The pandemic is not over yet; but thankfully, things are gradually back on track. For two years, our freedom of movement has been limited; traveling round has become an unattainable luxury. Events were cancelled, same as holiday plans. As an underground electronic music lover and festivalgoer, missing the opportunities to see my favourite musicians play live was definitely excruciating. Among all those tickets I got refunded, Terraforma was the one that I felt most pity for.


Taken place in Villa Arconati, an 18th century manor house located at the northeastern outskirt of Milan, Terraforma is one of the most-anticipated music festivals here in North Italy. Luckily, I had the luxury of experiencing its charm pre-pandemic, and it was truly fantastic. This music festival is one of a kind; it is an eclectic mix of sonic experimentation, contemporary art and our relationship with nature. Centered on environmental sustainability, Terraforma renders partygoers an extraordinary sensational enjoyment under the pretext of eco-friendliness.


Adopting sustainability as leitmotif, Terraforma not only have their core thinking written on their website, but also put them into practice. All drinks are served in reusable containers; any refill with them will be entitled to a discount. Only eco soaps are allowed in the camping area, bio soaps will be provided for those who don’t have any.

Sofie Birch, a sound artist specialising in soft soothing ambient  © Stefania Zanetti

DJ Paquita Gordon playing at the Vaia stage  © Riccardo Fantoni

Aside from on-site practices, Terraforma also collaborated with various architecture and design studio on some long-term projects on the restoration of Villa Arconati’s landscape. Over the past few years, they restored a pre-existing 18th century hedge labyrinth with local flora from scratch and reforested the camping area by planting more than 100 saplings on the event’s territory. Almost all the facilities (tables, benches, bins and shower cabins) and architectural structures inside the venue were made out of woods. This year, Terraforma took the project even one step further. Together with an avant-garde architecture studio Space Caviar, they built a new stage, Vaia. Named after the extreme weather event that occurred in northeastern Italy in 2018, the stage was constructed by wood from the tree fell from the Vaia storm, making use of the substantial amount of lumber that the community has invested in removing from the distressed area.

Even during the worst period of the pandemic when events were shut down, Terraforma kept working on their vision and ecological agenda by planting trees, launching creative incubator of artistic languages and hosting an open space for contemporary sustainable practices. They even started a new editorial project, the Terraforma Journal, a platform to showcase works and discuss topics on sound, art, ecology, and contemporary culture. Their efforts pay off. Villa Arconati is greener, lusher and livelier, and the event was awarded as one of the “improvers” by the non-profit organization A Greener Festival for the commitment on reducing its environmental impacts.


Before COVID-19 struck, lounging around was easy. Things were going places, and maybe went a bit too fast and too far. The pandemic gave us a chance to slow down and contemplate on what are the essentials for our lives. Living a simpler but better quality life is a trend, and it also reflects on Terraforma’s curation this year.

Some happy Terraformers  © Stefania Zanetti

Mykki Blanco from EXPAT  © Riccardo Fantoni

Morning yoga session  © Edoardo Comba

With the motto “For once we only dance”, Terraforma 2022 is a music festival with no talks, no panels, no workshops and a small self-caring yoga session between sets, putting a special focus on the musicians’ creation post-pandemic. Talents from all over the world gathered in Villa Arconati, pulled out a three-day music galore that is full of diversity, creativity and experimentation. The range of the music genre is wide, spanning from more fashion-oriented acts that fit to Milan’s ambience, to some authentic techno and house sets that stimulate festivalgoers’ impulse to dance. By having only one act at a time, the festivalgoers were transformed (or terraformed if you will) into one nomadic collective drifting between the stages together over the course of the weekend. This collective experience gave the proceedings an intimacy that is rarely found at festivals. Delving between the woodlands, the stunning Villa Arconati, and the labyrinth, one had an almost psychedelic sensation of shifting between dimensions; this was accentuated further still by the diversity of the music.

Representing CAP 72024, my colleague Harvey and I participated in the Saturday’s event. Dog days haven’t started yet but Milan was quite warm already, the afternoon sun had us hidden under tree shadows. Thanks to the successful reforestation they’ve been doing over the years, we enjoyed the whole afternoon of music shaded. Our experience started with the performance of EXPAT, a 9-month old band with no recorded music focuses on intense, dramatic and theatrical live show. Chanting political-related catchphrases like “White supremacy causes climate changes” with grating guitar sound; their provocative performance sent the crowd boiling. The afternoon proceeded with Milan-based electronic music producer Piezo’s DJ set and charismatic alternative and art rock inspired sound of London-based band Moin before the ravers swung to the hedge labyrinth grooving with Birmingham-based musician High Intelligence Agency’s electronica set, a true masterpiece mixing his 90’s classic with his new release.

Ravers gathered at Alpha stage © Edoardo Comba

The revolutionary performance of Teto Preto is nurtured by female and LGBTQIA+ leadership  © Edoardo Comba

Uganda-based Kenyan rapper MC Yallah and her powerful beats  © Edoardo Comba

Lafawndah was the opening act of this year’s Terraforma  © Riccardo Fantoni

Then it was MC Yallah & Debmaster. The duo stepped on the newly constructed Vaia stage at nightfall. Hailing from Uganda, the Kenyan rapper Mc Yallah made her Italian debut in Terraforma. Pairing with French producer Debmaster, they blended the explosive rap with some powerful sounds. Carrying a hint of African exoticness, the performance had the audience swooned in the evening breeze.


The night culminated when the closing DJ of the day, Berlin-based PLO Man started to play, drawing all the ravers to the spacious Alpha Stage for some 4-hour long dance marathon. His exceptional DJ set took the ravers from Milan to Berlin in a split second, indulging in the most authentic and orthodox Berlin electronic atmosphere. For Harvey and I, there was no better way to end our Terraforma experience than with some perfect beats from PLO Man.


Overall, our experience this year is phenomenal. Coming back to festivals after two years of hiatus is great, and to start our post-pandemic rave marathon with Terraforma is even greater. Deep from my heart, I truly wish to hear more from them in the near future. Not only because of the excellent lineup they have built, but also the endeavor of their sustainability movement.

Text: Yves Tsou, Harvey Byworth-Morgan