Atlas Studios, Morocco
Since its inaugural edition in 2015, Oasis Festival has placed great importance on providing a setting just as enticing as the music.
In line with this, the Into The Wild series – launched in 2022 – departed from the festival’s roots in Marrakech to showcase some of the more unchartered territories Morocco has to offer. Following on from last year’s venture into the central lagoon of Dahkla, 2023’s location was the most momentous yet: the esteemed Atlas Studios in Ouarzazate. A setting which boasts blockbuster films and series such as Game Of Thrones and Gladiator amongst its vast portfolio of credits.
The festival stages were nestled into many of the production sets that were still intact in their original form, all connected by intertwining maze-like passages. The Agrabah and Cleopatra stages hosted the majority of headline acts alongside the more intimate Kasbah stage, complete with immersive visual projections. Tucked away in between the three main stages, the ‘Morrocan Square’ not only provided an opportunity to relax, but was also a coruscating hub of local tradition, culture and cuisine.
However, the impressive atmosphere of the festival wasn’t solely achieved through its stunning backdrop. For Friday’s opening party it was just the Agrabah stage open, which provided an opportunity to spotlight some local talent under the attention of a fully focused crowd. This served as an ideal warm-up to the festival as each day gradually built in intensity. Across the following two days DJs such as Jyoty, OK Williams, Honey Dijon and Ahadadream all came through and served up the high-energy sets they’ve become renowned for. Away from the dancefloor, there were also regular film screenings and panel talks hosted at the Mbari house, as well as a host of wellness activities to get immersed into throughout the day.
Read on for our standout moments from across the weekend’s proceedings.
When Nabihah Iqbal took to the stage in the early evening of Saturday it was, at that point, just the second set of the festival to take place at the scenic Cleopatra stage. An epic rustic-inspired staircase towered over the DJ booth, whilst the dancefloor was surrounded by ancient Egyptian style pillars that ran parallel from front to back. Her set served as the perfect introduction to how impressive a setting this was, particularly when fully illuminated.
Nabihah Iqbal’s 2023 album Dreamer was a masterclass in dreamy pop and melancholic shoegaze but her DJ set showcased a different side to her sound. A flurry of thumping house and disco edits were served up alongside a sprinkling of pop and R&B classics such as Kelis’ Millionaire, Kylie Minogue’s Can’t Get Your Out My Head and a New Order cut in the form of Blue Monday.
As midnight approached on Sunday evening, OK Williams began her set on the Agrabah stage – an ancient Egyptian-reminicient courtyard with swooping pink drapes that hung in all directions over the dancefloor. The NTS Radio host immediately set the pace with a mix of speedy house and techno that pushed Agrabah’s impressive sound system to its limits. There was an infectious energy coming from the booth that visibly spread across the crowd and quickly drew the attention of passersby. By the time the Montel remix of the Strictly Rhythm classic Can You Feel It rang out, the dancefloor was packed and the mood well and truly set for the rest of the night.
Over on the Cleopatra stage, coveted DJ and radio host Jyoty followed on from a charge of hammering techno from LB a.k.a. Labat. After a quick reset, Jyoty shifted the mood with a finely selected amalgamation of bubbling breaks, garage, Jersey club edits and more – the same winning formula that made her recent BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix such a success. Over the course of the two-hour set, Jyoty kept the energy high with a wide pool of tracks spanning Lil Silva’s Night Slugs classic Night Skanker through to Moroccan rapper Draganov’s 3dabi.
As the end of the festival approached, More Time Records co-founder Ahadadream stepped up to round out the Cleopatra stage. The relentless onslaught of percussive bangers ensured the energy levels didn’t take any kind of dip despite it being the final two hours of the weekend. As the final tune drew this year’s Into The Wild to a close, many stayed on afterwards taking in the scenery for the final time. And there was a definite sense that Oasis has settled on an inimitable location that will leave many coming back for more.