The DoLab is a feeling as much as it is a business, a community as much as it is a company.
Lightning in a Bottle, the L.A.-based production company's signature event, is an annual four-day music and arts festival that facilitates as much personal transformation, conscious thought and sustainability awareness as it does all out deep beat dance floor throw downs. And it does do both, brilliantly and with an ethos of open-mindedness, inclusion, (there is no VIP area), unhinged self-expression and rich artistry that elevates the event from a standard festival to an experience that has been described by many attendees as nothing short of life changing.
LiB 2012 starts this Thursday, May 24, and boasts a lineup of big name electronic DJ/producers including Bassnectar and The Glitch Mob as well as a host of speakers including Agape Spiritual Center founder Reverend Michael Beckwith, author and futurist Barbara Marx Hubbard, as well as a packed schedule of yoga classes, local music, live paintings, a mass meditation and an array of lectures and workshops on topics ranging from ecstatic dance to beer making to interplanetary politics. Winner of the Outstanding Greener Festival Award for the last two years, Lightning in a Bottle attracts an eclectic, intergenerational crowd of 12,000 plus.
At the helm of this operation are the Flemming brothers, Dede and twins Jesse and Josh. The DoLaB's founding trio leads a 75-person strong collective of artists, builders, musicians, and other creative types in the execution of Lightning in a Bottle as well as the DoLaB's annual stage at Coachella, (the one near the back of the field with the fire dancing and dubstep), the DoLaB Presents nights at the King King in Hollywood, and other myriad creative installations in southern California and beyond.
Here, the Flemmings talk about connecting a worldwide collective of artists, living in Venice and redefining the life of the party.
Want in on the action? Enter for a chance to win a pair of tickets to this weekend's Lightning in a Bottle by tweeting what you most want to check out at the festival to @HuffPostLA and @libfestival.
CHECK OUT THE Q&A IN THE SLIDES BELOW:
<strong>What drew you guys to Los Angeles?</strong> <u>Jesse</u>: We grew up in a small country town in Pennsylvania called Morgantown. You could reach over the fence in our yard and pet cows. It was beautiful. Amish people. Horse and buggies. When we were teenagers we were starting to get a little bit restless. We needed a bit more stimulation. I decided to move to LA in '98 or '99, just to get away. Josh came a year and a half later and then Dede a year and a half after Josh. Originally we all wanted to get into the TV and film business. Coming from the east coast, the whole Hollywood thing was really attractive. <u>Dede</u>: We didn't know what we wanted to do, but the entertainment industry was appealing to us. We've been entertaining since we were kids. I think our first party was Flemmstock '94. We turned our back porch into a stage and had our cousin and our friend's cover band play the party. From there we always entertained with parties when our parents would leave town. That just evolved into what we do now. <em>Photo (L-R): The Flemming brothers, Jesse, Dede and Josh</em>
<strong>How did you make the transition into event production?</strong> <u>Jesse</u>: When I came out here, I didn't know anybody. [A friend was] throwing a mountain rave party one weekend and invited me to come. [We] drove up to the mountains and ended up having an amazing time and meeting a bunch of people who are still very close friends of ours. That got us started in the party world here. That summer, I called Josh and said, 'hey I want to do this mountain party for our birthday party in July' and these guys both flew out, and we threw what was the first Lightning in a Bottle. It started as a birthday party 13 years ago. There were 150 people there, and it was the beginning of us doing events out here. <em>Photo: Coachella 2012</em>
<strong>How do you define what the DoLaB does now?</strong> <u>Dede</u>: It's multifaceted. We obviously focus on the festival. We have the creative structure and design element, and we have the DoLaB presents, which is the shows we do in Hollywood. Those three areas make the company what it is today. <u>Josh</u>: In a business sense, but what I feel like the DoLaB really is, and what we really do, is we're a hub for a much larger community all over the west coast and the country and even the world. We're kind of like a large umbrella that helps support visual artists and painters and musicians, all types of creators. We've built this thing that the sole purpose of, really, is to support the artists. <em>Photo: Coachella 2012</em>
<strong>Where do you find the artists, musicians and people you collaborate with?</strong> <u>Dede</u>: We don't really source them; they just find us. We do what we do best, which is just coming up with crazy ideas and trying to make them come to life, and people see that and they feed off of our energy and then they come along for the ride. We're creating a large community as we go. They want to be part of something special and jump on board and grow with us. They're part of our family. <em>Photo: Lightning in a Bottle 2011</em>
<strong>Does the company have a family vibe?</strong> <u>Dede</u>: Absolutely. The people that work with us are also our best friends. At the end of the day, we're going to finish a project and then go out and have dinner together or go on vacation together. Photo: Lightning in a Bottle 2011
<strong>How does being in Los Angeles facilitate what you do?</strong> <u>Josh</u>: Most of the people in this city moved here from some other place like we did, because they're after something. They want to create something. They want to do something. It's a city full of producers. Being here makes it really easy for us to do what we do, because everyone we work with has adopted a mentality of 'I can do this' and has drive. It's awesome and it really helps us accomplish what we're trying to accomplish, because people aren't trying to work for eight hours and go home to watch TV; they're trying to do whatever it takes to make something come to life. <em>Photo: Coachella 2012</em>
<strong>The crowd at Lightning in a Bottle is incredibly diverse. How do you define your demographic? Who is attracted to your events?</strong> <u>Dede</u>: Open minded people. <u>Jesse</u>: The age range of the demographic is unheard of. It goes from 18 years old to 60 years old. The audience is made up of doctors, lawyers, artists. There are poor people; there are rich people; there are educated people; there are uneducated people. It's people who are looking for a creative lifestyle. People who aren't conforming to society. People who are just generally open and accepting of other people. They're friendly. They're loving. They're kind. It's an amazing community, and it really is something special, and it's growing tremendously every year. It's amazing to be a part of it. <em>Photo: Lightning in a Bottle 2011</em>
<strong>The events you do at the King King are fairly different than most everything else happening on Hollywood Boulevard. What does the DoLaB contribute to the Hollywood club scene?</strong> <u>Dede</u>: We don't go to the Hollywood club scene as it stands now, because it's not for us. It's not wrong, it's not right; it's just not for us. So what we do is bring the kind of music and the community element that we're into to Hollywood. We bring our crowd and our friends and just open the door for a passerby to come in and see something different. <u>Jesse</u>: The events that we put on in Hollywood are really not that different in terms of the fact that there's music and dancing and lights and a club and a bar. It's the energy of the people that's different. <em>Photo: Lightning in a Bottle 2011</em>
<strong>Do you feel like you're having a slow ripple effect on society at large via your events and the people you're affecting through them?</strong> <u>Dede</u>: Absolutely. That's our goal, and we see it more and more. <u>Josh</u>: In the middle of the thing we have our heads down and are just focusing on what we do, but we hear from people every day that our work, mainly Lightning in a Bottle, has changed their lives. It opens their eyes. They say, 'it blew my mind. I had no idea this kind of thing existed.' That's what happened to us years ago when we went to our first big festival out here. It's life changing. <u>Dede</u>: With LiB, I've always kind of dubbed it the 70/30 rule. The majority of the festival is people who are part of this large community, and thirty percent are those who have never seen it before. Our goal is to convert that thirty percent, the minority, into coming back next year with a different attitude in the way that they go about their daily lives throughout the year, and we see it all the time. <u>Josh</u>: I was ordering some parts in Compton this morning before I got here and gave the guy my email with @theDoLaB and he saw it and said, 'oh my god you're part of the DoLaB! I saw you at Coachella. You guys were amazing.' He's working at an ATV parts supply store in Compton. It seems so far removed from our community, but he was touched by what we were doing. He was excited. <em>Photo: Coachella 2012</em>
<strong>What do you do that people get so excited about?</strong> <u>Josh</u>: I really think that we are doing something so unique and different, and we have a great attitude about it. It's not ego or anything, we just like to inspire, people, and people feel that. People see that anything is possible. <u>Dede</u>: When people see us at Coachella, they see everyone that's dancing onstage and hanging out. It's not like the beautiful people handpicked out of the crowd that you see at other areas. These are the people that built it. No one is onstage saying, 'dude get off.' It's not the just cool kids or the pretty people. We don't exclude. People that want to be involved, it doesn't matter who you are or how much of a geek you are, we're going to embrace you, and you're going to provide something that's amazing for someone else and celebrate that. I think people in the crowd at Coachella see that, and they can grasp onto that and think, 'I can do that too. That's me up there.' It inspires them to be that much more creative and go after what they want to go after, whether it's artistic and creative, or whether it's quitting your job and doing something else that you want to do. We inspire that kind of open minded, spirited energy. <em>Photo: Coachella 2012</em>
<strong>2012 was the DoLaB's eighth year putting an installation up at Coachella. How did the collaboration with festival start?</strong> <u>Jesse</u>: Years ago, we submitted a proposal for a project and ten days before the festival it got accepted and we scrambled to make it happen. We were really into music and throwing parties so we kind of snuck some speakers in with us and had some of our friends play music inside the festival and it turned into this little party in the middle of the field, and the Coachella producers saw it and they were like, 'okay this is actually pretty cool. You guys can do it again next year, except go a little bit bigger.' So we did. <u>Dede</u>: They didn't necessarily say to go a little bit bigger, but they did say, 'you can do what you did last year,' but then they overbooked one of their stages and asked if they could put two of their artists in our dome. We said yeah, and they gave us bigger speakers and more lights to accommodate their artists. That was kind of the thrust we needed to go full on. <u>Jesse</u>: It's grown from there every year and has gotten bigger and bigger to where it's turned into an official unofficial stage. <em>Photo: Coachella 2012</em>
<strong>What part of LA is home for you guys?</strong> <u>Jesse</u>: We all live together in Venice. We moved there because it was the furthest from the reality that we were living in for a long time. We had a warehouse in downtown LA, right in the heart of the artist district. We lived downtown for maybe eight years, in the warehouse. <u>Dede</u>: To do what we were doing, we rolled the dice, quit our jobs and lived off the little bits of money we could pull in here and there. That meant pretty rugged living. <u>Jesse</u>: The only way we could afford to have the warehouse where we built everything was to live in it. We did it for a long time. It was dirty and filthy with bad air, super unhealthy. Eventually when we got to the point where we could go somewhere else, it was like, 'we want to go to the beach.' <u>Dede</u>: We're all kind of beach people. Venice is quiet, chill, relaxing, a perfect fit. <em>Photo: Lightning in a Bottle 2011</em>
<strong>Where do you go out there?</strong> <u>Josh</u>: We go to Venice Ale House a lot, Venice Beach Wines and Wurstküche. <u>Dede</u>: I spend most of my mealtime at Pitfire. <u>Jesse</u>: Library Alehouse. <em>Photo: Lightning in a Bottle 2011</em>
<strong>What's on the horizon for the DoLaB?</strong> <u>Josh</u>: Everything we're doing right now is great, but the ultimate goal for me is to purchase property large enough to build a permanent festival infrastructure. We want to actually own property and start building out our vision of what a festival ground should look like and do the whole thing from scratch and do it our way. We're a couple years off from that, but that's definitely one of the goals. <u>Dede</u>: We're expanding the festival with a new event this October called Rise and Shine. That's going to be a different kind of festival. <u>Josh</u>: It's going to be more like a conscious living gathering, less party and more education. We're all getting a little bit older, and our crew is getting older. We're not as interested in throwing parties as much as we have been. We really want to get more into intentional gatherings and a more conscious festival and see if we can go to the next level with the community. <u>Dede</u>: We're starting to get to a phase where we're trying to figure out exactly what we want to put our energy towards, and it's going to steer away from doing these big projects for other people and put time into our projects and push the message we're trying to push. <strong>What do you do to relax? </strong> <u>Dede</u>: Travel, read. Not go to a club or a music festival, that's for sure. <em>Photo: Lightning in a Bottle 2011</em>
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