Looking at the world of music one could live a feeling of hope. There are a lot of good musicians, passionate promoters and public eager to hear new sounds. Of course, things don’t move always as fast as we would like, but still, things are changing for the best for those who work and follow their path.

One such example is Smida Jazz Festival (17th-19th of August), a young project brought to life by Razvan Scurtu, founder and artistic director of the festival. Located in the heart of Apuseni Natural Park (Romania), the festival is focused on promoting the avant-garde sound of jazz music. This year is the third edition of the festival and I considered to be a good time to speak with Razvan about his future plans and the music direction of the festival.

How do you fit Smida Jazz Festival into the Romanian jazz environment?

Our vision is to be artistically dedicated to innovative and fresh approaches in jazz music with a very professional attitude about all aspects involved. The setting of the festival helps us a lot, we are located in a natural park and there are a lot of opportunities for the public to spend time and relax in the area. Even that we want to grow the festival for bigger audiences, our goal will be to keep it friendly, peaceful and familiar as it was from the first edition and to offer a whole great experience to our public.

The lineup for the upcoming edition brings so many good names, jazz artists that explores the sound bringing new elements into the genre, a strong fusion of electronic and dub. Is this the future direction of the festival?

I guess that was the idea from the beginning, to be fusion and more avant-garde oriented in our artistic approach. Of course, this had to be validated by the public, to see if there is interest for the direction we chose to follow. We are satisfied about what we've received from the audience for the first two edition and this gives us motivation to follow our vision for the festival direction.

How do you construct your lineup? What are the considerations upon you take your decisions?

I have quite a strong vision about how an artist must sound and perform to be interesting for the festival. Also, I have to be trustful that it will deliver a great experience to our audience. Of course, there is the financial factor and other aspects combined.

Usually, the lineup building starts with the well established artists, choosing and booking them it’s the most difficult part. But until now I’m satisfied about the „big” names we already had. Another objective is to invite fresh and innovative bands so I'm always searching about. I'm also paying attention at suggestions from the public, from my team or my colleagues and to the booking agencies offers.

Also, one interesting aspect I’ve seen in your lineup is the mixture between the local and the foreign acts. How do you mix them and how do the public react at this mixture? Are they curious?

From quite a long time I've been interested in supporting original Romanian acts, as another activity of mine is to book concerts for emerging bands and to help them develop their career. In Romania there aren't as many opportunities to find a right set up and audience for their music. I'm happy that at Smida we can offer to the artists in the field of contemporary jazz and improvised music a good place to express themselves. We've received good feedback from the artists we had and from the audience so I'm always open to book Romanian acts at Smida Jazz. As long as I feel a particular act is a good fit for Smida, sooner or later I will invite them to play.

Why Smida? Why this place?

It was a nice conjuncture to discover Smida and to meet the people with whom I am managing the festival. It was an older idea of mine, some things aligned at the right time and that's the result. The place is really magical and the public is appreciating it a lot. We are trying to help and promote the area but also being respectful to it.