Lilith Klassen Discusses Her Life as an Author, Artist, & Founder of Jungle Dreaming Festival
Lilith Klassen, better known as iLLith, began her journey with music at a very young age. Learning to play piano at just four years old, her love for music blossomed, followed by an interest in many other instruments, including the guitar.
As a lover of the punk music scene, she began working as a radio DJ at CFUV, which she described as yet another outlet outside live music to express her love for pop and punk music. This position at the community radio station launched her deep into the world of underground music.
“The massive walls of vinyl [at CFUV] contained so many treasures,” Klassen told MP3 MAG. “[It taught] me to search for the sounds I loved.”
As she began attending shows, she discovered a strong sense of community, which she later found at festivals as well. Her main goal in music was to put herself out there to bring recognition to artists who deserve to be heard. As a Canadian living on small islands as well as in major cities, she knew how much of a struggle it could be to try and support yourself through your art.
Klassen decided to take matters into her own hands and began throwing festivals as a solo organizer. She concentrated on boutique events that consisted of about 1000-2000 people, unless she decided to team up with other groups.
An outdoor favorite of hers would be PLAY!, which is an all-ages, weekend long camping festival that she created for her child’s birthday. The festival was circus-focused and ran for three years. A few others to name are Beauty and the Beats, Bigtop Bass Carnival and the weekly circus school programs that she ran. These programs were accessible to all and patrons entered by donation.
“All the events and festivals I do solo as Dream CO are non-profit, so the proceeds are divided among the contributing artists or donated to a cause. So to me, every event is a success because it makes a difference in people’s lives.”
Planning amazing events isn’t the only talent she has. Doubling as an author, ‘iLLith’ started off her writing career as a freelance writer over 20 years ago. Expanding from writing web content, to reviews for animation, travel articles and more, she discovered she had little time for herself. She took it upon herself to find a “real” job and now works for a video game developer. This allowed her to focus on being able to write for herself, journal, and document festival experiences.
One of her well known pieces of work is titled, The Festival Goers Handbook. The idea for this piece originated when many of her friends working in harm reduction were concerned for the welfare of those new to the scene, who didn’t have the experience to know how to attend festivals safely. With her experience at events such as Bass Coast, Lightning in a Bottle, the early years of Coachella and Shambhala, and seven Burning Man’s, she knew she could help spread her knowledge on the in’s and out’s of a festival.
The handbook is just one of the many projects she has been working on in tandem with the planning of the first year festival, Jungle Dreaming, happening on March 17-20. This Central American based festival takes place on an 850+ acre piece of land, with eclectic music, unbelievable art and many excursions to keep fans busy throughout the weekend.
While sitting down with MP3 MAG to discuss the process of throwing this festival, Klassen gave insight to how much work it actually takes. Taking place in another country, there are many rules and regulations that must be followed in order to ensure a successful weekend.
“I could write a whole book on how many restrictions, challenges and differences there are between throwing a festival in North America and Central America. To say it’s been challenging is an understatement!”
While she was living in Guatemala, her time was spent searching high and low for a location for this festival. All the locations that were scouted had a number of restrictions that made doing a multi-stage all night weekend festival unworkable. Without a large bass scene in the area, she began investigating whether the Bamboo Bass Festival was going to happen at Ocean Park Ranch. Since it would not be happening this year, she decided to take matters into her own hands and throw Jungle Dreaming in the meantime.
In her new book, one of her rules states, “Always give yourself more time than you think you need.” While nine months is the minimum she suggests, she was only given five and a half months to do this herself, but feeling absolutely compelled to go ahead with Jungle Dreaming, she went for it anyway.
For this festival specifically, Klassen wanted to incorporate a sense of connection, community, unity, feeling cared for as an attendee or volunteer, and a place to be free to be your most epic self. Her festival attendee experiences have set the bar high, so she has high hopes that the future years of Jungle Dreaming will someday reach those same heights.
As an artist, author, festival founder and many more, Klassen has one piece of advice to give anyone who is just starting out in the music industry,
“Don’t let the input from others silence your inner voice and keep your heart in your music. You can hear the change in the sounds when this is lost.”
You can join iLLith as well as the MP3 MAG team at Jungle Dreaming Festival the weekend of March 17-20. To explore the wonders of the Costa Rican jungle, partnered with an epic audio-visual experience, check out the link below: