Panorama Festival is fast approaching, and New York is getting amped up for this brand new festival. Their killer lineup features Arcade Fire’s only 2016 U.S. tour date, one of Kendrick Lamar’s only North American festival sets this summer, and a sure-to-be-incredible hometown comeback show by the one-and-only LCD Soundsystem. With The National, Alabama Shakes, Major Lazer, Sia, Run the Jewels and more on the bill, it’s sure to be an unforgettable weekend of music on Randall’s Island. However, music isn’t the only thing on Panorama’s mind, as the festival intends to blow attendees away with an incredible, interactive experience called The Lab. ***Scroll to the bottom to enter to win a pair of 3-day passes to Panorama NYC!***The Lab will be a state-of-the-art installation for all Panorama attendees to enjoy. It will feature a museum-like room filled with multiple interactive exhibits and a massive theater that provides a fully-immersive audio/visual experience, all contained inside of a unique structure with a projection-mapped exterior. Panorama looks to be the first festival of this scale to feature technology as one of its main components, and The Lab will be that dream brought to life. The project itself is the brainchild of Panorama promoters Goldenvoice and META.is director Justin Bolognino, who is a huge Phish fan, is one of the founding fathers of Brooklyn Bowl, and is an all-around champion of technology-based art.Justin is a man of many hats. As the former Creative Director of Brooklyn Bowl, Justin helped shape the brand and experience of the beloved multi-room venue. Bolognino then sold his Learned Evolution and Meta Agency companies to mega-promoter SFX and formed the in-house creative solutions studio FX1, where Justin brought unique and interesting experiential marketing to festivals like Electric Zoo and Mysteryland. Finally, as the head of META.is, Justin works to elevate artists who use creative technology as a medium. I recently sat down with Mr. Bolognino to discuss all things The Lab, as well as some insight into working with Phish and working on the creation of Brooklyn Bowl. Click here for full details on The Lab via The Verge, and see below for a full transcript of the interview with Justin BologninoLive For Live Music: Break down The Lab for us? What is it? What isn’t it?Justin Bolognino: Well, The Lab is maybe the largest scale, single festival experience activation in history, as far as I’ve seen. There are three main components to The Lab: there’s the architectural façade, with is being projection-mapped by VolvoxLabs, then there is an 150×30 foot exhibition space that will host some six different interactive installations from leading New York City creative technology studios. We also have one other interactive installation—Emilie Baltz’s “Cotton Candy Theremin Universe”—that’s going to happen as a pop-up throughout the weekend. The Dome, which is the final component; we are creating a custom seventy-foot immersive audio-visual experience that’s the exclamation point on what should be a pretty inspiring tour. Hopefully you walk out of this thing a little knocked off your axis, that’s the idea. L4LM: How did you dream up for such an ambitious, multi-media experience?JB: I think such a resonant thing about this project is it didn’t feel like I dreamed it up or that there was anything active about it, it just feels natural. It wasn’t like an arduous task where there was a lot of brainstorming, it kind of flows beautifully. Really, it’s the culmination of everything I’ve done over the past ten years, all in one environment. It’s not so terribly different from Brooklyn Bowl at the end of the day.L4LM: How so?JB: I think the idea is in the simultaneity, we live in a very linear world that needs things one after the next, whereas, you can perceive reality to be happening simultaneously, and so, that was the big challenge when we built Brooklyn Bowl, people said ‘how will you have bowling, and music, and food all at the same time? That’s not going to work.’ And if you focus enough on the experience and focus enough on the feel and focus enough on how all of these elements are going to integrate, then I do think that level of simultaneity works and The Bowl obviously has only proven the fact.L4LM: What makes NYC and Panorama the perfect place for this vision?JB: Well, [festival promoters] AEG and Goldenvoice brought the catalyst of this idea to me. They wanted to create a festival that celebrates creative technology as a high form of art. That’s what Meta is predicated on, and I think that’s ultimately why they came to me, and the reason why I won the job in the end. I was able to create a story that includes not only the artists that we (Meta) rep but our competitors. I brought in people that we are normally pitching against to be a greater part of this community. I think that’s incredibly exciting; there’s a sea change happening around this, and that sea change is elevating creative technologists to the level of talent, and AEG wanted that. So we built that, then we took that same message to HP [Hewlett Packard], and HP is into that, so, this is kind of big. I’ve been in this for a long time and never seen so many partners so willing to tell this story…Quickly, back to your question about what it isn’t, it isn’t a festival activation where you’re going to walk out of there going ‘well that was cool, but who the hell did all of that?’ I think that’s one of the biggest problems that we solve on a daily basis at META.is, and especially at The Lab. We’re putting extensive lengths to make sure you know who these artists are. All the talent will have what we’re calling ‘exhibition pods’ on-site, so every single exhibit has a free standing structure that talks about the talent, that shows their reel, that shows content, that has their bio, and that’s a level up on how this type of talent normally gets treated, especially when they’re up against music.L4LM: Do you see this as being a new trend in festivals, or do you think that this is something that is specific to a festival like a Panorama or a company like an AEG who can get behind it. JB: Yeah! I think it has to be, I think the market’s going to demand it, I think that creative technologists are the next rock stars, and if festivals don’t catch up with that then they’re going to get left in the dust.I want to be clear, this isn’t just different for the sake of different, but telling a colloquial story that’s relative to the region that the festival is being built in. Coachella can only exist in the California desert, period. And Panorama could only exist in New York City, and that’s the idea, that they’re reflective of each other. It’s not just a stage with musicians performing on it like some of the other events that happen in New York on this scale. There’s a story, there’s a thread, we’re pulling together a community based around a narrative, and that narrative is: creative technology is amazing, and it’s time to respect that, and make it a quintessential part of the festival experience. And this came from AEG, this was their mandate, it’s not like I pitched them on that idea and that’s why it’s so exciting, because they want to tell that story. They don’t want to just have a genre-specific festival, they don’t want to have just a few headliners and throw up a stage in a parking lot. They want to tell a story, and I’m pretty blessed to have the opportunity to help tell that story.L4LM: A lot of information has been released about The Lab, including the artists involved, the pieces they are making, etc., and it seems well curated with thought provoking pieces. Are there any surprises in store for people who make their way to The Lab?JB: Maybe! There’s only one way to find out! How cool would it be to have a surprise DJ set in a 360-degree, immersive video dome? L4LM: It would be pretty cool!JB: Well I think that would be pretty awesome. Whether or not that happens, who knows?The Cotton Candy Theremin in the exhibition is kind of like that that but it’s not going to be a surprise, it’s publicized. We’ll probably release set times for it and everything.L4LM: What are you most excited about for The Lab?JB: The thing I’m most excited for is just getting all of the humans that are involved in this thing in one space together, I mean, these guys are known for their work, but the collective consciousness of the eleven different studios that are involved with this thing all in one place resonating together, that’s really exciting.L4LM: What music are you looking forward to seeing at Panorama? Can we expect to see any of The Lab’s amazing artists collaborating with any musicians on the festival lineup?JB: Well, I hope so, that would be awesome, surely it’s a great opportunity for all of the artists involved with this project, but that remains to be seen.In terms of music, obviously LCD Soundsystem should go without saying, one of my all time favorite bands, one of the best live bands ever, I believe, and I like to dance. So, that’ll be awesome.Honestly I think it’s the best lineup of the summer, headliners on down, and I’m not just saying that. How much music I’ll be able to see, I’m not so sure. I want to see FKA Twigs, I’m very excited about that, and also I haven’t seen Alabama Shakes since they played Brooklyn Bowl many, many years ago.L4LM: Besides Panorama, what other festivals stick out to you as being technology-forward?JB: I was just in Barcelona for Sonar, which is the best example, and they do it so right. They have daytime activities that shine a spotlight on creative technologists, on people using creative technology to build new instruments, on the digital side of the music game, they had a whole VR area, and at night they premier new stage designs, pair together visual and musical talent and they do it on a grand scale with the most amazing vibes. So Sonar wins, thus far. I really like what Moog Fest is doing…Day For Night is doing a really nice job at this down in Houston. But there’s a lot of room, there’s a lot of room to bring creative technology into the live music and experiential festival space. L4LM: As one of the original people involved with the project, and one of the key designers of the fan experience at Brooklyn Bowl, do you have any stories that stand out in your head?JB: The thing that sticks out most about The Bowl, led by Mr. [Peter] Shapiro and Charley Ryan, who are the masters of this, but every single thing about Brooklyn Bowl was created for your experience. I have this one anecdote where, there’s the wall that separates the lanes from the general admission area, and there’s the big screens at the end of the lanes. We built that wall to the height that we had specified, and we stood in the middle of the general admission area, and noticed that the wall was blocking the bottom quarter or so of the screens up on the lanes. And we literally ripped the wall out and re-built it to be low enough for an averaged height person to be able to see the screens from the GA. And I have one hundred more stories like that that surely highlights how every square pixel of that place was thought through and re-thought through based on how it would feel for the attendee to be in that room. From the content that’s on the screens to the nature of the branding, the consistency of the branding, the environmental design, I mean every single thing; it was an Apple-like approach to a venue, and I don’t know that there’s many venues out there that took that many detail to focus on the quality of your experience. That’s why we got hired originally to do that job, we share in that desire to uphold quality, but also that continues to inspire me to this day, to deliver that level of quality for attendees. Experience is everything, that’s what we do; Experience first, make money later. Shaprio has built an empire with that philosophy, and it’s as genuine and authentic as anything I’ve seen in the business world.L4LM: What was it like working for Phish? I know you’re a huge Phish fan, and were lucky enough to help organize the video that played before Festival 8’s Exile on Main Street set. Can you tell me a little bit about the process involved in collaborating on something so important with Phish?JB: It was crazy, I mean, we did the entire video that opened for Phish at festival 8 for their Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street in about 3 weeks. That year they did that really amazing marketing campaign where they built this online portal that had 99 different classic record covers with haunted, Halloween style music. And every day, you’d check back and a dagger would fly out and kill three or four of the records, leaving only ten left by the end of the month. At the time I was representing video-remix-DJs Eclectic Method, and I had this idea to have all 99 albums-worth of content remixed into a video that would open up the show. And it’s one of those insanely rare opportunities and cold-pitch, and push a project through. First of all, the [non-disclosure agreement] I signed to be able to be told what the cover-album was, was like first-born child level; I didn’t even tell my wife what it was, true story, It was that protective. So, we made it happen, and the whole process was done within less than three weeks, maybe two-and-a-half weeks, and that’s collecting 99 pieces of video content all relating to 99 albums. We had twelve people and a massive spreadsheet for people to search everywhere for content, DVDs, YouTube, etc., and it was a huge undertaking in and of itself just to source the content. There are three guys in Eclectic Method; each took a chunk, and they created a masterpiece. That video they made in the time they made it, with the pressure and everything else was just an extraordinary piece of work. Funnily enough, it is ended up accidentally being four minutes and twenty seconds long, and I’ll take that as a happy accident.Two big things: the whole thing was done through management, I was never allowed to talk directly to the band (which, as a huge head, was probably the reason that they did that) and the second thing is that they reserve the right to not do it, that was part of their contract that, if, on the day of show, they didn’t wanna do this thing they didn’t have to. So, I flew out to Festival 8, handed the DVD to [Jason] Colton [ed. note: one of Phish’s managers] on Saturday the day of the show, and it’s like ‘alright, taking the final back to the band’, and I didn’t find out if they had approved it until 3:00pm that afternoon, and that night, it happened. And let me tell you, it was an out of body experience, the whole thing. I didn’t even have the capacity to enjoy it because it was such a surreal thing. I think my favorite memory At 3pm I get the text that “it’s on” and that night it happened.L4LM: Do you have any thoughts on Phish’s new LED Rig?JB: I think if there’s one band in the world that doesn’t need LED lights, it’s Phish, and I think that addition does not equal evolution. I would say that true creativity is taking things away until all that’s left is the essentials, and I don’t think there’s anything essential in this rig. But, if they are here to stay, I think there is a wide-open canvas with-which to produce very high-level content.Enter To Win A Pair Of 3-Day GA Passes To Panorama NYC!
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