Volim Valley’s Inspiration
By Amber Knight
Nestled along the well-travelled road up to the Big White ski resort is the picturesque Heartland Ranch. With its 175+ acres of wide open fields and spectacular mountain, lake and valley views, this Okanagan beauty caught the eye of Drew Schulz, owner and co-founder of Volim Valley Music Festival, many times as he and his friends headed up the mountain. What Schulz didn’t know at the time was that his simple admiration for Heartland Ranch would soon turn into the makings of one of Kelowna’s most anticipated events of the summer.
Schulz was born on Vancouver Island and moved when he was nine years old to Kelowna, BC where he lived until finishing school and starting his welding career. Although he spends most of his year in Fort MacMurray working in the oil sands, Schulz is a dreamer and adventurer at heart. In his early 20’s his friends introduced him to electric dance music (EDM) and soon after they were off to Tomorrowland in Belgium, one of the world’s most well-known and popular EDM music festivals. Schulz enthusiastically admits that this music festival changed his life, so much so that he had the Tomorrowland symbol tattooed on his shoulder. This experience opened his eyes to “how deep the electronic music scene really is; how many different styles and tempos there are, and how much there is to learn”. This first taste of the music festival scene ignited in Schulz a burning passion for EDM and that magnetic, adrenaline charged atmosphere that leaves guests eager for more. He began to travel around Europe, attending as many music festivals as he could. Eventually his passion turned into an idea tossed around amongst friends on the beaches of Croatia until finally Volim Valley music festival was born.
The word “volim” in Croatian means love, which is the main concept that is fueling this music festival. Schulz had fallen in love with the culture and atmosphere of the music festivals he attended in Europe but what he wanted was to recreate those same vibes in Canada, to essentially spread the love in his own country and specifically his hometown of Kelowna. While speaking with Schulz on the phone he reminisced about the feel of the environment at most of the music festivals he had gone to, particularly the smaller ones where he had attended workshops and lectures. He described it as a sense of inclusivity, “people coming together, showcasing their talents, teaching and learning from one another”. Schulz is looking to create a similar atmosphere, one of connectivity and acceptance amongst the festival’s guests, where everyone treats each other with respect and kindness regardless of background, age, etc. The idea is for Volim Valley to be a place where people can leave stereotypes, expectations and inhibitions at the door and simply have fun with one another.
The concepts of love and connectivity are important to Schulz because of the dangerous trends he sees quickly forming amongst North American music festivals, specifically in terms of violence. He understands that many locals are nervous about music festivals coming to Kelowna because of unfortunate damage and destruction in the past but he is working hard to demonstrate that Volim Valley will be different. Schulz believes that violence at music festivals often stems from a festival’s focus on making money rather than creating a safe and fun environment. He has very clearly stated that “I’m not in this to get rich by any means. I just want to stick to my goal of creating an awesome environment for people”, which will be exactly what sets Volim Valley apart from other music festivals.
So what happens when a welder by trade with a passion for good music and good vibes decides to plan a music festival from the ground up? A lot of learning, that’s for sure. Schulz says that “this is all a complete learning experience for me. I’ve never done anything remotely close to this before”. But it sounds like it’s been a fun ride for the EDM fan so far. When asked what the best part of the planning process has been Schulz said that the milestones have been pretty exciting such as signing the festival’s first artist and later the headliner. And in 5 short months all the planning, learning and milestones will pay off when Volim Valley comes to Heartland Ranch for September 9th and 10th. So if you’re a music lover with a passion for nature, connectivity, good times and experiences of a lifetime you won’t want to miss Volim Valley 2017.