Photo Credit: Rebecca Hollman
Written by: Rebecca Hollman
Valhalla Sound Circus is an underground bass festival located in the forests of Quebec, Canada. The festival is known for its deep and dark bass music, intimate vibes, and a heavy emphasis on visual performers. Curated by the group, Kamphyre Media, Valhalla Sound Circus scouts and brings in talented visual performers from all over Canada and the US. These performers are just as integral to the festival experience as the music – hence why it’s called a “sound circus” instead of a “music festival.” Learn more about this year’s installation of Valhalla Sound Circus below.
Thunder Ground was the main stage all weekend and kicked things off on Friday at 4:30 with a BTR showcase- highlighting DJ’s from the Quebec area. Izzy Vadim, FROZEN, Toast, Bawdy, and Shake all went back to back to kick off the festivities for this stage. Other artists on this stage on Friday included Al Ross b2b Gram Greene, Boogie T, Subtronics, SQUNTO, Riot Ten, Delta Heavy, Liquid Stranger, Spag Heddy, Downlink b2b PhaseOne, Samplifire b2b Ivory, and Distinct Motive.
One of the highlights of the day was Boogie T playing the electric guitar and also singing live during his set. The stage wrapped up at the early hour of 6AM, but music kept going all hours of the night on The Hive. Besides the musical performers, the Thunder Ground also hosted visual performers like Dislocait and Mx Mads on the aerial hoops, Victoria Elizabeth & Felix Volatile go-go dancing, Apex on the aerial trapeze, MizzBecks on the aerial silks, and The Trouble Makers and Industribe with fire spinning.
The Drakkar stage was created to look like a Viking ship sailing out at sea. The DJs played from within the ship, with a hole in the “planking” for the crowd to look in. The sail of the Drakkar had visual projections on it to accompany the music from the sets. On both sides of the Drakkar, were large platforms where all the visual performers did their performances. This was a smaller stage than the Thunder Ground but had an amazing sound system and a very intimate vibe. This stage also had all the experimental bass producers, while the Thunder Ground had dubstep producers.
Because of the slow & low experimental bass and very low lighting, this stage really had a unique deep, dark and dangerous vibe. This stage kicked off on Friday at 7PM with LSV, followed by Squid Whiskers, Ordure, Chee, Thelem, Ivy Lab, The Freestylers, Kenny Ken, Santi, and Purple Mana. The music was accompanied with performances by Bethany Rose and Ally Ashman hooping, Industribe and The Hive with fire, The Juggling Brothers with flow arts, MizzBecks and Mx Mads go-go dancing, and Apex and Bethany Rose freestyle dancing.
The daytime (and super late night) stage, The Hive, was nestled among the trees and the smallest of all the stages. Although it was the smallest stage, it had the most vibes of them all. The only stage that played music during the day, it brought a lot of people chilling in hammocks and on blankets around the outskirts of the stage. It also had people vibing during the day, and then on into the late night after both the other stages ended. Music started on The Hive at 11AM on Friday with Bakune, followed by Polyesther, ill.gates, longwalkshortdock, Lick, and Outtatime until 6PM. Music picked back up again after the Thunder Ground stage ended at 6AM with Shigero, Wobble Wallah, Faetal and Dabman, until 11AM the following day.
The Thunder Ground kicked off at 4PM on Saturday with AWAL b2b Craymak, followed by Tengraphs, Hi I’m Ghost, Blunts & Blondes, Dirt Monkey, Monxx, Sullivan King, Megalodon b2b BadKlaat, Funtcase, Black Sun Empire b2b State of Mind, Foreign Beggars, Kytami, Chuurch, and Chilton Gaines. Blunts & Blondes threw down an especially filthy set to start off the day. Sullivan King played an interesting mix of heavy bass, screamo and heavy metal with himself on the vocals. Black Sun Empire and State of Mind played a throwback old school drum n bass/jungle set that was one of the only true dnb sets all weekend. Along with the music, there were also performances by MizzBecks and Alexis on the aerial silks, The Trouble Makers and Industribe with fire, Apex on the aerial trapeze, and Dislocait on the aerial hoop.
Day 2 on Drakkar featured more experimental bass sets from Construct b2b Harmsworth, KDZ, Moonchild, DMVU, Ill-esha, Tsuruda, Zeke Beats, SHADES, CharlestheFirst, Doctor Jeep, Mike Boot, and Steinjah. My favorite sets on this stage on Saturday were DMVU, because I had never seen him before, and SHADES. DMVU blew up when he released his track Bloccd, which got played regularly by the likes of Bassnectar. Since then, he has created a really unique, dark sound for himself. SHADES, the duo comprised of EPROM and Alix Perez, was also a really deep, slow & low set. Both from England, you can hear the underground UK bass influence in their sound.
The Hive never stopped playing music so there isn’t really a distinction between Friday to Saturday to Sunday. But continuing on after Dabman’s set at 11AM was Dead Noise System, followed by Substance, Woolymammoth, Troy Power, and SubDocta until 6PM. After the break in music, The Hive started up again at 6AM with Synapps, Nausikaa, Thrizzo, Mandala Ataksak, and Wraz until 11AM on Sunday morning.
The best set of the day on this stage was by Troy Power, mostly because he changed it up and played an entire tech house set. That was the only house set from any performer all weekend and it’s always refreshing to hear a complete change in genre. Saturday also featured a Yoga Dance Jam on The Hive that encouraged people to follow a yoga flow and also freeform dance/meditate to chill bass music.
The Thunder Ground finished off with just a handful of sets from 6PM to 1AM on Sunday. Starting off the stage on the last day was Flix b2b Motus– two local Quebec artists on the Monster label. After their set, Thunder Ground had performances by Woofax, HE$H, Wraz b2b Codd Dubz, Jantsen, and The Widdler, as well as by Alexis on aerial silks, Felix Volatile on aerial trapeze and The Hive performing with fire.
Drakkar went full force on Sunda with most of the sets of the day and still going late into the night/early morning. Starting at 8PM with Strange Future, the Drakkar kept barging on until 8AM with Hydee, Sister Mary, LUZCID, Alix Perez, EPROM, Joker, Youngsta, Huxley Anne and DJ Spyne 40Hz Rinseout. There was one final fire-breathing performance from the Hive during Joker’s set on the Drakkar and that marked the conclusion of the visual performances for Valhalla 2018.
The Hive only played music for the first half of the day on Sunday and the Drakkar stage was the one to finish out the late night vibes on the last day of the festival. Continuing over from Saturday, the Hive saw Wraz at 11AM into Distinct Motive & Friends ft. PushLoop and Groves, into Mat the Alien b2b The Librarian, into a final Hive set from TRUTH. The Hive stage wrapped up with another yoga dance jam session and then all the music switched over to the other two stages for the rest of the day.
The Hive really highlighted the most visual performers this day, with performances with flow silks, hoops, parasols, stilt walking and much more. TRUTH played a deep and dark set, which was an interesting vibe considering it was the middle of the afternoon in the daytime. I have only ever seen him play really late night sets before and so it was cool to watch him perform during a daytime set. His set had The Hive the most packed it was all weekend, and with the overcast and dark skies, it really made for the Valhalla deep, dark and dangerous vibe.
Valhalla Sound Circus is a unique experience. Although the festival is really small and underground, the vibe makes it feel like it’s in a whole different league. With the fire performers, the slow & low experimental bass, the dark forest, and the aesthetic of the festival, it has its own vibe. And when it boils down to it, vibes are what make or break an experience. The work that Kamphyre Studios does to bring in the visual performers to this festival adds an extra element that a lot of other festivals are missing at the moment. The intimacy of this festival gives it something special too because you are guaranteed to run into the same people again, and even meet the visual performers, media members, photographers, crew and djs.