Amsterdam based events company and record label The Gardens Of Babylon have seen quite the success since Shishi Meriwani and her team launched the project back in 2016.
With line ups that have brought sets from Acid Pauli, Jan Blomqvist, and other heavy hitters, as well as a label catalogue which boasts names like CIOZ, Re.you, and Gorje Hewek, The Gardens Of Babylon have planted firm roots as a leading force among European house music.
Despite the current pandemic all but destroying the live music space, The Gardens Of Babylon crew managed to host events in Amsterdam, Miami, Los Angeles, New York City, and Goa.
We spoke to Shishi on our latest edition of Behind The Brand, where we chat about the early struggles of The Gardens Of Babylon, how she decides on who to book, and what she has planned for 2022. Get the full discussion below.
You first launched the brand back in 2016, what first inspired the idea for The Gardens of Babylon?
I wanted to create a kinder nightlife. Less harsh. Less separation between crowd and musician. A place where people can come together in the light of day. Dance. Meet up. Many roads lead to Rome, but a big inspiration at the time was Burning Man.
And what were some of the biggest struggles you faced in the very beginning?
The first challenge was the advancing. I wanted to organise events in Amsterdam regularly. My own investment ran out way sooner than I expected. Another problem was that I had little experience with large events and that was my dream. To get there I knew I needed help.
Your website says you’re a “global family”, what exactly does that mean?
We treat our community as family. The core values of a family is that it’s a place where you are allowed to grow. A loving surrounding where you are able to make mistakes. I guess we all need a place like that.
The pandemic has been particularly hard for the events and entertainment industry, what have you been doing to balance the scales in terms of keeping the business going?
We got support from the Dutch government. So, we were able to use our platform for the wellbeing of the family instead. We offered online parties, retreats, yoga classes, a bootcamp. Everything to use this time in a nurturing way and to fight boredom.
Despite facing uncertain times, you still managed to put together a festival at ADE and a US tour, what’s the next major project on the horizon for The Gardens of Babylon?
Wow, the near future is quite unclear, isn’t it? We’re supposed to debut in a lot of cities. London, Paris, and Moscow to name a few. Honestly with the current fuss I have no idea what will happen. I am hopeful and excited though. What else can we do?
You’ve booked artists like Acid Pauli, Damian Lazarus, Budakid, and Jan Blomqvist for your events, how do you decide who should play when you’re planning a show?
It depends on the geography. For Amsterdam shows I can literally go crazy. We have the best, most thankful crowd. It really gives a new dynamic plus the space for musicians to really grow and show their best. Abroad we try to mix it with local talent and scout new artists at our events. We just had Ella Romand in Miami and Julya Karma for example in NYC, I believe in both of them. We will work together more often.
What’s one of the hardest roles in running The Gardens of Babylon that most people might not be aware of?
There are times that you are basically the centre of complaints. From the crowd, from the DJs, from the managers, from the agents. It’s the role I have been given, but there are days that you just want to say: can’t you see I am trying the best for us all?
What can you tell us about your plans for 2022?
My one goal is to return to The Monastery, our four day festival in Germany. We have postponed it two years in a row. No more please. It’s my favourite time of the year.
Anything you would like to mention before we go?
Just a hug and a kiss and a hang in there.
Find more info on The Gardens Of Babylon here.