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A quick Q & A with Daniel Iregui

When I visited Draaimolen Festival for the first time in 2017, I was especially impressed by the amount of those small “extra’s” that most of the festivals often neglect. One of such things is visual art; in particular, the light installations you find scattered all over the woods. If you happened to be there that year, you couldn’t miss the interactive cubes of Daniel Iregui, a Montreal-based new media artist known under the name Iregular. I spent a great deal of time watching people fooling around with those sculptures; the visuals were hypnotizing, and people often seemed fascinated and slightly confused.

Daniel has been working with Draaimolen since 2016 and one could say he became part of the identity of the festival. It’s hard to imagine it without one of his signature creations such as the award-winning Cube with visuals by Heleen Blanken floating above the DJ on The Parking Lot stage in 2017, which became an even larger – actually immense – installation a year later. This year, Draaimolen moved to a new location, MOB complex, which means completely new areas, so no Parking Lot anymore. I caught up with Daniel to hear more about his collaboration with Draaimolen over these 4 years and the ideas he’s got for the upcoming festival. 

Q: You’ve been working with Draaimolen for 4 years already and in this time your works became some sort of a visual representation of its identity, how did your collaboration begin?

A: I was doing an exhibition in Van Abbe Museum Eindhoven where I presented three of my interactive sculptures. Milo reached out to me but, unfortunately, we weren’t able to meet. I mentioned that in two months I would be in Europe again, in Bulgaria, and he actually traveled all the way there! The fact that he showed up in a different country just to meet me made a huge impression on me; I realized how passionate Milo was and how serious were his intentions. At the time, I didn’t know anything about Draaimolen yet, but I fully trusted him, and we got along very well. That’s when he commissioned the first scenography 4 years ago. 

Q: Can you tell a bit about the first project you did together?

A: The first scenography we did was probably the most experimental one we’ve done together so far. In 2016, I made the design for the main stage and created a custom structure of floating acrylic frames mapped with projection. The concept that we still stick to this day was to include the background into the scenography. I think it’s important to remind the audience that they are in a forest rather than stealing their attention away from the surrounding. What we did was quite experimental and took quite some effort to build. Milo won’t easily forget this one!

Q: You are based in Montreal and the major part of the work for Draaimolen is done remotely. What is the working dynamic between you and the Draaimolen team? 

A: The nice thing about working with someone for a longer term is that the workflow and trust develop not only with Milo but also with the whole team, including the light operator. Last two years I also collaborated with visual artist Heleen Blanken for The Parking Lot stage design. Basically, Milo assigns me a place and gives a sense of direction, so I can develop an idea based on all the information I have on hand. I always send him a raw concept of the vision I’m proposing and if he likes it, I develop it into a much more formal presentation with all the technical aspects. Then I generate the programs that will eventually control the light and video on-site.

Q: This time, you are operating on a completely new playground. What challenges have you been facing while working on this year’s project compared to the previous years? Are you planning to visit the festival site before the event?

A: Unfortunately, I’m not able to visit the festival site this time so I rely on all the information and communication I have with the Draaimolen team. I give them as much documentation and sketches as possible so they can run tests and see if that’s feasible. Though becoming visually big in terms of space they occupy, my works are quite simple in construction, so the process usually goes quite smoothly. 

Q: Without giving too much away to our visitors, could you briefly describe your ideas for this edition? What were your main inspirations?

A: Space is always my main inspiration. This time, it’s a very long road and the stage is placed at the end of it. I wanted to play around with this setting and incorporate it into the scenography, taking advantage of it. The Tunnel spills 100 meters after the stage, making the audience feel immersed in it. That’s something we’ve been wanting to explore with Milo for a long time.  

Q: Your works are the visual interpretations of the festival; how would you describe it if you put it into words?

A: I think the work I’m doing right now is really the combination of nature and technology in a very simple and effective way. One of the things I like a lot about Draaimolen is the fact that the community is very involved, and Milo has a lot of friends helping him out. You can sense it in the festival and even in the work I do. There is always this human touch to it. So, if I had to describe Draaimolen in a few words that would be: nature, people, community.