Yaniv Ben Ari has been involved in the scene for more than a decade under his alias U-Recken. In 2012 he added festival organizer to his resume, forming the Tree of Life brand. This year we will be attending the festival, situated on Karagöl Lake Resort in Izmir, Turkey. In preparation for the event we had a chat with U-Recken to discuss how the festival was started, how the line-up is selected, legal requirements, venue highlights, tips for first time attendees and more.

Psymedia : How did the idea of Tree of Life come to fruition? Why Turkey as a host?

U-Recken : The idea grew in my mind as a part of another project called “Triniq” which is a unique social network I’ve been developing the past 5 years, dedicated to electronic music networking. The festival is by far the best way to gather target users under one roof. Unfortunately I still can’t gather the necessary funds for it, but I hope I’m on the right path.

I chose Karagol Lake because once I visited the site, it was clear what could be done. I could actually visualize it clearly, which is always a good sign. Turkey is easy-going, cheaper, less competitive, astonishing and welcoming place. Today we are the only psychedelic trance festival with all legal permissions and full support from both tourism office and the government. I can reveal that I found another mind-blowing place in the very center of Europe and we are going to throw another festival under the Tree of Life branch in 2016. Stay tuned!

Psymedia : How do your duties as an organizer differ as a creative outlet in comparison to being a performing artist?

U-Recken : It is a similar creative process that demands a lot of artistic touch. Our musical goal each year is to be on the same standard as the biggest festivals out there. Many will say ours is better! We also like to keep the number of guests limited, to keep the family spirit going. I must say that when you see thousands of people rock up to one place, as a result of a thought you had in your mind, it’s a far more powerful feeling of accomplishment than any artist gig I’ve done in my life.

Psymedia : How do you go about selecting artists to perform at Tree of Life festival?

U-Recken : First, I start with the time table to know exactly which bases need to be covered and to avoid over bookings. I always open with Zenon-esque sounds or any Dark Prog for that matter to warm up the night, then going up to more night sounds with the likes of Looney Moon, which are our favorite for this time of the party. Morning will go from Full On to more Proggy towards noon and closing with fine Techno. This year we having D-Nox performing a three-hour set.

Another big plus when traveling and playing all over is that you get to hear and ‘discover’ new fresh names that the world don’t know about yet. One good example is DJ Bruce, who blew my mind at Vortex last year. I’m happy to have him over to play.

Psymedia : On the logistical side, what do most festival attendees overlook?

U-Recken : First and foremost it’s important to check all the permits are in place for the event. Nothing is more irritating then buying tickets and flights to a festival only to hear the event was cancelled a few days or weeks before! It’s always a good idea to check guest comments after previous events, and if the organization is actually improving itself over the years.

Psymedia : Do you feel like with every edition you learn something new? What limitations occurred in the first edition that you feel you’ve now overcome?

U-Recken : Every day I learn something new. Not to mention every festival edition. We had the Vortex crew with us the first two years, so they schooled us well. The first year, transportation, food and toilets was a bit of a mess, but those have since improved.

Psymedia : What kind of legal procedures are required to throw a party in Turkey?

U-Recken : In Turkey for every region there is a different ministry in charge of permits. In our case its the Ministry of Izmir together with the Ministry of Forestry and Water vi. Regional directory. Besides that we have to obtain permits from the forest Minister of that region and the Jandarma, which is the forest police that you can see at the entrance of our festival every year. They are not normal police, they just watch the forest for fires, hunters and whatnot. Then it all goes for a final approval from the government in the capital, Ankara. The ministry of Izmir and the tourism office help us a lot with water trucks, cleaning, garbage bags to name a few. They seem pleased with the people we bring and the way we keep our festival clean. I wsh it was the same in my home base, Israel, but thats not the case!

Psymedia : Tell me about the venue. What are some of the highlights?

U-Recken : The venue is located about a 60 minute drive from Izmir Adnan Airport. Half of the way you pass this amazing city located on the seaside, and the other half you climb up on Karagol mountain, which is full of natural habitat like wild mustang horses and amazing forest and nature. There’s also the most pure spring water I’ve ever drank. The camping and lake stage are all around the lake and under shade. There is our famous sunset spot where you can see mind blowing sunsets every evening. The location looks like it’s custom-made by God for a festival. There is a healing feeling over there that hits you very strong exactly half an hour after you arrive. Try it and see!

Psymedia : What tips do you have for first time international attendees?

U-Recken : Come with good friends, but if you cant then don’t worry. You will make new ones for sure! Bring warm clothing for the night because its 1000 m. mountain and at night it can get chilly at times. You don’t need to carry camping tents as you have the option to rent before you arrive or onsite. Go through our website for all the info you will need regarding shuttles, workshops activities and whatnot. That’s about it. I’m glad to see so many South Africans coming this year and this will be a good time to give big thanks to Psymedia for their great support. Thank you!

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