At Keltfest 2015 we had a very open and heartfelt talk with none other than Mark van der Stelt, one of the driving forces behind Castlefest and everything Vana-related!

On this rainy but beautiful festival day we talked for almost 45 minutes about the festival scene, how Castlefest and other festivals came to light. We talked about the importance of music and creativity, and of course about the future!

Because Mark was so kind to take a lot of time for us we had to cut the interview into three parts, of which the third and final part is released today! Mind you, it’s audio only, though you can find the written text right here. 🙂

CeltCast: Is there any limit to this? Where do you see yourself in like ten years?

Mark: That’s a difficult question because there’s no goal in growth. So when I think of the future I only think about all the plans I have, all the dreams I still have, and how we could manage to make them true. So there is no view to the future, it’s always “this day, and what we are doing now, and what we like now, and what we would like to create.” We are only creating, that’s what we like most. I hope in ten years I will still be creating things.

CeltCast: Like the festivals, you are building on the past?

Mark: Yes, but that’s because of the atmosphere around “medieval”, medieval things, and nature of course.

CeltCast: What is your opinion on series like Game of Thrones or Vikings?

Mark: I like them. I like them a lot. And also other Fantasy films like The Golden Compass or Narnia and of course Lord of the Rings. We like fantasy and we like history, not in the historical correctness of it, but in the atmosphere around it.

CeltCast: Do you still get time to enjoy your own festivals?

Mark: Yeah, more and more. We have very very good colleagues and we have…our volunteers are the best. We still have quite a few volunteers since the first year, so they are already with us over ten years. At the festival, after about an hour after opening on the first day, then it’s good, and I can visit bands or enjoy the festival. And what I enjoy most is the smiles on the faces of the public, because that’s the goal.

CeltCast: Like just now, we were walking to a say more quiet area to do this recording and there were people just walking up to you and say “Oh my god, I haven’t hugged you today yet” and you allow them to and you just…

Mark: Well of course. It’s something we do together. We can’t make a festival where people enjoy if they are not willing to enjoy. The person who came up to me when we were walking, that’s a market salesman, and if market salesmen are with smiles behind their stands because they are enjoying themselves it reflects on the public, and then it reflects on the rest of the public. It’s a sort of snowball effect.

CeltCast: When talking about enjoying yourself at a festival, what’s with Castlefest and fruit stage-diving?

Mark: We have a very very good friend, Hans Rek, who is with us since the first Castlefest and never ever skipped a festival, and when we started to know him he only did his “nar” (jester, red.), he did only one act. And we said to him “we would like you to do something new, something different.” And he had so much ideas. And after a few years he came in a banana suit. And he asked me before “do you allow me to stage-dive in a banana suit?” I laughed my ass off, I found it the best idea ever. So yes of course you can! And the year after he made two grapes, and my brother and I were not asked to, no, we were pressed to get in that suit and stage-dive with him. And the public went wild. From that moment it was something special for us. We didn’t do it every year. We stopped doing it for a few years. One year Hans did it together with a couple of friends of his, but we got emails of public who asked us if we could do that again because it was so much fun. And from what I’ve heard it still is at Castlefest at the Sunday that people, when the last band is on stage, people are looking over the fences or between the fences if they are already seeing someone in a fruit suit. So it became a big anthem, it’s nice.

CeltCast: The other big anthem is of course the wicker, every Saturday. How did that come into being and how much of the pagan aspect of it is important to you?

Mark: If was an idea of Steve from Omnia. He told us that he, every year he did a wickerman burning, and that he would like such a ritual on Castlefest, and what we thought about that. And from that moment we created the wickerman. Mostly Steve at first because he made the pictures, how to build it. The first few years they helped with building it. So it became a real important part of the Castlefest Saturday, the Pagan night. And of course it’s an old religion, pagan ritual, but for Castlefest it’s more than that. We have visitors that are not only pagan, but they all have a special feeling for the wickerman, so it’s not only pagan anymore. People find closure, or new beginning at the wickerman with offering the thing they want to offer. So it’s very special for us, that’s even why we started to make it a sole ritual and not a part of the Omnia show.

CeltCast: It stands with music now, I think composed by Fieke van der Hurk from Orchus Studio.

Mark: Yeah. What we did, we composed it together with Fieke. Natasha and I can’t compose music but we had an idea of how it should be, emotionally, energy wise, and we took the videos of the last few wickermans and we made a sort of time-line from lighting it until it burned big and it went smaller again. And on that time-line we started creating the music. For us it’s real emotional. Some people call it just a tape but for us it’s so much more.

CeltCast: I’ve been in the crowd for ten years now, and I can tell anybody who disagrees that it’s way more than that.

Mark: Yeah, there’s so much love and also cries in composing this piece. And Fieke did a really really good job. Because that’s what makes Fieke such a special creative person. She can translate a feeling into a graphic design or a music design.

CeltCast: Yes, she does a lot of graphic work for you as well.

Mark: Yeah, almost all.

CeltCast: Well, I know she’s multi-talented. Of course she’s also playing in Cesair and she has her own studio. It’s wonderful to be able to build on people like that. Alright, well, I want to thank you for your time.

Mark: You’re welcome.

CeltCast: And before we leave, is there anything people should know, if they’re not already convinced that they should come to Castlefest this year?

Mark: I don’t know how to answer that question. The only thing I can say is that every person who I tried to persuade to come to Castlefest, when he finally came, after that it wasn’t even needed to ask again because everyone wants to stay. It’s such a special, magical place. I don’t know why, but it is.

CeltCast: That’s true! Just keep on at it! Thanks again, thanks very much.