Euphoria is Looking to Build Community 365 Days a Year [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]
Every April, tens of thousands of music lovers descend upon Carson Creek Ranch, located just seven miles outside of Austin, Texas, a.k.a. the Live Music Capitol of the World, to find their Euphoria.
Debuting in 2012, Euphoria Music Festival kicked off as a one-day event geared towards locals. Six years later, it has grown into a four-day festival boasting an impressive lineup of music, art, local bites, and interactive experiences while regularly being recognized as one of the top music festivals in the country.
With an undeniable sense of community, the vibe at Euphoria is palpable. Independently owned, Euphoria’s overall focus of creating an authentic experience beyond just seeing a powerhouse lineup, is what makes it truly unique. With workshops devoted to yoga, exploration of different mindsets, and consciously taking care of the environment, Euphoria curates a fan experience that has something for everyone. After seeing a number of its fans get engaged year after year during the festival, this year, fans can even get married on-site during the four-day event set for April 6th through 9th. Festival goers are also invited to take advantage of early entry camping on April 5th.
Derek Vincent Smith, the famed creator who helped to shift our senses to focus on the fusion of hip-hop, soul, and electronic music with his project Pretty Lights echoed this sentiment before his return in 2017:
"Euphoria is one of my favorite US festivals overall. Austin does electronic music in their own way and it feels real good playing music there...almost euphoric."
We had the chance to chat with Euphoria CEO and Founder, Mitch Morales, about his journey through music and the trials and tribulations that follow organizing a world-class festival. While Morales and his team work around the clock 365 days a year to make Euphoria a peaceful haven in the storm of our lives, there is one thing that is certain: it's a labor of love.
EDM.com: What is your background in music, how did the idea for Euphoria come about?
Mitch Morales: My background was actually in finance and business development with a number of businesses in Austin. Euphoria was born out of my passion about music and really loving the experience of festivals; the community and the energy that it created. Watching people from all over come together to experience music and festival life is something that I’d never been a part of. I fell in love with it; specifically camping festivals in 2010 with Art Outside and Shamble. Art Outside is just down the road from Carson Creek Ranch in Austin and was addicting. I’m an avid traveler, but going to festivals is a different type of travel. Going to a European city is cool from a cultural perspective, but you experience a different type of culture at camping music festivals. It's inspired by the people there and all the different things that you encounter, rather than taking in traditional history, art, etc.
Fast forward to 2012, we had a crazy idea to start a one-day festival at a horse track, then it went to two-days the next year at an amphitheater, and then moved to Carson Creek Ranch the third year and we incorporated camping. Now, the full experience is five days with early-entry camping on Wednesday. It’s been crazy. It’s been a wild journey. Really, really difficult, but also very rewarding at the same time. We’re really excited and humbled to be at the point where we are right now.
Austin of course is such a huge hub with Art Outside, Austin City Limits, SXSW…Why in particular did you decide to host Euphoria so close to Austin?
It’s where I grew up, and I’ve lived here the majority of my whole life. After having a number of experiences at other festivals around the country and the globe, I didn’t feel like that particular experience, that niche, was being catered to in Austin. We seek to create a more intense and immersive experience that you can take with you after the festival is over.
So with that sentiment and enthusiasm, what we’re really trying to do is create more opportunity for fans to find those experiences, not just in front of the stages, but the entire venue is incredibly cool. There’s a lot of little nooks and crannies, both natural and things that we bring in. If you’re only there for two and half days, you might not be able to experience them all.
You mentioned earlier that it started as a one-day festival, to a two day festival, and has grown to this behemoth as a five-day festival. What made you choose five days?
Last year, we opened on Thursday and hosted a pre-party for campers and were blown away by the amount of people that were there and the positive feedback we received. Festival goers told us that that they wanted to spend as much time at Euphoria as possible and want to continue to provide that, grow and introduce fresh ideas. Then, within a week or two, people were like, “Can’t wait to be back.” So with that sentiment and enthusiasm, what we’re really trying to do is create more opportunity for fans to find those experiences, not just in front of the stages, but the entire venue is incredibly cool. There’s a lot of little nooks and crannies, both natural and things that we bring in. If you’re only there for two and half days, you might not be able to experience them all.
We feel like the experience we’re creating shouldn’t be restricted to the lovers of one particular genre. While we do have roots in electronic music and dance-related genres, limiting ourselves to just those genres is that – it’s limiting to the connections and spreading of ideas that can happen within just one group.
When it comes to curating lineups, what are some factors that you consider? Are you hands-on with curating the talent or is it a round table discussion?
The decision making process has definitely widened over the years with a bigger team. I always have a heavy hand in it, but at the same time it’s been nice to get other people’s perspectives. This year has been an interesting one, because we’ve diversified the lineup and I’m not sure that a lot of people understand the reason. We feel like the experience we’re creating shouldn’t be restricted to the lovers of one particular genre. While we do have roots in electronic music and dance-related genres, limiting ourselves to just those genres is that – it’s limiting to the connections and spreading of ideas that can happen within just one group.
I’m extremely proud of this year’s lineup; from top to bottom, there isn’t a single name that I’m not happy about. It’s really about the journey in my opinion. If you look at the names back-to-back on each stage, think about the individual musical journey you have if you stay at a particular stage or you have the option to bounce around. You get to choose your adventure.
Is there anyone in particular that you’re most excited to have play this year?
Absolutely. I would probably have to start with Moby.
He was one of the last bookings and I don’t think any of us really expected that it would happen. And, it happened pretty quickly. When booking artists there’s often a lot of back and forth, for example, they have to figure out their touring, the right radius, and whether it’s the right fit for them. I’m excited to see what he does and for festival goers to be able to see it as well. Last year, Above & Beyond was one of my favorite to bring, and being able to share that with other people was awesome.
The little moments and connections and emotions. Maybe some people have that in there everyday life, but I certainly didn’t find that all the time, so that’s what we’re trying to do.
If you had to describe the experience of Euphoria in just a few words, what would it be?
I think it would be Sharing Community and Forming Connection with Others.
That’s what it comes down to, everything else, but for me… all the music and all the other stuff is there to help foster the real headliner - which is your completely unique and personal experience that you take away from the event. The little moments and connections and emotions. Maybe some people have that in there everyday life, but I certainly didn’t find that all the time, so that’s what we’re trying to do.
We can make a difference and you don’t have to compartmentalize all of the fun and the good that you do in weekend.
If there’s one thing that you would like Euphoria fans to take away with them on April 10th when they’re rolling out of their tents, packing up their cars and heading home, what would it be?
I think the lesson is that it doesn’t have to be limited to 3 or 4 or 5 days. We can make a difference and you don’t have to compartmentalize all of the fun and the good that you do in weekend. You can be that positive energy throughout the year and you can spread that.
Photos courtesy of Euphoria