Hello and welcome. My name is Martin. I'm responsible for booking at the Vill Vill Vest festival in Bergen. I've previously been booking manager at Hulen rock club and worked for UFLAKKS concerts. And I've been given the honour and task to interview, here by my side, Tone Raknes. Welcome!
Thank you. Tell us a bout about what it is you're doing, Tone, as it's your your project we're going to talk about today. Yes, I'm manger for RAUSfestivalen. What kind of festival is that? It's a music and lectures festival in connection with the World Mental Health Day.
Have you been doing that for long? Since ... This was the third year, so since 2018. And how is this festival organized? It's here in Bergen? Yes, in different venues, lasting 3–4 days. It has varied. But at least 3 days of lectures, panel discussions, lots of concerts. All over town? Yes. More or less. At three different venues. Cool. It's like we have done it at Vill Villl Vest, using various venues.
Yes, it's very good. Firstly, I want to ask ... As you said, last year was the third year you arraganged the festival. And we've had Covid, so the question is how did last year's festival go? What do you think personally? The festival went extremely well.
– Good. That's great to hear! It was actually the best year in many ways. It was a bit more complicated to plan because you always had to follow the restrictions and didn't know what was allowed and how many ... But what was good was we received various funding for the first time. Which meant we could decide early on that we could hold the festival because we didn't depend on ticket sales, so it didn't matter whether there was 10 people or 100.
But of course more fun if 100 turn up. Of course, and both Friday and Saturday were sold out. So that was really good. But we thought no matter what restrictions, it was possible to arrange the festival as normal.
Because that was the first year you had any funding? Yes. Earlier it's only been goodwill and favours from friends and acquaintances and contributors. Material things like food and ... Nice. Because my nest question was what has the funding enabled you to do with festival? Firstly, that we could just carry on without thinking about whether there would be a festival or not.
And that was a relief in itself as we cold focus on the programme. So, working with that, and it made us able to pay people. Previously there's been no fees for people, we've not been able to pay.
Everything's gone into keeping the ticket prices at a minimum. The tickets prices are quite low, right? Yes, as low as possible without losses. Yes, so this time ... Because previously both artists and people holding lectures have done it non-profit? Yes, which is fantastic. It does say something about this being very important to people.
Yes, that people are involved, that people care. And that people are amazingly helpful. Well yes, that people are ... willing to sacrifice a bit to participate. Or, not sacrifice, but it's been a topic the last few years that musicians don't get paid what they should and so on. And this is not criticism, I just think it's positive when musicians, and people in general, choose things they are passionate about.
Yes, it's very good. And we are really grateful that people choose to join us. It seems like an important subject. Is it for you personally as well?
Is that where it comes from? Yes, of course. It is. What was the starting shot? That I suddenly ...? For this festival, and starting a music festival to do with this.
Well, I love festivals in general and music and concerts and so on. It's great. And the whole thing started with me thinking there's so many ... The World Mental Health, right, is this fixed day,
and it's marked in several small ways. – Which day is that? October 10th every year. And there are various events around at schools, regional psychiatric centres, hospitals and so on, and some other places now as well, but I felt they were very closed. If it's at a psychiatric facility, it's the patients and next of kin. It's restricted who knows about it, very little focus outwards.
You don't get the message of mental health out. Because the ones already mixed up in it, are the audience. – Those who are aware of it? – Yes. And then I met Oda Hamre at a Shakanaka concert. That was an old name I haven't heard in a while. Yes, it was very nice. And she'd been thinking some of the same.
So it was this instant enthusiasm. And we just got on to it in early 2018. Had you organised concerts or festivals earlier? No. So it was an enormously steep learning curve. So when we started, we thought we'd go big in a way, but not too big, and then it just grew enormous along the way.
So the work just piled up, but it was so much fun. Yes, it's rewarding work. Yes, insanely so. And when we had held the festival we just thought we can't stop doing this. Much work, but so much fun. Yes. That's good. We touched upon it ... you said these events in connection with the World Mental Health Day often are somewhat closed.
– Yes. – Because my next question about things I've been wondering about, is who is the festival for? It's for everybody. Yes, and that's some of the point too? Yes, it is. And to normalize this subject, mental health, which can easily be very stigmatised. And many people experience a lot of stigma related to it. And believe it's because of a lack of knowledge.
A lack of knowledge with people in general? I don't know if you should say people in general, but with many. One knows the art is ... – Do you almost trick people into coming? Kind of ... Well, you do coax people a little. – In the best way. – Yes. – In the best way possible.
But it's that, normalising it, placing it in a setting, putting information and the opportunity to obtain more knowledge about the subject. In a format that people know maybe? Yes. One that's familiar. Which perhaps will make people think mental health issues in general is a bit less scary. when you can have fun. That it doesn't always to be deadly serious when you discuss it.
Yes, right? Or that you are very, that people are a bit scared of approaching it? Yes, I think people often are a bit scared of ... – Talking about it? – Yes. Do you think it's because people are afraid of saying something wrong? Or are people afraid of that they don't know? Yes, it's just that. Knowledge makes everything less frightening
on every level. So that applies here too. So you just have to get the information out there in a good way. And in a relaxed setting . So it's possible to relax and listen to some music and ...
one can have a beer? Oh yes. Of course. Always. And it's about lowering the threshold for those who perhaps are hesitant to attend a "mental health" event. Which is perhaps viewed as a bit dry and a pure lecture/learning/school setting. Yes, becuase there are many mental health events around.
Yes, there's a lot. But there are perhaps many who aren't comfortable with obtaining information that way, but also are hesitant to show that they belong to that part of the population. That it's easier to wrap it up in attending a festival.
Do you think that also applies to those who maybe already struggle with something? Do you think they are afraid to attend such events? Yes, undoubtedly. That's what this stigma does. If you go in there, you might feel you get a spotlight on you. Ok, you're one of "those". But here everyone's on the same tea.
And what's so nice is that we've had much feedback where people say there's a magical atmosphere. There'sa warmth at the events, people feel they can go there alone, and many people do day after day, because they feel welcome and included. Well done for managing that. Yes, we feel it too. But it's good to hear it from both artists and and the audience and friends and acquaintances.
I wanted to ask about that. Has this feedback confirmed the idea you had with starting this? – Yes, very much. And that's good. That's really very good. Yes, it's great. And I thought ... We have already mentionend it, but when you
talk about breaking down stigma or lowering a threshold ... Because I feel that's something I've heard quite a lot about, but it would be interesting to hear what it means specifically. What does it mean to... I'm asking a very difficult question now Yes, it's a big question. I understand that, it's a very big question.
But you said something about knowledge normalising it. Do you want to try to explain that in some more detail? Hm, um ... Yes, one is often afraid of things one doesn't know, right. That goes for many things. I'm afraid of doing this, you know.
I'm not used to cameras and microphones and things like that, so of course I'm a bit afraid of that. But its like, with most things, the more knowledge you have, the more you know and experience of something, the more sides of an issue you get to see, the lass scary it gets. Could you say that part of the goal with festival is to help people outside of the festival with how to approach conversations about mental health in their everyday life? Yes, it's both. It's for everybody, and with that I mean it's both for those who are directly affected, that you create a safe arena where you can go out and ... – Talk about it and be honest? Not necessarily talk. An arena where it's safe and you feel included and it feels safe enough to go there. There might be someone who doesn't
dare go to a concert because of social anxiety and it's too much. But maybe for some of them it's safer to go because it is the thing it is. And you have those who know someone. Most people know someone or are indirectly affected through someone who suffers from mental health issues.
It would be strange if not, then they're lying. Yes, because most people are probably affected on some level or another. Yes. And in that case information is always positive and some ... Often when you're given a lecture and that, it's like a recipe, and you read in magazines, "how to meet you depressed friend", right. It' like "ten tips on how to do this". And it can be so much simpler than that. And it can be good to hear it
from someone who's been there themselves. We often have people with their own experiences, mostly, to talk. and then you get it straight from the source, what worked for me when I had a difficult time. And often it's a simple as just being there and do normal things and just being like normal. Yes, the solution is often ... Or not the solution necessarily, but that how to handle this and facing the challenges often is simpler than what you think? Yes. Professionals might often complicate it a bit, or be more
result-oriented than just being there. And that's a good insight to have. Could you say the festival is almost a sort of wheelchair ramp? A crash course in mental health care. No, but it sounds very good that it's an arena where both people who have maybe dealt with their own mental health problems will feel comfortable and able to be be part of something fun they feel they don't have access to otherwise, and also that people who maybe don't have that much information get to understand you don't necessarily need a master's degree in psychiatry to take care of your friend who struggles a bit.
Could you say it like that? Yes, that was nicely put. And I thought I'd ask, and you already mentioned it, that you often invite ... Because I wondered who are giving lectures, and who take part int he panel discussion you arrange every year? Because it's, there are two things. The festival is connected to the World Mental Health Day, and there's a topic every year. Does the festival follow that topic? Yes, a bit. It's sometimes quite "inoffensive" and quite broad the topic Norway goes for. We are a bit on the side of the international one.
It's a more general topic. So what we have done, is that the day of lectures, the Thursday, we have three lectures, then we choose a topic we think is important. And we create a package with a couple of people with their own experiences and maybe next of kin experience, and always one with a therapist perspective. and always one with a therapist perspective, so we get professional input too, but they have to be personal also. I was going to ask, who are you booking? Who is it people get to hear talk when they come to the festival? And why is it important to you that is is, as you say, someone with personal experience? Well, that's just because there are enough of those lectures and arenas for learning out there, where professionals are talking, people who have read up on subjects and worked in psychiatry and have that kind of experience. There's a lot of that. Can that be a bit intimidating, when people with a high education are telling you about things? I don't often go to those.
Bit I guess it can. It maybe seems it's just for others who have studied the same? Yes, and I can imagine they select the extremes to give examples, like examples from patients that are at the extreme edges. And that can contribute to upholding the stigma we want to remove. So by selecting people wit personal or next of kin experience, what kind of impression to the audience get instead? They get the self-exerpienced, and it gets close to you and personal.
And really quite intense often, because these are people who have often quite negative experiences with psychiatry and maybe problems with alcohol or substance abuse and so on. And now they are in a such a good place that they can share unfiltered the painful things, and it comes very close. So it stings people a bit.
There's a lot of crying on those Thursdays, and that's great. But that's good to hear really. We've had lecturers crying, the audience crying, the host, my dad, has been crying. Theres been crying all over. Because it's such a beautiful thing. – It releases something. Yes. It really hits people. It's more powerful hearing these words
from those who have experienced it than someone who has observed it. And then you have also the perspective of the therapist . To have both sides.
Yes, it's very good. And they are closely selected, they are quality-checked personally. They must have a personal relationship ... Yes, those we book, are people I know care deeply for their patients and their work, in a way that's more than purely academic. There is care involved too.
Because they do exist too, even there. There are good people out there? So that's a good combination, you get the whole ... And I was wondering, how do you book artists? What's the festival's musical profile? Is there some kind of overlap between the lectures part and the music? No, what I've thought is that since this is supposed to be a festival that's for anyone and everyone, I've tried to find ... I want the same high quality in the music as in the lectures. It should not be better or less good than the rest. That's what we aim for. An you have to find something that everyone can like.
Everyone doesn't have to like everything, but everyone should be able to find something they like. That sounds like a good starting point. Yes, it's a puzzle, and I'm thinking "those and those and those would have been a nice combo that evening". And then you ask those, and I'm thinking about how to put things together. It's a bit the same with booking the lecturers and panel discussions. You think about the mix more than just each artist and person.
I saw that Bendik was at the festival last year. But she didn't play? – No, she was in the panel discussion. So why was she booked for the panel discussion? Because I hadn't managed to make her play yet. It's kind of true. But then it was "do you want to be in the panel discussion then?" Because she has really wanted to participate and contribute since the first year. But it was the wrong time and there's economy, and album recording and touring and all that.
So it was easier to make her participate in the panel discussion. And she's personally involved and have a very good way of sharing things related to her own challenges. That's what I wanted to ask, if the musicians who've played there are also people who are personally involved in the subject. Yes, I think they do, on some level or another. I don't go and ask if they have a diagnosis or something ...
No, that shouldn't be necessary. No, it's not like that. But with someone I know and with someone I believe so, and with some I just assume ... when they are so willing to contribute, then they are involved in the subject. It also shows it's something that affects and involves many people It something people feel it's important to take part in? Yes.
It's very good to hear that people feel this is something it's so important to get involved in. Because it says something about how this is a topic we haven't really managed to solve in the right way in society yet. – Oh no. – But it sounds like this is a step
somewhat in the right direction at least. Or opening up to talking about it and feeling more comfortable. Yes, we hope that, and we can at least have some fun on the way. Yes, that sounds more attractive, to be both informed and listening to good music. Yup, that's a perfect combo. So then the question is: What do you want to do this year? Are we allowed to ask that? Do we get a little sneak peak? Well, now we have just landed after last year's.
We haven't actually started yet. But what we do is ... yes ... But how's the planning process towards this year's festival? Because there will be a festival this year? Yes, there will be a festival, and we will extend it. Ok, cool. Is that possible because you've got this much funding? Yes, quite. We've always wanted to, but now we can. We actually planned it last year, but we had to wait. So we do it this year.
Can I ask what you're planing? Yes, there will be a day more directed at the youth in addition. Focused on those under 18? Yes, for those between 12 and 18 we will create something. Will it be a programme with both music and lectures? It will be much in the same spirit as the rest, yes. Bit it isn't really fixed yet. At all.
And what's the ... Ok, what's your dream booking? Or, if you got to wish for one thing for the future festival, what would that be? Ok, that's a very vague question. God, yes. I'd have to say Bendik then, since I've tried to get her to come and play for three years now. So if you see this, Silje ... Yes ... No, I've always just ... I don't have any ...
I've really just had as my goal that it should be at least as good as the year before. And I feel that's gone well this far. So now it's more like "how can we top that?" But that sounds good. It sounds like an amazing effort from you and Oda and all the others working as volunteers for the festival. We're a few more now. We have a board. – Wow, really? Oh yes, so now we're four people.
You're getting quite proficient at running this festival. Yes, now it's proper and all. That's not good ... But, well, what a steep learning curve.
Yes, it was intense. But great fun. Good. When is this year's festival? – It's ... – Is it decided? – Um, yes. – Should people mark the dates?
Yes, it's always around the 10th. I haven't checked the calendar. – So 10th of October. Yes, it's always around that date. In the atumn holiday usually.
So then the question is: Do you have any final words? A little statement you want to make? Is there something you feel we haven't mentioned? No, I don't think so. We've covered the most. – People should buy tickets? – People should buy tickets! It was sold out last year, so people should be early. Then I thank you for coming here and telling us about RAUSfestivalen, Tone, and thank you to Brak, who has organised this little scenario.
And thank you to you who are watching.