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Interview: The Gardens of Babylon

Interview: The Gardens of Babylon


The Gardens of Babylon is back to its home base of Amsterdam during the essential ADE this year.

Their annual showcase The Seekers of Light debuted in 2016 and has gotten stronger ever since. This year the lovingly assembled community is back together at three shows at Amsterdam’s WesterUnie – two on October 22nd and one on the 23rd.

The likes of Audiofly, Britta Arnold, Christian Löffler, Deer Jade, Jan Blomqvist, Jenia Tarsol, MAGA, Oliver Koletzki, YokoO and Yulia Niko to name just a few all play and here we speak to Shishi Tayar behind it to find out more.

How are you, whats good and bad in your world?

There is still so much good happening at the moment. Even though it’s a very tricky time to organise events in Europe, our Amsterdam Dance Event weekender is very well received. It’s the first year we are doing three events (!!) and we are getting close to sell out all of them. Fingers crossed!! The program is amazing. I am super happy. We come together on Saturday October 22 and Sunday October 23 at WesterUnie and Transformatorhuis. A prime spot! Two days and three events. A MARATHON OF MUSIC literally. The line up is insane. We’re in for a treat. So excited.

A part from being able to do what we love and continue to organise our events. I am very aware of the things that are happening in the world. From revolutions to war. It’s overwhelming.

With Babylon we continue to spread light, consciousness and even help where we can. But it’s hard. People are angry online, quickly upset. I can handle it most of the time but sometimes I am struggling. I do truly believe that we need to continue to bring people together on music events. It’s the only way we can keep the conversation going and generate empathy, connection and understanding of one another.

Tell us about the people and ethos behind The Seekers of the Light showcase?

I am an insane fan of Amsterdam Dance Event. I love the conference. I love how they transform Amsterdam into this global music hub. I have been raving at these events for years. Gosh, how long has it been by now. ADE takes place in Oktober, which means that the city can be rainy, cold and quite gloomy. When we took the opportunity to host our Babylon showcase at ADE, we wanted to bring a bit of light to this autumn weekend. We wanted to create a colourful world, a crazy light show with decoration everywhere. It is a place that makes you really really happy. The crowd is the undeniable finishing touch. They dress up, smile and have this warm and open energy. They make this event something extraordinary. Our goal is that the shows make you feel energised instead of drained.

As for the people behind it.. Our core team for this weekender is enormous. On top of that we have about 100 volunteers that help turn the venue into the world of Babylon. It’s really something we are most grateful about.

What is a day in your life like? What do you do week to week?

I am currently working remotely. So I basically spend 5 days a week with my team on Zoom. We spent the past months on reorganising our team and workflow. The result is great. We’re getting a lot of requests for showcases and collaborations next year. Our team is still relatively small, so we need to have an organised team and structure to process most of the requests. That’s what we are focussing on right now, how to improve the work, the process and so on. I am very proud of my team, I adore them.

A part from this reorganisation we have a big focus on locking in the shows as well as planning what we have confirmed already. Ufff so exciting to be working again right? Last but not least we have our big four day festival “The Monastery” now twice next year. One time in Mexico the end of April and the end of July in Germany. Big things.

What is new for this year? what has changed?

Where we first collaborated with our people in the community mostly, we will now embrace more collaborations with other brands from the community. Our community has such a vast amount of interesting concepts. It could be interesting to join forces. The music industry really needs to come together in this time and support each other. Let’s see what comes from it. So far it’s mostly in my head, haha.

What are the key things to get right with your events?

The things that truly define us are the community, the program and the eye for details. To get things right we need time. In the past I have agreed to shows that would happen to swiftly. I hope to not make that same mistake again.

Can you tell us about the spiritual program – how you decide on the topic?

The spiritual program is designed to prickle the curiosity of the people as well as serve them in the best way. How to make The Gardens of Babylon an extraordinary experience for them?

A musical weekend – What is musical AND spiritual?

A rave weekend – How can we calm down the crowd and let them a break every once in a while. Pacing yourself can be so wonderful.

A long weekend – How can we keep those muscles moving?

Something we always host is the Opening Ceremony, this year our golden voice Katty Heath is guiding the Ceremony. In the light of Amsterdam Dance Event we booked ecstatic dance. And a part from that we have a healing space where you can spend some time on recharging yourself. You can enjoy the Moonsong Band with live music, do one-on-one sessions to learn about yourself or you can just pamper yourself and get a massage.

What informs the lineup, how do you decide who to book?

Whatever catches my attention, really. I love giving the space to musicians from different nationalities. The Gardens is a melting pot where people come together regardless of their background. The lineup is a reflection of that. My obsession is to find new talent and experience the reaction of the crowd to their performance. The Babylon crowd is so welcoming to talent, absolutely amazing place to play. The crowd losing themselves over new music, that’s my forever goal.

What makes the ADE so special each year after so many years?

I love when people come together for music. We’re so divided in this world, but in music everything comes together.

What else are you looking forward to?

A part from my business, I have a lot to look forward to personally… 🙂 Welcoming a little human in my household next year. I am curious how the arrival will translate itself in my work.

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