Big moment for us to talk to a founder of such an amazing creation as Dede Flemming of The Do Lab.
We’re plain Jane and his text is purple. Let this Bob Moses mix soothe you as you read.
Lightning in a Bottle and The Do Lab are well known for being the halfway point to some people between Burning Man and Coachella, so I was wondering what your opinion is on that? How do you think that environment at LIB benefits society as a whole?
Oh yeah absolutely! We’ve often compared ourselves to a hybrid of those events. Certainly not the size and scope of either, but just as far as the style. We have the creativity and spirit of Burning Man…and we try to have some of the organization and curation of Coachella. I think it’s great for everybody, because you bring in the people from the Burning Man culture who have a great understanding of what this community is and what this world is about. Then you have the more curious folk, your Coachella audience, who aren’t necessarily exposed to the free spirit energy and vibe that we offer.
Yeah we totally feel what you’re saying through going to LIB the past few years. So you’re definitely accomplishing a happy hybrid of the two.
Ah yes of course. And we have a tremendous amount of respect and inspiration from those festivals. We’re honored to have that comparison made.
Was there a particular reason for having Flume specifically top center on the bill, as if he is the cult leader? Don’t get me wrong he is one of the biggest names in the industry, and I love and am inspired by him like crazy…but with the other headliners who have put more time, more records, and more value into this scene, what was your reasoning for that decision?
You know sometimes lineup posters are what they are for numerous reasons. We’ve always felt he was a great fit for our festival…Maybe it’s debatable whether he should be on the top or not. It comes down to what we like stylistically, and there are some politics involved. In my opinion, the lineup poster order is always subjective.
Very true. Nowadays it comes down to the undercard and the homework done behind the scenes to have a truly complete lineup.
And we feel we do our best to accomplish that!
It shows Dede…it damn well shows. Ha! But hey, The Do Lab seems to be having its year! With Lightning in a Bottle about to sell out, it’s bigger than ever. You guys are planning on adding more festivals to the year. How do you plan on maintaining the small inclusive vibes in the face of such growth?
Well, I think this has always been one of our biggest concerns. I feel like we’ve always done an excellent job of maintaining the vibe. Go back to 2006 when we were just 1200 people. I felt that if we grew to 3000 or 4000 people we would lose the intimacy. But we didn’t. Then we jumped to 6000. And we still didn’t. Then we jumped to 10000. And we STILL didn’t. Now I’m just confident that it’s the people that come that make it intimate. We do a lot of work to curate, not just a festival, but all the offerings in a way that maintains that intimate vibe as we grow in numbers.
Yeah we really feel that through your attendance at the Do Lab stage and the festival, that a lot of it really comes down to the crowd you guys pull. So kudos to you on that. But LIB has moved a lot in the past few years. What was your favorite venue? How did you even pull off a festival like this in the bubble within a bubble, my hometown, Irvine. And How did you respond to the reaction from people at Bradley last year?
My favorite venue? Wow. It’s tough. They’re all so special in different ways. Our Santa Barbara festival is still talked about from all those years ago. It was so small and renegade and just unmatched. It was a great way for us to start LIB.
We were pretty skeptical about moving to Irvine. The layout was a little wonky, there was a big hill in the venue. We weren’t sure how we were going to get people to navigate through it. There were a bunch of challenges. But it turned out to be the favorite venue of many of the attendees. We fell in love with it after three years too. Eventually the logistics didn’t work out for the land owners to keep us there, and we respected their decision to move on.
And now here we are at Bradley. We’re back to that central coastal vibe from Santa Barbara. Rolling hills. Trees. Wide open. Just incredible. So I can’t say I have a favorite…just going to have to scratch Lake Skinner off that list haha.
You guys didn’t like it there, huh? I loved all the grass, shade, and camping layout.
It’s not that we didn’t like it…we just didn’t feel very welcome there with the police and the surrounding neighbors. I thought that would be the best place for all those reasons you said. And we really learned that our audience doesn’t really care for those kind of things. They care more about their freedom and to really express themselves. They would sacrifices the grass, trees, and nice convenient parking for the ability they can go and be themselves. We like being out in the middle of nowhere. We feel like we’re in our own world.
Haha. Middle of nowhere is a great way to put it. Going to make sure to let our readers know they should buy all their supplies well before they get close to the venue…there are no stores around for miles. But yeah, what advice would you give to young entrepreneurs who are inspired by what you guys have accomplished so far?
The best piece of advice anyone can ever give is to find your passion, go for it at will, and don’t worry about the people who say you can’t do it or how to do it. It’s not going to be easy, but if you really want to be true to yourself, go for it. We had plenty of people try to tell us that we can’t do it our way…and we’re not here to do these things the conventional way or the “right” way, we’re here to do something unique and special our own way.
Wise words. Thanks a lot Dede. We really appreciate everything you do, and a lot of people are watching and are inspired by your work.
It’s my pleasure…I just want to be clear when you are writing this that this is a big team. It’s not just my brothers and me. It’s a massive team of dedicated people who are working all year long to help us accomplish what we accomplish.