Around five hours North of Edmonton resides a campground—a campground that for a few days of the year is transformed into a phantasmagorical, electronic wonderland known as Astral Harvest.
The electronic-focused festival has a few changes coming for it’s 12th year but husband and wife Francesco and Jen Maio—who handle the roles of talent manager and yoga/media manager and make up the local duo Nada Deva—believe newcomers and fans will welcome the new developments.
The Manor stage will no longer be open while both The Market and Angelica’s Basket stages have fused into one mega stage called the Axis Mundi Theatre.
“It was mostly just to condense the crowds and have more people at the stages,” Jen says.
“We think that condensing the stages is a good idea,” adds Francesco. “At Axis Mundi we’re going to have conferences, acoustic acts and then a chill vibe in the evening. Not everyone is in a party jumping vibe all the time. Sometimes you want to tell a stranger your whole life story and have some cuddle times. We understand that.”
Astral Harvest has also brought back the downtempo genre, which will most likely leave fans giddy.
The lineup this year is what you could call stacked. Patrons will groove to acts like Stickybuds, Ill.Gates, CODES, Slynk, K+Lab, Mat the Alien, Moontricks, and more.
“Astral Harvest was our first set together in 2011,” Jen says.
The two met close to 12 years ago during a party at the now defunct Twilight Afterhours venue.
“Our mutual family friend brought Jen out to a party we did and we ended up talking in the dark halls of Twilight for hours and hours,” Francesco says.
The two eventually started dating and then started playing sets together under the name Nada Deva—a nickname that was given to Francesco during his yoga teacher training.
“I was really into Saraswati, which is the god or deity of music and knowledge,” he says. “And the Swami at the time nicknamed me Nada Deva [which means Lord of Sound] because I was super intense into learning and music. So it’s kind of a name that stuck with us even though everyone pronounces it ‘Not a Diva.’”
Originally, Francesco wanted to be in the background while Jen was in the spotlight.
“It was always my dream to have a DJ wife,” he laughs. “I remember at the time I was wanting to get out of DJing, music and partying because I was teaching yoga full time and doing Thai massage. I was ready to check out and sort of be the producer of Jen. That was the intention of having like female vocal, airey vibes with hard drops kind of balancing the female and male energy.”
Now, Nada Deva focuses on the Brazilian bass genre while meshing both Francesco and Jen’s style.
“If Jen played by herself in the beginning it would have been poppy girly vocals and if I played by myself it would be too dark but the bros would love it,” Francesco says. “So we kind of mix it up and that has kind of been our concept. The Yin and Yang.”
The husband and wife duo is ecstatic to play Astral this year—as they are every year. Over the years, Astral has become a second home for the pair.
“What makes Astral Harvest so special is it’s very isolated,” Francesco says. “I mean, Shambhala is isolated too, but at least it’s in the middle of everything whereas we are North of Edmonton by a bunch of small towns.”
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