Ten years ago, Kevin Jack organized a going-away party for his best friend at Kettley’s Canyon, at Marsh Lake.
Since then it has evolved into the territory’s sole electronic music festival.
“After the night was done, in the morning as we were all saying our goodbyes and wiping our tears, we were like ‘that was so fun, and what an amazing venue, we have to do this again next year,” said Jack.
This year, seven local artists, including Jack, going by the scene name ‘DJKJ’, and Australian artist Slynk will take the stage for 12 hours of music on August 29.
Paradise is an electronic music festival, but with a Yukon touch.
There’s the log stage, rebuilt twice over the years because of heavy snowfall.
“We went out there and hand-picked all these trees, re-skinned them by hand in the dead of winter,” said Jack.
There’s the waterfall running by the “chill out” zone, solar-powered lighting decorations, and a dance floor covered in black sand.
And, of course, the venue sits by Marsh Lake.
“The venue is very much Yukon-apparelled,” said Jack.
“It’s just an unbelievably beautiful place, hence the name.”
He and a crew of six people have been building and improving the venue year after year.
Each weekend after the ground had thawed they’ve cleared land, chopped off weeds, expanded the camping site and fixed the installations on site.
“It’s been a community effort between the few of us,” said Jack.
For the occasion, The Watershed, a bar and coffee shop on Whitehorse’s Sixth Avenue, will make appropriate use of its name, setting up in a shed by a waterfall.
The Gravy Train poutine vendor, St. John’s ambulance, and consent crews headed by group Les EssentiElles will also be on site.
“Something like this has never been done this far North,” said Jack.
But the event that Jack describes is nothing like the Hollywood image of raves with thousands of people dancing to ear-deafening music while a couple of 19-year olds are convulsing on the floor after having overdosed on questionable substances.
Paradise is for all adults who want to have a good time and enjoy the music, Jack said.
“They don’t necessarily want to go to a bar and there is a serious lack of venues in this town,” he said.
“It’s moms and dads, adults, people who are mature.”
For the first couple of years, the festival was kept to a small size and only advertised through word of mouth.
“We did that for a reason, we didn’t want to end up with a whole bunch of people that didn’t appreciate (the festival) and just showed up to ruin it,” said Jack.
On top of hiring a security team, 20 volunteers will be on site to make sure the event runs smoothly. Drugs and weapons are not allowed at the festival.
The festival will have a broad range of electronic music styles, from dubstep to hip hop to house music to funk, said Jack.
“I’m ready to show the Yukon we have a really positive scene here.”
The stage is equipped with a 20,000-watt sound system. “I guarantee the Yukon hasn’t heard anything like this,” he said.
But he said it’s not the kind of sound system that leaves you with your ears bleeding and the feeling you’ve just made a terrible mistake: it’s a refined sound.
“It’s not where it’s so loud that it’s offensive to your ear, it’s just loud where you can feel every single frequency yet still be comfortable,” said Jack.
He is excited about Slynk, whose real name is Evan Chandler, coming to the Yukon.
“He takes old school like James Brown or Jackson 5 and remixes them, makes them a little bit funkier, fattens up a bit of the baseline, really high-energy stuff,” he said.
“We’re about setting a vibe where it’s funky, it’s fun: it’s so unique, different yet very safe.”
Jack encourages attendees to camp, given the distance from the city and the time the festival ends at. Shuttle service will be provided the next day.
For more information, search for “Paradise 2015” on Facebook; tickets are available at Triple J’s, the Watershed and Dean’s String and Music Supplies.
Contact Pierre Chauvin at