Catching Up With Etty Farrell After Lollapalooza
By: Dennis M. Kelly – Photos by Johnny Rios Marroquin
Dennis: First of all, thank you and Perry both for another great Lollapalooza this year, and based on everyone’s experiences, everything looked like it went perfect. How about for you? Aside from earnings, how do you measure a successful Lollapalooza?
Etty: Our hope is that Lolla will continue to grow. I really wish for Lolla to be like it was back in the 90s; a festival that really forged ahead with an alternative lifestyle. It brought people together. It brought a lot of underground artists to the forefront. We want to keep introducing new art and bands to our patrons. We want to keep spreading love and peace through music. That is our mission.
Dennis: I love it! I was especially glad to see Kidzapalooza return… [and] the Bonus Tracks stage. Kidzapalooza is so wonderful to help give children a chance to be creative in crafts, music and dancing with positive and uplifting musical performances throughout each of the days. And Bonus Tracks was well received both years now, and this year in particular, it appeared that a lot more fans felt more free to be who they are, and dress however they like and it was wonderful. Lollapalooza has really been helping liberate people’s lives and minds on a global scale, would you agree with that statement?
Etty: I do love that Lollapalooza was a festival that brought alternative culture into the forefront of popular culture. I would love to have Lollapalooza become a vehicle to bring other ethnic artists to the public. I’m an Asian artist and I always want to support other ethnic artists.
Art and music is about accepting; it’s all encompassing and transcends cultures. With Lollapalooza, we try very hard to showcase artists that may not have the vehicle to do so otherwise. We are happy to provide artists from all walks of life and different cultures and backgrounds to share their space and their music with as many people as possible.
Dennis: On that note, you announced Lollapalooza India this year. How did you come to decide on India and how will it differ from other cities?
Etty: The expansion to Mumbai has been in the works at least three years; it started before covid happened and of course the pandemic delayed the process. It was a long, long process. India is a great place to break into Asian audiences. It is a big enough country to sustain a Lolla festival without needing international travel. Our goal is to show both Indian and western acts- likely 60% Indian acts and 40% western or international acts.
It will be great to work culturally with the local artists. We see Mumbai as a first city into Asia, a gateway to expand Lollapalooza there.
Dennis: That is truly amazing and we are very much looking forward to seeing it live streamed! Back to Chicago, we also had the wonderful announcement of another decade to enjoy Lollapalooza here; we couldn’t be any happier about this… how important was it for Lollapalooza to stay here in Chicago for you?
Etty: It is very important to both Perry and I that we extend ourselves and help a city that has given us so much. We built something together with Lollapalooza and we consider Chicago our family and home town as well.
Dennis: Now you’ve got a performance coming up with Kind Heaven Orchestra, this sounds very exciting, please tell me more.
Etty: Yes, we have a show coming up on December 10th in Los Angeles, which is also my birthday, so it will be truly special.
Dennis: Happy (very early) Birthday to you! You and Perry both recently released a few remixes, the Tim Green and Victor Ruiz remixes of “Mend” and “He’s A Rebel (Pink Panda Remix)” which has been doing phenomenal on Spotify’s charts. Do you normally like/listen to remixes as a rule, if so, what do you think of them?
Etty: It was so fun to work with Pink Panda on this remix, and I’m moving more and more into the dance music space. I had released the single earlier this year and the remix just felt like the right fit to launch with Imprint Label. It’s gone viral and we are so happy it’s been well received. I’m a dancer, so I’ve always enjoyed a good remix and I can move my body too!
Dennis: Definitely. Tell me more about the Label that is tied to the Heaven After Dark series. I love the artist centric focus of it! How do you see this developing over the years and will it remain focused on electronic artists only?
Etty: It’s been in the works for a few years. Perry and I talked a lot about it during the pandemic, and it finally came to fruition. Perry said it best when he announced the label…
“The feeling of finally having my own label is similar to receiving a pilot’s license, and being able to fly your own plane to anywhere in the world. We all can sense that the music industry is heading in the wrong direction. We know that the labels take most of the money, now with music streaming services.
Artists are left struggling and forced in desperation to focus on numbers instead of their cherished art form. We wanted to found a culture which allows for maximum creativity. A sort of heaven for listeners. I am able to release song and sound unbridled. Collaborate with and support artists that I respect as well. There are many similarities in attitude with Heaven After Dark, to what we did in 1991 when we launched Lollapalooza”- Perry Farrell
Dennis: Thank you very much. As Lollapalooza has been changing people’s lives, I look forward to see how Imprint improves artist’s lives. Shifting gears now, congratulations on such an amazingly successful fundraiser in Highland Park, how was that for you and what is your take on current gun laws, can we make them stronger?
Etty: We absolutely do what we can in being involved in this community and gaining strength on these matters. When Lollapalooza first started we worked with a foundation and would donate a certain amount every year and they would open a new park in an area of Chicago that may not have had the ability to do so. It’s really important to create safe spaces for kids to play.
We also worked with several after school care organizations that offered programming for kids after their school day. It’s all about nurturing the kids and giving back to the community.
Dennis: Wow, I think that is so wonderful and we cannot thank you enough for how you’re helping the Chicago community, it means a lot and a lot to me personally as well.
Jane’s Addiction will be joining Smashing Pumpkins starting in October for the Spirits On Fire Tour and heading to Chicago again in November. Are you looking forward to touring with Billy this fall?
Etty: This is something we’ve wanted to do for a while, so when the opportunity arose it was an easy thing to say yes. We can not wait to tour with The Smashing Pumpkins to so many great cities across the country and Canada.
Dennis: Please tell me more about the upcoming dates for Heaven After Dark and Porno for Pyros.
Etty: Yes, we have the Jane’s Tour starting soon through November, then Heaven After Dark in December and are always adding performance dates. Stay tuned!
Dennis: Back to a few Lollapalooza questions, in an interview with RockCelebrities.net, you mentioned that Lollapalooza is a way to bring support and encouragement to young artists. Is there anything more than can be done to invest in young talent?
Etty: Yes, now we have Perry’s new label Imprint. One the reasons we started the label was to give young talent opportunities.
Dennis: What has been the most meaningful feedback you’ve received from fans and the artists?
Etty: If the fan reaction is good we are excited! If the fan reaction isn’t amazing, we may think we made a mistake. That said, I know when we are booking, we’ve done our research and as festival producers and promoters we are curating this overall experience for our patrons. From the outside, the lineup might not make perfect sense to fans, but when you come out to the festival and everything plugs into each other, you get it! We are equally as excited as our patrons every year.
Dennis: Do you have any philanthropic success stories of how Lollapalooza helped change the world by incorporating non-profits and giving people opportunities to help make that positive change in and around their lives? What is the thing that you’re most proud about with non-profit successes?
Etty: Environmental causes are something very dear to my heart. For example, I recently purchased a portable water filter for everyone in our crew on tour to try to minimize use of plastic. I encourage people to look within themselves to see what can be done at the individual level to minimize carbon footprint on the world. Our goal should be to leave the world a better place than when we found it.
Dennis: In the 31 years Lollapalooza has been rolling, what are some things you haven’t tried bringing to Lollapalooza that you might still like to one day?
Etty: I think at this point it’s about expansion to new cultures, but we’d also love to bring some of our overseas acts to Chicago. We could have an international stage. That’s what is nice about Lolla, we have the infrastructure to do that.
Dennis: I would also be in favor of that, (perhaps Tito’s stage would be a good stage for that), that would be great to see. My wife and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in August. How would you describe the secret to your marital success?
Etty: There has to be a mutual like and respect for the other person- in any relationship, but especially in a working relationship. There can not be two heads. There always has to be one head. We have worked together for so long, but in a professional relationship, he calls the shots.
I can give my suggestions of course and argue for things I am passionate about, but at end of day, Perry has final say. I joined him working with Jane’s Addiction, but I did not start that band. It’s the same for Lollapalooza. I am on board and I get a vote, but I still back Perry on any final decision. I think if you understand your roles, working together can be great!
Dennis: Do you have any long term plans in the works that you can share with me that may not yet have been announced?
Etty: Not yet, but stay tuned!
Dennis: Thank you so very much for your time Etty, it has been an honor and I wish you all the best with all that you’ve been working on.
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