Interview: Lost Lake Festival producer, Rick Farman, discusses new festival in Phoenix
Lost Lake Fest

The Lost Lake Festival is the newest music, art, culinary and games (yes, games!) experience to hit the festival scene. From the creators of Bonnaroo and Outside Lands, this new festival is based in Phoenix, Ariz. and will have its inaugural opening this year on Oct. 20-22 at Phoenix's Steele Indian School Park. Boasting a lineup of Chance the Rapper, Major Lazer, ODESZA and The Killers, this festival looks to be an experience to mark down on festival calendars for this year, as well as years to come.

AXS had the pleasure of speaking with Rick Farman, co-founder of Superfly, the people behind Bonnaroo, Outside Lands and now the Lost Lake Festival. He spoke to us about this new festival, why the culture of Phoenix is a perfect fit for it and what to expect. Take a look, and as you do, don't forget that tickets are still available, so grab them while you can for what promises to be the newest destination on the festival scene. 

Related: Lost Lake Festival 2017 announces must-see lineup

AXS: You have obviously seen tremendous success with Bonnaroo and Outside Lands. Tell us, what characterizes Lost Lake from these other festivals you have done? 

Rick Farman (RF): This festival is really all about Phoenix, the valley area and Arizona. All of the themes of the programming and the branding and everything that this is, it’s meant to encompass and represent the cultural and creative energy that exists in this region.

AXS: Share with us a bit more about that creative energy in Phoenix that drew you to this area.

RF: We have a whole variety of friends who live in and around the Phoenix area. If you haven’t been there recently or you’re not aware, there’s been a real renaissance happening, particularly in the downtown area of Phoenix. There’s an amazing art and culinary scene that’s flourishing there. Phoenix and the people in that region have a real passion for outdoor lifestyle, for having a good time, for sporting. These are all of the elements that are going to be the flavors and colors of this [festival], alongside the music and the lineup we put together that we feel also very much speaks to the energy of the city. 

AXS: You have a tremendous lineup of music artists for this festival, and it looks great. There is also the appeal of the art, culinary and game scene. Tell us a bit more about the experts you have gathered to help in these areas. 

RF: On the culinary side, we’ve teamed up with Chris Bianco, who’s one of the foremost pizza chefs in the entire world. He’s a James Beard award winner [Best Chef, 2003] and has been in Phoenix for about 20 years; he's been a real staple and champion of the culinary scene there. He’s helping us navigate and program all the different culinary elements of what we’re going to be doing out there, some of which will be food vendors, some of which will be multi-format experiences. We're going to have different food creators and live demonstrations showing different concepts of creativity that are infused with culinary concepts. 

On the art side of things, one of the partners on this event is a Phoenix-based company called Walter Productions. Walter got their start at Burning Man, and they have a whole fleet of art cars. They are a real institution of creativity in Phoenix, so they're a really big part of helping us develop our network for the art side, the marketplace side we’re going to launch and for the games element.

This festival is going to have a real sense of fun and spectacle to it. It’s really kind of what we do and what Walter does really well, so we’re excited about that collaboration. They’ve actually worked with us before; been a big part of Bonnaroo for the last six or seven years; we’ve had a long relationship with them, so now we’re in their hometown where they have all of their resources and their team and they’ll be able to apply it to a new festival concept like what we’ve created. This is really special for us. 

AXS: As you draw the community of Phoenix together for the festival, will some of the art exhibits be permanent installations for the community or is it just for the festival?

RF: We’re still developing a lot of those ideas. The great thing about working with Walter is that they have a bunch of local projects. So we were actually talking recently about one particular thing we were developing with them and they will repurpose and use it in the future on one of their other projects that will be based right in the heart of Phoenix. So the goal is to do as much stuff as we can that will be permanent, that will live on in some capacity, whether it is year after year at the festival or one of Walter's other projects. 

AXS: On the culinary side, what type of demonstrations will be going on during the festival?

RF: One thing we have announced is The Pits, a bbq concept. We’re bringing together a variety of different bbq chefs and they're going to cook in a way that people can view what they are doing and there will also be some related tastings. You can buy samples from all of the different chefs that are there. We don’t want to just set up a vendor booth, but rather create an experience where you can watch their methodology, sample a variety of different things and engage with the makers. 

AXS: You have the music side, the food, the art; these are things we definitely see at festivals. But you have added a fourth dimension, the gaming experience. That’s another aspect that’s really trying to bring the community together. Share with us a bit more on what you have planned?

Phoenix offers a lot of different facilities for outdoor and indoor gaming. There’s a large college audience there, too, and a lot of people who are participating in games with their friends. As we were planning what the pillars of this festival would be, we really felt that the sensibilities of being outside and playing Bocce ball, lawn darts, ping pong or foosball — all those kind of fun games you can do when you’re hanging out with your friends — that we could bring them all together through this festival, but put our twist on it.

AXS: You have had tremendous success with Bonnaroo and Outside Lands. Now you have Lost Lake. If you were to think about these three festivals, what makes each of them unique? What sets Lost Lake apart from the other ones; whether it’s the philosophy of how you put it together or maybe the communal development, which you have touched on already. What makes Lost Lake distinctive from the other two festivals? 

RF: I think it’s kind of simple in the sense that what we do as a company is try to bring communities together, people together, through a festival format. So, each one of these events has its own community.

Bonnaroo is a community of people who come from all over the country; they have a certain passion and sensibility for adventure and live performance, a lifestyle of traveling and camping, and creating a community that doesn’t exist, that can only exist in that format.

Outside Lands is a community, or expression or synthesis, of what is poignant about the San Francisco and Bay Area.

Similar to that, that’s what we’re going to be doing here with Lost Lake. It’s about expressing the cultural elements that exist in the Phoenix and the greater valley community. The concept is very similar to how we approach the creative elements and design of them.

AXS: What has been the response of the artists as you have gathered them for this new festival in Phoenix? How do they see this as a new and exciting opportunity coming up for Phoenix?

RF: Artists understand the opportunity that festivals provide. You see a lot of them excited to engage with Lost Lake because they have the opportunity to play in front of an audience that might not ordinarily have the chance to see them. That's how you grow as an artist...by getting exposed to different audiences.

Phoenix is an A-list city, it has all of the elements of what a strong, creative community has. I’ve been spending a lot of time there and it’s just beginning to crest in a sense, and in over the next 5-10 years, you’re going to see amazing music and art culture come out of this area. I think that artists who recognize that being able to engage at an event like this really understand the value of the opportunity; that's why we were able to put together such a great lineup.

AXS: What has been the response of the city and the state to Lost Lake and the idea of having a brand new festival housed in their backyard?

RF: It’s been amazing. We could not have better support from all of the civic leaders there, in particular, Mayor Stanton, the mayor of Phoenix. He’s a wonderful guy and he and his administration, the city manager’s office, the vice mayor’s district we are in, Vice Mayor Pastor — they understand the value of what a community-focused, cultural festival can do for the city. They have really rolled out the red carpet for us. They are a big reason of why we are there.  

The inaugural Lost Lake Festival kicks off this year on Oct. 20-22 in Phoenix, Ariz. If you want to be a part of what will surely become a must-see on everyone's festival list for years to come, grab your tickets here.


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