Q&A WITH BRETT, PETE & TIG (THE FOUNDERS OF SUGAR MOUNTAIN)
1. Congratulations on the release of the 2017 line-up! Is that a massive weight off your shoulders.. or have you just poked the bear..?
Big thanks, and thumbs up! Honestly it’s a bit of both.
As soon as we announce, that’s when it all feels real. Instead of talking about it and thinking about how it is going to be received, we are very much in motion with the most important week of the entire campaign.
2. Can you tell us how the original idea for Sugar Mountain came together?
Our main goal from day one was to always find the natural meeting point between musical and visual art. We were searching for something that we wanted to go to - after some time pondering and making light of doing it ourselves, we took the leap of faith.
3. Were you avid festival punters prior to owning your own?
We have all been to one million shows and definitely our fair share of festivals. As our bodies get older, it is definitely harder to get to everything out there. Everything we have been to has definitely shaped what we wanted to create with SM.
Just focusing on home grown festivals, we have had a couple of special moments at Meredith and Golden Plains over the years - seeing 'Eddy Current Suppression Ring' this year was definitely at the top of the list.
4. A lot of work goes into an event like Sugar Mountain. Where do you begin? Is each year driven by a concept or theme?
It is always hard to explain how it starts, or where it starts from, but we now have constant momentum all year round. We physically can’t work from one festival to the next - some elements take a couple of years to come together. We find that we can pitch on artists for one year and then have to wait two years for it to come to fruition. We always just try and book and create what we love, constantly thinking about how we would want to celebrate the experience.
We try and stay away from themes - visually there is always a core aesthetic that ties in the visual artists and musically we are always considering how the day evolves and how that soundtrack shapes the festivals environment.
Diversity is important; our tastes are all so diverse - even between the three of us, it is very much an internal pitching process.
5. The line-up is a mix of genres, across both music and visual artists. What’s the selection process like?
It’s hard to look back and think about how everything comes together – sometimes things take 3 years to lock in and others take 2 weeks. Most importantly we have a few superstitions… which we have definitely learnt the hard way (don’t laugh, they are real).
We always make sure that once an offer is in on an artist we cant talk about the offer, we cant listen to the their music or show anyone their body of work.
6. Sugar Mountain’s niche approach to combining music and arts has created a whole new festival experience. What are the challenges to successfully showcasing all the different mediums?
We have always tried to showcase the musical and visual art on the same platform - equally as important to the other and when shared together it can create a very special experience.
The most challenging elements are time, the space and trying create an experience that has to exist in real life - conceptually and throughout the creative development process everything can sound and look amazing but having to make it actually happen can be very difficult.
7. You guys have chosen to champion the culinary experience by introducing ‘Sensory’. Can you explain what this is, and how it works?
To digress a little - the eating and drinking considerations are as important to curating the other parts of the festival. What you eat and what you drink impact on your day more than anything else, we feel that we wouldn’t be doing our jobs properly or the punter justice if we didn’t give them a first class offering.
Now, back to Sensory.
We see food as art. We wanted to create an experience that pushed three artists from differing disciplines to create something that was completely unique. Unique to what they would normally create and to what the Sensory-goer would normally experience.
This is what really excites us as a team - seeing the artists being challenged. Food has an amazing ability to connect people and experiences - it definitely underpins Sensory.
8. How are the table manners at ’Sensory’?
It was very interesting to watch how people interacted with the spatial environment once being seated last year - it really wasn’t until five minutes into the sitting that people began to relax. Once settled, it felt and sounded very much like a restaurant.
9. Would ‘Sensory’ be a good place to go on a Tinder date?
10. Have you considered touring Sugar Mountain nationally, or even internationally?
We have always talked about it - Melbourne is very much its home.
11. Do you guys get to enjoy what you have created?
We all have different experiences on the day – we do make sure we take some time to check out what we have created… it can be very hard to enjoy it and be in the moment, but watching other people enjoy it is even better.
After the show, it’s the afterparty….. then the next day we have to be back on-site. Always pretty sore.
12. Have you ever seen a punter do the ‘Melbourne Shuffle’ at Sugar Mountain?
I haven’t but if someone was to do it on Boiler Room, a lazy one million people would see it on the live feed across the interwebs - you would hope it was good.
13. For anyone who hasn’t been to Sugar Mountain, what can they expect?
A day that is completely curated - a mix of music, visual art and food with something new around every corner, in an environment that is inclusive and welcoming.