We have been openly critical about the way Horizon Music Festival has gone about its business in the recent past – for those of you who missed it, you can see our original post from April here.
We were approached to become the official media partner of Horizon towards the end of 2015, and were initially receptive to the idea. However, what we discovered at the beginning of this year and reported in April ultimately resulted in us declining the offer. Our investigation has continued in the meantime, and much more has come to light.
We previously expressed our concerns that the festival organiser, Lucas Salamandra, who has a history of setting up festivals that end up cancelled at the last minute, will encounter similar issues with Horizon. In 2013, a large New Years Eve festival, run by Mr Salamandra in Bydgoszcz, Poland was cancelled with little to no explanation. Allegedly, the ticket money that was paid to his production company was never reimbursed, and according to Polish news outlets, the Bydgoszcz Prosecutor’s Office started pursuing him as a result. As we mentioned previously, it was around this time that Mr Salamandra changed his stage name from DJ Munder to Christian Van Dieen.
This week saw a change of date, venue, and lineup. They claim their reason for moving the festival was that
“Over the last few days it was brought to our attention that our agreement with Fairyhouse to let our production team come and setup 2 days before the festival could no longer happen due to a late race meeting on Wednesday 29th June.”
However, when we contacted Fairyhouse directly, they asserted that
“At all stages Horizon organisers knew racing was taking place on 29th June.”
So the question has to be asked – did Horizon think this race day wouldn’t matter originally? Did they just forget about this inconvenient fact? Or was the booking not paid for in the first place?
As recently as the end of May, Candy Pop, an LGBTQ festival set to go ahead in the RDS this month, was pulled, with no reason given. The festival was organised by the same man, Lucas Salamandra. The associated Facebook and Twitter accounts were closed without warning, and ticket purchasing options disappeared. There has been no information about refunds for tickets that may already have been purchased. When asked about the festival, a spokesperson from the RDS had this much to say.
“This event may still be going ahead but however, this event will no longer be running here at the RDS.”
The event did not go ahead.
Lee Dagger, of Bimbo Jones was set to be one of the headliners at Candy Pop, but a few days before the social media presence for the festival was erased, he had this much to say via Facebook.
In our original article, we mentioned that we had found an artist who was “bullied” into producing a track for Christian Van Dieen. He has now come forward as Jakoban, a DJ from Romania who was given a spot on the original Horizon lineup in exchange for producing a track. He was later kicked from the festival. Jakoban has now shared with us all of his correspondences with Lucas Salamandra.
Jakoban created the track – a remix of an Irish singer-songwriter’s song, that was released as a Christian Van Dieen original mix. This, however was done without the knowledge of the original artist, or Jakoban himself. This Irish artist was under the impression that Christian Van Dieen had mixed the track, but when they were contacted by Jakoban, under the pretense of possibly working with them in the future, the artist discovered the truth. They demanded the song be taken down, but Mr Salamandra refused. The track in question was later removed from Soundcloud and YouTube by moderators, at the request of the original artist.
After this, Mr Salamandra accused Jakoban of breaking their deal and demanded another track from him. It was at this point that Mr Salamandra threatened him.
According to the Horizon Music Festival posters and website promos up until last week, Bassjackers and Sidney Samson were supposed to be headlining. Also on the bill were some major international DJs – the likes of Lucas Blanco, Oliver Twizt, Jumodaddy, Gianni Marino, and Rivero, all well known acts in the EDM world. All of the promotional material and various posts on the Horizon website would indicate that this was the lineup, and would even go as far as giving a timetable of who was set to perform when. Even as recently as May 25th, Horizon maintained that their lineup was going ahead as planned.
Prior to this, however, Bassjackers announced a show in Untermeitingen, Germany, scheduled for July 2nd and set to kick off at 23:00 CET. Horizon had them scheduled for 23:45 GMT on the same day. We made contact with Stefan Egger, Owner and CEO of PM, the venue for Bassjackers’ German gig. He had previously posted on the Horizon Facebook page, apologising to fans and informing them that he has the exclusive contract for Bassjackers on July 2nd, but this post was deleted by the Horizon staff. Mr Egger then shared with us an email from the Ace Agency in Amsterdam, specifically Bassjackers’ and Sidney Samson’s agent, Katarina Kostic. The email read:
“Hi Stefan, we will not play at the Horizon Festival. We play in Germany. We have been contacted by many fans, but we are not playing at Horizon. We have the booking confirmed with you PM / 86836 Untermeitingen / Germany. SAT 2nd July.”
After giving us this information, Mr Egger added,
“They are Fri 1st July also in Germany !! They play in Köln at Bootshaus. It’s a friend of mine … they sure won’t go to Ireland … I am sorry for the fans.”
Two weeks ago, Sidney Samson – the other headliner – removed Horizon Music Festival from his displayed tour dates. We are yet to hear as to whether or not Sidney was going to perform for sure. However, an act, who wishes to remain anonymous, having recently removed himself from the lineup, assured us that Sidney had not been paid his full fee deposit per their initial agreement, and it was his instinct that he would not be performing. He also had this to say.
“Well thing is, I feel betrayed in a sense that I finally thought something serious in the Electronic Dance Music scene would reach Ireland. And then to find out that it was a scam from start till end is just sad. So in the end it’s once again a huge set back that stigmatizes the EDM scene in Ireland.
One thing is for sure, he (Salamandra) is a giant fake and was just out to make a fast couple euros without considering how much people he would disappoint and upset.”
We approached many of the larger acts, asking them if they were, indeed going ahead and playing at the festival and informed them about Bassjackers’ other gig. While some of them insisted that they had been paid, would be performing, and that Bassjackers and Samson would indeed be playing at Horizon, others differed. One major act told us that nothing had been finalised with the promoters, and that he was confused to see his name on the posters, also adding that his management had made contact with the festival to remedy the situation.
However, some of the blame has to land with the acts and their management. Many of them were aware that nothing had been agreed, that contracts had not been honoured, and that their names were falsely being used to sell tickets and did nothing to inform the people who paid to see them. Some even intentionally disseminated false information to prevent the story coming to light.
Today, however, more has come to light – on Facebook of all places. A discussion – between people in the industry, DJs, people who have worked with Salamandra in the past, and ticket holders who are looking for a refund – formed today. We have no comments to make on the linked conversation, plenty of people have said enough already.
The contrast of Horizon in reality and the festival presented from day one, or even the version still being sold to thousands of would-be festival goers is a stark one. They are two very different things. Acts have been kicked, removed themselves, or not even confirmed in the first place. The promoter has lashed out repeatedly, lied to the fans, and sold that lie to the very people who want this to go ahead.
Horizon Music Festival is being billed as ‘the future of Ireland’s Premier Electronic Dance Music’ scene. If that is, in fact true, and all the future holds for Irish EDM is lies, fraud, and disappointment, maybe Horizon is not so much its tagline of ‘The Beginning’ but instead, a premature end.