The Road to the Governors Ball: An Introduction to the Festival

bill bodkin previews the first-ever Governors Ball Music Festival, happening Saturday, June 18 on Governors Island in New York City …

On Saturday, June 18, the beautiful Governors Island in New York City will be transformed into a house of dance for the first-ever Governors Ball Music Festival. The hottest names in dance, indie, rock, electronica, and hip hop (both established and emerging) will take part in a 12-hour festival of high-energy music. Coupled with the music will be art installations, ping pong tournaments (from Susan Sarandon’s SPiN New York), The World Series of Beer Pong (sponsored by Bpong.com), beach volleyball, basketball and of course plenty of food ranging from Ben & Jerry’s to vegetarian options to American, Asian and Mediterranean classics.

Pop-Break recently spoke with Jordan Wolowitz, one of the partners at Founders Entertainment, the entertainment group producing the festival.

Pop-Break: What was the inspiration for the creation of this festival?

Jordan Wolowitz: New York City is the greatest city in the world, yet for some reason, it was lacking a marquee summer music festival. We knew about Governors Island, and thought that South Island Field [where Governors Ball is taking place] was a perfect location for a large scale music event. It’s outdoors and set on a picturesque island with a breathtaking view of Manhattan.The location is also beyond ideal –- the ferries leave from downtown Manhattan, which is accessible from almost any subway line, and the ferry ride to the island only takes about four minutes. Music festivals tend to be in out of the way, inconvenient locations.

My company is bringing a major music and arts festival right to the shores of New York City. We knew people in and around New York City would love the concept of a mid-summer dance party featuring A-list musical talent, as well as art installations, local food and wine vendors, comedians, etc., right on their door step.

PB: Why choose Governors Island for the location of the festival?

A map of Governors Island

JW: Governors Island is simply the best venue to host a festival of this type in New York City. Its capacity [25,000] is ideal. The setting is unique and gorgeous. Having a summer music festival set on an island provides fans with the feeling that they’re getting away from city hustle and bustle, without going that far away from the city. It is easy to get to. The venue itself is on a large flat, lush, grass field that will allow us, as producers, to build the festival to our exact specifications. It doesn’t get any better than Governors Island.

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PB: Why go with a lineup of all dance and electronic-based artists for this festival?

JW: We wanted to book the best acts around in the dance, indie, rock, electronica, and hip-hop scenes. The lineup for Governors Ball is certainly diverse, but there was one real guiding force behind the booking- the common theme is that we wanted to book acts that make people dance and have a good time. We want this to be the biggest party to hit New York City all summer. Pretty Lights and Girl Talk are simply two of the hottest acts in music today. Empire of the Sun are international superstars. Big Boi is a hip hop legend, and the rest of the acts represent the best young talent around.

PB: Outside of the headliners, what artists are you excited for people to discover?

JW: One of our goals was to book some the best up and coming artists in the game today, and we really feel we achieved that. We can’t wait for the people to check out some of the younger acts playing Governors Ball, such as Reptar, Outasight, and Miami Horror. I generally avoid drawing comparisons between bands, but Reptar makes tunes in the vein Animal Collective/MGMT/Vampire Weekend, but with a frontman who voice sounds lie like a mixture of David Byrne and Isaac Brock. Outasight is a musical prodigy — his songs mixe elements of hip hop, soul, pop and funk, and the guy can sing with the best of em. Miami Horror are keeping up with their more established Australian electro-pop contemporaries, Empire of the Sun, and Cut Copy, and will be sure to have the crowd dancing their sweaty tails off. I’d add Mac Miller to this list, due to his young age [19], but the dude has been selling out clubs across the country all year.

PB: Besides music, what are some other aspects of the festival that you’re excited for people to discover and enjoy?

JW: There will be a variety of activities at the festival: basketball, ping pong, beach volleyball, beer pong, and unique art installations will all be there for fans to enjoy. In addition, there will be a plethora of local food vendors, wineries and merchants for fans to explore. If you need to take a breather from dancing, there is plenty to keep you occupied and entertained while you save your energy for the next set.

PB: What separates Governors Ball from all the other festivals out there?

JW: The first two things that come to mind are location and size. As I mentioned before, most major music festivals are destination events — you have to travel and be inconvenienced to attend. Getting to Governors Ball only requires a four-minute ferry ride from downtown Manhattan. Also, with a capacity of only 25,000, our audience will be treated to an amazing festival in a relatively intimate setting. Additionally, there are few festivals that can boast of no overlapping sets. Our fans, if they so choose, can see 12 bands, and 12 hours of music in one day. Not such a bad deal, right? Founders Entertainment can not wait to present Governors Ball to our hometown of New York City, and make it an annual summertime institution.

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Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.