Culture, Events, Interviews — November 19, 2012 at 11:33 am

Shaping HK’s cultural scene: Clockenflap


Founded by Mike Hill, Jay Forster and Justin Sweeting, Clockenflap festival has shaped Hong Kong’s music and arts landscape, and regulated its winter since 2008. With its unique vision and mission, Clockenflap is now legendary, and continues its organic expansion. Music Weekly had a chat with Justin Sweeting about this year’s edition and what we should get prepared for!


Music Weekly: This year is Clockenflap’s 5th edition in Hong Kong, congrats! What is going to be different on the 1st and 2nd of December?

Justin Sweeting: Thanks! This year, we’re basically bigger and better than ever across all fronts: More music, more arts, more stages, more kids entertainment, more food, more space, more people and more silliness and surprises all round.

Clockenflap showcases music, visual arts and video, from international and local artists. What is the festival’s mission for Hong Kong, and for the region?

Establishing an event that is Hong Kong’s annual marquee music and arts event, which makes a difference to the community and continues to push things forward on several levels. Each year, more and more people are traveling to us from across the region (and beyond) and we’re honoured to welcome visiting festival goers to our island home.

© Elsa Young –

Hong Kong music scene seems to be quite small, does Clockenflap help it to go beyond, to surpass itself?

It’s small but growing in positive ways, and we’re very proud to be able to help play a part in its development. It’s important to have events of the festival’s scale to create excitement in local music and act as another rung in the ladder for local acts to aim for and step up to. There’s currently a very low glass ceiling locally, so having a natural path of progression for bands in terms of next steps is vital. I’ve always said that a personal landmark for me will be the day that we can put a local independent band on who can justifiably headline the festival. We’ll get there in time.

We see a lot of Australian festivals expanding in Southeast Asia these recent years (St. Jerome’s Laneway, Future Music Festival, etc.), does Clockenflap have an interest in other territories?

We’ve always had a very simple philosophy of growing organically and sustainably step by step. There’s certainly interest in other territories, though we wouldn’t rush anything, and it all depends on the opportunity and fit in terms of marrying the local destination to what Clockenflap as an experience is about.

What are your own favourites in this year’s line-up that shouldn’t be missed?

This is always a tricky one to answer as the beauty of festivals is the full spectrum you’re able to enjoy over the full weekend. From the more familiar names like Primal Scream and De La Soul, which you can sing arm in arm to for a full collective experience, to your new favourite discoveries you’ll see there first. Personally speaking, I’m an indie kid at heart and so having acts like Bastille, The Rubens and Luke Sital Singh is really important to the line up, as it’s a rare chance to catch these kinds of acts whom generally otherwise wouldn’t be coming to the Hong Kong so early in their careers.

Seeing the local bands take to the larger stages is always a massive highlight for me too. Many of them have let us in on the surprises they’re planning for the weekend, so I’d certainly advise to get to the festival from the start to catch as much as possible. We had literally hundreds and hundreds of acts get in touch this year so curating the final line up was a challenge, though one that has meant the bar is set very high across the board.



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