The Fyah on the Water festival took place for its first year on the 420 celebration weekend of April 18-19, 2015 at Sacramento’s Camp Pollock. Reggae in the Hills producers have successfully put on their Calaveras County fest for three years and they came at their new fest with a solid foundation for festival production. Part of that production includes gathering a team that ensures the festival is topnotch. Squarefield Massive is among the team that is often called upon to help produce a festival that makes the people happy. K Weezy (Kris Ward) and other Squarefield Massive members have been in the mix, giving the mix, for many years so it was only natural that they were brought in to work their magic at the Fyah on the Water festival.
In an exclusive interview with Kris (K Weezy) Ward of Squarefield Massive, the recent Fyah on the Water festival was discussed as well as addressing a mild bit of dispute about a former article called Fyah on the Water completes first year with mixed reviews.
Kris, for our readers, can you tell me what role you performed at the Fyah on the Water fest?
I am a DJ and I’ve been involved with the RITH crew since the very first Reggae In The Hills. They called me with the idea of FOTW and I was stoked to be on board.
If you weren’t on the job would you attend the FOTW festival and why?
Absolutely! It would have been a lot of fun to camp out but I also had to keep somewhat sharp because I take my craft seriously. If I wasn’t DJing, I would’ve went full festy mode.
What do you feel was the best thing about the recent FOTW that took place at Camp Pollock in Sacramento?
I have to say, I really like the venue. The trees and the green grass are a refreshing change.
Can you recall any particular comments that people made that you’d like to share?
The Caviar vendor was extremely generous and they seemed genuinely happy to be there. I got the same vibe from a lot of people there.
Can you tell me more about Caviar?
They were selling hats, shirts, skateboards, and what appeared to be some weed products. Caviar was a big sponsor of the event and had a custom fold out, fully wrapped deluxe party van.
For a first year run, the festival appeared to be pretty successful as far as logistics and set up. Of course, there are always snags but a first year often has more than its fair share. What do you attribute to the successful set up and organization?
RITH has a really solid crew that continues to grow as a team. Trust me it wasn’t always smooth sailing in the past but it all seemed to come together at FOTW.
Some of the main stage lights were off for a while at the start of Marlon Asher’s set. People didn’t seem too upset about it which demonstrates the good nature of the crowd but do you know what happened?
The lights going out was unfortunately because the DJ area was drawing too much power and we happened to be sharing power with all the lighting. It was resolved pretty quickly and we moved the DJ area to the front of house and never looked back.
Marlon Asher was so cool about the glitch. How were the all the other artists in general , what kind of attitude did you witness?
I was behind the scenes the whole time and I can honestly say that everyone seemed very happy. The beers were flowing, they were barbequing all day, offering massages to the artist; and, I must say, I didn’t witness a single disagreement or tense moment all weekend.
I have heard that people were excited to have this kind of outdoor festival at a Sacramento venue that is within the city limits. Do you think it is important to the attendees and future attendees?
I love this location because I remember riding my bike there from my house to a huge festival over a decade ago. I don’t remember seeing a single police officer all weekend and that’s a good thing. It means there was no drama!
In what way do you feel this combination of music in the FOTW lineup caters to the community? In some other words, why a Rap and Reggae combination rather than just a Rap or just a Reggae fest?
Doesn’t everybody love reggae? I think there’s a huge rap scene in Sacramento but, sadly, not a lot of venues are willing to take a chance on it. I grew up on rap and I’ve been DJing reggae for over 20 years so it’s a perfect blend for me.
I understand that the producers have an intent to possibly expand some of the genres in the future with a broad range of music. Do you think even more range would appeal to more people or scatter the draw? Do you think FOTW lost some Reggae fans and then also some Rap fans because of the overall blended lineup?
No, not at all. The festival didn’t feature that much rap. It was more like “stoner music” and I believe that attributed to the calm nature of the crowd. The promoters did a good job balancing the acts.
As a crew member and attendee at FOTW as well as the RITH in Calaveras County, what is the major difference between these two festivals? For example, why would someone choose to go to RITH over FOTW or vice versa or attend both?
The difference and what some people failed to realize is that RITH is reggae festival and FOTW was a celebration of fire, coincidentally on the biggest stoner holiday all year. It was designed to please a wider range of people. I think RITH is more family friendly.
Can you say what you liked most about some of the Rap artists that performed? Are they artists that you listen to outside this FOTW festival experience?
I think it was a good blend. One bad choice of artist could easily ruin the vibe; but, I don’t think of these guys as thugs. It’s the ultimate smokers line-up and although I don’t play rap that much, I do have all the mentioned artists on my playlist.
While the rappers on the venue are well loved, some people didn’t like their approach or content as mentioned in a former article. This is only normal for any genre of music. No one likes everything. Did you personally experience people who said they loved the entire lineup and want more of the same?
Judging by the attendance, I think the crowds spoke for themselves. FOTW wasn’t planned very far in advance in comparison to similar festivals and the people came out to support.
What do you think of the comments that some of the Rap language was too graphic and not something some cared to hear and particularly have their children or families experience? And, I have to ask, while graphic content can be productive in telling a story, even be fun or ironic in some ways, do you think there is a line where it becomes graphic just for the sake of being graphic and a possible sell out?
The delivery has a lot to do with it in my book. I don’t think twice about a good curse word if it serves a purpose. My least favorite thing to hear is what I call a rap crutch (the N-bomb). A lot of great albums are ruined by the frivolous use of it. The new Kendrick Lamar album is a great example of that. FOTW was definitely geared towards adults and I didn’t hear anything that I’ve never heard before.
Who do you hope to see at next year’s FOTW? I know there is a long list of possibles but do you have some favorites in mind that you feel would suit this fest?
I think Collie Buddz would be a perfect fit! Some newer rap artist would be cool and I’m a die hard for Jamaican reggae. How much is it to get Eminem these days? Mix in a few local bands like Riotmaker and The Storytellers, sprinkle in a Marley and you got yourself a festival!
Eminem? Yeh, I’d certainly run to a festival that had him booked but as unlikely as that is to happen, reports are coming in that people can’t wait to see who will be on the lineup in 2016 when the 2nd Fyah on the Water takes place on April 16-17.