Creating a music festival is no small feat, but the powerhouses behind Bulladora Music Experience are making it happen. Started by a small-town boy with a big-city mindset and a recovering jam band addict, Bulladora has been in the works for 2 years. While the planning didn't officially start until December 2015, Josh Harris and Zac Miller have created a music experience unlike anything Dallas has ever seen before. Earlier this week, I sat down with Josh Harris and Kristin Miller to chat about the festival and how it came to fruition. You can purchase tickets here, and be sure to use my code to get $25 off weekend general admission (PUGASUS25).
Q: How and when did you get the idea for the festival?
K: It’s been a few years in the making, but we started working on it in December.
J: Z and I have been wanting to do something for a little while. We had a lot of ideas and they all came back to something similar to Bulladora. We always wanted to launch something that was equal parts creative and business, and we always came back to an all-encompassing music experience. We met up with Lear Johnson of south by southwest and pulled him into the idea of having a music festival in dallas. At first we wanted to do something smaller with fewer bands in North Dallas last year, but decided to wait until 2016 and create something big in downtown Dallas.
Q: What are your backgrounds?
K: Graphic design and jewelry design.
J: I'm the web programmer of the bunch, and Z's background is in urban planning.
Q: Why did you choose to host the festival in Dallas?
J: All of us moved to Dallas in 2012, and we instantly noticed excitement brewing in the city for something that was created by Dallas, for Dallas. All of us love this city, and we wanted to create an energetic, electric representation of this city full of transplants. It was long overdue, because we noticed so many smaller cities hosting festivals, and Dallas should have been on the top of the list for a great event! It's constantly expanding into a larger city in terms of culture, art, and music.
K: Yeah, Dallas is such a huge city, and it's surprising something like this hasn't happened before.
Q: What were your inspirations for creating Bulladora?
J: From the start, we wanted to create a high-energy experience that was a full-on representation of Dallas. We always knew that we were going to include immersive activities in addition to musical acts.
K: Some parts of the experience were inspired by our own lives too! I love my pug, and pugs in general, so we thought it would be fun to include a pug petting zoo! We have never heard of that at a festival before so it became our logo, the Pugasus.
Q: You’ve partnered up with Alamo Drafthouse and Decks in the Park to present a Daft Punk set by The Feels, was it difficult to partner with these companies to add extra experiences?
J: On some fronts yes, on other fronts, no. The people of Dallas living here are searching for this new thing, and a group of businesses small and large have been looking for a creative outlet for their brand. We have a different thought process in interacting with local businesses where its not all about money, more about partnering and promotion.
K: Josh has done more walking in and I've done more digital outreach. The hardest part of this is just managing all of the partnerships and executing them correctly. People were so enthusiastic to be a part of this, and 99% of people were just YES!
Q: Which restaurants are confirmed?
J: Quesa is doing tacos, Raco’s in Uptown is doing pizza and pasta, Nicole davenport and Frida’s making organic new-american cuisine. There will also be kolaches!
K: Alamo drafthouse is doing beer and wine at the festival, and we will also have a cocktail lounge.
Q: You have some untraditional aspects included in Bulladora, such as a pug petting zoo and tethered hot air balloon rides. How and why did you choose to include these experiences to the festival?
J: were very good at developing ideas, and we thought it would be cool to do the hot air balloon. It was at the very beginning that we wanted to elevate what we delivered. Asking for time from people is a lot, and once we got to the bottom of what we wanted to deliver, it came down to having these additional experiences. We’re not in the entertainment business, and we’re new to this. We hope that we will deliver the coolest thing they did in Dallas this year or even this weekend. Our goals are very ambitious and lofty, yet at the same time being rooted in something very realistic. It’s similar to an artist creating an album, where you're not trying to create the best album of all time, but creating our best work.
K: The pug thing really came from our logo and mascot, plus I have a pug. When you promote something, you have to deliver. I think one of the biggest challenges we're going to face is weather conditions, because it's an outdoor event, and the hot-air balloon guy has to adhere to strict standards, but we hope it will work out!
Q: When did you start working on assembling the line-up? Why did you choose the artists?
J: A few months ago in December, but we didn’t get confirmation until early this month. We were looking at the process of listening to music and keeping with the flow of the weekend, so you'll see how the feel of the festival goes from laid-back to energetic. One of the main things we looked for in bands is that they have to be culturally relevant, and needing to have released an album in 2015 or 2016. The lineup of the acts mirrors the flow of the weekend, with breaks for people to feel natural and comfortable. We wanted to make it as easy as possible for everyone too, so they don't have to run between stages to see great bands. We wanted to capture a great sound that echoes the music tastes of the city.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you faced so far, and what advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time?
J: the promotions were pretty tough to figure out. In order to be progressive and attract the right customers, we had to go online. You can't put up a billboard advertising your festival when your targets aren't looking at billboards anymore, they're looking online.There is also a huge time period before you get the bands, but when you do, you get tossed into the deep end of the pool and have to figure everything else out in a short period of time. It's hard to get band confirmation more than a few months ahead of time, so we got many of them confirmed around february and March. From then on, it was full-speed to start marketing and get everything finalized.
K: Communication of the vision of the festival was pretty difficult. How do you articulate the environment itself?
Q: Why should people go?
J: Bulladora is all about passion and creativity, and that's becoming a great way to connect Dallas. In addition to offering up some incredible musical talent and unique experiences, we want to make Bulladora the music festival of Dallas. We could have done this before and a different year but this was the perfect time for it. So many people here just want something different and fun to do on the weekends, and I think we've got all our bases covered. We're also hosting the first-ever public screening of Daft Punk's Unchained in the US! We partnered up with Alamo Drafthouse and Decks in the Park to make this event FREE to the public with an RSVP. (RSVP here)
Q: What would you say is the one defining characteristic of Bulladora that sets it apart from all other festivals?
J: First of all, none of us are from the entertainment industry, but we are Dallasites, and our goal is to bring an amazing experience that everyone in Dallas can enjoy! We really crafted this festival to echo the way that Dallas is progressing, including local restaurants, live art, local musicians, and a lot of other secret stuff. We are artists, and media is a really live human experience. This starts from the first second you interact with our brand, to attending the event. We are more artists than event promoters, and we want to create an experience which will engage and challenge attendees.
Q: What do you see as the future of Bulladora?
J: We love the idea of keeping it where it's at. We love the idea of giving everyone at Bulladora the opportunity to experience everything at the festival. If you take out the timing of it and let it flow, it’s a much easier experience. We want this to be this boutique festival based in Dallas that’s constantly looking inward and forward. We want to make the quality better and better without increasing the quantity. We want this to be an annual event that grows with Dallas and represents the city each year.
Q: Can guests expect any extra surprises at the festival?
K: We have a lot of extras still in the works, so we will have some surprises for guests.
J: We've had to do everything ourselves, from the signs to all of the extra materials to make it look incredible. Can you imagine how expensive it is to order oversize posters? We're all a bit of control freaks, so we ended up creating most of the materials ourselves. As a nod to ACL, I built an oversize polaroid that you can stand in, which was definitely a challenge. But I secretly love woodworking so you'll see a lot of handmade installations at the event.
You can get $25 off weekend general admission passes to Bulladora with my code PUGASUS25 here. Hope to see you there! Keep a lookout for my interview with actor/musician Penn Badgley of Mothxr, performing Sunday at Bulladora. Be sure to follow me on Instagram on @czarina_ekaterina and @OurNewMonarch!