“I love working on these festivals,” says Highpoint Studios’ Thomas ‘Wasabi’ Jones. “You really get to see how sound can heal people physically and mentally. Funktion-One is great for offering beautiful clarity of sound. You can talk to your friends on the dancefloor while still having every molecule of your body shaking to the music.”
The festival in question on this occasion is Orin Aya, one of Australia’s largest psytrance events, which attracts DJ and live acts from home and abroad for four days of raving.
“It’s one of my favourite festivals in Australia as so many international punters and artists fly in,” Wasabi says. “It’s four days of full power on the main stage, then amazing world music artists and bands on the second stage. The build crew and directors are absolutely amazing and united by one aim - to achieve the best possible sound.”
Since he was young, Wasabi’s life has been underpinned by this long-held ambition too. His father Brian Jones was a well known engineer in the seventies Australian music scene, and had one of the first touring sound systems in Australia, working with iconic Australian artists such as Captain Matchbox and The Sunny Boys. Wasabi himself toured in bands and DJed as a teenager, before experiencing his first beach raves. His initial dalliances with Funktion-One began as a DJ.
“I had a little system installed at the Laundry bar in Melbourne, as well as occasionally engineering bands,” he says. “It was a beautiful system - downstairs we had two Res 2 and Infrabass, then the second floor had two Res 4 and two F218s. As an artist and engineer, I was blown away by the incredible clarity and precision of the sound systems. And since then Funktion-One has remained my favourite to play on and work with.”
After hitting 30 and becoming a father, Wasabi threw himself into event production, spending five years working at Full Throttle, Australia’s then largest Funktion-One provider. He’s since managed to embark on his own venture in the form of Highpoint Studios and hit upon a particular formula that he’s taken across the country.
“We work at festivals all over, normally deploying Evo 6EH over F215s and BR218s at smaller events,” he says. “Then this nice hybrid array of four Res 3EH, two Evo 3EH wide over four F215s, eight F121s or four F124s at bigger festivals.”
This year’s Orin Aya festival was held at Sugarbag Station in Mount Garnet, in Queensland. Artists who performed included the big names of Dark Soho, K+Lab, Krunch and homegrown talent such as Lunar and Lux Aurum.
“Orin Aya is one of the most dedicated and largest psychedelic trance events,” says Wasabi. “However, this year was beset with challenges, particularly as the original site in Lakeland was lost over the summer.”
With pre-production rushed due to the site change and difficult communication due to tighter than anticipated schedules, Wasabi and his team had to update their plans when they arrived at the festival.
“All my measurements in my CAD drawings had been overlooked and I arrived having to re-do a lot of the designs to the proposed system,” he says.
“I had planned for a 32 metre dancefloor but the stage build halved this width. In the end, I decided to just run the F124s with double stacked Res 1 as infill, then Res 2 foldback. I beefed up the second stage which was running two wide Evo 6E with the eight F121s instead of the proposed BRs for that stage. Which seemed to work beautifully and provide nice, even coverage across both dance floors.”
“That’s what I love about these festivals,” he says. “There’s always some spanner in the works and it really gets your brain working to adjust to the situation to get the best results.”
Despite the challenges, Wasabi managed to earn plenty of plaudits from attendees and the artists, with the event heralded as one of the best Orin Aya to date. He’s now looking to future events including Let Them Eat Cake, Pitch Festival and a Rainbow reunion, as well as trying to work at Earth Frequency next year too.
“The amount of thanks and gratitude I get from the people on the dancefloor is unparalleled to any other job,” he says. “That’s why I love working with Funktion-One. It changes people’s lives and creates happiness in an amazing way. I really couldn’t see myself doing anything else.”