21 years of Shambhala

For 21 years, thousands of people have been making the journey to the Salmo River Ranch to get down.

The Shambhala Music Festival has grown by leaps and bounds since its first iteration in 1998, but it remains a homegrown event, still hosted at the same family farm without any corporate sponsorship.

The festival, which wrapped up its 21st year Monday morning, now attracts some of the biggest names in electronic music to the Kootenays. 

Before ever getting the chance to perform, Okanagan-based DJs Tyler “Stickybuds” Marten and Jason “JPOD” Danielson would help set up the Fractal Forest stage, volunteering weeks of their time to get the venue ready for the weekend.

From their humble roots, the two Shambhala veterans have since played the festival 14 times.

“We all started our careers here really,” Martens said. “It's a reunion every year, I've played all over the world and this is my favourite place to play, by far."

Danielson says the festival changed his life.

“The growth of Shambhala on the world stage of being a world-class, high-production festival, and those of us who were coming up at the same time as it, we kind of just grew together,” Danielson said.

“I owe a special kind of credit to Shambhala because it blew my mind and changed the trajectory of my life.”

After working on their sets throughout the year, seeing the crowd enjoying their art is the big payoff for the performers.

“You're in this space with thousands of people all vibing and connecting at the same time and that makes a really special feeling,” Martens said.

Danielson said three separate couples got engaged at his show this year.

“One of my core things that's important to me or just is fundamentally a part of my identity is making people happy and loving to smile and dance at the same time,” he said.

“There's been all these unintended side effects that are really humbling to me. Even some people with severe depression will be like, 'I listen to your music and it gets me out of my dark place.' I had no idea that was going to happen, but it's an honour.”

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