Married couple Glenn and Maddy Goodhand, owners of Iris Presents, brought out herds of electronic music fans to last year’s newly debuted venue location of Kingston Downs for Imagine Festival 2023. Over four days and four nights, festival attendees danced to house, techno, bass, and dubstep soundscapes from over 100 artists spread across four stages. Some of this year’s featured artists were Chris Lake, John Summit, Dom Dolla, REZZ, Subtronics, DIESEL, Dillon Francis, and SLANDER, on top of a stacked festival bill containing a plethora of electronic frontrunners. In addition to pool parties featuring artists like Dombresky‘s Disco Dom and Never Dull, Imagine Festival 2023 also hosted transformative workshops focusing on topics like yoga, flow arts, meditation, consciousness, mindfulness, art, and more.
Amidst a long weekend of great food, art, and music, Imagine Music Festival organizers Glenn and Maddy sat down with Dancing Astronaut for an exclusive Q&A. Read it below.
What do you think has led to Imagine’s massive growth over the years?
Glenn: “We’ve been doing shows and parties–we didn’t even call them raves back then; they were parties–for over 25 years. We’d been throwing them in other people’s houses and venues, which made us feel sort of limited, artistically. So, we decided we’d either buy our own club or start a music festival. We tried both, actually, but the club fell through at that moment, so we started Imagine. Year one was 5,000 people. It feels authentic having been part of the culture from the very beginning. Even though we don’t have the budgets to match our corporate competitors, we have a lot of people that believe in what we do. It’s a family-like atmosphere.”
Maddy: “It’s definitely the vibe and the energy that make us unique. They’re what make us authentic. And I think people feel that. When we initially set out to do a festival, we wanted to create something that felt different from your corporate cattle call event. This type of music is meant to bring people together, and we had attended corporate events in the past that felt like cattle calls, where there was no feeling, no energy… And so that’s the spirit of our event…really trying to bring that energy out.”
How do you navigate your relationships as a couple and as business partners?
Glenn: “It was a blessing when we met, a match made in heaven. We met in Atlanta; I was working as a bartender for two seconds, and we had a two second conversation. I asked if I could call her sometime, and our first date was absolutely magical. We never argue. You know, people talk about old souls comin’ back together again, and I think this is one of those times… We have a very unique and special relationship.”
Maddy: “I remember we saw a Great Dane on our date… And I go, ‘I have a dog like that!’ And Glenn goes, “I have a dog like that!” We both pulled out our phones, and we had the exact same dog, like the same coloring and everything. His had just died and mine was a puppy, so it felt very serendipitous. This was different; there was something special here.”
Glenn: “It’s the type of love that we hope everyone can one day feel and see.”
Maddy: “People have come up to us and said, ‘Oh! Maddy and Glenn? I went to Imagine; Imagine changed my life! I met my significant other there; I found myself there…”
Glenn: “And there’s tears in their eyes…”
Maddy: “And they’re so genuine. And it’s always those moments that remind us why we’re doing this.”
What goes into curating Imagine’s lineups?
Glenn: “We’re pretty good at picking different genres of music that you don’t normally put all together. There’s the ‘wookie,’ glitchy stuff, the mainstream stuff, and then the house and techno… It’s pretty beautiful when people start opening their minds to other people and other styles of music
Maddy: “Back when we were doing club events, one of our big inspirations was Peter Gatien, who was a well-known club owner in New York. We love the idea of putting a bunch of people into a ‘room’ who may not mix, who may even make fun of each other. But then you bring in the music, and it connects everybody. You could have your e-boys, your corporate guys, your drag queens… Once you turn the music on, everyone starts to suddenly vibe together.”
Glenn: “All the boundaries get dropped, and there’s no discrimination.”
What’s next for Imagine Festival?
Glenn: “There are a lot of plans in the making. We have big dreams of scaling, but we’re certainly restricted by economics, unfortunately. So, for us, it’s always baby steps. We’ve had big offers come our way, but we’ve decided to take baby steps in order to maintain that level of quality control. We own a music venue now, we may open another one in Florida, maybe another one in Atlanta… We’re looking to do a show in the spring in downtown Atlanta… It’ll be two days, a smaller festival, and I can’t share the name of it right now because the deal hasn’t been signed. We always want to make sure we partner with the right people, people we can trust and who align with our vision.”
Can you name a few headline acts that haven’t played the festival who you’d love to have out?
Glenn: “Everyone always asks me that. I grew up on old school hip hop in the electronic space. I like Pretty Lights a lot; he’s probably one of my favorites.”
Maddy: “I think Eric Prydz would be really cool, The Martinez Brothers…”
Glenn: “There’s a lot of good artists we love, but unfortunately you can’t do a festival solely based on your taste. Ultimately, it’s a business, but we try to maintain the passion and flavor.”
Featured image: DVPhotoVideo
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