Interview: What To Expect At Ultra Music Festival’s Australian Debut
'Road To Ultra' hits Melbourne next month.
Music 11m

After a few years dominated by boutique and niche events, it feels like mega-festivals are coming back to the Australian calendar.

The demise of Stereosonic, Future Music Festival and the ilk means that multi-stage, production-heavy events are just a memory for dance fans, but last year, it was announced that EDM heavy-hitter Ultra had Australia in its sights. Soon enough, it was revealed that a Road to Ultra event would arrive in Melbourne in 2018, before the full-scale Ultra Music Festival in Sydney and Melbourne in 2019.

Looking at Ultra’s resume, it’s easy to see why their arrival Down Under is nothing short of a game-changer. For Road to Ultra, they’ve assembled big-room favourites Afrojack and Axwell ^ Ingrosso, bass maestro Carnage and for the first time on our shores, KSHMR. They’re joined by a cast of producers dominating the Australasia region.

Ahead of Road to Ultra on February 24 (and Ultra Music Festival in 2019), we spoke to Travis Grech, one of the key players bringing the brand to Australia. We chat about what to expect at Ultra’s Australian debut and their plans in the country from hereon in. Read the interview below, grab your Road to Ultra tickets here, and prepare for the festival’s full arrival in 2019:

There have been talks about Ultra’s global expansion for some time now, including to Australia. Why now?

Australia was always on the minds of the Ultra HQ team, but it was always about correct timing. Ultra, being the World’s #1 music festival, is a huge honour to be a part of and the brand is seen by millions of people worldwide. To have Ultra finally in Australia is something all music lovers will be very excited about.

There has been a big vacuum in large-scale dance events left by the demise of Stereosonic, Future Music Festival and so on. How has this impacted the decision to bring Ultra to Australia?

I think again, everything is about timing, there was never any rush and to make this happen. We have been plotting and planning for a good two years to be honest, it had to work for us but it also had to work for Ultra HQ. The timing we feel is perfect now, and we are all excited for the years ahead.

Australia is a long way from Miami. In size and scale, how similar will the Australian events be to the ones we have seen previously in the United States?

We can’t really compare Ultra Music Festival Miami to what will be coming to Australia. They do three days of the biggest international artists with over 150,000 people. With the population in Australia being considerably smaller, we aim to create our own identity, keeping in mind specific capacity-sized venues and allowing growth for future years.

Line-up wise, UMF has been pretty diverse spanning all forms of electronica/dance with some hip-hop as well. What calibre of artists should we expect to make it Down Under?

The line-up for ‘Road to Ultra’ is one of the biggest the team has ever put together. We are so excited to have superstar internationals like Axwell /\ Ingrosso, Afrojack, Carnage, KSHMR (for the first time in Australia) and Andrew Rayel alongside local talent such as Will Sparks, Timmy Trumpet, Tigerlily, Mashd N Kutcher and from Ultra Asia, Moe.

Ultra has been slated for spots in Sydney and Melbourne in 2019. Will any other cities be included in that 2019 run or future editions?

You never know what the future holds, however, for 2019 that’s correct, we have only marked Melbourne and Sydney for Ultra Music Festival Australia.

The festivals will be preceded by a ‘Road to Ultra’ event in February 2018. Why did you choose to hold off until 2019 and what purpose does ‘Road To Ultra’ serve?

The model of Ultra when moving to a new territory is always an introduction to that market with a Road to Ultra event, followed the year after with an Ultra Music Festival. From our perspective, we are here for many years to come, there was no rush to jump into a major festival, we want to ensure we focus on the customer experience from the look and feel of the event, to the music, world class production and we feel a Road To Ultra fits the market here in Australia perfectly.

Production-wise, what have you got in store for Australia?

This is one major area I am so excited about. Ray Steinman – Production Director for Ultra – has designed something so amazing and unique for Road to Ultra Australia. Ray flew out especially to see the design of the Sidney Myer Music Bowl (as it’s so unique in its own space) that they had to create something that will be completely different from any other Road to Ultra events around the world.

What other insights can you give us for Ultra’s Australian arrival?

We are so excited for what’s installed, for not only Road to Ultra this year but for Ultra Music Festival Australia in the years to come. We are bringing the whole team from Ultra HQ and we are working around the clock to ensure music lovers walk away saying that was the best event they have ever been to.

Words by Christopher Kevin Au January 11, 2018
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