When we speak of electronic music gatherings, it is hard not to mention those which shaped the global image of what this sound represented from the beginning of the 90’s leading up to the present moment. One of those major events is I LOVE TECHNO.
The story of ILT started in 1995 as a small party in Vooruit that attracted 700 techno lovers, organized by Peter Decuypere , owner of one of Belgium’s most popular clubs FUSE. In later years, Ghent saw the rise of this indoor festival that annually attracts tens of thousands people across Europe, with its peak reaching the sold out shows at the capacity of 35000. After its gain in popularity, festival switched to Flanders Expo where it gained a vast cinema, a chill-out area and the famous colour-themed floors – Blue, Green, Orange, Yellow and Red.
Although called I LOVE TECHNO, it showcased the cream of the electronic scene ranging from house and electro to minimal and techno. Artists such as Dave Clarke, Laurent Garnier, Carl Cox, Sven Vath and Cristian Varela dominated the rosters of the festival, while acts like the globally known 2manydjs, Justice and Daft Punk (who showcased their first major hit “Around the World”) got their early taste of fame.
One of the most talked-about events in techno circles certainly is the festival’s 2003 outdoor edition held at Balendijk industrial estate in Lommel, a gargantuan 100 acre field with a panoramic view over the open countryside with tents that could fit up to 10000 individuals. Many techno aficionados consider this particular event as a safe haven, as well as the leading techno artists who slayed the show.
He asked one of the key acts, Cristian Varela to share his memories of ILT 2003.
It was one of the biggest events where I played at that period and it was unbelievable. All the artists specially Marco and I was really excited and the energy was totally underground. It was one of the most special moments in my life with any doubt and even nowadays the people still talking about that edition 2003, said Varela who showcased his energetic, fast-paced pummelling techno appreciated by the visitors.
The atmosphere – little to none usage of cell phones and recording, people dressed to rave with smiles on their face and liberated to dance with thousands others like-minded souls.
I Love Techno had an incredibly professional organisation and a huge team working in it. I will never forget how they made me and all the artists feel really special. The hospitality, the stages, the sound systems in each areas and the line ups was more than proper. The most important was the atmosphere, and the energy from the crowd, Varela added.
The cult ILT 2003 after movie that was featured on a DVD where you could easily get a glimpse into why this 12 hour journey was such a religious statement for many. The video features a wide arrange of the techno performers such as Cristian Varela, Luke Slater and Marco Bailey, live masters Alexander Kowalski, Scan X, Terence Fixmer and Filterheadz, in addition to the house heads Roger Sanchez, Honey Dijon and DJ Sneak. One of the legendary statements of the video was Papa Sven’s, who brought his daughter to one of her first raves: “I have contract with the Sun – when I play in the summertime, each and every event where I play, THE SUN IS SHINING!”
A special mix CD for this occasion, titled “I Love Techno 2003 presents Stanny Fransen”, was compiled by the previously named rising star of Cocoon Bookings, featuring Speedy J’s remix of Adam Beyer’s track “Ignition Key”, Len Faki’s “Figure 1.3” and the famous DK8’s “Murder was the Bass”, with the addition of three of his own personal productions.
Although the festival didn’t fulfil it’s desired visitor quota In July and October, ILT continued on to become something else. As time passed, new additions to the festival roster were made – Brittish dance-rock band Klaxxons, Zombie Nation and Deadmau5 started appearing in the line up. Knife Party and Steve Aoki followed. ILT started getting the EDM appeal after being taken over by Live Nation, a worldwide festival promotion giant who pushed mainstream electronic music into ILT roster. Core fan base started dropping as the festivals was introduced to trap and EDM, including electro house and dubstep for which the original owner said that were to blame for the shrinking crowd and the appeal of the festival. “I think that caused a lot of damage to the I Love Techno brand”, said Decuypere for Het Laatste Nieuws.
After organizing numerous spin-offs events across the “old Continent”, in 2011 festival was moved to Montpellier, France and now features the likes of Nina Kraviz, Tale of Us, Jeff Mills and Paul Kalkbrenner amongst others and is trying to improve ILT’s decimated image through various off-putting bookings done in Ghent over the course of its final years in its original homeland.
Even though the festival’s core fans think the festival was taken away from them, I Love Techno has helped put Belgium on the map as a Mecca for electronic dance music. It’s insurmountable legacy will echo throughout the years as one of the leading techno festivals in the world in it’s glory days, with the monumental rebirth waiting to happen, hopefully.