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Life Is Beautiful Festival: All the Behind-the-Scenes Secrets, from Co-Owner Ryan Doherty

September 22, 2015
Photo credit: Life Is Beautiful

Photo credit: Life Is Beautiful

With fall underway, most of the year’s biggest music festivals are a thing of the past.

But Life Is Beautiful gives people a chance at one final big festival hurrah until 2016 Coachella.

Taking place this weekend in Downtown Las Vegas, the music and arts festival features huge talent, including Stevie Wonder, Kendrick Lamar, Imagine Dragons, Brandon Flowers, Snoop Dogg, Duran Duran, Kygo – and a slew of my favorites (Porter Robinson, Death Cab for Cutie, Madeon, Future IslandsGlass Animals, Peking Duk, Audien and What So Not).

Photo credit: Life Is Beautiful

Photo credit: Life Is Beautiful

Skyelyfe sat down at Soho House in West Hollywood with the festival’s co-owner, WENDOH Media‘s Ryan Doherty. Doherty discussed the headliner selection process, the things that set this festival greatly apart from the others and some of the year-long challenges that were faced in pulling this incredible experience together. 

Read on to learn six behind-the-scenes things to know about Life Is Beautiful festival:

1. The Setup Is Wild

“At a music festival, you’re usually in a venue. In this case, the entire downtown is turned into a venue,” Doherty said. “We fence off 17 blocks, we have stages and parking lots in the middle of the streets. There are casinos, bars, restaurants that become parts of the venue. It has this ever-evolving footprint that changes every year.”

Photo credit: Life Is Beautiful

Photo credit: Life Is Beautiful

2. Here’s How the Headliners Came to Be

“We had a lot of artists we went after for headliners,” Doherty said. “The festival scene has gotten so broad now. There’s a festival every weekend, and we’re all fighting over the same talent. We got lucky. We did end up getting who we wanted. Stevie Wonder was a big get for us. He’s not going to be playing for a [much longer] time. You never know when he’s going to hang it up, so for us to get him for a festival is a good get. We had hoped to get Imagine Dragons because we don’t have a local sports team. We have very few hometown heroes. So, the Killers and Imagine Dragons are like our two hometown heroes. and Kendrick, we kind of bet on that horse, so we got him a long time ago and hoped he would catch on fire. And so far, it’s paid off. He’s turned in some great festival performances already this year. His music is smart and conscious. One of the goals was to make the lineup diverse, and I think that was accomplished.” 

Photo credit: Life Is Beautiful

Photo credit: Life Is Beautiful

3. The Challenges of Putting Together L.I.B Differ from Other Festivals

“There are a million moving parts to a music festival,” Doherty explained. “There are tons of speed bumps, but no obstacles. It just takes a long time to get things done. Most of you go to a music festival and you have to deal with the personalities of rockstars. We have to deal with the personalities of chefs and rockstars. We have an entire speaker series, so we have all these speakers. It’s a lot of stars who have all different personalities and are all coming in from different places from all over the world. Just booking their travel is a full-time job.”

4. Just Dealing with Venue Matters Alone Took a Whole Year

“We have to shut down city blocks, rearrange traffic,” Doherty said. “When you have a venue you can walk into, like a Coachella, where it’s a big field, it’s a lot easier. We have residents that we move to hotels for a weekend, we have perimeter fences that we have to put up around 17 blocks. People are surprised it takes a whole year to put this together, but it’s 100,000 people across four pillars. We have the speaker series, we have the culinary program, then we have the musicians and then we have art.”

Photo credit: Life Is Beautiful

Photo credit: Life Is Beautiful

5. The Festival’s Learning Project Is Something That Doesn’t Exist Elsewhere

“It’s essentially built around the platform of small, 200-300-person theater-style engagements going on during the festival,” Doherty explained. “It’s short-form content. These are 20-minute sessions. The idea of it is so that if you’re in groups, you can divide off and two of you can catch a session while the others catch a music set and then you can meet up and get some food together. The learning project is really meant to inspire everyone. You’re not getting that at any other music festival – whether it’s an inspirational culinary experience or little pop-up demonstrations.”

6. Despite Its Las Vegas Location, L.I.B. Doesn’t Typically Bring Out the Party Animals

“It’s really not that kind of festival,” Doherty said. “It’s not that crazy type of environment.”

Music

Casper Smart’s Music Video Love Interest Haifa Wehbe Talks ‘Enjoyable’ Experience Working with J.Lo’s Man

July 14, 2015

HaifaLebanese pop star Haifa Wehbe has some interesting ties to Jennifer Lopez. For starters, she had the pleasure of featuring Lopez’s boyfriend Casper Smart as her love interest in her music video for “Breathing You In” (scroll to bottom). Additionally, Wehbe – who is in her early forties – says she’s “often compared to” the American Idol judge, with journalists even referring to her as “the Jennifer Lopez of the Middle East.”

Skyelyfe caught up with the singing sensation, who dished on everything from the Middle East’s pop music scene, to favorite L.A. hotspots when she comes to town. And of course, it was necessary that she shared her “enjoyable” experience teaming up with Smart.

Get to know Wehbe below:

skyelyfe: What is the electronic and pop music scene like in the Middle East? And the music scene in general? What is most popular? Which American artists are big out there?

Haifa Wehbe: The music scene in the Middle East is very diverse. From hip-hop, to pop, to electro, to rock, both local and international artists have big fan bases in the Middle East. The electronic and pop scenes are continuing to grow in the Middle East. I am proud of the accomplishments of other Middle Eastern pop artists, including Ahlam and Wael Kfoury. American artists who are big in the Middle East include Snoop Dogg, Akon, Nicki Minaj and Pitbull.

SL: Who are some American artists you personally enjoy listening to? (It doesn’t matter if they are popular or not)

HW: I really enjoy listening to Rihanna, and my favorite songs of hers are “Diamonds,” “We Found Love” and “Only Girl (In The World).” I also like Britney Spears (“Womanizer,” “Gimme More” and “Till The World Ends”) and Chris Brown (“Run It,” “Look At Me Now” and “Turn Up The Music.”)

SL: How did you end up working with Casper and what was that experience like?

HW: I was actually introduced to Casper through my record label, World Music. The label’s co-CEOs, Tarik Freitekh and Mostafa Sorour were already friends with Casper and they thought it would be a good idea to have him in the music video. When we were introduced we immediately found common ground which made the process of working together on the music video for “Breathing You In” so enjoyable.

SL: What are your thoughts on Los Angeles and what are some of your favorite places to eat/drink/shop in this city?

HW: I love, love, love Los Angeles – what an amazing city. When I visit Los Angeles I stay at my favorite hotel, the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. I have been staying at that hotel for so many years and it is centrally located to my two favorite shopping areas: Rodeo Drive and Melrose. When I am in town for longer stays I actually travel to Newport Beach to visit with friends and, of course, shop at Fashion Island. My favorite restaurants in Los Angeles are Mastros and Nobu in Malibu.

SL: Where in the Middle East do you live?

HW: I live in Beruit, Lebanon. It is an exciting cosmopolitan city often referred to as “the Paris of the East.” It is a “high energy” coastal city with amazing restaurants, art galleries, museums and shops – it is actually a very popular tourist destination.

SL: How did you first get into performing?

HW: When I was very young, I knew that when I got older that I wanted to be an entertainer – I had a real passion for singing and acting. I first got started by modeling, which gave me great exposure. From modeling I was able to springboard into singing with the initial release of three singles (I have since released eight albums total). I then branched out into acting having been in four very successful feature length motion pictures including Halawet al-Rooh.

SL: What is the story behind “Breathing You In” and how did the song come to be?

HW: I knew that I wanted to release an English-language song that had meaning – that reflected something deeper about how I live my life. The song is an anthem for how to manage day-to-day challenges. By breathing in and breathing out, you can instantly find peace and create a permanent sense of calm. The lyrics reflect my personal philosophy about dealing with difficult times  – breathing, for me, is about finding my center, my balance.

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