We spoke to her about her job and what hard work and a spray of luck can do for a passionate music lover.
Photos by Anders Elmshøj
What if you could select your own personal favourites for the line-up at Denmark’s largest music festival, Roskilde? Pretty sweet daydream, right? Turns out, that it is one of the daily adventures – and struggles – for Kim Ambrosius, an awesome girl of 28 years. She’s not just the only woman in the booking team. She’s also the newest member of the group, as this year’s festival is her first time helping out with everything practical as well as picking and selecting artists for the program. And that is as much of a knuckle-churning hard job as it is a thrill. We spoke to Kim about her Roskilde story.
Girls Are Awesome: So, Kim. How was your first year at Roskilde? Kim: I went to Roskilde for the first time in 2007 – “The Raining Hell”. People who were there never forget. I had just graduated from high school and had dropped every afterparty to attend the festival. I didn’t know a lot about Roskilde beforehand. The warm-up days were basically just muddy boots and a carton of wine in each hand. Basic stuff. But as soon as the music started and I saw Björk at the Orange Stage, I was convinced. I’m from Jutland and had been to festivals before. This was something completely different. Then and there, as cliché as it sounds, I got the Roskilde Epiphany.
How did you get involved with the booking team? Last year I got a job offer as a production assistant at the Apollo stage, because I have experience with concert production. A month before the festival I got a call from Thomas Jepsen (booker). I had met him before at SXSW and he knew that I had a raging passion for alternative indie. He wanted to know if I would like to do observations from different concerts: like how were people behaving, how the sound worked and such. That’s when I met the booking group. It’s funny, people think the bookers are these mythological creatures from other dimensions. Actually, they are really just these immensely nice people who also happen to be extremely nerdy about music. Like, crazy hardworking but really, really nerdy. After the festival, Thomas wanted to know if I wanted to join him and Marianne Ifversen (booker) as a part of their internal research group with the indie and alternative bookings. They wanted me as a part of the discussions for these names. I helped them decide on bands such as Protomartyr and Car Seat Headrest for this year’s festival. A couple months ago, Marianne got a job in the Roskilde Festival board. That left a spot open which I was offered. It’s still crazy to know that I’m a part of the mythological inner circle now and have this kind of responsibility.
What kind of things are you up to during the festival days? Well, we have office hours each day during the festival where we take phone calls from god knows who. Those calls are all about covering the basics. Like, did the artists get the right wristbands? Where are our umbrellas when it starts pouring down? How do we get Neil Young to the stage? Besides that, I have to watch a pile of music. Literally. I think I have 17 artists on my schedule each of the four days of the festival. So running is a practical skill to have, during the music hours. I haven’t been doing any bookings this year since it’s my first, so it’s my job to be the eyes and ears in the field. It’s not an easy job to put on a festival like Roskilde. But there is such an immense community around the things we do here.
How do you keep yourself going with such a work load? Really, the only thing driving me my first year is pure adrenaline. I’m extremely thrilled to be doing this at all. In a couple of years I might need a recipe for energy, like Red Bull and raw eggs. Besides that, chocolate milk is a pretty sweet relief for hangovers.
What is that thing that makes Roskilde so special, do you think? Being a music lover by heart, the only festival I ever wanted to work for is Roskilde. I think it’s the diversity of the programming. They have something to experience from every corner of the music spectrum. You’re forced to have these crazy experiences you wouldn’t have anywhere else. A lot of people have all these plans for artists they wanna see, but suddenly, you’re in the middle of a show with Mongolian throat singers or Japanese hardcore. Roskilde throws all of this at the audience, who take it all to heart with arms open. The audience is as big a part of the equation because they expect these experiences. They are just as important as the bands. They are the ones feeding off the energy from the bands and in return gives that energy back by being present and involved. The Roskilde audience is professionals in that field.
What’s the first thing you will be doing when all of this is over? I have some really good friends here that have been working twice as hard as I have. I’ll be chugging some beers with them and I’ll stay awake for as long as my body allows me. On Sunday I’ll sit down with the rest of the booking team and ask the question that’s on everybody’s minds: “what the fuck just happened?”.