I Land Sound – a name that can have many meanings. Taking place for the third time this summer, it is one of the highest rated festivals held in Estonia. We had a discussion regarding organizing such a large scale event from its creator Paap Uspenski, who is also a recognized DJ and producer.

ILS is more than just a music festival. It has grown over the years into a festival about all kinds of beautiful expressions in general. Located at Orissaare Illiku islet, Saaremaa, the festival goes on for four unforgettable days. It is also a major contributor to the community because it connects the locals and their businesses with people coming to the festival from all over the world. Paap mentioned, that as an islander himself, he feels the need to contribute to his relatives and that is why one of his main goals is to develop a better local community at his home, Saaremaa.

But how did Paap get here? How does one boy from Saaremaa become an organizer of one of the biggest art festivals in Estonia? It all started when Paap was 16 years old and tried out the organizer life by hosting lots of parties at his own home until his parents could not bare it anymore... He and his friends were so keen on partying though (like teenagers usually are) that they then started using an old boat factory two kilometres from their home as a place to hang out and throw parties. Today, the place is a recognized performance art theatre called “Piidivabrik” (Beat Factory in English).

Paap organized his first official event when he was 17. It was a local New Year’s Eve party. After this, he realized that this is his passion and calling and that he wants to go bigger and get better at it. Besides organizing parties, he started experimenting with music production and started to fall in love with that too. His parties often included music he picked and that is how his deejaying career started. At one point, he even participated in Estonian beatbox championships.

At one point before I Land Sound era, Paap lived in Tallinn (capital of Estonia) for some time. During this period, he played many different genres in many different places. For example, funk and house at a jazz bar and techno at a nightclub. He managed make new acquaintances which are now very helpful for organizing the festival. But not only that. Lots of other collaborations originated from these new acquaintances. One great example is meeting Mihkel Sillaots with whom Paap is running a radio show right now.

Paap is also a DJ at his own festival. There is a stage for islander DJs and for the past two years, Paap and his co-organizer Taavet have been the last artists on this stage to successfully wrap up the whole experience. Just last year, ILS had 150 artists from all over the world but there is never any artists labelled “main” or “special” – everyone is equal at I Land Sound.

“I Land Sound” was originally a name for a rap event which took place in 2013. Paap mentioned that a girl from Muhu (an island in Estonia) came up with the name and when it was time to pick a name for the festival, it got a whole new meaning – “I” like person, “Land” like Earth, “Sound” like music. These three virtues are the foundation for this magical festival.

The biggest contributor to the festival is its staff. All the people helping make the magic happen are Paap’s friends, relatives and good acquaintances who are not hired but instead inspired to help for a good cause. Therefore, guests of the festival can feel the “chill vibe” because it is all built on good will and not money. Paap has his whole family contributing to the festival – his mother is responsible for decorations, father for security, sister for merchandise and brother for bicycle maintenance. Currently, the team has over 30 members which is just like a huge family consisting of neighbors, childhood buddies, etc.

A color which describes the festival the best is “green” because it is all about taking care of the nature and not polluting our one and only home planet - Earth. It is a festival for everyone – friends, families, everyone. It started out as love for partying but as the organizers have grown up, so has the festival become more than just a party. ILS is offering something for every age and its purpose is to develop Saaremaa’s local community. In future, Paap promises that the main festival will stay there but there are going to be related smaller event all over Estonia. He has a vision how I Land Sound should look and feel like in future. For example, he wants it to run 100% on sustainable energy, renovate the local buildings, clean up the shoreline and fix the bay. As Paap says, there is nothing impossible, question is just “when” and “how”.

I Land Sound 2019 takes place from July 11th to 14th. Make sure to participate if you want to have an amazing spiritually connecting experience. If you are an artist and would like to perform, make sure to register here at repArtist and stay tuned. We may have some surprises for you regarding ILS 2020!