Lift The Veil Interview Nov 22 2017

After positive feedback from my interview in August Lifting the Veil on Radical Ritual, Nathan invited me back to talk about Q Clearance Patriot, President Trump, and cryptocurrency.

EXCLUSIVE: ShelterCoin Founder Christian Weber

Screenshot 2017-09-01 11.55.57Screenshot 2017-09-01 12.02.22We have been a fan of the “inspired by Burning Man” SHIFTPODs since day one, and we have covered them before:

SHIFTPODs: The New Generation of Burnitecture

Where Did The SHIFTPOD Come From?

SHELTERCOIN is something new, and as far as I know, the first Initial Coin Offering (ICO) connected to a real company with real products. Most of the ones I’ve seen promise that something will be built a year or more in the future, hoping at that time there will be a community ready to use their digital tokens. This offering is drawing an existing community of stakeholders together to solve old problems in new ways.

This seems like an idea that has come at just the right time, as the devastation of Hurricane Harvey has shown us amazing scenes of citizens springing into action to help each other, instead of waiting for centralized authorities to get their bureaucracy together. The decentralized model works; the centralized model keeps failing us.

Last week, Fast Company magazine profiled the company behind SHELTERCOIN and SHIFTPOD, Advanced Shelter Systems Inc of Napa, CA

Screenshot 2017-08-29 12.12.52

Arriving in the desert that August, in 2015, I saw a SHIFTPOD for the first time. As someone who, like Weber, had explored countless Burning Man camping methods, I was intrigued by how a SHIFTPOD could both keep the dust out and be set up in less than five minutes. It looked like a lunar habitat–conversation piece!–and you didn’t freeze overnight. There’s nothing else like it. So prior to Burning Man 2016, I bought one.

In my camp alone last year, there were five SHIFTPODs and more than 1,000 on the playa. By then, Weber had sold his green-fracking operation and launched Advanced Shelter Systems Inc. (ASSI), the Napa-based company that’s turned his late-night Burning Man lodging idea into a multimillion-dollar business whose market extends far beyond the U.S. festival circuit—so far, in fact, that it requires an entirely new currency.

[Source: Fast Company]

The article caused  somewhat of a stir on the Burners.Me Facebook page, with some Burners screaming “Commodification!” and (predictably) “Burning Man is over!” and “ICOs are just a fad!”

Christian Weber, Sheltercoin Foundation

I got the chance to raise these concerns with company founder Christian Weber directly. The ShelterCoin Foundation’s Initial Coin Offering on the blockchain is actually inspired by giving shelter to those who need it most – which seems very compatible with Burner principles like Gifting, Immediacy, Civic Responsibility and Communal Effort.

 

B.Me: What is interesting about this story for Burners?

CW: One of the things I learned over 23 years out on the playa is to help people out if they needed it.  The Black Rock Desert is one of the most inhospitable places on Earth.  Back in the day, before chefs and camp producers the thing that really struck me was that everyone wanted to help the other have a better experience.  That has faded a bit but we all still bring extra parts and even heavy equipment to share with surrounding people and camps.  When you get right down to it, beyond ego and politics it feels good to help others.  Especially in times of need.  This is a natural extension of the burner ethos and experience.

B.Me: Just before Burning Man started this year, “Hell Storm” Hurricane Harvey hit Houston. Are you doing anything to help them?

Texas National Guard soldiers helping out in Houston. Image: defense.gov

CW: We already mobilizing product, family care hygiene kits and getting ready to load trucks and planes to get the goods down there.  We are in contact with FEMA, Team Rubicon and several other NGOs with boots on the ground to enlist help with distribution.  I have my chainsaw gassed up and ready to go. I can’t wait to get down there and help.  I just spoke to a friend and colleague who has been running a boat for 48 hours straight rescuing people.  After the initial rescue efforts subside he has committed to help run shelters and supplies for us.  Once we mobilize he will gather the people he is working with to help distribute and deliver the goods and material we bring in.

The need for shelter and supplies in Houston is huge, with more than 30,000 people in emergency shelters. People are reaching out to help their fellow citizens, regardless of skin color or political affiliation. Helping those who need it most is the American way, and that is what we are trying to do with this ICO.  The recovery is a massive task and unfortunately we will only be a small part of the solution, for now.

B.Me: Are your pods safe in a Hurricane?

CW: We have put a lot of work into making our products highly wind, rain, and temperature resistant. We recently wind tested them up to 106 MPH sustained winds, which is above the highest level 12 of the Beaufort Scale. Hurricane Harvey was an unprecedented storm with some winds being recorded even higher than that.

B.Me: What is SHELTERCOIN?

CW: SHELTERCOIN is a new crypto-coin that will be used to build and supply emergency shelter, equipment and responders to people in need in disaster areas in advance, of and in times of need.  This is a natural extension of our “sell 20 donate one” program we have had in place from the beginning of our shelter company.  So far we have donated hundreds of SHIFTPODS all over the world including to the fire victims in California, Earthquake victims in Japan and Ecuador, victims in Haiti and to refugees on Lesvos, Greece.  We even donated to the earthquake victims in Nepal but these units got stuck in customs when the government wanted 100% tax on the full retail value before they would release them as gifts to the people.  Crazy.  Most recently we donated to the Nation of Hawaii to help with a homeless program there.  In this program the people will have to “pay rent” to live in the SHIFTPODS and they will pay this “rent” by taking classes on their heritage and working in the garden to grow their own food.  If successful the SHELTERCOIN will allow us to do more and build more product to donate to people in need.  It will also allow us to build and stage product in advance so when there is a disaster the units will be close or on site so there is no waiting for equipment to be shipped in from across the country.

B.Me: What can people use SHELTERCOIN for?

CW: Anyone can buy, trade and use SHELTERCOIN to make purchases, get discounts, make donations, to access new software or to store wealth. As we build our SHELTERCOIN community and eco-system we hope to have many vendors that will offer discounts on product purchased with SHELTERCOIN.  We will offer steep discounts on our products for both retail and large commercial buyers and we will show people how to convert to SHELTERCOIN on our check out page to get the instant discounts.  This is just one of the ways to support the demand for SHELTERCOIN.  The other use for SHELTERCOIN is to directly support missions to disaster areas.  Rather than donating to a normal NGO where less than 5% goes to the actual cause, we will use SHELTERCOIN to raise funds for a specific disaster or mission and then the donors will be able to track the use of funds almost in real time with transparency.  We hope to shift the donation and disaster response paradigm with the SHELTERCOIN. A decentralized solution on the blockchain lets us connect donors and responders more directly to people and areas in need, and much more efficiently than the centralized institutions who seem to take most of the money for overhead.

B.Me: Is this a for-profit, or altruistic venture?

CW: We have created the SHELTERCOIN Foundation to issue the tokens. SHELTERCOINs are an altruistic token, not an investment. When you buy them in the ICO there is no guarantee that they will go up in value or be worth anything in the future. Cryptocurrencies and alt-coins seem to generally be doing well, we think it is an exciting new trend with a lot of potential to fix old problems in new ways. If our idea works, more and more people will start using SHELTERCOIN and will donate to bring shelter rapidly to places where it is needed.

B.Me: Why would people buy a coin in an ICO if it was not tied to profits?

CW: We are seeing right now with Hurricane Harvey the immediate response from people stepping up who want to help. When you give money to a relief fund, the money is gone from you and most of it won’t reach the people who need the aid. When you give money to our ICO you get something in return: SHELTERCOINs.

Buying tokens in our ICO will help bring shelter in response to disasters. People who buy the coins will be able to get large discounts in our online store and VIP access to our latest products and disaster response software platform. They can also choose to use the coins to enable relief efforts, or hold on to them in the future.

Screenshot 2017-09-01 12.03.26B.Me: How does the price of an alt-coin get determined?

CW: there are many alt-coin exchanges around the world and we will endeavor to get SHELTERCOIN traded on as many as we can. The laws of supply and demand set the price, and we hope demand will grow over time. Our supply is fixed. We hope that as people become aware of what we are doing and see the success of a decentralized approach to disaster relief, demand will increase.

B.Me: So if a disaster strikes like Hurricane Harvey, people will be able to use SHELTERCOIN to send aid to people?

CW: Yes. We will be able to finance many units for the SHELTERCOIN FOUNDATION from the ICO, and future donations will help us pay for the first-responder personnel to get on site. The blockchain and our software platform lets us connect donors and first responders directly to the people, places and projects where shelter is needed.

B.Me: What problems are you trying to solve with a new alt-coin?

CW: Well, with so many people forcibly displaced in the world and so many disasters happening all over the world many people want to help.  Most donate to large NGOs that have huge executive teams and lots of overhead. In most cases these NGOs only get less than 5% of what is raised to the actual people in need.  It is really astounding.  In the case of an NGO that raised hundreds of millions for Haiti, less than 1% actually made it to the people in Haiti.  This is a huge problem and there has to be a better way.  We hope SHELTERCOIN will be the first of many new tools built to decentralize disaster response.  We aim to create a response eco-system around the SHELTERCOIN that can move quickly and efficiently to get goods and services into disaster areas and to the actual people in need. Through technology we should be able to make the whole process more efficient and deliver more value to the actual cause.  In some cases we will also be able to get ahead of the curve and get shelters and equipment staged in problem areas in advance of the disasters.  This is a very exciting prospect.

B.Me: Most of the money goes to overhead, instead of going back out to those who need the charity? Sounds like Burning Man! How does your solution compare to the existing “big institution” approach to disaster relief?

CW: We believe software and crowd-sourcing can help with a lot of this. Much of the distribution can be done without a lot of executives and overhead.  A lot of systems and agencies get too top heavy over time to be really effective.  You need the people for an event but then you don’t want to get rid of them so you have to raise more money to keep them and the next thing you know you have a huge bureaucracy that only really works when there is a disaster.  The beast needs more and more fuel to continue.  We are not running an event or a year around bureaucracy and connecting people and disasters is something that can be done online.  The blockchain can be used to let people see were money raised for a specific campaign gets spent. Our hope and belief is most all of this can be done with much much less overhead than the traditional model.  This will allow more money to get to the hands that really need it.

As for the shelters, many tents the large NGOs are using are made of that same material as the standard blue tarp, not fabric but a cheap plastic material with no thermal or reflective qualities.  These do not last and when you consider many of the refugee camps are in place for 5 years or more, we need a better solution.  We believe our SHELTERPOD is the better mouse trap.  It sets up quickly, is large and spacious, it uses new long lasting fabric technologies and has great thermal and heat reflective characteristics.

One of the other issues in response to disasters is the time between the disaster, raising funds, manufacturing goods and then delivering them to the disaster zone.  This timeline can run many months and by that time the dire need has past.  We hope the SHELTERCOIN will help us and other vendors get ahead of the problem so we can manufacture and stage goods and equipment in or near areas that are prone to or expecting disasters.  This will reduce the delivery times and make more product available faster when it is needed.  Why wait?

Screenshot 2017-09-01 12.04.15

B.Me: Are ICOs just the latest fad?

CW: ICOs are getting very popular.  I believe we are at the very beginning of the alt-coin craze and over time some coins will fail and some will become community standards.  The alt-coins or tokens give people all over the world an unrestricted way to support projects and causes they believe in and the block chain can be a way to track efforts and spending.  The beauty of it is that they are really market supported.  If people believe in the project they will succeed, if not they will fall away into the abyss, the way it should be.  My Grandfather once said buy what you believe in.  With alt-coins it could not be more true.

 

B.Me: So if I buy the coin in the Initial Coin Offering, that enables shelter to get to people in need. But in return I get the coins, which still have value and may go up in value like BitCoin?

CW: Exactly.  They may go up or they may crash and completely lose all of their value.  They are really not a security and we do not have a crystal ball.  Sorry, had to put that out there to keep the lawyers happy.  How much is BitCoin today? If the value of SHELTERCOIN went up like that I think we might be able to solve the homeless issue all together.

 

B.Me: It’s philanthropy with upside!

CW: Yes. This is the beauty of alt-coins, it is a new way to crowd-source support for worthy projects where everyone is a winner.

sheltercoin image

B.Me: Do you think SHELTERCOINs might one day be worth as much as BitCoins?

CW: We are not trying to be or replace BitCoin or any other crypto-currency. Decentralization is a new world with a whole new financial model. There will be thousands of digital currencies, we want to use ours to bring together a community of shelter providers and disaster responders with our enthusiastic and fast-growing SHIFTPOD community.

 

B.Me: You are literally making money. Is that what this is all about?

CW: This is about more than making money, which is why we created the SHELTERCOIN Foundation. This is about the decentralized, peer-to-peer model of the blockchain providing a more efficient way to get shelter to people who need it immediately, they don’t have time to wait for big bureaucracies to raise billions but never spend them. We are building a new system and community around SHELTERCOIN. We have emergency responders vetted and ready to get on planes with a moments notice.  If we can create value in an alt-coin it can support the mobilization of not only equipment but also people.  We have vendors we can engage to support the coin and the cause.  We can bring all of this together and use software and the Internet to take a lot of the cost out of the process.  The money we are creating is borderless and can be used to support projects all over the world.  It is all there and we can use SHELTERCOIN to bring it all together.

 

B.Me: Why use a SHIFTPOD for disaster relief? Aren’t they expensive?

CW: Expensive is relative.  Many of the “tents” used in disaster response can cost $5000 to $50,000 each.  Many of these take multiple people hours to set up.  We have the fastest shelter set up for the best price available on the market anywhere in the world.  We can deploy hundreds of units in a matter of hours for housing, triage units, and even operating rooms.   Our units can be dropped by plane or helicopter.  When you consider the mobility and speed of set up, durability and all we offer a very inexpensive option that is setting a new standard that is quickly being adopted.

Screenshot 2017-09-01 12.12.32

B.Me: Some Burners have said “this is just a glorified ice fishing tent”. How do you respond to that?

CW: Some ice fishing tents have a similar look and fiberglass poles but that is really where the similarity stops.  It is pretty funny when people think they can compare them especially for use in the desert.  The list of differences is very long but the most obvious ones are most ice fishing huts are a dark color and are designed to keep heat in, they do not have floors and they have velcro windows.  We have developed and patented a 5-layer composite fabric that reflects the heat of the sun in the daytime and keeps body heat in at night and engineered our units to be all weather and long term shelters.  Our patented shape sheds the wind and has been tested to 109MPH! We have created many other features make it possible to live comfortably for extended periods of time.  We have spend a lot of time and attention on the details of long term living, in some of the harshest environments in the world.  We currently have people in Hawaii living in our original unit for more than a year and we have units going to Iraq, South Sudan and Haiti for long term in-field testing.  We are building our current units for families to live in for up to five years.  This takes a lot of engineering.

 

B.Me: How can people participate in the ICO?

CW: Our ICO will be open to the public next month, and our white paper will be released at http://sheltercoin.io in the next few days. Sign up to our ICO mailing list there if you are interested. People can buy into the ICO with BitCoin, Ether, or by wiring fiat currency to the SHELTERCOIN bank account. To improve security and give us time to get the word out the ICO will happen in stages, with a lower coin price for earlier participants, just like our camp contributions.

Spread the word, buy, use, trade and store SHELTERCOIN and more importanly get involved in your community and help those around you.  Just get out there and make it happen.  Remember, everyone can make a difference and every second in life counts

B.Me: Thanks very much Christian for giving us this exclusive interview. It sounds like an exciting project and the right thing at the right time with so many victims of Hurricane Harvey needing shelter. Good luck down there!

 

Financial Times Sits Down For Shrimp With Larry

It’s a tough market these days, so the world’s canniest investors are turning to new sources of wisdom. Not Black Rock, the world’s largest asset manager with $4.7 trillion… but the Black Rock Desert, with Mr All Teeth-No Hat himself, Larry Harvey. I heard about this story last night from a banker in Dubai.

So, when Burning Man is being discussed in a paper literally dedicated to trade in commodities – have we reached Commodification yet?

Some might consider Larry a surprising choice to be dispensing wisdom to FT readers. He recently gave his $40 million company away after 30 years, but not before he spent millions of dollars on accountants and lawyers valuing it. They got 2 separate valuations, and then chose to price it at the lower one. Perhaps they were Satanically pranking themselves.

Still, when it comes to eating Shrimp Louis and waxing poetical, Larry’s there to please. Read the whole interview at FT, I want to comment on a couple of things of particular interest to Burners.

 


 

Lunch with the FT: Burning Man’s Larry Harvey

Over Shrimp Louis, the festival’s ‘chief philosophic officer’ talks about ‘radical self-reliance’, conservative values and why a ‘sudden change’ is on the way

Image: Financial Times © James Ferguson

Image: Financial Times © James Ferguson

[John’s Grill’s] wood-panelled walls are lined with photographs of famous diners, from Alfred Hitchcock to Steve Jobs. It has survived the 1960s counterculture revolution, half a dozen earthquakes and several cycles of tech industry boom and bust. So too has another San Francisco institution, Larry Harvey. “Well, this is an old-line place, isn’t it?” he says, as I greet him at the back of the restaurant. “It smells like leather and old men.”...

Placing his water bottle between us and with his embroidered black shirt pockets stuffed with cigarettes, notebook and spectacles, he has aged like a Rolling Stone…Harvey says, “I don’t drink much alcohol” but encourages me to “have a drink or two. You might write a more sympathetic story.” …He asks me about Brexit…

“It’s not unlike what’s happening here,” he says. “Fortunately it looks as if the republic isn’t ready to be ruled by a narcissistic celebrity.” A “life-long Democrat”, Harvey is confident that Hillary Clinton is going to sweep Donald Trump to a “historic defeat”. “It’s worked out so beautifully. Bernie [Sanders] pushed her to the left significantly.”

So much for the Mainstream Republican Values of Burning Man. And indeed, the Progressive Left values of the many Sanders supporters I know amongst the Burner community.

Harvey himself is unperturbed by the growing presence of tech billionaires at Burning Man, describing them as “our cousins and neighbours”. It is “ludicrous” to say that money — which is banned from the festival other than to pay for ice and coffee from the Center Camp Cafe — is evil. We’re not the Occupy movement,” he says, gesturing with half a hard-boiled egg that he has been holding for several minutes. “Civilisation and commerce have always gone hand-in-hand. We’re an international city, for God’s sake. You don’t whistle that up out of nothing.”…Progress comes from “struggle, shared with others, towards some common goal,” he says. “It doesn’t come from love per se.”…Harvey is an atheist and declares himself allergic to the supernatural…At the festival, the burning of the man brings everyone together in a moment of catharsis. “They witness themselves, and they too feel real and themselves, this supercharged entity and yearning, because they’ve been circling around the centre in this chaotic whirl for days,” Harvey says. “Everyone feels like they’re one with everyone else … That’s called transcendence.”

See, I always thought I was living in a community when I was at Burning Man. I didn’t realize that the important thing was everybody circling around this Central Intelligence Axis, summoning a supercharged entity from the chaos. It’s a very binary thing: you can go clockwise, or counter-clockwise. Go with the flow, or stop and it will wash over you. Of course, that’s not supernatural or anything. Burning an effigy in a pentagram, after lighting it from a cauldron called The Devil, burning a Temple, nothing to do with anything supernatural.

I’m not sure that “for God’s sake” is the best phrase to use when asserting one’s atheism.

Here’s what Burning Man was like when I first went. I think many of us old school Burners still see Burning Man this way.

Maybe Larry’s going to FT seeking some new suckers financial heavyweights to chip in for the next phase of their real estate ambitions:

It takes me a long time to get Harvey to address why the festival that puts “leaving no trace” among its core values is using donations to buy a permanent home on a Nevada ranch earlier this year — not least when its founder also bemoans the “imperial sway” of private property. Several tech entrepreneurs — including a founder of Airbnb and a venture capitalist who backed Twitter and Snapchat — donated $6m to Burning Man so it could buy Fly Ranch, a 3,800-acre property.

Some donors asked to remain anonymous; Harvey acknowledges (but does not deny) speculation that they might include the Google boys, who have been spotted hanging out at First Camp, or Elon Musk. But he insists that they have been promised “nothing” in return — “not a role in governance, not tickets … It’s a gift.”

With a “no-hustle” fundraising model established, Fly Ranch is not the limit of Harvey’s ambitions: the group is now eyeing the adjacent Hualapai Flat, a playa not unlike Black Rock’s, which Harvey says is on the Department of the Interior’s list of “disposable properties”. “We’ll be first in line to bid for that.”

While he insists there is no set business plan, Harvey envisions Fly Ranch to be an “auxiliary space” — the “minor key” to the “major key” of the big burn, which, he concedes, can be a “brain-numbing and eardrum-abusing experience”.

Retirement villages in the desert? Will there be beachfront property on this playa? I am ROFLing at the thought that nobody from Google gets tickets from BMOrg. Numb your own brain.

danger ranger tweet self service cult wash your own brain

Investors in the new Timeshare at Flysalen may want to consider insurance or a hedging strategy. Seems like Larry’s been watching Doomsday Preppers:

I ask if he feels, after 30 years, that Burning Man’s ideals are starting to be felt beyond the desert. “I’d like to mischievously quote Milton Friedman,” he says, invoking the rightwing economist. “He said change only happens in a crisis, and then that actions that are undertaken depend on the ideas that are just lying around.” With the “discontents of globalisation” set to continue, he predicts that crisis will hit by the middle of this century. “I think there really is a chance for sudden change.” However, I struggle to pin him down on exactly which Burners’ ideas he hopes will be “lying around” when it does…he is much more eager to talk about organisational details, such as Black Rock City’s circular layout, “sort of like a neolithic temple”.

Indeed, Harvey insists he has a “conservative sensibility” and is “not a big fan of revolution”. “Do I sound like a hippie? I’m not!” And he bristles at being called anti-capitalist, although he hung out with the hippies on Haight Street in 1968. “I was there in the spring, autumn and winter of love, but I missed the summer,” he says, due to being drafted into the US army. “It was apparent to me that it was all based on what Tom Wolfe called ‘cheques from home’. The other source that shored it up was selling dope. I thought, that isn’t sustainable.

[Source: Financial Times]

We heard last December that Burning Man was going to turn over a new leaf in environmental sustainability. I’m still waiting to see what this actually means. They got a donation from Solar City?

Projects like this suggest we are heading in the opposite direction from sustainability and Decommodification:

Image: SFist, Big Imagination (Facebook)

Image: SFist, Big Imagination (Facebook)

Is this art, spreading the ideals of the community to make the world a better place? Or just a fancy way to get your signage on TV?

How will this help when the shit hits the fan and civilization collapses? We will all live in converted 747s?

Not to worry, though. Time and space dance to Larry’s tune:

Read the full story at the Financial Times

 

The Man Behind The Music

Image: IRDeep via Spin

Image: IRDeep via Spin

Spin magazine has an interview with Opulent Temple founder Syd Gris. Some highlights:

The organizers behind Burning Man deny any affiliations of being a “music festival,” but, for all intents and purposes, this is the wildest music festival in the world.

The denial of their identity as a music festival lets Burning Man rely heavily on crowdsourcing the 24-hour, over-the-top productions, visuals, DJ booths, sound equipment, and world-class music performances to ticket holders…

Attendees being responsible for their own entertainment is exactly what separates Burning Man from any other music festival. You bought the ticket, and have to do all the work. 

Gris is the co-founder, lineup curator, and overall production director for more than 13 years with the sound camp known as Opulent Temple. 

CREDIT: Photo by IRDeep

Opulent’s major objective is twofold: to provide a platform for spiritual dance expression and for DJs to explore the more artistic (and perhaps unacknowledged at other commercial festivals) side of their craft…

 This year, Opulent Temple took a step away from their typical stage build for their popular Wednesday night “White Party.” Instead, they provided attendees a truly magical alternative that captured the true essence of Burning Man by forming a commutative stage consisting of multiple art cars from other camps. The Opulent team set up their DJ stand on top of an art car, outfitted with large speakers, to drive deeper into the open center area of Burning Man. Various cars from other camps outfitted with large speakers met them at a specific location and linked up wirelessly through RF technology to form a makeshift half circle dance floor. While each car was synced directly to the Opulent DJ performance, additional art cars unaffiliated with the camp would drive in and the Opulent workers would link them up to join the party as well.

What was the sound camp scene like when you arrived at your very first Burning Man?
Back in 2001, there were certainly less of them and most every scale of production was downsized compared to current standards of Burning Man sound camps, especially the scale of sound systems. I say that mostly because camps such as “Lush” in 2004 and “Sol System” that same year (fondly known as Sol Henge) were even by today’s sound camp’s standards massive productions, but those were definitely outliers and seemingly burned both crews out because neither ever came back after that year.

Is it true that you fought for the rights of sound camps at Burning Man?
Yes, I organized a bunch of camps in 2008 including representatives from camps like El Circo, the Deep End, Green Gorilla, and others to approach the Burning Man organizers to request some changes and support. The premise was basically that collectively we’ve felt like we give a lot to the event. Which, of course, is fine; it’s why we started creating such camps in the first place. But we hoped we might get more support and resources from the organizers to do what we do since it is our perception the role of the Large Scale Sound & Art Camps had evolved to be an integral part of a large number of attendees experience and reason for coming. What we asked for and what we got for our efforts were different. Spoiler alert: not much!

Did artists like Tiesto find it unique having to purchase their own ticket?
Yes. We are a volunteer and fundraising camp. All the equipment, food, shelter, and electricity comes out of our own pockets, while we all have day jobs outside of Burning Man. He provided a donation to our camp debt after he played for us in 2005, he said, “It’s the only time I’ve paid someone to play for them.”

What did Opulent Temple do to set the standard for today’s music scene at Burning Man?
What we did to raise the bar was really just building on the precedence of the great camps that came before us but taking it to a higher level. We make our own art and the production pieces that make up our camp, and we build new stuff every year to add to our recognizable look. We were the first to have a DJ-operated flame-throwing booth, and the first to consistently bring out an eclectic range of so-called ‘big-name’ DJs, and we did it all year round through volunteers building the camp and making the art.

CREDIT: Photo by IRDeep

What’s the future of the music community of Burning Man? Will the music be too much and eventually take away from the art as it slowly becomes the main attraction?
I think people’s association and experience of Burning Man — unless something drastically changes — is always one of art and music. For now, it is by far primarily dance music. Though it sounds ironic to say, in one light you could say the organization has gone to great lengths to do nothing to support music at Burning Man beyond allowing it to exist. They do a lot to nurture the art scene, so I don’t see it becoming too much.

[Source: Spin]

Read the full interview at Spin Magazine.

Here’s a Syd Gris set from last year’s Halloween.