Sound Central Festival 2013, Afghanistan’s only alternative arts festival held April 30 and May 1 – 4, 2013, was a massive success by all standards. Audiences over the four-day period were larger and more diverse than in previous years, more bands played and a wider variety and number of artists demonstrated their talents. Held at Kabul’s Institute France Afghanistan, this year’s festival, our third annual festival, broke all previous records and created a safe and comfortable environment for both men and women to enjoy the performing arts.
Core Statistics:
• 2,594 people attended the four-day festival; 85% were Afghan nationals. • 550 women attended Women’s Only Day, the festival opener on April 30, had a record audience comprised of school girls, women residents of a local shelter, Afghan Girl Scouts, Afghan women’s sports teams, a Kabul orphanage, and members of the general female population including young professionals. • 10 women's organisation's displayed and sold their handmade clothing, jewellery, art, and crafts.
• 32 bands performed. • 28 performing artists displayed their work. • Visiting musicians came from Australia, USA, France, Poland, UK and Uzbekistan! • Performances and displays included music, film, photography, painting, puppetry, live graffiti painting, skateboarding, poetry and bicycle riding. • Media coverage: the festival was covered by major international and local broadcasters, with Tolo TV dedicating several prime slots to the festival. Tolo has a 45% share of viewers in Afghanistan. • SCF’s website statistics went up by 57.28% over the festival week. • SCF’s Facebook page stats went up by 179.77%, from the 29th to 4th of May it reached 31,744 people. • SCF’s179 tweets during the four-day festival reached 16,628 accounts and was exposed to 25,835 more accounts. • 1,600 viewers in 37 countries watched Afghanistan's first ever festival live feed to the world produced by Paywast.
• • 1.
Our target age group was 18-24 YO, with 34.1% being female
The top 3 countries traffic to the festival was Afghanistan, 2, Pakistan and 3. USA
Day 1
Women Only Day was dedicated to women and drew 550 women. The all female audience was treated to rap from Ramika and Paradise, Rock from White City, Folk music from Ariana Delawari, sound-scape from Julie Rousse. A fashion show was provided by two young Afghan sisters, The Wonderland Women.We had poetry recitals by numerous Afghan girls. There were also interactive classes in bicycle riding from M2M and skateboarding with Skate-Aid, as well as exhibitions of painting from Latiffa Anzurgar, Malina Suliman and photographs from Mariam Alimi.
Day 2
Our second day was open to men and women, with all the content from the day above with the exception of the fashion show. We hosted the finals to Afghanistan’s first ever Poetry Slam and the winner was a young Afghan female. Our indoor stage was dedicated to world music and had acts such as Kabul Sound Society, Adam and the I’s, Buoy LaRue and Dirty Jeans. Outside, our graffiti group Berang took over the IFA walls and skateboarding activities increased with male interaction. A life-size photographic exhibition from Streets of Afghanistan added vibrant colour to the IFA compound. On the outdoor stage we featured electronic acts like Julie Rousse, DJ Sully, Craig McVegas, Haroun Omar and rappers FM and Hybrid Pharaohs.
Day 3
On our third day, we “turned it up”, literally. The indoor stage was dedicated to rock with local bands such as Kabul Dreams, Morcha, District Unknown, White Page and the new kids on the block, Face Off rocking the mixed crowd. It was clear that all local bands had made big improvements since last year which was reflected in the audiences reaction, ecstatic. They were joined by international band based in Kabul, White City and Uzbek funk band Tears of the Sun. The outdoor stage mirrored the day 2 program and all the sports and arts areas were again alive with activity. Throughout the day we screened short films from Holland, UK [Future Shorts], Roya Films [Afghan] and UNAMA. The day’s program closed with the Afghan premier of Ariana Delawari’s award winning film “We Came Home.”
Day 4
The final day of the festival was dedicated to the headlining act, Masala Sound System, who were hosted by the Polish Embassy. This shorter program started at 5pm with Morcha performing an acoustic set with their original singer who had just flown back from Germany. This was followed by an improvisational jam session by Unknown System. Masala closed the concert with an amazing show. Their mix of modern Dub beats, Polish hip hop lyrics, and most importantly eastern influences of sitar and tabla, wowed the Afghan audience and they were a first time hit. The audience had never heard their music before and the crowd reaction was more energetic than any other act within in the entire program. This concert was a perfect way of illustrating that music is a global language and can bring opposite sides of the world together in a community like no other art form.
29th, Julie Rousse conducted a electronic illustration workshop at the Rock centre to an audience of 5 students.
Michael Herrman from Buoy LaRue, gave continuous classes in guitar and singing at the Rock centre throughout the festival week.
Adam Nicholas from Adam and the I’s gave singing classes at the Rock centre throughout the festival month.
There was constant spray paint experimentation by the audience in the IFA outdoor area. There was skate board and bicycle classes in the IFA front area.
Sound Central Festival continues to demonstrate that it is triggering, supporting and attracting new creative activity among young Afghans.
As in past years, we have seen new acts like Hybrid Pharaohs & Paradise pop up from nowhere to participate in the festival. We turned down four Afghan acts because they were not up to our standard of performance, but we have told them to practice and come back to us for the 2014 festival.
Since the 2013 festival finished, more than 10 Afghans have contacted us asking where they can learn to play an instrument and we have referred them onto the Rock Centre, run by Robin Ryczek.
Kabul Dreams has just released their album and both District Unknown and White Page are currently recording their EPs.
One of the female painters from Berang recently moved to India after threats from the Taliban resulting from her work in Kandahar. She returned to be a part of the festival and brought her family to the event. They have consequently lifted a ban on her practicing art. She is now allowed to continue her passion in the future.
The Women’s shelter, Girls Scouts, and numerous girls’ schools have asked to take part in the 2014 festival.
The festival live feed was viewed by over 1,600 people in 37 countries.
The entire festival was documented by our video and photo team, as well as a visiting Dutch comic artist, Jules Calis, who sketched scenes from the festival that will be published in a book and Dutch newspaper.
The following week, Morcha hosted their own concert [set up by them] at the Orange Café
Masala Sound System, in association with the Polish Embassy, are already discussing concerts in Afghanistan for the near future.
The skateboarding display by Skate-Aid, has now been taken to the next level with a new skate-park being planned for Kabul.
Our Women Only Day was such a massive success that we are considering to turn this into its own unique festival in 2014.
Again SCF has proven to be Afghanistan’s biggest annual and most popular alternative arts event. Our Women Only Day played to a full house. The other 3 days brought the largest crowd IFA has ever had. All statistics are up from 2013 and surpassed our pre-festival predictions. The SMS campaign hosted by Paywast displayed direct positive feedback from the Afghan audience [see appendix].
The 85% Afghan audience was exposed to vibrant new art forms and music genres. Outside of the festival venue in Kabul, Afghans watched it on all national TV stations. Globally, some of the
worlds biggest media outlets, including BBC, reported on the festival and took the message to the world that Afghan youth are hungry for alternative arts and culture like youth anywhere else in the world.
Embassies: Swiss, French, Polish, Australian, Dutch, Czech and UK Afghan Private Sector: IFA, Moby/Tolo, UNAMA, Paywast, Cardre
Solutions, Roya Films, Goethe, HKCC, SSRC, ACKU, International Club
Global Companies: Paiste, Future Cinema, Mushroom IT, Skate-Aid, Iosis
Top Press Hits:
BBC, AFP Stills, NPR, Reuters, AFP Video, NATO TV, BBC Persia Media Reports peaked on Womens day and it is clear that this will be the flagship event for 2014.
Sound Central Festival 2012 Report
Afghanistan’s Only Alternative Arts Festival
Executive summary
For the second year running, Sound Central Festival was an unprecedented success with in excess of 1600 people attending over three days. We had an equal ratio of men to women performing on stage and participating artistically, giving young Afghan men and women valuable examples of participation in cultural life in a public setting.
Core Facts:
• 3 day Festival [1st day dedicated to Women]
• 1600 + attendance in total [Biggest ever attendance at I.F.A]
• 27 Artists performed [From: Australia, France, UK, Sweden, USA, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Pakistan]
• Art included: music, film, photo, dance, theatre, circus, live painting, screen printing, jewellery
• Premiered Afghanistan’s first ever female rap artists: Rameeka & Sasoun, live on stage
• Hosted the Afghan premiere of the film Buzkashi Boys
• Screened 6 films from the Summer season of Future Shorts Film Festival
• Supported by Kabul Embassies, Local Private Sector and Global Companies.
• National and international press coverage was extensive
Day by Day
Day 1 The festival opened with a day dedicated to women. There were only female performers and female-led bands on the main stage. In addition to this we hosted female painters and graffiti artists in the outside areas, as well as female craftswomen. Most of these women were Afghan. Apart from our core staff, we were keen to have as few men as possible attending this day; only female press were allowed entry and we had female volunteer stewards from Kabul University.
Our turnout was around 200 over the course of the day. We are very aware of the barriers to women’s participation in Afghanistan, and had sought to eliminate one of these barriers by removing the attendance of men. Additionally, many of these girls were seen attending the festival on other days.
While Ariana Delawari, Ruth Owen, Robyn Ryczek, Norma Ferriera and Rameeka entertained the female audience from the indooor stage, outside we had Khalta, Maria Iqbal and Shamsia offering art at the second stage. Spontaneously 10 young orphan girls took to the main stage during band crossover to sing a song.
Day 2 was our heaviest day in regards to performance styles and audience enthusiasm. By the second day our festival machine was well oiled and a new benchmark of event production levels was reached in Afghanistan. With the addition of men to the mix, our numbers grew to over 500 and the balance flowed smoothly.
Singer song writer; Omar Farooq from Pakistan opened the show and Afghan heavy weights District Unknown definitely provoked the prime moment of the festival with the most energetic and crowd provoking act, that included the countries first ever ‘stage dive’. White City, Kabul’s longest running band played a fantastic acoustic set. 3 Afghan DJs kept the side stage rolling over, while the Afsana Circus and Face Off (the Afghan break dance crew that took the crowds by surprise) performed.
The female art troop were joined by graffiti artists. Q Artery and Parwaz Circus made the surprise act appearance of the day, when they appeared on stage dressed as clowns in the middle of a performance by heavy sounding duo; Lap-o-Jap.
Day 3 was huge, due to it being the end of the week [Thursday] and the fact that we saved some of the best acts for the last day. Paranoid Earthling from Sri Lanka headlined and showed Afghans that there is another [post] conflict zone with a vibrant music scene, not very far from their borders.
Ariana Delawari brought to the stage with her mix of LA and ethnic, that charmed the male audience and gave a shinning example of what is possible to the female counterparts. But the day had to be given to Rameeka and Sasoon who, backed by Pit Panther Party rocked the capacity crowd. With one of our female staff, she wrote a song – Bishnow (Listen). Over the course of ten days, she went from never having performed a song live before, to performing at one of our pre-festival ‘sideshows’, to performing on the main stage at the festival.
The crowd reached a record capacity of 900, at the time of the Afghan premier of Sam French’s film Bushkazi Boys. There was not even standing room in the auditorium and outside 300 people had the Face Off dance crew to keep them entertained. Sam’s film was accompanied by a Q & A including the cast of the film. The festival closing act was an electronic Dub duo from Australia and France: System Unknown Live.
Our staff ran two music workshops for women prior to the festival. 8 young women were selected to attend these 4 hour workshops which encouraged them to get creative with music. Each group wrote and recorded their own songs, with guidance from our staff: Izzy Brown and Ariana Delawari. Rameeka was inspired to perform in public following these workshops.
The week before the festival, Kabul was saturated with sideshows, from all visiting artists at various venues around Kabul. These sideshows gave artists a chance to play longer sets and be closer to the crowd than in the festival atmosphere.
Total direct - 1600
Total potential indirect – through broadcast on Tolo, millions nationwide, 10’s of million global-wide
Without a doubt, Kabul now has a growing alternative arts scene and Sound Central Festival 2012 hosted the eclectic troop of artists in a dynamic, yet safe environment. It is clear that the Afghan youth are thirsty for more art based activities in the capital and we hope this festival can become an annual showcase for years to come. With events like this, we are raising the bar on production output, artistic content and audience participation. Sound Central Festival 2013 is already in planning for April, with a bigger and more diverse program than ever before.
Embassies: Dutch, Estonia, Czech and Canadian
Afghan Private Sector: Moby/Tolo, Paywast, Galleria, Gundara, APL,
Global Companies: Paiste, MoveOne, Reuters, Future Cinema, Mushroom IT, Melody House
Top Press Hits:
BBC NTD-TV Rolling Stone ME CCTV The Guardian USA Today The Times Washington Times
Rolling Stone Russia BBC The Times REUTERS Independent ABC TV Radio France UNAMA
Rameeka’s first ever public performance
Sound Central Festival is Afghanistan & Central Asia's first regional rock music festival, as well as Afghanistan's first rock festival since Ahmad Zahir's shows in 1975. Last year’s festival was realized in Kabul on the 1st of October, with opening and closing nights in New York, September 15th to October 14th, 2011. Argus Productions created a global buzz with its vision to build solidarity in a non-partisan, non political but simply musical way. Below are the top 10 media hits from the 2011 festival: 1. Rolling Stone, 2. BBC UK, 3. ABC, 4. Reuters, 5. CBS News, 6. BBC UK Newsbeat, 7. France24, 8. The New Yorker, 9. The Guardian,10. MSNBC
Last year we were joined by musicians from all over Central Asia and beyond: 2011 Performers. Kabul also hosted workshops by numerous international musicians including: Brian Viglione of The Dresden Dolls (USA) and Acrassicauda (Iraq). Lastly we hosted a week of pre-festival side shows for the Afghan youth.
With much attention from the music industry, Argus Productions is now in contact with major international artists and industry for support. To date, twenty-seven International bands from all over the world have expressed interest and applied to participate in this years’ festival. Their genres range from rock to metal, jazz to hip-hop, and more!
With the participation of Afghan bands from around the country, SCF12 will hold the main event in a central location. [ie: Institute Francais Afghanistan IFA.] The presence of special guest artists enhances the experience of the world's great music festivals and creates opportunities for cultural exchange. Guest bands will come for one week, which will include teaching the Afghan youth at The Rock Center, as well as participation in the sideshow Sound Studies Projects performances at The Venue.
SCF12/ Argus Productions and its sponsors are endeavoring to find funding to cover transportation and accommodation at a comfortable but modestly priced guesthouse or hotel. All visiting bands will receive a modest stipend for meals. All invited artists are strongly encouraged to be proactive in finding sources of funding and instrument donations, that can be donated to the The Rock Centre at the end of the festival week
Show dates are 26th, 27th and 29th of September, with 5 days of pre-festival sideshows and 2 days of workshops between international and local musicians
Argus Productions / Sound Central Festival (SCF) CORE Team
Travis Beard, Founder/Director of SCF and co-founder of Argus Productions. He was also a co-founder of Skateistan, Kabul Knights Motorcycle Club and Aina Photo.
Humayun Zadran, co-founder of Argus Productions and Logistic Manager of SCF, is the proprietor of The Venue. Robin Ryczek, teaches and performs cello and contemporary music and has been involved in the music development of Kabul since 2010.
Turning it up @ Sound Central Festival, Kabul Afghanistan
Powered by Mushroom CMS
Welcome to THE Central Asia's Alternative Music Festival!
Join our mailing list to hear our news
Here is an extra message