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The man behind Croatia’s biggest urban festival speaks

CROATIA’S FINEST: DJ Phat Phillie

When and where was the concept for Fresh Island born?

It was around 2010. The other co-founders and I were discussing our future moves and the idea for Fresh Island came naturally. Many UK and international promoters were setting up festivals on the coast of Croatia and it was just a matter of time before a strong UK promoter establishes a new Hip-Hop festival here and we were happy to be one of the key players in the European music festival scene.

What made you decide to go into the festival business?

Well I’ve been involved in developing the Croatian hip-hop / R&B scene in some shape of form from radio shows, hip hop events in the mid 90's, rap albums and more. So after doing many individual projects, it made sense to try and do something bigger on a beautiful Adriatic coast – especially on the island of Pag where we had good connections to the biggest clubs on a Zrce Beach.

Where did your love of urban music begin?

Back in 1984. I heard a local rap radio show in Zagreb and they have played UTFO's Roxanne Roxanne record and I immediately was hooked. Since then it's been hip-hop all my life for the last 33 years. I also started a radio show in 1993 that I still host and continue to rap artists’ and DJ’s to Croatia.

As a DJ, I'm sure you have an ear for what's hot right now, musically. What is your process for determining which artists perform each year?

Well it's a team effort. Yes as I am a talent booker for the festival, but I suggest names to the team and then we go from there. I have good relations with artists’ management and agents and we are trying to create the best package every year for our fans especially in mind that we have over 60% urban UK crowds (mainly from London and surrounding areas)


FESTIVAL FUN: Fresh Island

Who are you most looking forward to seeing perform this year?

I mean all the headliners are great but I’m definitely looking forward to French Montana, Sean Paul who had an incredible come back in 2016 / 2017, Rae Sremmurd and DJ Jazzy Jeff.

Croatia continues to be a hotspot for tourists these days. What is it about Croatia that you love and why do you think it continues to be such a key destination in Europe?

Croatia has a long history of tourism and with over 1000 islands and a huge coastline. You can find your secret hideaway spot and enjoy the crystal blue sea, great Adriatic cuisine and locally produced wines. Summertime weather also helps with temperatures being over 30 degrees Celsius which is perfect for seaside activities.

Apart from being a festival playground for Fresh Island, Ultra, Outlook and many other summer festivals Croatia still offers relatively decent prices, safe environment, good flight connections plus historic towns and islands that will impress you with its vibe, beauty and clear blue unspoiled sea.

Would you consider branching out and doing Fresh Island in different cities? (i.e Afropunk London/Paris/Brooklyn)

We had some offers to branch out but we are still building Fresh Island as a household name. However, you can trust that if the right offer comes about it’ll definitely be considered. Right now our next project will be Fresh Mountain Festival, with more info coming soon.

What can we expect from this year's festival?

A whole lot of excitement with performances by our headliners, DJ's and other artists, great weather, classic pool and boat parties and most importantly peace, love, unity & having fun!

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