Across the globe, music events are springing back to life after the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic. Nightlife scenes the world over are bouncing back once again and some of the longest hold-outs are finally opening up, such as Singapore, which is allowing its clubs and bars to fully open on April 19 after a staggering two straight years of lockdown. Many music festivals, too, are set for the summer after three consecutive years of cancellations and postponements. As we move into this century’s Roaring Twenties, will festivals look and feel the same as they once did?
The traditional image of the music festival is hardly eco-friendly: fields strewn with garbage come to mind, as do noisy gasoline-guzzling generators. That is not to say that things aren’t shifting towards becoming greener. Glastonbury, the world’s biggest music festival, now installs recycling bins around its site and uses biodiesel fuel to power its generators, resulting in 85% less CO2 emissions. In Asia, eco-friendly boutique festivals such as Shi Fu Miz and Wonderfruit have forgone the use of single-use cups, among other initiatives. They are not alone, with the sustainable music festival trend on the rise in other markets as well.
Enter the solar-powered sound system, which promises to become an increasingly regular fixture on the international festival circuit and beyond. The concept, while not exactly new (the Solar Sound System collective, known for its bicycle and solar-powered booths, was founded in 1999, for example), has been elevated by PikiP, a French company whose solar-powered rigs have made them the industry leader in terms of audio fidelity, scalability, and design.
PikiP has already made significant inroads in France, having powered alternative green stages at several major festivals there in 2019, such as We Love Green and Les Vieilles Charrues. In 2022, with the April launch of Daifu Solar Sound, PikiP’s exclusive distributor for Asia, high-fidelity solar systems are set to make their mark on the Asia-Pacific region, as well.
Daifu Solar Sound is a joint venture from Hong Kong-based agencies FuFu Creative and Daily Creation, helmed by Florian Melinette and Roger De Leon respectively. We spoke with Florian to learn more about this game-changing technology.
What is the energy-saving potential of these systems?
Using these systems has a huge green impact. The PikiP Booth as well as the PikiP Stage are 100% autonomous with energy production, storage, and distribution fully embedded. If you use these products at full power for your event, you don’t need to use any gasoline generators or even electricity access since the systems have enough power to last your full event. To give you an idea, our flagship PikiP Booth takes six hours to charge with solar energy and can last an average of ten to twelve hours at full acoustic power. So, if your festival stage opened at 2pm, the booth could run until 5am without needing a recharge.
What can you tell us about the audio specifications of the speakers?
The design combines the use of horn technology for the high-end and VDS for the low-end. PikiP dubbed its woofer the “VDS” (Voix de Soleil, or Voice of the Sun) as a tribute to the Altec A7, the legendary acoustic speaker known as the Voice of the Theatre. The VDS is a jewel of French manufacturing: a hybrid woofer with an extended band 40-630Hz (+/- 3db) and unmatched performance.
What is the game plan with Daifu Solar Sound in Asia?
Firstly, we will be offering rental for the PikiP Booth in the Hong Kong market for all kinds of applications: music festivals; well-being and yoga events; fashion and brand events; conferences and galas; mall and museum shows. Secondly, we are the exclusive distributors of the PikiP product range on the Asian market, where we hope to see these solar products appearing in events across major cities in the region that want to be greener.
Do you see solar-powered systems becoming possible for main stages at big festivals in the near future?
For the moment, it is not possible to do a main stage at a very large festival such as Glastonbury. Our solar sound systems are made for small and medium-sized events. The systems can be scaled up to cater for anywhere from 50 people up to 2,000 people at a stage. It is not currently the ambition of PikiP to produce a main stage sound system – the main goal is to create “off grid” products with high quality acoustics and a quick and easy setup. There is no doubt that we can be part of big festivals by bringing this sustainable message and concept to alternative solar-powered stages.
All Images: Daifu Solar Sound
Writer | Mengzy
Mengzy is a DJ/producer, radio presenter, freelance writer and final-year PhD candidate in Musicology based in Hong Kong. A regular on the regional underground and festival circuit, she has established herself both as a radio personality and as a co-founder of Wonton Bass. Mengzy writes cultural analysis and commentary on a wide range of topics, including music, film, gaming, and design. Follow her on Instagram @djmengzy