Euphoria Music and Camping Festival 2014 is back for its third year with a whole new transformed look and fresh new feel that was made possible by the collaboration of creative and forth moving mindsets, and it’s less than two weeks away, so get your passes if you haven’t already! I sat down with Mitch Morales, the founder of Euphoria, at Cenote, a restaurant off of East 6th here in Austin, TX and we talked about the creation of Euphoria, their expectations, their stellar diverse music lineup, and the new features for this year’s event such as camping, yoga, workshops, and art/installations! Mitch had some very interesting things to say, check it out:
What was your initial inspiration to create a festival three years ago?
It all started with going to a bunch of festivals the summer of 2011, all different kinds – EDC, Outside Lands, Electric Forest, and Art Outside which extended to the Fall of 2011, and really falling in love with the community, the crowd, and the experience of it. That feeling of going into a festival for a couple of days and somewhere along the way losing yourself and being able to find something there that you aren’t able to experience in a three or four hour concert. I feel that within the first two hours of a concert people are worried about getting drinks, finding their friends, and then the next thing you know the headliner comes on, and it’s all about the headliner, and then it’s over. So yes, just falling in love with the idea of creating an experience for people.
We initially thought it was going to be an easy thing to just, well, to create a festival, we had no experience in booking music, no experience on the actual stage production, we had nothing. I mean, I had like some basic marketing experience with ads and had a decent handle on social media, but, from besides that, nothing. We took the next six months and tried to figured it out and when day one of Euphoria’s first year in April 2012 came around… it was definitely a real eye opener….we realized it wasn’t going to be that easy – we had a lot to work on. I’ve always really wanted a challenge that I was passionate about and I think this was it. Fast forward to now and we’ve assembled a solid crew and we’re looking really good for two days, the venue is awesome, probably, I don’t know, maybe close to double the amount people from last year, which was about 3,000 per day…we added camping, which is probably the biggest addition that I am happiest about – being able to provide that experience for people so that they can show up Friday morning and not leave the experience until Sunday.
Why did you choose to name it Euphoria?
At the time we were trying to come up with a name, we had made a short list, but a lot of the names that we thought about were already taken. Really tried to keep it simple, but wanted to give it a powerful, uplifting vibe. I mean, it is the place where you’re “Happy” right? It can obviously have some interesting connotations, you know, a lot of things do, but we are trying to transcend away from those connotations and ultimately just want people to experience a euphoric state through the music and culture at Euphoria; we want to create a space where you can escape from the real world for a couple days and find your happiness.
So, you did mention camping earlier, what are other new features are included at this year’s Euphoria?
On top of camping, being back close to Austin was really big for us…also finding Carson Creek Ranch, which is an amazing venue on the banks of the Colorado River – you can see downtown, the skyline from the property, it’s surreal. See, we want everyone to camp, but we know that’s not everyone’s thing, so being close is key. We want people to be able to easily get there and it also adds to the safety of things because we can offer free shuttles from downtown through Bus to Show. Also, just the time of the happenings this year, the doors are open at 12pm and go into 2am each night, and it allows us to put in a lot of additional programming in, and not just music but also art, performance, and bringing in art installations from, one being “The Fractoid” all the way from California which is really cool, so yeah, just basically developing the full festival experience versus last year, which was more of like a glorified two day concert.
One huge difference I noticed about this years Euphoria is the musical lineup and it’s diversity to its previous yeas. Tell me a little about that and what triggered that change.
Well, I’ve always had a very wide musical taste…growing up in Texas I was more into Texas Country and Houston Rap, and my dad always had me listen to a lot of music from the 70’s such as The Eagles….a super wide variety. I also moved to and lived in Australia for a year and it was almost never impossible to not be exposed to house music, which is really big there, it’s still really big there, everywhere around the world. It was then that I fell in love with electronic music like trance and house, definitely European styles. So still at the time, I was way more into that genre of electronic music and it got a little tricky when it came to bookings acts knowing we didn’t have any experience with it… agents would throw all kinds of everything at us. I always wanted to have Jamtronica flavors in there too…we booked artists such as Archnemisis and Zoogma in 2012, and we had a stage dedicated to non-Euro styles with artists such as Supervision and Govinda, so it’s not like this years lineup just came out of nowhere, we have slowly been diversifying the music lineup as we continue to build Euphoria. And last year, we tried to keep the diversity going stronger but due to space limit at White Water Amphitheater more acts were limited, but we added artists such as Eoto, The Polish Ambassador, Conspirator, and Michal Menert.
Austin’s live music scene has really flourished this year…we felt the need to bring that vibe even stronger so we partnered up with Having a Ball Productions in Houston, and Kevin Woods with Inside Out Presents in Austin, TX to re-create and twist the feel of Euphoria for its third year. They were already entrenched in that scene and had buy-in through The Parish and through some other venues here in Austin, and it was through that and belief and trust that made everything come together, which really made me feel comfortable. I’m not going to lie, it’s hard because some people mention they only recognize half of those names on the lineup and, you know, if that’s what people want then that’s fine but for me, music festivals should be 50% of seeing the artists you really want to see and 50% of discovering artists that you didn’t even know existed but are going to fall in love with. I hope that people that aren’t too much into EDM are going to really dig Simon Patterson and others that are used to EDM will discover Beats Antique and be completely mind blown! That allows them to look them up after the festival and discover other acts that are similar to Beats Antique… it’s all about discovery and potentially finding your nitch you never really knew existed.
Which artists are you most excited about seeing live the end of the month?
It has got to be somebody I haven’t seen before…I’ve seen the majority of the bigger acts, but I think somewhere between The Floozies, Koan Sound, Simon Patterson, and Boombox. Well, the artist that I listen to the most is Simon Patterson, he has a lot of different styles that he can bust out at any given time, a very versatile artist. When we were booking the talent, a lot of people seemed worried about the lineup’s diversity, but that shouldn’t be the case. Something I am very interested to see is how all of the different genres, and the fans of those genres kind of co-exist. I mean, one doesn’t leave the stage right away, you know, so seeing that flow of people discovering different styles of music — just giving the audience the opportunity to discover something that’s not Mainstream EDM– there’s a ton of amazing music out there waiting to be discovered.
What kind of impact do you want to leave on people after the festival? Is there some sort of message you want to spread?
As far as a message, I think it’s about acceptance, I think that the “scene” has become so fractured. Being able to be open to new experiences and music – if it’s good music, it’s good music , if it makes you dance, it makes you dance – that’s all that should matter, and I hope this is a stepping stone for Austin to start bringing some of those fashions back together. Who cares if it’s one way or the other, or if it’s this type of person generally at a show versus another, that shouldn’t matter. People should be smart to understand that you just don’t have to like one thing, and, on that same note, I hope that just doesn’t stick to the music. There are things that are associated with…like, I don’t want to go as far as to say that we are a transformational festival, yet, but that’s the direction we aspire to be. It’s one of the reasons we are bringing the workshops, the music, the yoga, and the art all together in one place. I think it’s important to be able to give people exposure to a new environment that they didn’t even know existed…especially people coming from small towns. I grew up outside of Austin, and the world was very small to me, and traveling and living in a different country for a long time gave me the awareness of other things being out there. I don’t know if everyone else will get the chance to travel and live in a different country, but if that’s what you want to do, then do it. Giving people a global music movement perspective can definitely start opening doors. The goal is just really being part of the movement, having a positive impact, and I think we can help with that.