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Homegrown: Surrey604’s Top BC-Born Artists to Look out for at Shambhala Music Festival 20th Anniversary

British Columbia is known worldwide for a number of different reasons. The beautiful and natural greens that surrounds the province, the cleanly-coated white mountains of Whistler, the multicultural diversity that inhabits the Seattle-meets-Hollywood Canadian hybrid that is the city of Vancouver. Most of us also won’t forget about that sweet-sweet BC bud.

Greenery is not all that grows within these Western Canadian soils, however. Lurking the electronic dance music community is a plethora of British Columbian artists with dreams of making the world a bouncier place.

BC’s own Shambhala Music Festival is an annual meetup of those looking to share a one of a kind music and soul-filled experience. Located at Salmo River Ranch, this family and volunteer-run event encourages peace, love and unity amongst artists and attendees alike, opening individuals to a sense of free-spiritedness and self-discovery. Many patrons have thanked the Shambhala experience for breaking them out of their shell, opening their mind and getting them more in tune to who they truly are and aim to become. Enhancing this Woodstock-esque psychedelic mentality are six stages that over the years have evolved into spectacles of their own.

Their own sounds, their own vibes, their own set of attendees and artists to groove ‘til sunrise. It’s encouraged that you visit each stage at least once. Part of the beauty of Shambhala is stumbling into the unexpected and embracing what feels right in the moment, opening yourself to new musical styles and ways of being. The Village, Pagoda, Grove, Living Room, Amphitheatre and Fractal Forest are rounded with artists from all over the globe, including many of BC’s veteran bass-droppers and up and comers. Surrey604 wants to shout out some BC performers who look to lay it all down on our home turf.

EXCISION | Hometown: Kelowna | Genre: Dubstep | Stage: the Village (Saturday, 12:00am)

A key force in Dubstep’s rise to prominence in the early 2010s, Excision continuously innovates in an effort to push the capacities of the genre. A Shambhala veteran, 2017 will mark the artist’s 10th anniversary at the festival. Each year, Excision aims to top his previous performance, artfully mixing some of the heaviest and outright dankest robotic tunes to blast our earholes. Often drenched in unreleased tracks, Excision’s Shambhala mix is amongst the most anticipated annual dance-music releases. With a mammoth 2-hour set to celebrate his 10th year at the farm, there’s no doubt Excision is looking to make this his phattest drop yet.

KYTAMI (w/Phonik Ops) | Hometown: Vancouver | Genre: Violin, Drum & Bass | Stage: the Village (Friday, 9:00pm) 

“Violinist Extremist” Kytami will be bringing her own innovative sound to Shambhala. Masterfully blending the hard-hitting electro stylings of drum & bass, dubstep and hip-hop with classical violin, this born-to-be musician is sure to wow those unfamiliar with her live-performance. A graduate of the Vancouver Academy of Music, Kytami teams up with producer Phonik Ops to deliver a classically delivered set of epic bass juxtaposed with ferociously fiddled strings. The duo released the album Renegade earlier this year.

THE LIBRARIAN | Hometown: Squamish | Genre: Deep | Stages: Amphitheatre (Thursday, 1:00pm), the Grove (Friday, 10:30pm)

There’s not a lot to say about the Librarian, yet her sound is deep. This Bass Coast Festival co-founder has been washing out the West with her loudly meditative jibes for nearly a decade. Expect to be immersed completely into a spiritual abyss as the deep dubs wub into your subconscious.

THE FUNK HUNTERS (w/Chali 2na) | Hometown: Vancouver | Genre: Future Funk, Space Bass | Stages: the Village (Friday, 10:00pm), Fractal Forest (Saturday, 2:00am)

Vancity boys the Funk Hunters have been making waves for a long time. Armed with two sets this year, the duo will not only be dropping their funkadelic grooves in the outworldly psychedelic kingdom known as Fractal Forest, but also have a highly anticipated performance alongside Jurassic 5 rap legend Chali 2na in the bass-inhabiting jungle-pit we call the Village. In 2016, the trio dropped their fire collaborative record: ILLectric EP.

DATSIK | Hometown: Kelowna | Genre: Dubstep, Bass House | Stage: Pagoda (Saturday, 2:30am), the Village (Sunday, 12:00am)

It’s hard to say where the bass music genre would be without Firepower Records kingpin Datsik. Rising the ranks amongst dubstep’s greatest, there’s no doubt that he’s left a considerable mark on the electronic music scene. Not only will this Shambhala vet be lurking the Village with his heavy, non-apologetic machine-gun dubstep heat, he will also be spinning some heavy bass-house at the Pagoda with his side project Ephwurd.

NEON STEVE | Hometown: Victoria | Genre: All Genres | Stage: Fractal Forest (Friday, 9:00pm)

Neon Steve is known for blending opposite-spectrum genres in conventionally unconventional ways. A resident Shambhala DJ, Neon Steve’s style can only be described as a box of chocolates, you just don’t know what you’re gonna get. With goal of keeping his set lively, energetic and with a little something for everybody, Neon Steve will mix anything from the hottest underground bangers to old-school pop hits.

SKIITOUR | Hometown: Whistler | Genre: Funk, Party Music | Stage: Amphitheatre (Thursday, 5:30pm)

Most aim to climb the mountain, these two funky party rockers were born on top of it. Hailing from the great-white Whistler, this duo lives to shred hills and spin killz. SkiiTour has left their spirited mark at the marquee Amphitheatre and are expected to set the party-vibes right while the sun is still shining on Shambhala’s opening night.

SUBSCURA | Hometown: Vancouver | Genre: Performance Art | Stage: the Grove (Friday, 10:15pm), Living Room (Saturday, 3:00am)

Producer’s and DJ’s aren’t the only types of artists you’ll find at Shambhala. Alongside the many tattooers, painters, yoga instructors and artists of the like you’ll find the all-female performance-collective Subscura. Through theatrical dance, hooping and further mediums, the group’s goal is to guide the audience through connection and reflection, often portraying themes such as psychology, exploration and social conditioning, among many more. It’s a rare treat to see a performance of this magnitude in such a setting. If you’re looking for an unique and artful experience, Subscura is surely not one to miss.

SACK GRABBATH | Hometown: Nelson | Genre: Metal | Stage: Living Room (Friday, 9:00pm)

Further expanding the all-inclusive nature of Shambhala is probably the most off-centre performance you’d expect at the mostly-electronic music festival. Black Sabbath cover-band Sack Grabbath look to recreate the classic sounds of Ozzy Osbourne’s signature vocals, Tony Iommi’s distorted guitars, Geezer Butler’s downtuned bass licks and Bill Wards pounding drums, as a tribute to the heavy metal pioneers. There’s no doubt this set has potential to be a Shambhala Metalhead meeting grounds.

STICKYBUDS | Hometown: Kelowna | Genre: Funk, Breaks |Stage: Fractal Forest (Saturday, 12:00am)

After 12 years with Shambhala, he’s undoubtedly marked the festival a home close to the heart. One of the grooviest DJ’s on the bill, Stickybuds ragga-style funky breakbeats make you one with the vibrations. Stickybuds keeps your mood high, your grins wide and your booties bouncing freely into the night.

This is only a small handful of amazing BC artists who will be at Shambhala this year, not to mention all the outside-BC and international performers. With stage renovations and a completely sold out stock of tickets, there’s no doubt the four-day festival’s 20th anniversary will hold its biggest bill yet. Whether you’re grooving to the beats, taking a dip in the river or connecting with fellow human beings, Shambhala will prove to be a unique and magical experience. Happy Shambs! See you on the farm, fam.

Full Lineup: 

Need a ticket? Shambhala Music Festival 2017 (August 11-14) is Sold Out. However, owner tickets are regularly put up for sale on the Shambhala Ticket Exchange Facebook page:

Johnny Papan
Jonathan Nicholas “Johnny” Papan is a Canadian writer, filmmaker, and musician born in Surrey, British Columbia to a Guyanese mother and half-Hungarian, half-Trinidadian father. Aside from film and music, Johnny also enjoys performing standup comedy. His interest in journalism surfaced after watching documentaries on influential writers Nora Ephron and Hunter S. Thompson. -