INTERVIEW: SUPERFLY CO-FOUNDER

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A couple weeks ago, we sat down with Rick Farman, co-founder of Superfly, co-creators and producers of hugely successful festivals such as Bonnaroo and Outside Lands, to discover how he approaches festival production and what fans can expect at Lost Lake, their newest festival venture taking place in Phoenix later this month.

Front Gate Tickets: Did you always see yourself in the entertainment industry? In the scenario that you could retire right now, what’s the next move?
Rick Farman: I had a significant learning disability, and I was sort of told around high school that it would be difficult for me to get through law school with the particular disability I had. In some way that got my wheels turning about other options and around that time is when I got really into music and started to actively pursue that path. In many ways I seized an opportunity. As for retirement, I’ve always thought about being a professor at a university on subjects related to my career: whether it is business, entertainment, or something like that. I currently do a little investing in young companies and enjoy being in that role of helping young entrepreneurs, whether it’s through investment, consulting, or advising, I think that would be a fun thing to do in retirement.

Crowd at Outside Lands – Photo by Andrew Jorgensen

FGT: What are your thoughts on the growing trend of “boutique festivals”? Ones that invest in not just the lineup, but the whole experience?
RF: I certainly think the lineup matters, but differently at different times in the festival’s lifecycle – but ultimately, the events that are really successful transcend the lineup itself and becomes more about the overall experience and about what people have come to trust about the brand itself and the reputation.

Festivals are a great vehicle to express the assets and attributes in the community, and I think it’s a really interesting part of the American festival story in contrast to the European festival story where psychographic communities come together. The American story, in my opinion, is well represented by the best, oldest festivals out there. The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Music Festival is one of the most impactful and important in America. That model took all the elements of New Orleans and Louisiana and expressed it through an amazing cultural event—it becomes an iconic representation of what that culture is about. City festivals that have done really well, in my opinion, have followed that particular pathway.

Friends under The Arch BONNAROO 2017 – photo by aLIVECoverage

FGT: Jumping into Lost Lake, what about Phoenix specifically made it an attractive host city? This year alone we have seen a ton of festivals pop up there, and it was interesting to see it become such a desired location. What goes into tapping cities for events?
RF: There is an interesting evolution of culture and demographics playing out in Phoenix. It’s not that different than what you see in other progressive cities like Seattle, Portland or Denver where a lot of people are moving to the downtown part of the city, the city is investing smartly, and there’s a sort of Renaissance that’s occurring.

The biggest advocates for Phoenix were the people at Walter Productions. Walter was created out of the sort of love and passion of the founders of Burning Man and they have been a part of Bonnaroo, their sort of first creative foray outside of Burning Man, for many years. We’re huge fans of what they do and when they told us there were a lot of interesting cultural and creative things going on in Phoenix, it gave us a vision and feeling of what a festival there could be. It’s more than just these elements of the local culture, there’s also a great creative force there that can help us bring this to a whole other level. The most exciting thing about Lost Lake is that it really is Superfly and Walter Productions coming full circle to create something new in their hometown, and that’s an amazing opportunity for us.

FGT: For Lost Lake, what can fans expect – what are you drawing from your other festival successes like Bonnaroo and Outside Lands? What are some things that will be done differently to set that apart?
RF: At Superfly a lot of what we are really good at is creating or mining community, and finding all of the cool facets to put in place there. We’ve created a lot of interesting partnerships connected to each place we go, focused on the creative life, and who is doing interesting things.

For example, we have this amazing relationship with Chris Bianco, who in many ways helped create the deep culinary scene that exists in Phoenix, to make sure we were going in the right direction in order to get that culinary scene built into this event. Same thing on the beverage side. One of the specials we are doing is creating a whole agave area — obviously we are in the southwestern desert and the agave plant’s use for making mezcal and tequila runs deep in terms of the cocktail culture.

We also found that Phoenix is a place where people really like to have a good time. You go places and they have bar games and lawn games; that whole aspect of having a drink and doing something active is really prevalent. One of the really fun things we are doing with Walter is building oversized games. Some of it you’ve seen out there where some places have oversized Connect Four or oversized Jenga—we are taking that to another level. We are building an oversized billiard table where you are actually playing pool with bowling balls; there is a whole experience of games like this.

If you’re excited to see what Rick and the Superfly team have in store like we are, be sure to Lose Yourself in the Valley of the Sun this October 20-22 at Lost Lake Festival!

INTERVIEW w/ EDC’s STEVE HOWARD

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The folks behind Electric Daisy Carnival excel in curating the ultimate dance music festival experience. This year, our team had the opportunity of “sitting down” with Insomniac’s Lead Experience Architect Steve Howard to discuss his vision for the future of dance music, what to expect at the flagship event in Las Vegas this Summer and how EDC remains ahead of the game. After just hitting the Halfway mark, we’re even more excited to see everyone this Summer Under the Electric Sky. Have a read…

Front Gate Tickets: What led you to become involved with Insomniac? What were your first impressions of EDC? Since joining Insomniac, what are some of the biggest standout moments for you?
Steve Howard: After 30 plus years in touring, concerts, sports and theatre I was looking for a new challenge and a colleague thought I would be a good fit for Insomniac.
My first festival was Escape 2014 and I remember being very impressed at the scale of the experience with the multiple stages and the incredible number of both large and small elements and details that make Insomniac shows truly unique.
I accepted the offer after meeting with Pasquale Rotella and feeling his energy and drive to make positive change in the world through his All Are Welcome Here message and always putting the audience first before anything else.

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Front Gate Tickets: Tell us about the transition from producing U2 and Rolling Stones tours to becoming THE experience architect? Are they wholly different worlds / what were you able to carry over from the Rock world to the EDC platform?
Steve Howard: I was very fortunate to be able to make a meaningful contribution to the growth and development of the international touring business into the highly-sophisticated machine that it is today.
Much of that expertise is very applicable to Insomniac’s challenging business model and I’m having a blast introducing many of these strategies to Pasquale and his incredible team.
I’ve had good success at organizing the team into distinct areas of responsibility and I’ve been able to introduce many of the templated processes that are so important to successful touring. Our budgeting, cost control and settlement process is much better than it used to be and we are seeing significant growth in many of our sources of ancillary revenue that are so important to our overall financial health.

Front Gate Tickets: EDC, Las Vegas especially, is known for its beautifully detailed and elaborate productions. How are you able to keep things fresh, exciting and intricate year after year? What are some new sights and sounds to expect for EDC LV 2017?
Steve Howard:
Talk about a bunch of kids in a candy store!! We have so much fun spinning up new ideas for Vegas and the 2017 version will not disappoint. Not only will Kinetic Field get a brand-new design but we’ve added a really cool new Dreamstate stage and we are super excited to introduce what we think is the most awesome new art car that I think will be the talk of the festival.

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Front Gate Tickets: Dance music is such a wide-ranging genre – can you tell us about the booking process and how it aims to represent?
Steve Howard: I’ve been told there are more than 100 different genres of dance music – who knew! Not only do we have a very talented team of talent bookers but most of the entire 140 plus company staff are passionate dance music enthusiasts who are all out discovering new artists, new sounds and sharing their finds with the entire company. I think we have enough in-house DJ’s to run our own festival!
Talent meetings are focused on making sure we are always introducing our audience to the next up and coming artists while always delivering on what is popular and creating the most buzz while making sure we’ve got good coverage for everyone’s different musical tastes.

Front Gate Tickets: The EDC community is one of the largest and supportive out there. What is it about EDC that draws in such passionate fans??
Steve Howard: Simple answer – Pasquale Rotella’s connection to this audience is just unparalleled. Pasquale is always looking for ways to make their experience at Insomniac events better and he is a fierce champion of inclusivity making sure the environment at shows is always welcoming, friendly and non-judgmental.

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Front Gate Tickets: What are you most looking forward to at EDC LV this year? Any special performers, installations, etc?
Steve Howard: As always there are many new elements to look forward to for Vegas every year. One of the ones I’m most excited about for 2017 is an installation we’re putting into our central hang-out/meeting space in Carnival Square. That should be checked out for sure.

Front Gate Tickets: We’re excited to see more global expansion for EDC! Can you tell us what and where is next?
Steve Howard: Where to begin?? This is one of the most exciting things about working with Insomniac. We literally get new enquiries every week to bring EDC or another Insomniac festival to a different part of the world. Bubbling up to the top right now are China, Europe and my native home – Canada.

Front Gate Tickets: If you give 1 piece of advice to a first-time attendee, what would it be?
Steve Howard: Forget whether or not dance music is your thing, everyone likes a good party right? And what makes a great party? The guests always make the party and that is what is so special about Insomniac events. You will have such a blast – don’t be afraid to even come by yourself – you will have tons of new friends before you know it and many great memories of the experience.

AEWRG

If you haven’t bought your tickets yet, we have no idea what you’re waiting for!