Why you’ll find us at Lightning in a Bottle: An interview with The Do LaB's Dede Flemming

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Photo: Daniel Zetterstrom

For anyone who’s been to Coachella, you’ll understand the appeal of the Do LaB as a place of zen from the rest of the festival. Enclosed by a number of Seuss-like pods called squigs (think spiraling, multi-colored pine trees), Do Lab is both a meeting and melding point that offers peace of mind to relax from the music and encounter something… different. It comes as no surprise that Lightning in a Bottle, a 5-day music, wellness, and arts experience put on by the Do LaB’s organizers at the San Antonio Recreation area, is akin to the ship inside the bottle that Do LaB represents. 

If you’re looking for a festival that offers an amazing musical lineup, promotes sustainability, and also features art, creative space, and the encouragement to encounter your inner self (or to consider for the first time what that even means) you should highly consider attending Lightning in a Bottle. 

Top 7 reasons to go

1. If you’ve been worn so utterly thin over the festival experience that all of them start bleeding into one giant, uncomfortable, dust-choked memory. 

2. You’re sick of all the bros, exclusivity, and overall clique-ishness at festivals.

3. If the fact that the LIB website has a “Headresses and Appropriation” consideration section is a big win in your books.

4. If recycling and meditating and yoga make sense to you… or if you’ve been intrigued by any of them and think it’s time to see what they might be about.  

5. If taking seminars on topics like forward-thinking economics and human consciousness sounds like a really good use of your vacation time. 

6. If you have a creative, romantic, zany, wild artistic side that you’ve been secretly longing to tap into.

7. A little musical lineup that includes Moby, Little Dragon, Ryan Hemsworth, Phantogram, Baauer, Gold Panda, Simian Mobile Disco, Chet Faker, and more…

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Check out our interview with Dede Flemming, ⅓ of Lightning in a Bottle’s founding brothers, and see for yourself why this festival might open your mind in big ways.

Congratulations on your 10 year anniversary! What was your vision for Lightning in a Bottle when you decided to expand it beyond a birthday party for your brothers?

Lightning in a Bottle was a birthday party for many years, we always had a desire to go a little bigger and we were just starting to figure out who we were, and had just started The Do LaB. So we rolled the dice in 2004 and threw a 24-hour party in the mountains. It wasn’t really to make money but to test the waters; then we had a great time and loved it, and we decided we wanted to make a proper music festival out of it. We were always inspired by Burning Man and were doing work out of Coachella – so we took the year off in 2005 in hopes of finding a nice venue to do that. In 2006, we had what we called the first festival.

What do you hope for newcomers to Do LaB to take away from Lightning in a Bottle, or even just the Do Lab experience at Coachella and Burning Man?

We always aim to inspire: what we’re doing is so creative and off the wall and defies so many things. We want people to come in and see that and just be thrown back by it and let people know that things like this do exist and that things like this can happen - and that you can be a part of them. Whether you’re part of it with us, or if it inspires you to go home and be like “I’m gonna do that thing I’ve been wanting to do all these years.” We see so many people around us stuck in a trap, a rat race; whatever it is, they’re not completely happy with their lives. We want to show them you can do what you love and do the things to make you happy. Not to say that it’s easy, but really to open peoples’ minds and inspire them to look at life a little different and try to create some change.

Any post festival advice for Lightning in a Bottle goers about acting on that inspiration?

A lot of people reach out to us like “I saw you at Coachella” or “I saw you at Lightning in a Bottle” - kind of at a loss for words. They don’t know what was triggered in them but something was, and they’re trying to figure it out. We can really shake people at their core. And they just realize the path they’re on isn’t the right one because we just showed them something different. What we tell them is: “Get involved.” Whether it’s with us or someone else, simply get involved with something. That’s really what got us to where we are: our friends and team around us. I’ve always been a proponent of friends quitting their jobs and getting into the arts. We’d throw a party for friends quitting and treating it as a celebration.

You should be enjoying what you’re doing most of the time. That’s kind of been our approach. But we are also clear that it is a struggle. And you either have it in you or you don’t - and that’s fine! There’s ways to be creative and involved without quitting your job. There’s no answer to it because we’re still doing it living it making up answers as we go.

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Photo: Watchara Phomicinda

Speaking from a general event coordinator standpoint, how has your idea of a “good party” changed over the years?

Well it has to go with the flow. You can never stick with one thing and keep repeating it and repeating it because people want change – music, art, creativity evolves. You have to pay attention to your surroundings listen to feedback, and stick to your guns with your core values and vision and adapt to what’s going on around you. There’s some goofy stuff at our festival and it’s only there because a few of us are really passionate about it, and that’s why it is going to continue being there. 

What do you look for in artists you collaborate with for Do Lab/LIB

If it’s cool, it’s cool. If it’s inspiring it is. It doesn’t matter who you are or your background or what other stuff you’ve done. One big thing we do go after is art that has an interactive element to it. What we’re focusing on now is themed areas, interactive areas that are character-driven where people can go and get lost and stumble upon something random and have some cool interaction. Static art to look at is important, but we want to get more things for people to interact with and get lost in.

The Playa at Burning Man is another planet in itself, will you be bringing The Do LaB there this year?

No plans right now. We are working on hopefully launching a new festival this fall called Into The Wild, so we’re putting our energy there this moment.

For the future of The Do LaB – what do you have in mind?

Each part of what we do is kind of tapping into the energy of the people who come to our events. It’s more than just taking our stuff out and putting it up, we put a bunch of pieces of the puzzle together, but the collective energy of the audience really creates the magic. The energy might not be right if we just went to Portugal or London and had a crowd who’d heard of us show up. We want to kind of just growing a little bit and see where we go in the future.

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