Playback: El Dorado 2019
Each year, a festival situated somewhere among the rolling hills of England sets out to imagine what that mystical city of gold would have been like. Thousands of modern-day like-minded explorers travel to the countryside to discover El Dorado.
It’s a pilgrimage of discovery. Discovery of new foods, new friends and new music. A couple weeks after this year’s El Dorado festival has come to a close, we’d like to take you on a journey through the sights, sounds and flavors we came across that weekend in July. And if you didn’t have a chance to be there, this is your invitation to join us next year at El Dorado.
Day 1: Friday, July 5th
It was a sunny Friday evening. After a beautiful drive down country lanes in the English countryside we arrived at the grassy car park for El Dorado. After setting up our tent, we made our way to the music. Unlike a lot of the other festivals I’ve been to as of late, El Dorado knows how to make an entrance. You come over the top of a hill where the campsites are set up, to see the music site laid out in front of you in the valley below. A long path leads down the hill to a big Aztec looking gate that reads “El Dorado.”
It’s a little detail, but it definitely gets you in the spirit.
The grounds were packed with all of the little unexpected details that make for a good festival site. A giant ball pit made out of hay bales. A little forest that you can get lost in. Even a little treasure island complete with pirate ship dance floor.
What’s great about El Dorado is its size. It’s by no means small. But it’s not so big that you are walking for hours to get from one stage to the next. It’s the perfect size to run into friends unscheduled, or run from one stage to the next to see as many shows as you can on the schedule (a common necessity for people who have a mild form of FOMO like myself).
And that’s exactly what I intended to do. First stop was to the El Paradisco tent to see an up and coming DJ called Edie Seshwick. The set was filled with classic disco vibes mixed with house. Just the type of music to start off a festival.
“I think festivals are great because everyone is on a certain wavelength. People just want to get away and get lost in the music,” says Seshwick when we caught up with her after the set. “I think it’s just such a beautiful setting here. It’s just amazing. I mean, look at where we are. It’s just beautiful.”
“I’ve been to Glastonbury a couple of years ago, and all the great parts of Glastonbury that I’ve really loved… I feel like they’ve massively encapsulated that here. I think the guys who set up El Dorado, have completely smashed it.”
When asked about who else she’d like to see this weekend at El Dorado, Seshwick said that Purple Disco Machine has always been one of her inspirations. “I think what he’s doing with music is absolutely amazing. He’s bringing old music back. He’s getting people into disco. It’s fun music. It’s accessible. He’s making music that is current and relevant and I think he’s just absolutely smashing it at the moment. There’s no one out there that is doing what he does. There are a lot of disco DJs out there at the minute who are amazing, but [Purple Disco Machine] has just got an edge and he knows what people enjoy and like.”
Full interview coming soonEdie Seshwick Disco
After Seshwick’s sesh, I was headed over to the main stage to catch one of my favorite new British hip hop artists, Ocean Wisdom. But it felt like what everyone was waiting for was the artist who went on next: Andy C.
Over the course of the weekend I learned that El Dorado attracts a lot of drum & bass fans. And if you are a fan of d&b, then you will certainly be a fan of Andy C. He’s the king of drum & bass by all accounts, and you could feel it in the air in front of the main stage before his set. It seemed like the entire festival collected themselves here awaiting his arrival. And when his set got underway, the crowd went along for the ride. It was like waves of people dancing to drum & bass. Incredible.Ocean Wisdom – Real Smooth (feat. The Four Owls)
Andy C – Back & Forth
Before Andy C finished, I had to steal myself away to see another British producer of a different kind of music. We covered Harry Wolfman a couple of weeks ago, and it was my opportunity to see him play his flavour of deep house live under a festival tent. When I arrived, he was in the middle of mixing some more popular funk and soul into his set. But it didn’t take long for him to settle into the deeper part of the spectrum.Harry Wolfman – The Accord
I snuck away to the Sassçienda tent to get a little taste of “Femme Friday” — eight hours of female DJs ripping it up on the decks. I was able to catch a bit of Mehndi B’s set. The Bristol native was spinning up a darker twist on her usual breezy jazz-house set. It lured you in with deep disco cuts and dark melodic techno.Mehndi B – Ebbs & Flows
After getting a little taste of Femme Friday, I decided to go for a little walkabout. It was approaching midnight and I wanted to see what else was going on around the grounds. Along the perimeter, I spotted a little shed with the light on over the door. It looked out of place, so I walked over to get a closer look. As I approached, a little group of people walked out the door. It wasn’t a big group, but it was more people than could fit in that little shack. When I arrived at the door, another group of people came filing out. This time, when the door opened I could hear music coming from behind. I stepped through the door.
There was a long tunnel lined with vine-like green netting that you had to push out of the way to reveal where you were going. At the other end of the green tunnel, the space opened up into a larger round space with a DJ booth at the other end. The ceiling became taller but was still covered with the green hanging netting so you couldn’t really even see the other side of the room. But you didn’t need to. They were playing some banging music and it was almost better that it was a small tightly packed space. Everyone was pumping to the groove. I had found a secret stage. The music festival gods were looking down on me now.
Dancing myself up into a sweat in the secret stage, I decided to return back to the festival grounds. It was now nearly 1am when I walked back through the shed door into the night. I noticed that the temperature had severely dropped. I needed to get a stiff drink and get back to a dance floor before I froze.
I looked at my schedule and saw that Chaos In The CBD and Detroit Swindle were playing at El Paradisco. That will take me into the early hours of the morning, no problemo!Chaos In The CBD – 78 To Stanley Bay
Detroit Swindle – 64 Ways (feat. Mayer Hawthorne)
Day 2: Saturday, July 6th
What other festival would you wake up to find a giant slip and slide outside your tent?
The plan for Saturday was to walk around the site and find somewhere to eat breakfast and chill in the morning. Then I would start the afternoon off with a bit of Mr Scruff. After which I would catch up with Ken Petalcorin and Andy Bowden — the English electronic duo behind Tibasko. We were able to talk to Tibasko back in June, but this was going to be the first time I’d be able to see them play live. The jazzy tropical flavor of house that Tibasko play is perfectly suited for the summer festival scene.Tibasko – Alma
Tibasko – Inside Your Trunk
One of the artists I’ve been most looking forward to see at El Dorado this weekend is a norsemen that goes by the name of Todd Terje. His 2013 Essential mix was a masterpiece when it came out — it still sounds fresh today — and I was really excited to see his live set. It was a much different show compared to Andy C’s set the night before. Less nostalgic tunes that everyone knows, and more top quality house that pulls from all sorts of sources. The way Terje can take a classic Turkish ballad like “Yali Yali” and turn it into a banger is very interesting to listen to.
That’s not to say he doesn’t play tunes that everyone knows. “Inspector Norse” will set any crowd on fire.Todd Terje – Inspector Norse
Gouranga – YALI YALI (Todd Terje Edit)
Before midnight, I decided that it was time to get involved with The Nest — El Dorado’s electronic stage that is hidden amongst the trees. You walk past the treasure island and into the forest. Follow the light down some windy tree covered paths and it will reward you with a little clearing in the forest with a stage set up at one end: The Nest.
I caught a bit of Late Night Disco’s set, but the highlight for me was Pablo:Rita’s after midnight session. Made up of two west Londoners (Annabel Simpson and Liz Cass) Pablo:Rita knew how to bring you along on a deep house ride with them. This duo is def going on my radar for the rest of the summer.Pablo:Rita – The Nest session, El Dorado Festival
Day 3: Sunday, July 7th
Sunday, for a lot of people was all about Kool and the Gang. Two nights of intense electronic music and dancing set a lot of people on a path of chilling. And the soulful pop music lined up by tonight’s headliner, Kool and the Gang would be just what the doctor ordered.
But I wasn’t ready to chill out. I had more dancing and electronic music in me. So I headed over to Mount Boom to get a load of the Dazed DJs. This is the great thing about El Dorado. They’ve got something for everyone at all times. Dance music at lunch time? Jungle music at 3 in the morning? Or a twerking workshop at 5 in the afternoon. That’s right. There was a workshop on twerking (aptly named the “Twerkshop”) being put on at the Boudoir which I was very tempted to get involved with.
The plan for the afternoon was to hit up Horse Meat Disco and then Purple Disco Machine to get a one-two-punch of electronic disco of all descriptions.
Since the early 2000s, Horse Meat Disco has been helping to build up the queer club culture in the home of queer club culture: London, Vauxhall. And while they still play a regular Sunday party, the HMD crew have increasingly taken the party on the road to festivals all over England. I highly recommend seeing these guys play live. It’s very fun.
The disco vibes continued with DJ and producer Tino Piontek (aka Purple Disco Machine) as he took the crowd on a journey through disco, old and new.Horse Meat Disco – Tambi (HMD Remix)
Purple Disco Machine – My House (OFF060)
All weekend has gone by and I haven’t mentioned the food at El Dorado. There’s the full range that you come to expect at festivals these days. From the gourmet selection at Brother Marcus to more comfort food options like burgers and pizza, El Dorado was very satisfying in the food department. Currently I’m stuffing my face with a burrito the size of a small baby (guacamole included for free). Very pleasing.
After stuffing my face with a burrito it was time to embrace the Garden Stage one last time with Kool And The Gang. Even though Kool And The Gang aren’t necessarily exactly a band I would buy tickets to go see, it did feel pretty historical to witness them live. They have become one of the most influential and well known funk and soul bands of all time. I’d put them up their with the likes of George Clinton or James Brown. The great thing about The Gang is that they aren’t just funk. They mix elements of jazz, soul and R&B into their sound. What a celebration to finish off the weekend.Kool And The Gang – Celebrate Good Times
…but was that the end of the weekend? As people started drifting away from the main stage after Kool And The Gang finished, I heard some thumping coming from the forest. And as my FOMO will tell you, the party is not over until the vinyl stops spinning. So I redirected myself towards The Nest.
Perched above the turntables, deep in the nest was a DJ I hadn’t heard before: Demi Riqísimo. It was just the type of minimal deep house that is needed for someone who doesn’t want the party to stop. Looking back, Riqísimo picked just the right spot and slot to play on a Sunday. If Kool The The Gang was the celebration for the weekend, Demi Riqísmo played the encore. Check out some flavor from his set below with “Sarong Song.”
Editors Note: including a new single released by Demi Riqísimo here called “Anxious Elephants.” This DJ is one to look out for the rest of this festival season.Demi Riquísimo – Sarong Song
Demi Riquísimo – Anxious Elephants (Semi Delicious)
Thank you El Dorado! See you next year.
- Dazed DJs (1:30
- Twerking workshop (twerk shop) at the boudoir (5:30
- Horse Meat Disco (6:00)
- Purple Disco Machine (7:45 – 8:00
- Kool and the Gang (10:00 – 11:00
- Demi Riquisimo (11:00 – 12:30