Interview with EMF Denali Festival Director Will Krause
In just 2 days, festival-goers will stream into Denali Park, Alaska for the inaugural two-day festival Euphoria Denali, which will be held at The 49th State Brewing Company in massive Denali Park, just 8 miles north of downtown Denali and overlooking the Alaska Range, home to Denali, North America’s highest peak. Euphoria Denali was conceived to celebrate Alaska’s Summer Solstice, which allows for 22 hours of functional daylight, the festival will feature: Muzzy Bearr, Blunt Force, Denali Cooks, Willgood, Jasper Chili, Rupert the Duke and Clark After Dark. In addition, the festival will have a beer-related workshop, as well as a special IPA in collaboration with the Brewery.
Every year, the ever-evolving music festival is constantly improving, adapting and progressing to new heights. Though essentially identical, each festival offers a rare adventure built upon location and lineup. With its latest addition, Euphoria Denali is not only a unique adventure but poised to become one of the top destination festivals in the world.
I caught up with Euphoria Music Festival Denali Director, Will Krause, to give us an insight into this year’s festivities at Denali and what’s next for the ever-expanding festival. Read our conversation below, and score tickets to the two-day fest HERE.
When did you and your partners decide to start Euphoria Music Festival? How did you guys approach this enormous project?
WK: My partner, Mitch Morales, founded the event in 2012. He was college roommates with a friend of mine from my hometown Amarillo, Texas. By that time, my best friend Briggs Mitchell and I had started a small company to manage bands & produce small events. We all decided to work together. At that time, it didn’t feel like an enormous project. It has organically evolved to what it is now and I am ecstatic about the direction it is going. We are always learning something new every day.
How did your relationship with The 49th Brewing Company develop? Why Alaska?
WK: I worked in Denali after college in 2009, 2010 & did a reunion tour in 2013. That summer, Trampled By Turtles played at the 49th State Brewing Company, which made for a wonderful show and the 49th provided the perfect backdrop. Through the years, I was able to establish a relationship with the venue & their promotions manager. Over the next couple of years, I stayed in contact with her as the festival continued to grow. This past winter we were able to settle on the Solstice Brewfest date! We went with Alaska because it aligned with one of our company goals- to host our events at unique destinations throughout the globe. Last year we hosted two events in South Africa and will be doing it again this November.
Word on the street that the 49 th Brewing Company is creating a special IPA brew.
WK: That I don’t know. It’s a secret but I’m told its excellent.
I noticed Blunt Force and Willgood are on the lineup for Denali, as well. How did you come up with the Denali lineup? Are you a fan of some of these artists?
WK: We are fans of all the artist on the bill ( I’m actually Willgood). Both Muzzy Bearr & Blunt Force have played the fest & are friends of our team. From my summers in Denali, I got to know & love legendary locals, The Denali Cooks. Having them for one of the local acts is really exciting. Also, Jasper Chili is comprised of the owners of Black Bear Coffee House & the other members, I went to college with. It’s a pleasure having them back. I worked in Denali with Clark After Dark. He’s been coming to the Austin festival for the past couple of years and is kind of a local celebrity in Denali. Lastly, one of my best friends from my hometown is coming to play. He goes by Rupert The Duke. I’ve been listing to his beats for the past 15 years and was so grateful he agreed to come North for this event!
Much like Euphoria Music Festival, Euphoria Denali embodies a range of music genres. What’s been your marketing strategy?
WK: We like to have music that we enjoy at our events. Not sticking to one genre is really important to the company. For Alaska, we were able to get a couple of local acts on the bill like the Denali Cooks & Jasper Chili. It’s important to market to an international audience, but we also want to appeal to the locals by having a tasteful pull for the people living in Denali.
Who are you looking forward to seeing the most?
WK: I’m excited to see the audience, as much as the music. If I had to pick one it would be Muzzy Bearr. He plays guitar for GRiZ & has sat in with George Clinton & the Parliament Funkadelic. Muzzy Bearr & Blunt Force Euphoria Music Festival veterans, having played this past April in Austin.
Euphoria’s mission has always been to “provide fans/festival attendees a temporary ʻescapeʼ from everyday life.” What else are you hoping to achieve through this?
WK: At the end of the day, we want to achieve what our name suggests: Euphoria. Whether it’s discovering a new band, enjoying a dance or meeting new people, we want guests to leave our events with a feeling of love and community.
What went into the decision to shorten the Denali expansion by one day?
WK: A lot of our guests will be traveling in for this show. The local employees typically never have three days off. We are testing the waters with this inaugural festival and can look at making a full three-day event next year.
How do you keep that balance between the festival planning?
WK: It keeps getting more difficult, but it’s all a work in progress. As the brand begins to expand, we learn and continue to improve. First and foremost, we are music lovers so even when we are off the clock we are listening to music. I think that helps us all keep balanced.
Euphoria has been growing steadily over the years. Is there any pressure you feel to keep raising the bar as this goes on?
WK: The pressure is on more than ever. The festival market is always changing and expanding. Staying current with your target audience is what it’s all about. This year, we saw multiple festivals canceled and new ones sprout up. We are thankful to have five year’s experience under our belt.
Your first expansion was Euphoria South Africa and now Denali. Both are more of a destination than a festival, what other locations do you plan to expand to?
WK: One of my partners, Briggs Mitchell, spent a couple of years in Sau Paulo. I know that location is definitely on the list. Our founder Mitch Morales also spent some time in Australia with his girlfriend, now fiancé. (He actually proposed to her at the festival after nine years of dating, to their favorite act Above & Beyond.) So, Australia is in the cards for sure. We are looking at locations that we would want to travel to, but can also get to on a budget with some planning.
To close our interview, what new artist is currently in your playlist?
WK: I’m currently listening to the new Flume album on repeat, with some appearances by Big Wild, Odesza, Griz, CF Word.
Euphoria Denali is committed to giving fans one helluva a wild weekend.
Euphoria Denali is produced by Vivid Sound Entertainment. Visit www.euphoriadenali.com for the most up-to-date information.