A dub lover’s summer wouldn’t be complete without the grand finale to festival season, that Field Trip Festival is. This intimate 300-capacity event in Chelsea, Iowa is curated to artistic perfection, integrating well-respected figures in electronic music with up-and-coming locals pushing a wave of all-original dubplates, and attendees are along for the ride.
An eclectic charcuterie of both local and international acts; personally, being able to witness the double trouble that is It Hz (Jon Casey x Chee) headline their first festival under the energy-filled project was something I won’t forget. The South African duo are pros at emceeing, setting the tone for the dynamic fusion of Chee’s dark soundscapes, and Jon Casey, who sets dance floors alight with a trademark style and grit. Also, can we get some commotion for the kLL Bill project!? From halftime to DnB, a set from these two mad scientists (kLL sMTH x Mr. Bill) is sure to leave your jaw on the floor, mashing heavy sound design, with break-beats and beyond. To top it all off, the Bristol-based inventive sound design legend Kursa concludes the list of only the highest quality headliners. I could write half a page on every artist on this bill; I’ll save the time and recommend you check out all of them- this lineup is truly only the cream of the crop in up-and-coming artists and original bass scene pioneers.
The mastermind behind Field Trip Music Festival - Austin Blythe, an independent promoter and owner of Stutterbox Productions. From booking to event ops to marketing, Austin has all his bases covered, bringing a degree in Marketing and 5 years of event curation experience to the table.
(Pictured: Austin Blythe, far right, alongside key supporters of Field Trip, FTMF 2022.)
“My goal is to create an outlet for those who are looking for a place to belong and express themselves in our part of the country. I have never been able to shake the feeling of belonging I got at my first camping festival. I was engulfed by the culture, and I felt there was a need to provide that in my area when I started organizing my first event in 2017.” - Austin Blythe
Embrace the Trip
Austin has traversed through some of the most renowned festivals in the US since 2015 (cited Electric Forest, Okeechobee, Middlelands and North Coast), and in the summer of 2017 following his attendance of Suboctave festival, an artistic cord was struck within him; he began planning for the first Field Trip Festival later that year (with the first inaugural event occurring on April 21st, 2018).
“This festival intrigued me because it was a stacked lineup with artists like G Jones, Space Jesus, Liquid Stranger, Bleep Bloop, Clozee and so many more. The coolest thing is that it was an extremely intimate setting. There were probably a thousand people there and at the time I was used to catching these artists at huge festivals, mostly during the day.”
(Pictured: Crowd Shot - It Hz, FTMF 2022.)
“After seeing them in this environment I was inspired to bring something like this down to Iowa. I wanted to create a platform to put these more underground artists on. My first Field Trip I had Conrank and Kyral x Banko. In 2018 I also created a monthly event called Space Bass where I brought artists like Champagne Drip, Buku, Levitation Jones, Mystic Grizzly, Smith., and so many more. We’ve easily introduced over 30 artists to our scene in our 4-year run and I don’t have intentions to stop.”
Hopping on board
Following a successful yet tumultuous first Field Trip Festival, they had to set the bar higher to level up, and do the vision justice by bringing the most authentic representation of culture-showcase to the people. Top-tier production crews were brought onto the project, with Your Favorite DJ Productions managing lighting and visual production, and Lost Horizon Productions joining later to bring out the bread-and-butter for a dub-lover’s festival, a Funktion One system.
Having found creative sanctuary at Underground Ranch, courtesy of Jackson Brown & his family, the fundamental facets in the development/production of Field Trip Festival were coming together, enabling the opportunity to collectively grow a safe and unique experience in the middle of nowhere, Iowa.
Lastly, the cherry-on-top of this well-rounded team is the marketing; Graphic Designer Jacy Leopold is a keystone member in the Field Trip Brand, vetting an immaculate theme in her visual content which has given Field Trip its identity. Adjacent to the work of Jaydn and the team from Guerrilla Graphics Design in collaboration with AK47 media, this ride-or-die crew is a catalyst for the growth of the Midwestern Electronic Music community.
(Pictured: Zen Selekta, FTMF 2022.)
“The biggest successes came from finding the right people to help bring this project to its full potential. Shevvy and Malcolm (B Moore) helped a ton behind the scenes at Field Trip this year and we’ve been scheming ever since Field Trip ended on ways to improve. My girlfriend Haley is my rock during these events; she helped a ton. She organized the whole volunteer program, which they all rocked, and flow art workshops. She also helped me get artists back to the airport the final night and was there with me until after cleaning up. She makes my life a lot easier and deals with the stresses of the event!”
Austin cites that the main difficulty with growing Field Trip Festival is rooted in working in a small but passionate music community:
“It’s just hard to break into that more mainstream market. If people don’t know the lineup, they are less likely to come. Most of the artists I bring are completely new to the market and most people aren’t tapped in.”
(Pictured: Kursa, FTMF 2022.)
What can we expect to see from Field Trip Music Festival in the Future?
“We want to put more of an emphasis on the art aspect of the event. We had flow art workshops, live painting, and unique vendors this year, and I want to be able to give them a bigger platform.”
“We also want to add to the production every year. Big things are in store in that department, and I think people will be excited about it. We want to keep pace with our production with just as unique lineups as years before. There will be two nights of music carefully curated with intent to showcase the artists we feel are changing the game. The last year was super special with artists like It Hz playing their first headlining set or Kursa & kLL Bill playing after an 8 hour weather delay to end the festival early Sunday morning. This event has a super special place in a lot of hearts including my own, and I look forward to sharing this experience with more people!” - Austin Blythe
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