XXL Malta 2024 – A Techno Triumph On Mediterranean Shores

Club-centric fun in the sun...

Teletech and The Warehouse Project’s inaugural international venture, XXL Malta 2024, has set a new standard for techno festivals worldwide. From May 24th to 26th, the sun-drenched island of Malta was transformed into a haven for techno aficionados, delivering an unforgettable blend of music, atmosphere, and production. 

The first ever XXL Techno international was sold out before the second phase lineup was even announced. It featured a plethora of renowned international names and rising stars, with a diverse roster of artists. Whilst importing a multitude of sonic talent to the festival, the organisers placed major emphasis on championing Malta’s uniqueness as a destination for international music tourism and its welcoming appeal from the locals. From hypnotic minimal techno to raw industrial beats, XXL delivered an unparalleled sonic journey that featured over 70 carefully curated artists. 

The festival kicked off on Friday with a boat party in the picturesque, sun-drenched setting of Malta. The boat set sail heading north towards Comino island for a day all those on board wouldn’t be quick to forget. Manchester-based DJ Leaha set the perfect tone against the stunning backdrop of the island’s natural beauty. Originally from the North East but now a Manchester resident, Leaha has become a key figure in the Teletech scene. She has evolved from a seasoned raver attending their events since 2019, to a regular performer, gracing numerous shows including the renowned Warehouse Project. Recently, she collaborated on a release with Faster Horses, featured on the Teletech compilation.

Leaha’s sound is a seamless fusion of genres, characterized by an unparalleled energy that has seen her share the stage with headliners such as TDJ, DJ Heartstring, and Caiva. Her playful mix of dark and bouncy club anthems quickly captivated everyone on board. A standout moment was when she played “A Little Closer” by Different, a track that has become the festival anthem of the summer. “Ladies’ Night” by Juicy Romance also delighted the crowd, further cementing Leaha’s set as a festival highlight.

Partiboi69’s set on the waves was a perfect blend of playfulness and hard techno, encapsulating his distinctive style. Described as a “symbol of mutual love and mystery, whose only objective is to spread love,” Partiboi69 lived up to his reputation without compromise. Embracing his role as the prophet of pleasure, he boarded the boat wearing his trademark speedy sunglasses and disposable cotton slippers, likely borrowed from his hotel room.

His devilish set featured a plethora of booty-shaking mashups that electrified the crowd. Tracks like Bomfunk MC’s “Freestyler”, David Guetta’s “Memories”, and Fargetta’s “Music Is Movin’” sent ravers into a frantic dervish, while Partiboi69 grinned knowingly as the carnage unfurled. The highlight of the set was undoubtedly “K On My D+C,” which was belted out with love letter loyalty. 

He also tested his latest release, “Double Drop,” adding to the excitement. Never one to have a dull moment, Partiboi69 recently found himself in hot water over the music video for his latest track. In the video, he plays a crazed drug dealer selling his own brand of 69 ecstasy pills from his hotel room, leading to a misunderstanding where he was accused of trafficking pills from the UK to Portugal. The pills, of course, were merely props, but the incident only added to his wild, unpredictable persona.

The festival then properly kicked off back on land at the historic Fort St Elmo, a venue that combined Malta’s rich history with hard techno for the weekend. Opening sets by Emilija and Biia set a high-energy tone. The incredibly talented blk. lived up to his reputation as the dancefloor destroyer, the tattoo drenched Irish man delivered arguably one of the best sets of the festival to an all adoring crowd. Starting his journey in 2017, blk. has spent the last seven years honing his sound, pushing the boundaries of hard techno with unique melodies and sets instantly recognizable as his own. Having recently closed out Boiler Room Berlin for Teletech, and headlined at Irish festivals Longitude, Life, and Emerge, among a lengthy list of global club shows, he is an artist with limitless promise.

His relentless set reverberating through the fort walls and energizing the crowd, making it clear that his force in the techno scene is not to be reckoned with. Days after the festival, Tik Tok was awash with the clips of the viral moment he played Revoxx’s Hard Flip of ‘You Drive me Crazy’. This music is for dancing yourself clean, there’s no room to dwell at this speed, no room for unwanted thoughts to creep in. 

Sara Landry’s set at the festival was a mesmerizing journey through the darker, driving realms of industrial techno. Immensely creative and uncompromising, Sara has quickly become one of the most exciting new artists in the genre. Self-taught as a producer, audio engineer, and DJ, she has captivated an ever-growing community of fans with her releases on Techno Germany, RAW, and Crisis of Man. These tracks have caught the attention of industry heavyweights like Possession, Perc, I Hate Models, Amelie Lens, and many more. 

Her set was a testament to her prowess as both a producer and DJ, seamlessly blending deliberate, witchy, and innovative sounds that have made her a staple on Spotify’s Techno Bunker. Known for her explosive presence and ability to craft thunderous, hammering sets, Sara transported the crowd into a transcendent state, showcasing her unique ability to create profound musical experiences. With high-profile bookings at Coachella’s Yuma tent, Red Rocks, and Brooklyn Mirage already under her belt, Sara’s performance at the festival further solidified her reputation as a powerful force in techno. Her dedication to creating intentional energetic conduits for her audience was evident, making her set an unforgettable highlight of the event.

The festival perfectly encapsulated the current resurgence and diversification of hard techno subgenres, showcasing a spectrum of styles once considered fringe, like gabber and hardcore, that are now enjoying newfound popularity and respect. This trend reflects the genre’s natural ebb and flow across generations, heightened global tensions, and the sheer exhilaration of dancing to high-octane beats. The festival provided a haven for this dynamic music scene, offering attendees a space to dance themselves clean of all sins, basking in the drama and intensity of the relentless kick drum.

We spoke with Tom Shenton and Anton Stevens, the driving force behind the festival, who reflected on the event’s success: “The reception so far has been really, really good. Nothing but positivity from what I’ve seen so far online”. With Malta offering a fresh canvas compared to more established party hubs, Teletech embraced the opportunity to provide a unique summer experience for their audience. Anton explains, “People came with open minds and have been pleasantly surprised.”

Maintaining authenticity is paramount for Teletech, who carefully curate every aspect of their events. “For us, we’ve got a strong set now of what we say are non-negotiables,” they emphasized. These principles ensure that each event, whether in Manchester or under the Mediterranean sun, meets their high standards of production value, sound quality, and an inclusive atmosphere. Looking ahead, Teletech plans to expand their footprint, with upcoming events scheduled in Australia, Leon, and Paris, aiming to replicate their success while continually refining and enhancing the attendee experience.

The addition of Kettama to the lineup proved to be an inspired choice. Evan Campbell, better known as Kettama, has swiftly gained recognition for his distinctive blend of hard-hitting house music and infectious club sounds. Hailing from Galway, Ireland, Kettama’s rise from humble beginnings mixing tunes at local clubs to performing on global stages epitomizes a modern-day musical journey. Sets like this are living proof of how far he’s come.

After a standout year, including a set at Coachella, Kettama was welcomed with open arms by the rave-ready faithful, who were now well acquainted with their surroundings. His set slightly veered away from the majority of those who played that weekend.

At the festival, Kettama’s performance at Uno was a highlight that resonated deeply with the audience. He seamlessly mixed Joy Orbison’s Flight FM with Wiley’s Eskimo Dance, demonstrating his adeptness at blending diverse sounds and genres. Throughout his set, Kettama delighted the crowd with a multitude of mashups and re-works, including memorable interpretations of Fatima Yamaha’s “What’s a Girl to Do”Sean Paul’s “Temperature,” and The Streets’ “Blinded by the Lights.” His recent release, “Pretty Green Eyes (Sunset Ibiza Mix),” was met with rapturous energy, further elevating the atmosphere and showcasing his ability to connect with the audience on a visceral level. Kettama’s performance was not just a display of skillful mixing and eclectic track selection but also a celebration of his journey from grassroots beginnings to international acclaim.

As the sun fell, and late-night approached Locked Club delivered an electrifying performance at Uno Stage 3, drawing festival-goers in with their signature blend of aggressive Slav-punk electro. Hailing from Moscow, Locked Club has carved a niche with their irreverent and adrenaline-fueled soundscapes. Their standout EP, “It’s My Rave,” showcases refined production yet retains the raw energy that is wholeheartedly reflected in their live performances.

 At the festival, they unleashed a relentless barrage of tracks that defied genre conventions, seamlessly integrating hard-hitting electro with elements drawn from Russian folk music and viral social media samples. Clad in their trademark ski masks and chainmail, their appearance mirrored the intensity of their music, creating a spectacle that captivated the crowd. Locked Club’s set was not just a performance but a visceral experience, embodying the spirit of a subterranean youth culture pushing boundaries and redefining techno’s future. As they continue to disrupt and innovate within the underground scene, Locked Club remains a beacon of uncompromising creativity and sonic exploration.

Following his standout performance at the festival’s Treehaus, DIØN reflected on the experience with enthusiasm. “It was crazy how the people vibe with me. It was like one wave of people dancing, and it gave me the energy, and I gave the energy back, so I think it was very good,” he remarked. For DIØN, playing internationally is a testament to his growing influence beyond his native Amsterdam, where his Rough Material brand has garnered a dedicated following. “Here, there were a lot of Dutch fans with t-shirts of my Rough Material brand. It’s crazy to see how far my name and the brand is reaching,” he shared, emphasizing the global impact of his music and label.

DIØN’s journey into the hard dance scene has been marked by his strategic approach, particularly with the establishment of Rough Material in 2022. This move has allowed him to maintain a unique artistic control over his releases, showcasing tracks first in his live sets before official distribution. “I really think it’s important for me to have my own unreleased tracks that I only play in my sets,” he explained. 

The festival’s enchanting castle party unfolded at Castello Zamitello, a historic highlight where attendees were treated to an unforgettable night. Korse (Kander B2B Fast Horses) delivered a relentless back-to-back set, a barrage of beats that kept the crowd dancing well into the early hours. Following this electrifying performance, Ayze and Alex Farrell took over, skillfully closing out the night with finesse.

Nestled near the village of Mgarr and en route to Gnejna Bay, Castello Zamitello provided a stunning setting for the festival’s blend of music and ambiance. The castle’s Norman-style architecture, dating back to 1675, with its distinctive guard turrets, offered a unique backdrop against which festival-goers immersed themselves in the pulsating rhythms and vibrant atmosphere.

XXL Malta 2024’s production was second to none. Each of the five unique venues offered a different yet equally exhilarating experience. The historic Fort St Elmo provided a dramatic backdrop, while the beach stages offered breathtaking views and a laid-back vibe. The boat parties added an element of exclusivity and adventure, making for a well-rounded and diverse festival experience.

Teletech and XXL have seamlessly transfused their brand throughout the festival, with flags adorned all over venues of the Teletech imprint. They also had a helping hand from fans, who donned a plethora of merchandise including Teletech t-shirts, bikinis, bags. Some even went a step further with their own tattoos, cementing their love letter loyalty.

XXL Malta 2024 was more than just a festival; it was a celebration of techno culture at its finest. The seamless blend of top-tier talent, stunning locations, and exceptional production set a new benchmark for music festivals. For those fortunate enough to attend, it was a weekend of unparalleled music, connection, and unforgettable memories.

As the echoes of the final beats faded, one thing was clear: Teletech and The Warehouse Project have firmly established XXL Malta as a must-attend event on the global techno calendar. We can only wait with bated breath for what they have in store for the next edition.

You can grab tickets to next year’s edition HERE

Words: Josh Crowe

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