Just a little over a year ago, Miami native Eduardo Garcia was building and painting bathrooms at Atlanta’s inaugural TomorrowWorld electronic music festival, the sister festival of Belgium’s widely popular TomorrowLand.
In September this year, Mr. Garcia returned for the festival’s second Atlanta run not as worker, but as Eddie Gold–the 33-year-old electronic-dance-music (EDM) artist and opening act on the “ATL Liquified” stage which kicked off the final day of festivities.
Mr. Garcia, who moved to Atlanta nearly two-and-a-half years ago and has since emerged as an established producer and performer within Atlanta’s rapidly spreading electronic-music scene, is just one of the many local EDM artists who have felt the impact of Europe’s largest electronic music gathering taking place in Atlanta’s backyard.
“It gives a lot of artists hope,” Mr. Garcia told Global Atlanta. “It brings a lot of people here and it brings a lot of money here.”
Now, one month after Mr. Garcia made his TomorrowWorld debut on the ATL-themed stage and set the pace for six other Atlanta-based or formerly Atlanta-based artists to follow, including Midnite Panda, Mantis, Popeska, Must Die!, Heroes x Villains and Le Castle Vania, the rising EDM artist said he has already seen a boost in his career from the festival’s international reach.
“I was playing music for people who I can’t even speak the same language with,” said Mr. Garcia, who noticed a jump in “subscribers” or “followers” on his social media sites that lived outside the states since the set in September. “I play this music and we both understand it.”
Last year, the festival pulled in over 140,000 fans from 75 different countries and its organizers expected to hit even higher numbers this time around.
While TomorrowWorld has provided a crucial platform for upcoming Atlanta artists tapping into the electronic music craze, its attraction to Georgia’s metropolitan center is no coincidence.
“Atlanta is a very, very, very busy, working city as far as EDM goes,” said Mr. Garcia, who referred to the city as the “perfect catalyst” for aspiring artists to grow. “I owe a lot of my success to this city.”
Some of that success, Mr. Garcia explained, is a product of the symbiotic nature of Atlanta’s EDM community and the music itself. EDM as an international genre is a conglomeration of styles and materials that updates the role of the disco-era DJ for a digital age. Many of “Eddie Gold’s” songs, for example, use an original house beat to blend and layer familiar melodies from other artists’ work.
Combined with live, improvised “mixing” during performances which involves adjusting and reworking different features of the music, these song “edits” create a sort of cross-promotion that allow emerging artists to benefit from a highly interactive industry and locale.
For Mr. Garcia, it was this pervasive interaction within Atlanta’s club music scene that brought him from Florida to his current residence in the artist hub of East Atlanta Village.
“I just felt like if I got here to Atlanta, I could surround myself with other artists and producers that make music just like me,” Mr. Garcia said. “I could learn a lot more and grow my brand here.”
Mr. Garcia observed that the opportunity to perform at TomorrowWorld was only possible because he permanently relocated to Atlanta.
Atlanta’s perception as a city that is backed by the EDM industry is not the only factor that played into the Belgian festival’s westward expansion into Georgia.
Tucked away in Chattahoochee Hills, a quiet, rural edge of Fulton County that sits 30 miles outside the city’s urban sprawl, TomorrowWorld’s site reflects much of the geography found in its European model.
Brooke Lochore, local liaison for TomorrowWorld, said that the resemblance had immediate appeal for brothers Michiel Beers and Manu Beers, the Belgian founders of TomorrowLand who considered almost 100 other locations before settling on the 2,800-acre stretch of farmland southwest of Atlanta.
“A lot of the pieces fell in the puzzle correctly for them to choose Chattahoochee Hills,” Ms. Lochore told Global Atlanta. “The beauty of the earth, the topography, the rolling hills, the lakes … it just had everything they were looking for.”
“Being so close to one of the largest international airports also doesn’t hurt.” Ms. Lochore added.
Aside from the music itself, much of the festival’s widespread appeal for both local and foreign EDM fans lies in its unique aesthetic dynamic: the pastoral landscape provides a delicate backdrop to the festival’s own colorful and often carnivalesque architecture. As the western counterpart, TomorrowWorld attempts to capture the same atmospheric and iconic beauty that has kept Boom, Belgium’s TomorrowLand in existence for almost 10 years.
And if everything goes according to plan, Atlanta’s TomorrowWorld may very well hit that mark. Belgian flooring executive Carl Bouckaert, who owns the full 8,000 acre property that the festival partially occupies during September, has struck a 10-year contract with TomorrowLand’s organizers to host the event. Bouckaert Farm has also served as home to other popular music festivals including CounterPoint Music & Arts Festival and Echo Project Music Festival, and runs 25 horse events a year, Ms. Lochore said.
Regardless of what the future holds, the festival has already made a ripple for the city’s vibrant image and EDM artists such as Eddie Gold are not the only residents who are celebrating its return.
“I’m really happy that TomorrowWorld has chosen Georgia of all the places it could have chosen in America,” Mr. Garcia said. “Atlanta, in the last two years, has really come together. Come to our city, experience EDM and how we play it at our venues…I guarantee you that you’ll have a good time.”
Corrections: A previous version of this piece incorrectly named the founders of the festival. They are actually Michiel Beers and Manu Beers, as noted in this version of the article. Also, the Belgian city where TomorrowLand is held is Boom; a previous version named the city Boon, Belgium.