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Five Minutes With: Clockenflap co-founder, Justin Sweeting

By Sophie Pettit 8 June 2016
Clockenflap has come a long way since its humble beginnings back in 2008, when around 1,500 people gathered in Cyberport to enjoy a day of free live music. Eight years on, and the bizarrely named event has become Hong Kong's biggest annual music and arts festival, attracting more than 60,000 music lovers across three days. With a brand new location, dazzling new line up, and new box of treats up their sleeves, could this be the best year yet? We catch up with self-confessed "music geek" and co-founder Justin Sweeting to find out more.

How did the idea for Clockenflap come about?

We wanted to make a positive difference in the city. Festivals like Clockenflap play an important role in the creative eco-system locally, and since no one else was doing one, we thought rather than complaining about the status quo, we’d do something about it and start our own. We just wanted to create an event that was sincerely, ludicrous amounts of fun.

How did you make it all happen?

No matter what you do in life, there will always be challenges. Our team is made up of incredible individuals though who are so passionate about why we do what we do, and so relish these challenges. I truly love going to work every day and feel incredibly blessed that I can call this my job.

Clockenflap has come a long way since 2008, did you ever anticipate it would reach this size and popularity?

Our vision for Clockenflap hasn’t really changed since day one, though the scale has. I’d say we’ve evolved together along the way just as the city and people have in that regard. Our approach to everything we do is to start small and build organically. Continuously learn and seek to improve as we go.

What is your favourite Clockenflap memory to date?

Honestly, there are too many and it changes often – a couple of music related ones I was thinking about the other day include the lunar eclipse during Bombay Bicycle Club’s 2011 set, which made for an absurdly special occasion. Also, My Little Airport’s performance in 2014, where a truly wonderful local act played a prime slot late in the evening on a big stage, and absolutely nailed it.

What have been the biggest challenges when getting bands signed up for the festival?

These days it’s mostly down to coordinating schedules and negotiating the specific deal terms of each artist. Thankfully, the reputation of the event grows each year and it’s now an event on the global map that acts want to play at. The bigger challenge really, that we always face, is trying to fit in all the incredible talent we’d like to have on, into the finite number of slots available.

Why is the festival moving to Central Harbourfront this year and what can we expect?

The West Kowloon Cultural District is going through their renovation process, so we need to relocate whilst that happens. We’re right in the heart of the city now, which certainly has logistical advantages. More than that though, we’re really excited to use the spaces available in Central in ways no one has before, and really showcase what a fantastic site it is.

And what can we expect for the line up? You've already announced a few names, any clues on the headliners?

For us, it’s always about delivering a line up of depth and balance, and this year will be no different. For sure we have big names to announce, though there’s equal, if not more, pleasure which comes from programming the acts which will prove to be people’s new favourite discovery at the festival.

What are the new features at this year's festival?

You’ll just have to be there to find out. We already cannot wait to open the gates come November!
Neither can we! Don't miss your chance to catch LCD Soundsystem, Sigur Rós, Foals, José González, and more at Central Harbourfront on November 25 to 27. Clockenflap 2016 第二輪音樂陣容 2nd Round Music Lineup Click here for ticket information and sales.
Read more! Spend Five Minutes With some other colourful characters who are shaking up Hong Kong.

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Sophie Pettit


Sophie is always on the lookout for a great story and her next big adventure and loves nothing more than discovering the city’s hidden gems—and most delicious cocktails. When she’s not exploring new places, she’s off travelling and ticking countries off her bucket list.