Ultra Cofounder Russell Faibisch Talks Expansion Plans and Making Peace With WMC
|Photo by Ian Witlen|
In 2011, the festival has ballooned into a three-day monstrosity with over 200 acts and an expected attendance of 150,000. If that wasn't crazy enough, this year's edition of Ultra sold out 34 days before the actual event.
It's hard to believe the small party started by Russell Faibisch and Alex Omes on the sands of South Beach has managed thwart off competitors -- Bang and Global Gathering -- and become the unofficial kickoff to the music festival season in the United States.
But speaking with Faibisch, co-founder, president, and executive producer of Ultra, all this overwhelming success doesn't mean that the festival is ready to dismiss WMC. He's willing to keep the lines of communications open for 2012. And that's not all. He's willing to hear you out on who else needs to rattle downtown Miami.
New Times: Why the expansion to three-days? Considering there are plenty of parties happening well after Ultra shuts down every night, do you worry attendees might wear themselves out?
Russell Faibisch: It was a combination of an overwhelming demand by the fans for more, and from so many different artists that want to play Ultra. Some other major U.S. music festivals have had success with this format over the past couple years. The timing felt right, so we decided to make the move and we have become the world's first ever major electronic music festival to go three days and completely sell out in advance.
How much preparation goes into putting on an event the size of Ultra?
We prepare for this all year long. Actually, we're already working on 2012. A lot of planning goes into building this festival and more than two weeks in the park to construct it. It takes an amazing team to make this happen. I'm thankful to have the best production manager in the business, Ray Steinman, and a business manager/partner, Adam Russakoff, who has mastered the art of talent buying.
|Photo by Ian Witlen|
The lineup this year might be one of the most diverse ones in recent memory. However, there are some out there that would like to keep this a DJ-only event. Do you think diversity is key to the festival's success?
Ultra has always been a very diverse electronic music festival, especially since 2006. Programming the lineup each year is one of the biggest, most important challenges for me. There are hundreds of DJs on the lineup. That will never change. The live element has an essential place in electronic music, and Ultra is the only electronic music festival you will find with this mixture of high-profile DJs and headline bands. There is nothing like having the rare opportunity to experience a live performance from the likes of the Chemical Brothers, Underworld, or Röyksopp on a massive festival stage. When booking crossover headline bands like the Cure, the Killers, Black Eyed Peas, Bloc Party, and Duran Duran, we are very careful only to invite artists that either have a history of influencing electronic music through the years, or who are now incorporating electronic elements in their music.