Looking back at another edition of Paradise World, where EDM met Caribbean rhythms, the budding festival with its ambitious organizers, who one day hope to rival the Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival, can look back with satisfaction. Paradise World was launched in 2012, as an intimate yet energetic event that is slowly evolving into a reputable and characteristic destination festival, with renowned headliners like Diplo from Major Lazer and enfant terrible Skrillex.
This year, Paradise World expanded its wings by partnering with the renowned Winter Music Festival based in Miami, and added a two-day music conference to the mix. The execution of the latter definitely left some room for improvement. The laid-back vibe that Paradise World is known for was taken to another level and raised quite a few eyebrows during the conference. The Q&A of Day 1 was exceptionally delayed due to the hectic partying schedule of certain participants. After distinguished guests like Bill Kelly, founder and director of WMC, and Esteban Mendez of Paradise World, finally graced us with their presence, the attendants fired off their burning questions to the panel.
An array of subjects was discussed, like Kelly’s views about ranking lists of international DJs, “not a fan due to the politics involved”, and finally what the panel’s advice was for local DJs who want to expand their wings internationally. Kelly gracefully replied that “the local DJ should work on its popularity on the home front first and establish its brand, to then find proper booking and representation abroad”. Additionally he was asked about the role of females in the male dominated world of EDM music and what effect the oversexed model-turned-DJ persona had on the industry. “With DJing, true talent quickly weeds out the wannabes from the pros, however I recognize that sex has always sold and some women choose to use that to their advantage”, Kelly concluded. “But the over-sexualisation can hurt the female DJ in the long run, so the focus should always be on the music”, both Kelly and Mendez agreed.
After the Q&A, the party continued around the Renaissance pool with its scenic ocean view, where Aruba’s DJ extraordinaire Nutzbeatz launched his most recent remix of the club banger ‘Bon Vibe’ and entertained the cool collective of enthusiasts with his captivated selections.
Day 2 of the conference kicked off with an animated Q&A with Kuenta i Tambú or KIT, who launched their much talked about production called ‘Santa Electra’ featuring famed tambú singer Doña Elia Isenia.
The video clip was directed by Selwyn de Windt and the song was produced by talented Clifford Goilo, both present to discuss their roles in the production. The panel was also attended by KIT group members Diamanta and Roël Calister, who discussed the idea behind the captivating clip and let an animated discussion about its meaning. “Santa Electra is the perfect blend between traditional and modern music, fiction and reality, and can mean a variety of things to many people”, they concluded. Again the party continued around the pool, where KIT gave an impromptu performance that jump started the festivities, which continued in Club Bermuda until the early hours.
The conference concluded with an interesting Q&A with several local EDM festival organizers, amongst others the Martel brothers of Su’legria and the organizers of the Amnesia Music Festival, who shared their thoughts on how to grow their respective events into destination festivals by adding to and improving the Curaçao entertainment export product.
Finally on Saturday it was the turn for Diplo, who surprised the audience by returning to the stage with Major Lazer, in addition to the much anticipated performance of Skrillex. The gentlemen didn’t disappoint and put on an animated 90-minute show, yet failed to blow away the audience with the theatrics like Major Lazer did the previous year. Maybe Diplo and Skrillex were a bit weary of all the traveling or the Curaçao audience failed to impress altogether, yet whatever the reason was for the somewhat lackluster performance, it was gut-wrenching to observe the animo deflate after a while for such skilled performers. This could have been attributed to the fact that the audience was significantly smaller and younger, however the ambiance was relaxed and the people seemed like they were having a good time.
The preshow started early with forgettable performances of a few up-and-coming American DJ’s. An unquestionable exception of the night was the performance of DJ Alex Sargo, who was clearly having a good time and kept the audience on its feet with his pulsating beats and impressive showmanship. Poor Alex Sargo was clearly the savior of the preshow as he was instructed to replace a DJ who was unceremoniously taken off stage, because he clearly wasn’t in synch with the Paradise World vibe.
Despite these minor hiccups, the 2014 edition of Paradise World proved to be an overall success. Nevertheless, if the organizers want to give the Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival a run for their money, they should take their conference participants more seriously and add more content to the encounters. This edition tried to be too many things to too many people and it appeared that the attention was more on partying and having fun, than growing the brand. If Paradise World is here to stay, they need to set themselves apart from the rest and carefully refine the complicated yet unique formula between EDM and Caribbean rhythms.
Almost there fellas, just a little bit more tweaking…
Overall Grade B-