The Isle of Light Fest in the Dominican Republic


Damien Scott reviews the Isle of Light Festival in the Dominican Republic. He writes about the work that Phil Hoelting, Luis Betances, Marco Vicini, and Morgan Lebus are doing to try to bridge the gap between U.S. indie music and the Caribbean. Here are excerpts of his article and interview:

It’s officially festival season. [. . .] There’s no shortage of options for those looking to get in on the action: There’s SXSW, Coachella, Governors Ball, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Firefly, Fuck Yeah Fest, Ultra Music Festival, Beale Street, Hangout Fest, and what seems to be an endless list of others.

Looking to stake a claim in the crowded marketplace are four guys—Phil Hoelting, Luis Betances, Marco Vicini, and Morgan Lebus—with an admirable mission: to bridge the gap between U.S. indie music and the Caribbean. They plan to do this with the Isle of Light Festival, a one day event that takes place at the beautiful Sans Souci’s Lighthouse in the Dominican Republic and this year featured acts like Run the Jewels, Chromeo and smaller bands like Whomadewho and Walking Shapes.

Only in its second official year, the Isle of Light festival has grown into a marquee attraction for those in and around Santo Domingo. If the founders have their way, people will come from all over to experience not only the music, but the culture of the Caribbean. In addition to the live performances, there’s food supplied by local vendors, local merchants selling t-shirts and art, and a zip line. Not bad for something that started off as a private invite-only house party. But with so many festivals, how will it work to stand apart? To find out, we spoke with Phil Hoelting to get some background and info about the festivals future.

[. . .] When I think of big music festivals in the Caribbean, I think of Reggae Sumfest in Jamaica. It has homegrown local talent and big American names. 
That’s the model, but I don’t think we’re going to go for acts that big because I think those acts already have the ability to do that. They’re already known in the country. I want to bring acts that are not as well known. It’s not necessarily the best business model [Laughs], but I want to be able to say, “Look, here’s a band that you will probably like. The radio’s playing 30 international acts over and over, these are like those acts but on a smaller scale, check it out.” Let’s find a way to bring these artists who won’t otherwise get real festival offers down there. If people start coming to the festival because Isle of Light is cool, Isle of Light is fun, and just want to be there, and want to learn something, that’s when it will be a success for me. I want the event to bring everyone there on its own, and then for everyone to learn about what they’re seeing there and have a good time. I don’t think anyone really knew who Run the Jewels were, and I saw a lot of people having a lot of fun during their set.

For full article, see

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