‘n’ Bass, Folk and Blues. They plan to go for 24 hours for three days, with live music ‘til midnight, followed by a dance party from 1am til dawn.

As part of their research, they met with Blink (the man behind Camp A Low Hum) last February, and interviewed him to learn about the New Zealand music scene.  This lead to them sharing some artists across both festivals.

I feel like Off The Radar might have a similar vibe to Camp A Low Hum, with its DIY ethic and personally curated line-up. For those who missed out on tickets to Camp this year, or were looking for an alternative that’s closer to Auckland, this could be the perfect solution.

Some of the acts playing were discovered by Thomas at his venue Hafenklang in Hamburg, such as the one man band Made For Chickens by Robots. Anto Macaroni played a sold out show with his band the Puta Madre Brothers there, which lead to him being added to the bill. His blend of blues, funk and loop pedals might appeal to fans of Bob Log III.

They’re also excited to be bringing over Daedelus, with his mind-bending glitchy electronica, and Astronautalis who they describe as “backpacker rap – not your typical rap beats”. They built a network in New Zealand to find local acts. When Lisa and Marcus from AAA Records came to stay in Hamburg, they recommended Mice on Stilts, purveyors of the finest cinematic doom folk (and how I heard of this festival in the first place). Sheep, Dog & Wolf – who Thomas was very impressed with at the Reeperbahn festival in Hamburg –  is another great addition to the line-up, having done his first tour of Europe, as well as winning the Critics’ Choice Award at the New Zealand Music Awards last year. You can also catch other New Zealand acts such as Orchestra of Spheres, The Murderchord, drum ‘n’ bass Dj TREi, and Uncle Barnie, to add even more to the mix.

The festival will feature lighting and stage design by End of The Line from Auckland, as well as visual installations and kinetic art by German artists Dieselqueen, and  Klappen Maja Explosiv from Switzerland will be bringing huge kinetic and fire art installations to add to the experience.

Kathrin says they want this festival to create a lasting impression, so that you leave feeling like you really were part of something special.

“It’s a wide range of all sorts of subcultures coming together as one community,” she adds.

You can also apply to volunteer. If you want to earn your ticket – details can be found on their Facebook page.

Another refreshing alternative to the big corporate festivals, Off The Radar will be a welcome addition to the growing festival scene in New Zealand.


The Off The Radar Mixtape:

I’m a fan of mixtapes, so I asked Thomas and Kathrin compile some of their favourite tracks right now. Here’s what they came up with.

Cat Power – The Greatest

Daedelus – Admit Defeat

Tokimonsta ft. MNDR – Go With It

Shabazz Palace – Are you?…Can you?…Were you? (Felt)

Astronautalis – The River, the woods

Shellac – Prayer to God

Non Prophets – Damage

Tyler The Creator – Yonkers

Clipping ft. Jalene Goodwin – Bullshit

Jessie Evans – Is It Fire?




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About the Author

Freelance arts journalist who goes to far too many gigs, comedy shows and everything in between. But still loves every minute of it. Gig junky/arts enthusiast. dedee(AT)

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