Organizer Q&A

Julian Prince (SXM Festival)

Oct 20, 2020

5 min read

Welcome to Festivals Advisor's Organizer Q&A series! Here, we have intimate conversations with some of the festival market's most exciting and influential innovators. We want to get to know our favorite festivals better, and today, we meet Julian Prince of SXM.

Each March since 2016, the festival lights up the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten with dreamy house and brooding techno sets from headline DJs including Richie Hawtin, Jamie Jones, Bedouin and others. Attendees gather on sandy beaches and dance the night away next to the crashing waves, while local artists craft everything from the installations to the signage. Watch the video below to learn more about this magical, tropical experience.

Julian Prince of SXM FestivalJulian Prince of SXM Festival

Photo courtesy of Julian Prince

What is your name and what is the name of your festival?

Hey, what's up guys, my name is Julian Prince and I run the SXM festival in beautiful St. Maarten in the Caribbean. 

When did the festival start and what inspired it?

The festival started in 2016. Or it actually started in January 2015. When I decided to take it over and to produce it, it took about 15 months before the first edition. And what inspired it was, it was a project that I had in mind for a very long time. 

Being in the industry I did pretty much everything from working in clubs and managing them to DJing and producing and doing a lot of events as well. So it just felt like a natural evolution of, you know, what I could gather in terms of skills and it includes travel, hotels, food and beverages and these were all things that I was very, very comfortable with. So we built a team, built the dream and had a beautiful party on the beach the following March.

When and where does it happen?

So yeah, so the festival happens in St. Maarten in the Caribbean, a tiny little island divided into two countries, Dutch and French. So it's basically like a little European Caribbean island next to the islands of St. Barts in Anguilla. They're very famous islands as well. So it's a nice archipel of paradise.

Sunset at Sint MaartenSunset at Sint Maarten

Photo courtesy of SXM Festival

What kind of musical artists play at your festival?

The kind of music we play goes from house to techno. We had Richie Hawtin, Jamie Jones you know, as well as Bedouin and Sabo and that kind of music we've had as well. Jamie I said Jamie, Lee Burridge and you know, that sort of dreamy kind of house to a bit more intense with like Marco Carola and Loco Dice and, and all these guys, so all of our favorite DJs. And aspiring DJs were like, you know, Gab Rhome, Kora, and, and emerging artists from basically everywhere in the world. You know, RPR was there as well, some guys from Romania. 

So every year, you know, we, according to the schedule, get to get our hands on some cool music and then we build a lineup from it.

Stage at SXM FestivalStage at SXM Festival

Photo courtesy of SXM Festival

Who was the first act you ever booked?

The first act we ever booked was Jamie Jones. We figured that if Jamie wanted to come, the rest would follow and that year was tremendous. We did. 

The first year we had Maceo Plex, Jamie Jones, Lee Burridge, Bedouin, Blondish and yeah, and a bunch of amazing artists. And so yeah, the first year was fantastic. And thank you, Jamie, for that. Still.

Jamie Jones playing at SXM FestivalJamie Jones playing at SXM Festival

Photo courtesy of SXM Festival

What’s the most memorable set or sets for you?

The most memorable sets, yeah, you know, there's been actually too many memorable sets, you know, from sunrise to sunset, the festival runs so, you know, different part of the day, but I mean, I don't want to attribute to anyone the best set because there were too many over the years. So, yeah. I don't want to answer that.

What kind of people attend your festival?

What kind of people attend your festival? Well, actually, the, you know, the festival is mostly people from the United States, Canada, Mexico, so North America. A lot of people from the surrounding islands, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Martin's, St. Barts, etc. 

Our festival attendee is around 34 years old on average. We do have about 5% of the festival, 5 to 8% of people between 18 and 25 and 15% over 40. So it's, it's a, it's a bit of an older demographic. But uh, yeah, I mean, everyone's welcome.

Tropical paradise of Sint MaartenTropical paradise of Sint Maarten

Photo courtesy of SXM Festival

What is unique about your festival? What sets it apart?

What is unique about the festival? Well, I think that you know, a lot of the festivals in the world don't really happen outdoors 100% and that you can dance with your feet in the sand. So our main grounds is in Happy Bay. It's 16 acres of jungle and waterfront of about, I would say 800 meters on the beach. So it's very crazy that you know, we can just be there all night and dance, outdoors.

Everything's handmade - we have about 30 artists, local and international artists that specialize in upcycling. So there's a lot of art, interactive sculptures, and you know, everything is made by hand, you know, the signage, the menus, everything. So I feel it's very intimate. 

It's about a 5000 people festival and it really has the intimacy vibes. So we really feel that you're close to everything and the artist and most of the artists spend the week there as a vacation. So people get to, you know, you know, cross everyone at the restaurants or the shuttles or it's really like, get that get that get that vibes of everyone, you know, becomes friends. So it's such a beautiful experience, and we're really proud to be able to enable those human connectivities.

Art installation at SXM FestivalArt installation at SXM Festival

Photo courtesy of SXM Festival

Anything else you want to tell us about?

Yeah, well I want to wish everyone right now we're going through the most difficult period in the history of events. Good luck to everyone and we need strength, we need creativity to get out of it. And hopefully this will all be something we can we will be able to forget and to get back to, to doing what we love doing. It's bringing people together and enjoying their life. Peace!

More fromOrganizer Q&A

Explore series