If you had casually wandered into the U.S. premiere of the Time Warp festival last autumn, you'd be excused for thinking that the affair went off without a hitch, at least if you disregarded the frigid temperatures and that incident concerning Richie Hawtin and a monitor. After all, the fest—held over two nights in the tricked-out, mega-size, two-room South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, on the 39 Street Pier along the East River—attracted 9,500 revelers, all partying to techno and house demigods like Sven Väth, Josh Wink, Luciano, Sonja Moonear and a particularly mind-blowing Dixon, among others, along with a list of New York-based artists that included Anthony Parasole, the Martinez Brothers, No Regular Play, and Frank & Tony. But things are never as easy as they seem, and the festival had hit a major roadblock when its planned-on site—the Bronx’s massive Kingsbridge Armory—pulled out at the last minute, and the Marine Terminal was called into duty. It's a testament to the team behind Time Warp, cofounded by Steffen Charles and Robin Ebinger in Mannheim, Germany and now an international presence, that the last-minute venue switch went so smoothly—after all, the event was founded back in 1994, and you don't last for over two decades without being able to deal with the occasional glitch.
For this year's edition, running on Friday, November 20 and Saturday 21, Time Warp had opted for another grand armory—specifically, the Bedford Union Armory in Crown Heights. Plans were big, production-wise: Among other things, the team would install its Cave 2.0, a set-up which promised to transform the space "from a cavernous ice cave to a menacing inferno, depending on the colors and rhythms of more than 400 lamps and lasers," according to Ebinger. But in what must seem like déjà vu to the producers, they again hit a speed bump. Just last week, after Crown Heights residents, politicians and religious leaders called on Time Warp to find other accommodations—and rather then risk the wrath of the locals, the team (probably wisely) obliged. "Out of respect to the community of Crown Heights, we have agreed to move Time Warp US 2015 from the Bedford Union Armory to the spectacular site of Time Warp US 2014, just 5 miles away," Time Warp announced.
So it's back to the Brooklyn waterfront, with all the set design and lighting effects in tow—but the change seems trivial when you look at the lineup, which boasts Väth (who's something of an international ambassador for the Time Warp brand), Luciano, Black Coffee, Tale of Us, Apollonia, Thugfucker, Recondite, Chris Liebing and a tag-teaming Jamie Jones and Seth Troxler, among many others. And in something of a coup, Time Warp has cajoled Ricardo Villalobos, who in the past has voiced objections about playing in the States as a protest against U.S. foreign policy, into joining in on the fun. With the festival so close hat we can almost feel the subwoofers, XLR8R caught up with Ebinger for a chat about Time Warp's musical ethos and the team's ability to overcome obstacles.
Last year marked Time Warp’s first U.S. installment. A lot of large-scale events over here cater to an EDM kind of crowd—were you confident that New York, and America in general, was ready for something with more of a purist outlook?
The core of Time Warp is techno. This music has long-standing roots in the U.S., e.g. Detroit and a list of many brilliant artists. Of course, there is this big thing called EDM, which became mainstream culture—however, with every huge culture, there is also a flourishing counterculture. With our 20-year history, sold-out venues and fans around the world, we felt that it was the right time to present our idea of a techno event in NYC.
Were you surprised by the challenges that are presented by putting on an event like Time Warp over here? Or do you face those same kinds of challenges wherever you bring Time Warp?
We have been producing, programming and marketing large-scale events around the globe for many years now. From Croatia to Netherlands and Buenos Aires, each region and market has its own peculiarities and challenges. We have been able to gather lots of valuable experiences in the past, which helps us to cope with different challenges and adjust to the local environment. Additionally, we have strong partners in each market to help us. With TCE and ID&T North America, we are confident to deliver a perfect event.
Were you happy with how last year’s Time Warp went?
Given the fact that we lost the first venue, we were still able to get a new venue in no time and delivered a seamless event—it proved that Time Warp lives up to its word. We were really grateful for the appreciation we received from our U.S. fans and the local scene alike.
Did you learn any specific lessons from last year’s experience that you’ve applied to producing this year’s edition?
It proved again that producing festivals is a high-risk industry. The environment is very complex and metrics can change very fast. You always have to be particularly vigilant.
Sven Väth is once again playing Time Warp NYC; he’s been closely associated with Time Warp for years. What can you tell us about the relationship between Time Warp and Sven?
Sven and Time Warp have been friends for many years. This friendship is build on trust and respect for each other. We are deeply connected by our passion and love for this music.
The lineup is once again amazing—you've even got Villalobos, who basically never plays over here. How do you go about choosing your lineup, and how do you explain the willingness of this very high level of artists to help support the Time Warp cause?
The team behind Time Warp comes from comes from the dancefloor. We are music enthusiasts and festival idealist in the first place. Our mission is to make people dance. Also, we always care about the artists and try to get them the perfect working environment. If the artist is pleased and can unfold himself, the fans are joyful.
We are real and authentic. This is something that makes a difference, and is much appreciated by the artists.