Gathering of the Vibes founder, Ken Hays squeezed some free time in his super busy schedule for my questions ranging from home life, to festival life to anything and everything Grateful Dead. Enjoy!
What sets your festival apart from other ones this summer?
What sets Vibes from other festivals is the overwhelming sense of community. Year after year the Vibe tribe returns and its become an annual family reunion. Last year almost 2,000 kid under the age of 15 came with their parents. That is a testament of how family oriented the Vibes are and continues to be. Its really rewarding to see moms and dads and their kids hanging out with all their friends at the school of rock stage, the teen stage, or the kids corner. It is a great bonding experience for kids, parents and their friends.
How do you balance festival life with regular life?
What regular life? I don’t have one! The Vibes is in my blood. All my closest friends and immediate family work with me on putting all the pieces together a great party.
Is there a point in the festival that you allow yourself to step back and enjoy it as a fan?
Absolutely. More so now that it is our 6th consecutive year at Seaside. I’ve got an amazing team that gives me tremendous support. I let them do their jobs and they take incredible pride in each and every department be it hospitality, production, parking or security – all the different divisions of building a city of 20,000 for a weekend.
Favorite festival food?
I’m a big fan of a curry chicken pita.
I know charity and giving back is very important to you. Who is your favorite charity and why?
I don’t have a favorite but I am on the Board of Directors of Head Count. Head Count registers people on site to vote at concerts and festivals. It’s interesting because 92% of those who registered with Head Count actually went out and voted. It doesn’t matter who you vote for with Head Count as long as you go and do it. Be counted. There are so many other nonprofit causes out there that I am passionate about. That’s what I love… When I’m not doing Vibes I am doing a bunch of benefit concerts for nonprofit charities. I love raising money for charities through music.
Favorite dead tune? Terrapin Station
Favorite dead member? I can’t pick a favorite. I look at The Grateful Dead as one musical entity.
First dead show? 11/10/85 at Brendan Byrne Arena
What is the most stressful part of throwing a festival?
The most challenging part is getting everybody in happy. Happy where they are camping, happy with the portapotty’s, food vendors, happy with infrastructure… once we get them in happy – and it does take a while theres ticketing, security – if we can get them in happy that’s huge. After their in and their smiling in front of the stage, usually that’s Thursday night, late night, hopefully I’ll have the opportunity again to get up on the stage with Dark Star Orchestra throw down and look at tons of smiling faces.
What do you think the festival scene will be like in 10 years, what does the future hold for the festival scene?
There are huge numbers of start up festivals all over the world. Many of them are coming from Europe and into the united states. The festival marketplace is filling up every weekend, there seems to be one every weekend. What’s important is that we all maintain our individuality and if we do we will all be able thrive and bring smiles to people’s faces for many years to come.
Favorite electronica act/artist/dj?
I’m thrilled to have Soundtribe Sector 9 on Saturday night. Its been almost 10 years since they performed at Vibes. We haven’t been able to have them for scheduling reasons and it just hasn’t been able to work and to have sts9 go until 2am on late night Saturday into Sunday morning on the main stage… I’m ready to be right there, watching the insane light show we’ve got planned.
Over the past few years, there’s been a huge boom in the popularity of both jam bands and electronic dance music. What are your thoughts on the rise of EDM?
I think that any exploration and furtherance of music of any type can only be an asset. Musical exploration is everything.
Your quote “Shoot for the stars, and be psyched when you land on the moon” has literally become a mantra for me. Do you have any other favorite quotes that you live by?
It belongs to Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia… “His Job Is To Shed Light, Not To Master”
Be sure to grab your Gathering of the Vibes tickets for July 19th-22nd HERE