Foreverland artwork by Android Jones

Foreverland Profiles: Interviews with CloZee and Reuben Smith

September 15, 2014Zac Krohn

It has been said, “It takes a village to raise a child”. What does it take to birth a new event like Foreverland? Lots of passionate and talented people of course! Continuing with the festival’s theme of duality, I talked to two people who will play very different roles in making the magic happen. CloZee has traveled all the way from France to bring her glitchy music to the Shipwreck Stage. We also talked to Reuben Smith, on the production team, who is involved in lots of behind-the-scene activity. We’re just four days away from arrival at Foreverland, grab a ticket and join us!

CloZee (Chloé Herry)

902812_455304341211648_1291289090_oHi Chloé! Thanks so much for talking with me. Is this your first time visiting California?

YES! It’s my very first time in the USA and I’m sooo excited! It is crazy here!

Can you talk a bit about your musical background? What instruments do you play and how do you feel that impacted your use of melody in your production? 

I learned how to play the classical guitar at 11 [and focused on that] for 5 years. I think I can say that the guitar brought me to produce electronic music. [When I was] around 16 I wanted to record some guitar covers of popular songs to upload them on YouTube. So I decided to buy all the gear I’d need; computer, sound card, microphone, etc. After some months I quickly wanted to add some electronic elements to my recorded guitar melodies, because I was a big fan of electronic music.

Was there a particular song that made you want to start producing glitchy music?

Yes, I think it was edIT‘s song ‘Ashtray’. It was the first time that I heard the expression ‘glitch’. I think his style on his album ‘Crying Over Pros For No Reason‘ is so classy; melodic and powerful at the same time — that’s what I loved. I fell in love with his music.

Foreverland is an experiment in collaboration. You’ve done some pretty great collaborations; with vocalists on The Poetic Assassin and videos with Scarfinger on MPC. Do you enjoy how collaboration shapes the creative process? Who would be your dream musician or producer to collaborate with?

I really love to share ideas with some other artists. I think it really helps to try some new things and create something unique and original. It’s a good way to improve your music. 

I’d love to do collaborations with so many artists, but I’d say: a collab with the guitarists Rodrigo y Gabriela would be fantastic! 😀

In addition to you, I’m really loving music coming from Phazz and Stwo, any other French producers who you feel need a shout out?

I really love their music too! 
I’d say: The Geek x VRV, Loan, Dropout Marsh, Kid Atlaas, Everydayz, TIGERZ…and so many more :). 
And Scarfinger for his MPC remixes haha.

Reuben Smith

1909341_893208358144_1070289845_oHi Reuben! Could you please start off by introducing yourself; how you are involved in Foreverland, and which teams you are part of?

Hi Zac! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me. As you know my name is Reuben and I’m fortunate to be functioning as the administrative manager, as well as performing some marketing supervision for Foreverland. I’m assisting multiple different teams currently – working closely within the administration department in regards to logistics, data management, security, medical, parking, gate and box office, ticket management, guest list, and production data oversight. I’m also doing some work in regards to media management and social media strategy.

Foreverland is a brand new festival this year, can you talk about the vision for the festival? Where did the inspiration for the theme come from?

It’s a really great opportunity to be on board for a new festival – the inspiration from this event came from the production team that puts on Enchanted Forest Gathering and it was inspired by the playful antics and duality that exists inside of the Peter Pan world of Neverland. A far off place where no one has to grow up and pirates / fairies / lost boys (and girls) spend their days fully immersed in the experience of the moment. If life is timeless, then you focus on each individual instance in its magnificence, independent of the idea that it leads to something else. It is free from the pressure of schedules and plans because it’s all here always and can be experienced unfettered by context — independently glorious.

In addition to that, the EF crew wanted to provide a space for the different energies that exist inside the pirates / faeries / lost ones – they all have their own separate flare to share, learn, and grow from. It’s representative of how there are a variety of ways to approach life and that we can not only tolerate them as a community, but celebrate them in their uniqueness. It’s particularly interesting when you apply it on the individual level.

It seems like a lot of that theme is also reflected in the collaborative element of Foreverland. Festivals always require lots of different talents to exist, but you have taken the co-creation aspect to new levels, bringing many tribes together to achieve this vision. How do you feel that effects the process of curating a festival?

I love it. I was brought up into the festival world through Lucidity which bases so much of its model of off the heavily collaborative and co-creative spirit of Burning Man. It’s incredible to see what people are capable of when you give them the opportunity to create what calls to them. As an event producer, I believe very much in creating a space for people and then stepping aside to see what they come up with.

In regards to how it affects the process of curation, it really just requires a higher level of communication. It isn’t, “This is what I want and here’s how we’re going to do it.” It’s more of a, “I think this would be cool and we could do it this way – what do you think?” This is a much more empowering form of communication and ultimately opens up opportunities to create elements that would be far beyond any one individual.

Especially since I’m more focused on the back end infrastructure, I’m free to support whatever idea is wanting to take root without having to let a specific vision get in the way. It’s a GREAT opportunity to practice letting go of the ego as well.

Since it’s Burning Man season, I’ve read a number of articles bringing up some criticism of “Transformational Festival Culture”. Generally speaking, they are overly focused on the negative aspects, but some do bring up very valid issues. Some of these include; minimal political action in contrast to 60’s counter culture, lack of sustainability, and confusing transformation and escapism. Do you have any personal thoughts on this?

Great question – one that I want to start off responding to with the popular meme, “Haters gonna hate”.

What we create are festivals. Small and large gatherings for people of all kinds to come together and celebrate art, music, community, and a whole variety of other things that are mixed together in as many different ways as there are festivals.

Is it the word ‘transformational’ that gets people up in arms about what is happening? A transformational experience is an experience in which someone is open to change. We set an intention to create space for people to step into that potential. We can’t make you have a transformational experience, any more than we can make you have a spiritual experience. But we can set the stage and stack the odds and hope that the stars might align for something truly magical to occur.

Are these festivals sustainable? I can only assume that is referring to being environmentally sustainable and the answer is easy – no. They might get there someday, but none that I know of so far have made it all the way, though they’ve made some great efforts. And we’re making a point of bringing it up so that people are thinking about it. That critical conversation is like someone looking at a Prius and saying, “Well it’s still not sustainable”.

But to me I really think that people project their ideas that we are being more idealistic then many of us actually are. I produce events because I want to bring my community together. I’ll place a “transformational” title upon it because I hope that community will be open to the idea of something happening that they didn’t see coming, and maybe they’ll learn something along the way.

Thanks so much for your thoughtful responses! Anything else you’d like to add? 

Just that I always invite people to step out of the role of spectator and into being a participant. There’s no magical wall of separation that keeps people from being able to create whatever it is that calls to them as beautiful, or interesting, or meaningful. Even better, we’re here to support you. I’m a community organizer and resource. That means that one of my highest priorities is supporting the people in the community in achieving their dreams. Don’t be afraid to speak those dreams aloud.

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