How to manage festivals – with Robin Ebinger, founder of Cosmopop [Exclusive Interview]

Skärmavbild 2015-03-10 kl. 23.21.40Inspired by his own experiences as a raver, Cosmopop founder Robin Ebinger is one of three friends that has been throwing parties for twenty years

Never heard about Cosmopop? You´re not the only one. It’s the production company behind Time Warp, Sonus, The Love Family Park and Stuttgart Electronic Music Festival. Don’t know about this either? Then you could just check out the festival reviews by Beatport, Pulse Radio and Resident Advisor. Oh, they love Cosmopop productions.

EDM har blown up the last couple of years, the global DJ business has been there for ten years now, and the german edition of Time Warp has existed for over twenty years. Their path towards becoming a global phenomenon started in 2005 with a success in Prague and continued with a disaster in Vienna. Today Time Warp Mannheim is the mothership with more than 20,000 visitors of which half is originating from countries outside Germany, but Cosmopop productions are everywhere: Croatia, Argentina, USA, Netherlands and of course Germany. I had a Skype-call with Cosmopop founder, Robin Erbinger about memories and hardships.

Once upon a Time Warp: how did it all begin?

– Steffen, who founded Time Warp in 1994, was a friend of mine but he was also competition since we did different things back then. He owned a record shop in the early nineties and together with his friend Michael they threw an event and Time Warp was born.

Back then the idea was, and still is, to warp back in time to bring some of the innovators from the Detroit scene to Germany. Techno had become sort of mainstream through the Love Parade, and they wanted to get back to the roots.

Yes, and what about the name?

– The name was a special story. Back then it was hard with graphics, unlike today. It was science to do any sort of good flyer. Originally we didn’t have a name, but the graphics guy came up with a flyer with “warp” in capital letters. Steffen and Michael said that we can’t do “Warp” since it’s already a record label, but the graphics guy said: “We can’t do anything else since I have worked five days on it now.” So they just added “Time” and Time Warp was born.

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21 years later the story goes on: can you tell us the most memorable moments for you as an arranger?

– Every year it is the same two moments actually:

Firstly when we open of the doors. The people that have been traveling hundreds of miles are really looking forward to go inside. The spirits are really high and it is really rewarding knowing all these people travelled from all over the word because of your idea of what a party should be like.

And secondly when all is finished all everyone is going home. It’s a big risk to have 20,000 people at a festival: so when I can relax and open the first beer, that’s the second.

There are many electronic music festivals out there. What separates you from them?

– We come from the dance floor. We´re not businessmen. We are ravers by heart. Time Warp is the perfect space where crowd and artists can interact. It’s very big with 20,000 people, but also very intimate. Although we have six stages, you don’t feel lost.

Our professionalism has grown in 20 years, and it had to. The audience that expects more every year, the media where you need to deliver and of course in the last 5 och 6 years, security has been a big issue. And the competition has grown tremendously, so there is no alternative to being professional.

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German festival organizers have a global reputation and german FKP Scorpio has been a strong actor in Scandinavia for the last couple of years. Does german organizational skills have something to do with it?

– I believe so! The dutch are very professional, but germans are crazy and have a very disciplined mindset. Maybe we are a  bit too serious and too difficult. Our partners look at us when we come and they laugh at our “excel sheets and checking the toilets”. But after the show they don’t laugh at us. The so called german characteristics, being disciplined and sticking to the plan, results and being careful with details, it helps!

As a new visitor: what could I expect and what can I not miss in Time Warp Mannheim?

1. Don’t come too early. It is important to stay long, though it’s intense with 19 hours straight. Our prime time is between twelve in the night and eleven in the morning.

2. Be there for the morning hours when the sun comes up. We have one stage completely out of glass, so don’t miss the morning hours.

If you could meet yourselves when you founded Cosmopop, what would you have said to your younger you?

– “Chill out, everything will be fine!”

Is there anything else you would like to share?

– Don’t wait to long to buy tickets. It’s been sold out the last 5 years.

 

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About Bjorn Widmark:

Writing about all things bassline, but I'm mostly about telling stories. Portraying and exploring the depth and width of electronic music. Talk to me: @bjrnwidmark / www.bjornwidmark.se


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