PANOPTICON

Panopticon Loopdevile Rave

From Club Nights to Forest Raves

I’ve come to cherish outdoor gatherings as more than just parties—they’re transformative experiences that connect us with music and each other. The sense of community here is palpable, drawing people from all walks of life to share in the magic of music under the open sky. Today, I have the joy of delving deeper into this vibrant scene, speaking with those who make these raves a reality and discovering the stories that bring us together in this enchanting woodland setting.

Celebrating Loopdeville’s 5th anniversary, this outdoor event unfolds outside Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, in the lush forests of Dilijan. Set amidst the mountains, it promises an unforgettable experience in nature’s embrace. This is Panopticon, and I invite you to join me on a journey to discover the extraordinary ✨

mixtinct Panopticon

(Artists: Is, Zitto, Mixtinct )

Your friend, daao

https://soundcloud.com/masterdaao

My musical journey began at the age of 7 in a musical school, where I learned to play the piano and sang in the choir of Little Singers of Armenia. However, my initial enthusiasm for music waned due to the strict and conservative Soviet approach of the musical school. I eventually decided to quit, a choice for which I am grateful today as it paved the way for my current musical pursuits.

Subsequently, I delved into hip hop, and my musical taste evolved over time, expanding to include genres like EDM. I also explored my grandfather’s cassette recordings of Miles Davis and Charles Parker, which greatly influenced my musical perception, infusing jazzy grooves into my sets.

The pivotal moment came after my military service when friends introduced me to the underground contemporary electronic music scene. I began DJing and experimenting with live music, acquiring devices and trying new things. My first gig was a silent disco that captured the audience’s attention, motivating me to continue.

The past five years have brought about significant changes, transitioning from day to night. Dreams of vibrant club scenes and thriving underground communities have materialized, particularly in venues like Poligraf club and Simona bar, featuring alternative music and funk. Witnessing people appreciate local artists, especially at Poligraf, has reshaped my perspective on creating music, and I am proud to be part of this transformative movement as an artist.

As a performer, two distinct aspects define my approach. DJing is a source of enjoyment, allowing me to test and share new musical discoveries. On the other hand, live performances serve as a research endeavor into the atmosphere and audience. Understanding the vibe and mood of a venue is crucial for me. In open-air raves, particularly in forest settings where there are no walls, I feel liberated from constraints, motivated to bring an energetic drive to the audience.

hofmann Panopticon Your friend, daao

(Artists: Hofmann, Your friend daao, Elektra)

Mixtinct a.k.a. mveq

soundcloud.com/mixtinct

Everything began with Prodigy. One summer, I heard rhythmic music playing from my neighbor Naire’s place.

“Hey, what’s that?” I shouted from the balcony.
“Prodigy?”
“Can you record it on a cassette for me?”

It was “The Fat of the Land.” I was mostly listening to funk and disco compilations sent to me from Cuba by my uncle. I had a cassette player for my birthday and started recording stuff. I began collecting cassettes, wearing chains, and imitating Flint’s hairstyle, much to my parents’ dismay and the boys from the block’s amusement.

During my college years, a friend of my classmate was a DJ at a newly opened spot called Cascade. They kept inviting me to the club, which I had zero interest in at the time. Finally, I was told that the club was playing the new album “Vegas” by Crystal Method. Most probably, it was brought by Smbat (the owner) from Europe. It was the only way to get something then if someone brought it. Finally, in 1998, I went to the club and became a regular since then.

The club was small, packed with people, and had a large wall mirror. Outside, guys would wait to meet a girl and ask her to enter with them, as the entrance was strictly for couples only. That first night in the club changed my life; I realized this is what I had been looking for. I started with discs but was eager to move on to vinyl as well. I was quite insistent about it, somehow managing to get them and play. It was fun to sync manually.

Musicians were not so much into that, as it was considered something not serious. Years later, there were new clubs, new lineups, and a new audience. However, the challenge of bringing something new always remained. Whenever you tried to play something unconventional, new, or heavier, a stage manager or someone from the club would eventually approach and warn that they were losing the public. Looking back, the community was still developing; it was rare to find a fellow DJ to discuss music and genres deeply.

Recent open-air events have played a significant role in developing a more open perception. Of course, this also depends on the lineup and your flexibility as an artist to be in the flow. An important aspect is the collaborative approach of the organizer-curator, how they explain and see your presence. It is crucial to grasp the general concept first; if it is clear for all parties, the vibe will be properly adjusted in the environment.

However, there is still much to be done. The audience is still looking to stay in their comfort zone. Whenever you do something unique and outside of accepted trends, it appears wild. But, like everything, it takes time. Time and sincere dedication to push forward things you love and care about.

Kancheli

(Artists: Lychee, Vim, Kancheli )

mikkkro

soundcloud.com/mikkkkro

Early childhood memories that I hold dear are the ones that ignited my fascination with music. I remember vividly when my dad used to request relatives or friends who were traveling abroad to bring back CD disks of music. I would dig into them with great interest, and frequently, these discs contained classical music. I recall one instance where there was Edvard Grieg: Peer Gynt Suite No.1. It was a revelation to me, demonstrating that music could be akin to a book, with deeper exploration leading to new discoveries.

Years later, my transition to electronic music occurred through exposure to MTV, Muz TV, and video games like Need for Speed and GTA. The radio stations within those games introduced me to intriguing alternative electronic music, including tracks by artists like Prodigy. As a teenager, I found this remarkably amusing. My journey into more profound and underground music began after my return from the army when I was in search of my own identity. This transformative phase was in 2012 when I got acquainted with Artyom (Mixtinct) and Raf Gyoletsyan through my friends. This introduction completely shifted my perception of electronic music. The music they embraced was unconventional, delving into deep and dark realms rarely heard on popular media channels. This experience served as an eye-opener for me.

Despite being a young community and scene, I notice a dearth of musical diversity. The focus remains primarily on the conventional 4 by 4 rhythm, even though it would be refreshing to witness a greater presence of live acts and experimental artists. I’m hopeful that this will change over time, anticipating the emergence of more producers who will strengthen the community and mark it on the global cultural map.

The primary distinction between a club and an open-air event lies in the journey to the destination itself. The travel required for an open-air event predisposes you to greater patience and openness. In a city club, if you’re not feeling the vibe, you can simply leave. However, here it’s not as straightforward; you’re not just there, you need to discover a point of connection. Even if you’re not actively dancing to the music, you remain present. This environment takes you far away from your routine, distancing you from worries and fostering receptiveness to new people and experiences. Additionally, the natural environment introduces an extra layer of sounds such as the wind, rain, or others, creating a fusion between you, the music, and the surroundings. This fusion aids in immersion, making it easier to deeply engage and relish the experience.

Narek Simonian Panopticon

muffasa a.k.a. narek simonian

soundcloud.com/nareksimonian

It appears that the community is growing larger, but the love for music is still overshadowed by entertainment, so to speak; it’s often seen as a leisure activity. And this dynamic works both ways. DJing is popular, but many DJs hardly do their homework before embarking on this journey. Many people are learning as they go, and it seems that the industry as a whole lacks the education or professional ethics in what it does. This issue affects the entire ecosystem, not only DJs. We need competent promoters, event organizers, light designers, poster designers—whatever the role may be. Together, we are all responsible for the people around us. When you give energy, you receive energy; it’s akin to a healing process.

To achieve this, you first need to be sincere with yourself. The dance floor isn’t just about the club; it’s about the city and the country. We take care of each other to enhance the experience.

 

It always strikes me when I play at open air events that the flora and fauna around—bees, bears, foxes, and other creatures—live in harmony, while we come and make some noise. I wonder if ants are happy that we went there to rave (laughs).

I love playing reggae and dub, and open air settings are perfect for that—sound and vibe. It’s not just about beatmatching; it’s about the flow, what comes before and after. It’s about harmony with the trees and the wind. When I play in an open air environment, I consider the surroundings first, and then I think about the people who will join the vibe. Approaching it this way, everything becomes music to dance to. Music is the medium that connects us. It links us to share our good and bad experiences and makes life better. So, we should care about the music we play, as it takes care of other people as well.

 

Panopticon Open Air Rave

IS Panopticon

 IS

soundcloud.com/is-iiisssssss

From my earliest memories, there was always a certain presence of music around me. My journey into the world of music began at the age of 14 when I learned to play the guitar and piano. As time went on, I found myself in search of a musical language that resonated more closely with my inner self, enabling me to create music in alignment with my personal vision.

The pivotal moment came through a special performance.  I attended an event called “Audio Visual Cycle”curated by Vahram Akimyan. I encountered the mesmerizing performance of mveq (Artyom Evoyan) for the very first time. The impact of that experience remains vivid, impossible to capture fully in words. It was mveq’s performance that ignited the spark within me, propelling me to embark on my own musical journey.

Since 2019, I have been crafting my own musical compositions, a journey spanning nearly two years. Along this path, I’ve not only honed my musical skills but also uncovered facets of my identity that were previously unexplored. Driven by a desire to express my passion through various artistic languages and seeking novel channels for my emotions, I initiated a new project in 2022. This endeavor is a deep dive into the multifaceted realm of dance floor-oriented music, allowing me to explore new dimensions of creativity

Over the past couple of years, the music scene has been rapidly expanding. What we witness today is an outcome and manifestation of unyielding passion and diligent effort invested consistently. In tandem with the scene’s central driving force, Poligraf, fresh venues and events are emerging.
There’s a heightened interest among people in electronic music, exploring its various facets. I come across new producers who excel in their craft, witness the proliferation of diverse genres, and even detect a hint of healthy competition. This collective dynamism contributes to accelerated growth and a broader accumulation of knowledge.

In the midst of the forest and nature, as opposed to a confined room, music takes on a distinct quality. The presence of fresh air and the serene backdrop combine to create an environment that brings everything and everyone together. I recall my initial encounter with Loopdeville vividly – upon returning, I was left utterly speechless. Never before had I encountered such an overwhelming display of affection, compassion, and a shared sense of mindfulness among individuals who were previously strangers to one another. This, precisely, was and still is the collective aspiration I hold for each and every one of us.

Panopticon Open Air Rave

frantic Panopticon

(From left to right: Mr. Anderson, Sophie Phare, Frantic )

Yhii a.k.a Cloistral

soundcloud.com/yhii

If we consider the dynamics of development in the electronic scene, the audience is well-heard but also somewhat conservative. There’s a fixation on intensity and speed, and you feel it when they hear something out of the ordinary; keeping the audience engaged is more challenging that way. It used to be very hard, but now the ice has been broken.

An important aspect is the idea of a safe space—a place where you can visit for your weekend leisure, not be bothered, and enjoy the music you like. This is important for me, as it is for many other club-goers. You can find that now.

When you play open-air events, it varies a lot depending on the space and the atmosphere it creates. The choice of music and how you work with it, how you structure the flow of the set, and people—they feel different in the forest. It’s a different vibe.

 

David Sukiasyan Poligraf Loopdeville

T_st a.k.a. hopdop

soundcloud.com/t_story_matters

I lived in Dilijian in the winter of 2017. The basement club had just opened, so my gigs were long; I was playing until morning. I might play 4-5 hour gigs. My friend and co-founder of Tom Collins and Epicure persuaded me to start organizing parties. In January, the first Loopdeville event was organized. Later, the first open-air event took place in June, and in April of 2019, Poligraf was opened.

At first, it was tough; we were hardly moving the needle. We took a lot of financial hits during the first year, pushing hardly 3 gigs per month. Strangely, the more we compromised, the harder it got. We tried to keep it soft and not go full techno, but that wasn’t working. So we went all in, cutting the compromises, and it started to work. During COVID, when everything was closed, we initiated a DJ school and started educating new artists. This later brought freshness and new talent to the scene, and since then, the ice was broken, and the culture started to develop. The final competitive scene developed in 2022 when many events were happening around, and the demand to listen to something else made people choose between clubs.

The main difference between running a club and a festival is that the latter gives you creative freedom and breaks you out of your routine. Weekly management can be tiresome and can burn you out and drain you creatively, whereas a festival is a great refresher. It is challenging and pushes you forward to overcome different things; the sky is the limit. The great takeaway during these years is to always involve locals in festival production. They know a lot and provide significant help.

When you play in the open air, the way you play changes. The sound gives you more freedom without the restrictions of the walls that you may have in a club. You simply enjoy the purity of the sonic waves.

Contributors ✨

Curator and text – Vahram Akimyan

Photography – Mitya Lyalin

Special thanks to David Sukiasyan and Harmik Mackertoomian

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