The Radio Stage: A Creative, Collaborative Centrepiece
As BassBus has grown into an established creative network since 2011, certain points of the year act like spiritual anchors. It takes great passion and dedication to continuously support and fuel the creative and collaborative efforts of our community, and some events are such an exciting privilege to contribute to that they charge our creative batteries to power an entire year’s worth of production, coordination, and communication.
Bass Coast is one such event, and the BassBus family has found itself ingrained into the fabric of that weekend after many years of passionate service. That anchor point has been built from thousands of hours of planning, labour, brainstorming and execution, such that the Radio Stage is now one of three permanent fixtures of the Bass Coast stage identity.
For any readers unfamiliar with Bass Coast, it is a weekend dedicated to cutting edge music, inspiring art installations, and fiercely dedicated creative community. Bass Coast has defined itself not only with pinpoint accurate, boutique, targeted curation of artists, but also as an inspiring example of female-led exploration of high level event production in a world far too often dominated by typical male hierarchical power structures. Over the years they have played host to a who’s who of top DJs and producers from around the world, complemented by stunning art and fearsome stage performers. It’s almost beside the point to start listing the high level performers that have played Bass Coast -- it’s safest to just assume most major players in forward-focused, innovative dance music have made their way through there or will do so eventually. They have set the standard for the next, mature generation of thoughtful dance music aficionados.
The entity that is Radio Stage first took root in 2012, and the core of the space is a 40 foot tall wooden radio tower, a symbol of the powerful waves of positive musical vibration emanating from that space. When Radio Stage returned to Bass Coast after a one year hiatus, our internal BassBus crew was determined to craft an expansive, playful space with vibrancy and comfort spread out into a playground of hideouts, perches and elevated dance space. Most importantly, Radio Stage was meant to reflect the BassBus itself: a beacon of familiarity dedicated to the goal of togetherness, community, and positivity.
Physically speaking, that effect is achieved with a unique choice of materials and aesthetic. Early on, the creative team struck on the perfect idea: cheap, adventurous, and full of rustic charm. Old abandoned barns have not only robust, quality wood, they have one all important secret ingredient: time. The age of that barn board creates a look, feel and smell that simply can’t be imitated. That feel led to the piratey, old timey, vintage rustic aesthetic that defines Radio Stage, and is one part of the special sauce that keeps Bass Coast attendees coming back for more.
“Radio Stage is the place at Bass Coast for people to come home to,” explains Kiefer Gasparovic, BassBus’ technical operations lead and a Radio Stage producer. “Radio maintains a familiar environment each year which brings a feeling of comfort to the dance floor. All of the shacks and structures surrounding the main stage platform create intimate spaces for people to connect with old friends or discover a new one.”
That feeling of warmth and comfort is no coincidence. It’s the product of a concerted effort to craft the Radio Stage space as a family. When BassBus reclaimed the space after its hiatus, a common sense old fashioned habit came into use, one befitting the barn wood used to build the stage: family meals. Once the build team was working as a big happy crew/family and each responding to the dinner bell to eat, laugh, and bond together, the project took on a greater life of its own as a near literal family grew up around the creation of this little nest of musical exploration.
A BassBus team member named Zak King is blessed with at least one unusual parent, a mother who blends in perfectly with the beautiful, benevolent chaos that is a dance music festival, and she has taken on a fairly literal Party Mom role.
“Getting together to build Radio stage is such a rewarding, bonding experience and we really are one big, extremely happy family,” Ada told SubText. “I love everyone on the team and I really am the team’s "Mom", in more ways than just cooking. I patch them all up when they get hurt, I make them go to bed when they are exhausted and not taking care of themselves. I'm a "sounding board" for many of the team members (all year round), for life problems, low self esteem, romantic problems, as well as keep them all fed and watered.”
That element is symbolic of the core that keeps Radio Stage familiar, warm, and worth going back to for Bass Coast attendees. As Radio Stage has grown it has solidified into a professional level production that looks like an international calibre audio-visual experience, but feels like a trip home with family. Long time BassBus creator and stage designer Jessica Bedford has been a critical core of that project and had this to say: “Fam jam vibes with Radio are that of truly unique bonds built and shared over the course of the build and tear down. We all get to see each other in our personal areas of creativity, craftsmanship and workmanship and the value we place on all. We get to connect on many different levels, it becomes a very special experience. I can honestly say I have made some lifetime bonds within the crew of Radio stage. Such a wonderful experience too to break bread with people you create epic shit with. I am truly blessed to have the experience of Radio stage from start to finish.”
Ultimately, it’s safe to call Radio Stage not only a feather in the BassBus cap, but also a metaphor for the reason BassBus exists. The BassBus, and by extension the creative network around it, was built to facilitate expression and community, for the love of connection and vibrancy. What better symbol of that principle than a project using thousands of hours of planning, construction, thought and brainstorming on a volunteer basis, incorporating art forms like welding, carpentry, graphic design, stage design, and above all music? There is a sheer force of passion and self expression inherent in a music festival in semi-desert in the middle of nowhere B.C. that is rivalled only by pilgrimage and festival experiences around the globe.
As any member of this team will tell you, the only reason to take time off of work, travel up early on May long weekend for the pre-build, do trips to godforsaken collapsed barns in rural B.C. and spend hours in the hot sun lugging gear and material, is for love. Love of art, people and connection.