author AP date 29/05/17

Out of the blue, Slam-It! emerged as Copenhagen’s newest event concept focusing on metal a couple of months ago, and unlike the host of other festivals celebrating the genre, it stuck out by only presenting sub-styles ending in ‘-core’ and catering to a younger audience. And with ambitious plans to expand the event into a major player in the Nordic festival scene, we of course had to find out more, sitting one of the organisers — Prime Collective’s Mirza Radonjica-Bang — down for an interview discussing the origins of the idea and where he hopes to take it over the coming years. Let’s start with an introduction.
Mirza: My name is Mirza and I am the owner of Prime Collective, which we started up in 2015. We do management of artists, release albums and make events, like this one that we’re going to talk about. How did the idea for Slam-It! come about?
Mirza: It was actually Live Nation Denmark’s idea in the beginning. I had myself thought about doing an event of this kind but was lacking the funding, to be honest. And last year, at Copenhell, Jeppe Nissen from Live Nation came over and wanted to talk about some things. At first I was nervous because I thought I’d done something wrong but it turned out that he wanted to do this co-operation. So for the last year we’ve been working on the visual setup and stuff, but it was actually his idea to create something that’s equal to Slam Dunk Festival, Warped Tour, all these kinds of events featuring the younger generation of metal bands, and try to establish something in Denmark, which he thought — and I agree — is something that we lack. Why do you think that Live Nation wanted to partner up with Prime Collective?

Mirza: You know, I think we’re pretty good at making noise and I think they saw that this younger generation is our main focus. Do you think it might also be because they don’t feel that those artists fit in at Copenhell and want to create a different platform on which to present them?

Mirza: Well, maybe. We have a five year plan for this. We’re going to grow it slowly, but grow it bigger and bigger. Part of the explanation could be that Copenhell cannot fit these kinds of bands into its line-up. But at the same time, one of the reasons is that these are the bands that might blow up in five to ten years — and then it’s good to have had them here in Denmark to form a connection and a starting point. This is part of our plan, too: to get a hold of these younger bands — this new wave of metal — and if they blow up, then we can build on the existing relationships that we have with them already. From the outside, Slam-It! could look like a usual international tour, with a handful of local supports added on. What makes it not be that?
Mirza: This year will probably look like that because it is basically a package traveling around. But I hope it won’t feel like that and that when people arrive at Slam-It! this year, they’ll get a different vibe — a vibe of summer, chill and coolness, and just a relaxed environment that is sort of different from everything else metal in this country — and see the idea underlying the event. We’ve parted with the black and with the traditional ways of looking at metal music and although this is a slow start for us, I hope that in a couple of years, people will see the red chord. Do you consider Slam-It! to be a festival, or something else?

Mirza: Right now, it’s an event. It’s just a one-day event wrapped around a concept, an idea and an environment How many people and what kind of audience do you hope to attract?
Mirza: Definitely the younger ones. Our target demographic is 15 to 30, whereas Copenhell’s might be 30 to 50. The ticket sales are going quite alright and we are hoping to sell around 450 tickets. It’s going well and I think we’ll get there, and it proves to me that we can build on Slam-It!. If you think about it, Issues has never been here, State Champs never played in Denmark, and Crown the Empire didn’t play either when they were here. So I think a lot of the tickets that we have sold actually stem from the concept and not so much from the bands — even though these are some of my favourite bands. It gives me a good indication that people in Denmark are interested in this type of event. Talking about tickets, 225 DKK for nine bands seems like a financial gamble. Can you really make ends meet at that price?

Mirza: You’d have to ask Live Nation because they are backing us with the finances on this one. But if we sell those tickets, then yes, we will break even because we also have a sponsor. We also have a lot of interest from other sponsors, who want to go along with this one in the future because our audience is young, and people want in on that. So if we sell a couple of hundred more tickets, we’ll be there and it’ll not have been a financial gamble. This is so small scale right now, but next year the line-up will get bigger and we’ll maybe have 18 bands instead (we haven’t talked about the precise number), including even more international names. Like Copenhell, we want to start modestly and build a loyal fanbase in the process. What considerations did you go through when you were booking the artists on this year’s bill?
Mirza: We got offered different packages through Live Nation and through my contacts. We hadn’t set a date so we waited for the right opportunity and for the bands that would make me go, ”Ok, I would like to try it with these guys.” So the decision was essentially mine, and based on my personal belief that the scene would move for these three international bands. What about the Danish bands — how did you land on them?

Mirza: Basically, we chose a lot of those bands that speak to the same audience and luckily, most of them are on my roster. It was all about whether these bands could attract all those hang-arounds that are so important for dragging others along; young bands made up of cool guys (if you can say that) that we believe can draw a crowd as well. Bands like Aphyxion, CABAL and honestly also my own band, Siamese — they all sell tickets. In terms of the plan for Slam-It! moving forward, what is your grand ambition in terms of where you want to take this concept?
Mirza: My grand ambition is to be a dominant player in this genre in Scandinavia — to have Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish bands know that there is this Slam-It! in Copenhagen which is kind of special, like the Nordic Slam Dunk Festival or the Nordic Warped Tour. I want this festival to have influence and to keep it colourful and young and not like all the others. Don’t get me wrong, I respect all the others; we have a lot of metal festivals in Denmark that are doing a great job and naturally, everybody is welcome at Slam-It!. But I want to show people that we want something else and that metal can be something else. And I hope that in five years’ time, we could realistically be looking at 3,000 people attending. We would need a new location but everything, including the economy, would be bigger, but I believe that is doable because I know that Bring Me the Horizon can sell 3,000 tickets in Denmark — and they are the biggest artist in the scene right now. So is Bring Me the Horizon your dream booking for Slam-It!?

Mirza: Oh yeah, that would be awesome. As you say, Slam-It! is not just a concert, so what else than concerts can attendees expect when they arrive at the venue?
Mirza: This year, because of the venue, things will of course be quite small-scale. But we have bought beer-pong tables, set up beer-bowling, there’s a grill and also we’ll have a small pool with beers. You know, it’s kind of inspired by Dirty Days of Summer, where they have that kind of setup. I think we can make it work, too, because Pumpehuset has the Byhaven area, with lots of tables and benches and space for people to hang out. What we would like to do is when the concerts are done, we don’t just want to turn on the lights and send everybody home — we want to keep the party going. Does Pumpehuset have any restrictions in terms of doing that outside after hours?

Mirza: We can do it until 10 in the evening. But then afterwards, there is the balcony and the smoking room, and I hope that we can keep people there as long as possible. Do you have a contingency plan in case of bad weather?

Mirza: The weather tends to be good around Distortion, which takes place at the same time. We don’t have a great plan for it… There’s a lot of trees and umbrellas there, but basically, we are just praying for good weather. But then again, the main event and the things that are drawing people to Slam-It!, three fourths of them are happening inside. Are you hoping to siphon some of Distortion’s audience, passers by and so on for your event?

Mirza: Yes. Actually, our plan is to make it free the first two hours so that people can just come in, sit in the garden and watch some metal — Hearteater and Odd Palace will be playing — and hopefully they will be caught by the vibe and just pay for the ticket and get inside as well. I know that Distortion has moved its main party to Amager and it’s expensive and it’s far, far away. So I hope that some people that are already out will catch onto Slam-It! In terms of the line-up, which artist are you looking forward to the most, and which artist would you recommend as the absolute must-see at Slam-It!?
Mirza: Of course, I am most looking forward to Issues because that’s one of my favourite bands. If you listen to the new Siamese record, it sounds quite a like, so I’ve been listening a lot to that band and I really look forward to seeing them live. If I could recommend one band that you should see, which is always an experience, I would recommend CABAL. It’s kind of a different one for the Slam-It! concept but they never disappoint live, so if you want to check something out, check out CABAL. In order to shift the last tickets, what would you say to someone who is still undecided about attending Slam-It? Why should they come?
Mirza: You should come because we are known to throw good parties. We are known to give the people what they want, and I think we draw the right kind of crowd and I think everybody’s going to have a good time there. And also remember: the local bands are top-notch and the international bands are even better. This is the best underground event for metal’s young people, so if you like this kind of -core, this is the place to be. Do you have any final remarks before wrapping up this interview?
Mirza: Check out the bands — and check every band out because they all have something to offer. Every band on this bill has something fresh out: a new EP or an album, so make sure you give them a spin!

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