Features September 17, 2018

How Lost Lands music festival found its clothing in nature

How Lost Lands music festival found its clothing in nature
Simon Daly with daughter Lyla

“I’ve always regarded nature as the clothing of God,” US composer Alan Hovhaness once said.

Long-time festival promoter Simon Daly, one of the creators of Melbourne’s Lost Lands, throws private parties for friends at his beautiful 20-acre spot surrounded by national parks.

17 families spend a few days together, with no mobile phones, video games or technology distractions.

“The idea was, how do you bottle something like that, where we’d become totally engaged with each other,” Daly says,

“Where you don’t have that captivity and that science, which takes everything away from that moment and experience.”

The name Lost Lands comes from evoking that feeling of shared experience and respecting nature.

It also incorporates Daly skills when he co-founded on a farm in Lorne, outside Melbourne (and then Marion Bay in Tasmania) and programmed its music and pioneered its environmental sustainability initiatives.

Lost Lands’ executive team includes his wife Carmella Morgan, David Strong, creative director of The Peninsula Picnic and former St Kilda Festival director; and Ian Pidd as artistic director.

Now its second year, Lost Lands is held on November 3 and 4 in the magnificent surrounds of Werribee Park in Victoria.

The music is a mix of elder statesmen such as Tim Finn and You Am I for parents who stopped going to because they weren’t kids-friendly; singer-songwriters like Kate Heidke-Miller, Jess Locke and Clare Bowditch; and the new festival stars as Teskey Brothers, Baker Boy, All Our Exes Live in Texas, Didirri, Jungle Giants, Woodes and Lanks.

The Arts & Wonder kids programming covers High Voltage Rock School, the cast of Get Grubby TV, dirtgirl, circus acrobats, games, laughter yoga and sleeping bag cinema.

The plan is to encourage the younger generation to develop arts and green values, rather than succumbing to commercialism.

Daly and Morgan’s eldest daughter Lyla, aged nine, is encouraged to help choose the entertainment, and probably had much to do with the inclusion of Woodes, her favourite band.

Under Daly, Falls was among the first festivals to tackle environmental sustainability in a serious way, winning a number of awards including induction into the Tourism Victoria hall of fame for sustainability across multi-industries.

Lost Lands has a long list of green rules, including bans on single-use plastic, including bags, bottles and cutlery, free water and waste stations throughout, and a team up with Visy, for recycling initiatives.

Cable ties are replaced by Velcro, and rather than gaffer tapes for leads on the stage, carpets will be used.

When TMN asks if a music festival can be 100% eco-sustainable, Daly responds, “It can go really close. We’re on our target this year of 95%.

“There’s no handbook on how to run a festival sustainably so we’re going to every area, production to catering to looking at how we can use them differently.

“We sent out messages to stall holders, ‘We’re open to any suggestions because we’re learning on the job here.’”

The message from greens groups has really infiltrated through to audiences, he says.

Last year as Daly cleaned up in the Lost Lands’ camping grounds, the rubbish left behind by the 2,500 campers fitted hearteningly into one sole garbage bag.

“In those Falls days, plastic wasn’t even part of the consciousness then, that just snuck upon us.

“In some ways, I’ve been reflecting that China has been putting the pressure on countries not to send their waste back to them.

“It was initially hard to swallow but proved to be a blessing in disguise because we had to make changes, and use the great new technologies we can draw upon now.

“We can also look back at two generations ago when our grandparents had no plastics, so how did they do it?”

Children make up half of Lost Lands’ audience: what challenges do they bring for promoters?

“There could be many but it hasn’t shown up that way. For us, the programming is about creating that complete shared experience. They get to see amazing acrobats that kids are awed by but which adults are awed by too.

“That also spills out to the Werribee Park where its neighbour is the Werribee Zoo. So when you’re camping you can actually walk to a side fence and see giraffes in the distance. You can actually hear lions roar.

“For a kid that’s incredible. For me, as an adult, to go camping and hearing lions at night is pretty special.”

As for a future with 50:50 genre bills, Daley says, “I absolutely think it can be done,” saying the first Los Lands had a 55% strike rate.

“During my Falls days, I definitely had the feeling it should be well-represented gender-wise.

“Over half its audience was female, so it additionally made sense.

“Obviously it’s a lot more pointed now. There might be challenges in some genres, but it’s about the groundwork.

“Encourage opportunities right across the industry, and it will sort itself out eventually.”

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