Camp Bisco Preview: A Discussion w/ MCP’s Kevin Earle

Words: Carla Danca

With only two weeks until the gates open at Indian Lookout Country Club in Mariaville, New York for Camp Bisco XI we took the opportunity to ask a few questions of festival organizer Meat Camp Production’s Kevin Earle. As you can see below, we were really intereste in understanding more about where the festival has come from and where it might be headed.

HIDDEN TRACK:  Over the past 11 years, there has been huge growth in the Electronic Dance Music scene and Camp Bisco has nurtured and grown along with it. The festival has also gotten mainstream attention from the Bob Lefsetz, the New York Times, and even 20/20, yet there are many who feel that the festival has moved away from its roots as a place for Disco Biscuits fans to gather. How do you balance the desires of the fans that have been coming since the beginning, while drawing in new attendees? Furthermore, the New York area has also seen an influx of other multi-day music events, does this put even more pressure on Camp to separate itself from the competition?

Kevin Earle:  The Disco Biscuits created the event in 1999 as a way to blend the traditional daytime music festival with the late night dance music culture that was becoming big around that time. We still use this formula as we [MCP Presents] book the festival. True, electronic music is on the rise and more and more music is shifting to that side of the fence, but we always try to keep our long term fans in mind and bring in acts that have been there from the beginning each year (Brother’s Past, Lotus, Sound Tribe, Umphrey’s McGee, Orchard Lounge, etc). Camp Bisco’s balance is naturally shifting towards electronic music because that is the way music is shifting as a whole, even the bands that we bring have electronic influences – LCD SoundSystem, Yeasayer, Cut Copy, Crystal Castles, etc. – because it’s what the fans want to see. We always listen to what the fans want, but it’s hard to please everyone.

[Photos by Jeremy Gordon]

As for the influx of other multi-day events in the area, we think it is great and love to have been at the forefront of this shift. Camp Bisco separates itself by booking unique and cutting edge artists, while providing the best fan experience possible. I believe the blend of bands, eclectic electronic music offerings, hip hop, and Indie rock truly separates us from the pack and will be the reason we continue to stand out amongst the other festivals out there.

HT:  In past years, Camp added the Silent Disco, additional music stages, showcased curated tents by DFA and exotic performances with fire dancers. Can you give us a sneak peak into some of the special surprises we can expect at this year’s event?

KE: It wouldn’t be a surprise if we did, now would it? I can say that our production on all stages has multiplied and our onsite art installations have been taken to the next level. We have a few more tricks up our sleeves as well. Stay tuned!

HT:  Two major changes were announced this year: an extra day to help ease traffic and an age restriction of 16+. How do you think these changes will affect fans? What led to the decision to add an age limit? You mention other traffic improvement – can you tell us more?

KE:  Our number one focus is always the overall fan experience and safety. These changes have been made as a direct result. The gates (all three of them) will open earlier this year and will make entrance into the festival smoother. The introduction of the age limit was a result of our fans asking for it and overall safety concerns. We all know that a lot of the new electronic acts bring a younger crowd and it was beginning to detract from Camp Bisco being a place for fans to gather and experience new music, which is the true heart of festival. We want to do all of this in the most enjoyable and safe way possible, hence these changes. Additionally, we have made multiple improvements to the overall site layout, traffic flow, and general facilities.

HT:  Fans at Camp Bisco have enjoyed growing acts like Skillrex, Bassnectar and Simon Posford, while other artist like K’Naan have shot into the mainstream following their appearances at Camp. Which of this year’s artists are you most excited to welcome? Is there a newcomer at one of the side stages that shouldn’t be missed?

KE:  That’s tough because there are so many! No matter what I do here I am going to leave out some stellar acts, but do not miss (in alphabetical order): Abakus, Alpha Data, Mansions on the Moon, Nobody Beats the Drum, OLIVER, Shigeto, Tycho and Zoogma. All are relatively new comers on the scene, which many fans may not know about yet. I am super excited to see them all in the Camp Bisco setting.

This year’s label curated tents will be another great spot catch some ‘next big thing’ acts. We have the Fools Gold Clubhouse, OWSLA and Ninja Tune, all with strong emerging acts, as well as several Main Stage worthy performers.

HT: And a tough one for our final question. Camp Bisco saw some of the final performances of LCD Soundsystem and Ween, it’s probably no surprise to hear that there have also been rumors of a Disco Biscuits’ break up given the infrequent touring over the past years. Can Camp go on even if tDB stop touring and making new albums? Has it become a big enough event on its own that it can sustain itself and grow into newer markets throughout the country similar to Counterpoint in Atlanta?

KE:  Behold a Pale Horse…

We don’t deal in rumors and hearsay. We tend to try to live in the now and that will be reflected in this year’s Camp Bisco. You never know what will happen tomorrow let alone next year, which is why these festivals are always so special. It is a celebration of life through music. You are able to let go and live in the moment and not worry about what is to come. I suggest that everyone follow this mantra, come to Camp Bisco 11, let go, and have the time of their lives!

BTW: CounterPoint is going to be pretty amazing as well   See you there!

HT: Thanks so much, Kevin, for your time in answering some of our questions. We are going to have to think about these answers a bit, but the truth is we can’t wait to head over to Mariaville and have some fun with the whole crew.

While VIP tickets have sold out, there’s still time to purchase general admission tickets to Camp Bisco Eleven through Ticketfly.com

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