Guest Post: Desert Daze Founder Phil Pirrone On Why Do A Festival

When My Baby’s Beside Me:
Kelsey Hart
– When My Baby’s Beside Me:
Phil Pirrone at Desert Daze festival, which is now in its eighth year and will return for the second year to Moreno Beach at Lake Perris, Calif., from Oct. 10-13.
Phil Pirrone is the founder of JJUUJJUU, Moon Block, Desert Daze and Space Agency Booking. Independent Southern California festival Desert Daze returns Oct. 11-13 to Moreno Beach in Perris, Calif. Confirmed artists include Stereolab and Animal Collective. 
Good music is important. It’s like water or sleep. It’s essential. A music festival should be a celebration of good music. A business venture is the very last thing it should be, even though it won’t survive unless it is one. 
Putting on a music festival isn’t easy and it isn’t for everyone. Prerequisites for this sort of work, it seems, include an unhealthy amount of workaholism and a healthy amount of masochism. You really have to be a warrior (and be OK with at least a little bit of pain). It’s a never-ending list of to-dos. It’s the kind of thing where nothing goes according to plan, and sometimes, when you’re especially lucky, a perfect storm of wrong can hit you like a tidal wave, and leave you searching for the surface, like a 7-year-old swimming in the ocean for the first time. And then you find the surface, and you have some of the most amazing and rewarding experiences of your life … much like a 7-year-old swimming in the ocean for the first time. 
A music festival should be more than just a “music festival.” More than mobile stages, port-o-johns, food trucks, sponsors and Instagram photo-ops. It has the potential to be a life-altering moment in time and a profound learning experience. We want you to extract something from the experience and inject it into your everyday life. We approach each year as if we’re on a mission, closer to public servants than promoters. 
Desert Daze has become a community. It has an identity and a spirit all its own and we are here to serve it. We put that community at the front of every decision we make. It’s like our compass: “What impact will this decision have on the ecosystem of Desert Daze?” That ecosystem includes our staff, our audience, the bands of past, present and future. It’s all connected. We bring reverence to the work and the work gives us purpose. In many ways, it has become more of a ritual than a music festival. 
Another big part of what makes all this effort (and pain) worth it is the group of people I get to do it with. I’ve never been a singular organizer who then partnered up with a big company. I’ve been in bands since I was 13, so I approach Desert Daze like it’s a band or an art project. Everyone’s input matters. Let’s jam! 
Much of the Desert Daze staff have been around since day one and have taught themselves how to do this, as I have. We’ve been through the shit together, man. That brings you closer. We really care about each other and put a lot of love into what we do, and that resonates with our audience. We’re basically the family restaurant of music festivals. That’s really important to me, and I don’t know if I would be up for this sort of thing if it was just a business venture. 
As the festival grows and evolves, it becomes more and more professional, more and more of a job. But as long as I get to do it with people I care about, and curate music I care about, then it’ll never feel like work. So as hard as this work is, it’s for me. I’m both wired for it and feel at home within it. I feel lucky that I have that. I feel lucky that I can be a warrior for good music.
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