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L4LM Talks With Zach Levy and Jules Jenssen, Founders Of The Big Up

first_imgThe Big Up Festival is just around the corner! This year’s festival features not only top notch live acts like Beats Antique, Escort, Kung Fu, and Dopapod, but an amazing overall experience, including a bustling community filled with vendors, yoga, and like minded music fans coming together for one of the best and most intimate festivals of the summer. We had a chance to chat with the festival’s founders, Zach Levy and Jules Jenssen, who gave us a behind the scenes look into how the festival has all come together.L4LM: Can you tell us a little bit about The Big Up’s history and formation?JULES: It was really the combination of two visions becoming greater than the sum of their parts. My crew from the Berkshires, Ruralliance Productions, combining with Zach’s company (Numberline Productions) became Shireworks Productions. It was a match made in heaven because each team filled in the gaps. For example where one was strong in production, the other was strong in promotion. All those things paired with a unified vision of what makes great events led to what we have today.L4LM: How has the festival grown since its first year?JULES: Comfortably yet strong. We have doubled our numbers from every year to the next. Starting at a modest number meant there was time to grow before it got too big to handle. People who’ve attended each one will reinforce the notion that it was always big enough that it didn’t feel too small/lackluster, but it also maintains an intimate, boutique vibe. Although this will be the biggest one to date, it will still have that vibe.L4LM: What are some of the best aspects of Hemlock Hollow Farm?ZACH: Expanded woods camping and the natural layout of the land. Plus the owner of Hemlock Hollow has been absolutely awesome to work with.JULES: Location wise, it’s closer off the Taconic Parkway, which is definitely nice. I love the stadium style hill on the main concert field and it’s not as long of a commute to the stages as it was for people in lower camping in years past, and as Zach said, AWESOME woods. The owner is also the man and we are so grateful for his willingness to work with us and help make this event great.L4LM: How is the line up designed each year? Which genres are focused on?JULES: It starts with a huge brainstorm of everything that we think embodies the spirit of TBU. The main factor being that they put on a great live show. A lot of it is music that we love and listen to on a regular basis. That fact alone really helps us get as excited about it as we want everyone else to be. Finding headlining acts that aren’t fully electronic and aren’t fully live band is definitely difficult, but we believe it is a necessity because it exemplifies the crossover of genres and styles that we seek to showcase in an environment that can take very different genres of music and make them work together in context. We are very pleased with the range of styles we have in store for this year, and we don’t attempt to strictly follow any particular genre. Great music, great live shows, and finding things that AREN’T at every other festival this summer is the common thread between all the acts more than any genre label.L4LM: What are some are some of the unique attractions outside of the music at The Big Up?JULES: Obviously music is the centerpiece that brings our community together, but there is definitely more to be seen and pARTicipated in. Comedy puppetry, top chef cook-off, yoga, art workshops, and DEFINITELY the music workshops. Consider the Source and Jojo Mayer and Jon Davis from Nerve will both be doing workshops at TBU. These will be an awesome look into the process behind some of the gnarliest tunes in the scene. However, overall, the community vibe and people harmoniously becoming a larger organism is a beautiful thing that gets me very excited.L4LM: Is there anything brand new for this year that attendees shouldn’t miss?ZACH: Rock Star Karaoke with our friends MUN. They have learned 40-50 songs for 10-20 fans to get up and be superstars for a few minutes.JULES: The workshops are a must for any musician or fan for sure. The costume contest/theme nights should be pretty hilarious and visually awesome. Star Wars vs Star Trek vs Spaceballs!!??? May the Schwartz be with YOU!!L4LM: Which musicians on this year’s lineup are you personally excited for?ZACH: I’m stoked for Kung Fu’s “Prince” tribute set. My wife got me really into Prince many years ago and she is the best so I am happy to have this come together for her. Beats Antique has been playing amazing shows lately and Party Supplies is going to be awesome.JULES: Oh man…. SOOO many. If I had to pick 3 (which is REALLY hard) I would say- Escort- this will be the sexiest dance party of the summer, guaranteed. Holy Fuck- Best show I saw at Camp Bisco last summer, and simply put, some of the coolest tunes out there. The mix of raw organic sounds with the psychedelic, and at times DFA sounding grooves are going to have first timers and people who’ve seen them many times all saying the band’s name…. Finally, Nerve w/ Jojo Mayer. As a drummer, this is both an honor to have at my event, and a total drummer nerd out because Jojo is one of the greatest drummers who has ever lived and is a huge influence on my playing. Getting an inside look at these guys getting scientific on stage is any drummers wet dream. Expect a large group of drummers to congregate at the front of the stage and simultaneously drop their jaws. We may need to hire a few more clean-up staff to get all those jaws off the floor!!L4LM: Can you talk about The Big Up’s focus on artwork?JULES: Art has always been a big part of what makes TBU what it is. We have always prided ourselves in having unique, yet recognizable art work that is undeniably TBU. From the flyers, to the website, to the merch. Art is how we impart our flavor on the things we do and the messages we put out. If the flyer is the first thing someone who doesn’t know TBU encounters, when it looks as cool as ours does it really helps make the right first impression; and as you know, the first impression is the one that lasts. Too many times festivals slack and skimp on the details in these places. We have always made it a priority and people realize it. The same focus will be visible onsite with the art installations, and general look and feel of the event.L4LM: What sort of changes were made during the one year hiatus the festival took in 2012 in order to ensure the best possible experience this year?ZACH: We grew as human beings, tightened up our crew and hired a bunch of amazing new staff. We also made some super cool merch and found a beautiful new site. We have exciting ideas every day to ensure the best possible experience.L4LM: What can we expect from The Big Up next year?ZACH: Sustainable growth, community and the best lineup of the festival season.The Big Up takes place August 8-10 at Hemlock Hollow Farm in Claverack, New York, only two hours from Manhattan. Tickets are still on-sale through their official website.last_img read more