In the seemingly endless catalog of music festivals in California and beyond, it is hard to imagine what more a new festival might have to offer. Once Upon a Festival has big things in store. The festival, known as Foreverland during its first year in 2014, has found that the shift in identity is allowing them to more fully explore the many magical aspects that make this event truly unique. This spring, announcements proclaimed that some of the most trusted names in the festival community would be collaborating on the production of Once Upon a Festival, culminating with an impressive musical lineup announcement that has been met with delight from fans new and old. Lost in Sound sat down with Once Upon a Festival visionary Tulku D’Etat to find out about the festival’s origins, the impressive collaboration creating this year’s production, and some of the changes in store for the gathering this year and beyond.
The answers to our queries were so chock-full of enticing hints about the fun in store that we can’t wait to live our own fairy tale at Once Upon a Festival this year! You can too! Just follow the link:
What is Once Upon a Festival all about?
Once Upon a Festival is a celebration and exploration of the dualistic nature of being human. Throughout the festival there are the two major themes present. Our campgrounds and stages are divided between the Pirates: representing rowdy, rambunctious revelry, and the Lost Boys:self-sustaining jungle survivors escaping the clutch of mainstream society, and pranking Pirates for kicks, all while holding down a sense of child like wonder and innocence lost. The duality provides the opportunity to give yourself permission to reconnect with your inner child and restore a sense of wonder, imagination and play in your life.
Our venue is set on an absolutely stunning lake that encourages such things. Combine that with a 24/7 sound permit, wildly ambitious stage concepts (including one that floats out in the lake) and a fairy tale theme…and the stage is set for a weekend of legendary proportions.
I, as most should, feel like I have both energies running through me pretty strong. I love to be silly and playful, throwing all cares to the wind. At other times, the mischievous scallywag comes out and I have been known to get a bit wild, indulging in all manners of tomfoolery.
This year, Once Upon a Festival has a ton of amazing collaborators. What are the different roles of those collaborators, and do you see this kind of collaboration as the direction these kinds of events should move in?
Last year, a few of us from different festivals formed a new production effort called Paradigm Shift Collaborations. Our motto is “Collaboration over Competition.” All of the collaborators this year have always enjoyed going to each other’s events. The idea for us to all come together and share our resources and unique gifts seemed like a great way to launch this unique event and have a lot of fun in the process.
Desert Hearts and Raindance have taken on booking a beautifully curated house line-up for the Pirate Ship Stage.
An-ten-nae, Enchanted Forest and Lucidity collaborated on Friday and Saturday night’s music programming at the Lost Boys’ Tree House.
And Envision stepped in from Costa Rica to curate a musical journey all day Sunday, kicking it off with an infamous Random Rab sunrise and spending the day out on the floating stage in the lake.
Enchanted Forest will also be featuring the Nectar Temple, a unique and next level take on a healing temple/chill out lounge.
Lucidity is setting up Branches Mobile Art Gallery, which has always been one of the many things they do above and beyond.
Hookahdome is holding down their incredible tea lounge
atmosphere with Hookah service.
Sacred Spaces, as they always do so well, will be designing Sacred Spaces for our Yoga and Workshop presenters.
The Mindful Massive production crew is leading site operations and designing our floating stage.
We should also touch on our world class sound systems. Emersion is bringing out legendary Funcktion1 sound and the Void.Stasyswill hold down it down to round out a special experience any audiophile would enjoy.
The Psy Trance stage created by Pulse SF won’t be present this year—what will be replacing it?
We really enjoyed working with Pulse SF last year and were seriously impressed with the offering that they brought. They have decided to take a break from large festivals for a while. In their place, the Pirate Ship Stage will take on a House Music Theme featuring the Desert Hearts Crew, a 3-hour Mark Farina Mushroom Jazz set and some love from Little John and Raindance. Music curated and collected from the Bass Culture will move over to the Tree House Stage in the Lost Boys Territory.
So there is a lot of talk about your floating stage—care to elaborate on that?
When we first went out to the lake last year, the idea of having a floating stage seemed like an obvious one. With the sound system floating in the lake pointed back to shore it creates a totally unique party atmosphere. This year, we are adding additional floating play structures. You can kick it in a sea of floaties and dance or lounge on the shore. Expect the unexpected and prepare for one of the best daytime parties ever!
What other logistical changes can we expect to see this year?
Well first and foremost the lake is nearly full this year. So much so, that we have had to move up the shore to host our event. The new site is absolutely stunning, with gentle rolling hills and patches of trees. Each stage area has its own unique lakeside geography. The Pirate Ship stage is set out on a peninsula and the Lost Boys stage is just a short 5-minute walk away in its own cove.
This year, with our new venue layout and expansion of the music programming, we are creating “territories” where people can choose whether they want to camp with fellow Pirates or Lost Boys.
How else can attendees participate?
Our motto for this year is: “Be your own Character, Live your own Fairy Tale.”
We are encouraging everyone to actively engage in the fairy tale theme and allow themselves permission to get silly with it.
Costumes are strongly encouraged. Our core production team will be handing out special surprises and gift packages throughout the weekend to those that are seen going above and beyond with their costumes.
We are also planning a massive game of Capture the Flag throughout the weekend between the Pirates and the Lost Boys territories. This happened last year amongst the crew and was ridiculous amounts of fun, even resulting in the use of heavy machinery towards the end. So we want to extend this to the participants (minus the heavy machinery of course).
Another great way to participate is invite your friends and plan ahead of time what kind of fun camp you want to set up for yourselves. There is plenty of space and we are even accepting applications for theme camps.
How do you see Once Upon a Festival continuing to evolve in the future?
We are blessed by this venue. The lake is amazing and there is plenty of room to grow. We look forward to diving further down the rabbit hole and exploring more themed areas, drawing from more of the fairy tales that we all knew as children. Maybe even making up some of our own.
Ultimately, we want to stay flexible. At some point, festivals seem to take on a life of their own, as a community forms around them. We will be listening to what our community wants and needs and stewarding the growth of this festival in a conscious and responsible way.