Hulaween 2014: Art Director Andy Carroll x Vinyl Mag

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Adorned with Spanish moss-draped oak trees and nestled on the shady banks of the black Suwannee River, The Spirit of Suwannee Music Park is naturally the ideal setting for a Halloween weekend extravaganza. This year, the 800-acre venue will once again transform into a festive playground for the Second Annual Suwanee Hulaween.

Last year, the lake within the venue and adjacent forest were morphed into Spirit Lake, a visual experience that fused dazzling light production, art installations, performance art, and host to the Silent Disco. With Spirit Lake quickly becoming one of the most anticipated experiences of Hulaween, we took a couple minutes to chat with the returning visionary and Art Director, Andrew Carroll, to talk about his design process, setting the record straight on comparing Spirit Lake to Sherwood Forest, and why this venue is so incredibly special.

Vinyl Mag: How did you first get involved with the creation of Spirit Lake?

Andrew Carroll: The producers had seen my work at some other events (such as Sherwood Forest at Electric Forest Festival), and reached out. We talked about the project, and it sounded amazing.

VM: What is your creative and design process for Spirit Lake?

AC: The process is an initial conversation with the producers that includes budget talks, recaps from the previous year on what worked and what didn’t, a chat about the general theme (this year being The Afterlife), etc. We lock in the larger art projects, while sifting through the proposal emails or people willing to offer an installation for a ticket trade. The trick is to bring enough art, lighting, and performance so that it feels full and impactful, but not too much stuff so that it just feels like your cramming in as much as we can. It’s a balance of trying to have it be an amazing experience for the patrons, while doing so within the allotted budget.


VM: What can attendees expect this year?

AC: We’ve gone bigger and expanded in all areas of Spirit Lake, and I think people will feel that if they are returning, and will be amazed if it is their first time.

VM: There have been comments floating around that it seems that Spirit Lake is becoming – if it isn’t already -more like Sherwood Forest at Electric Forest; in the sense that it keeps getting bigger and better each year. In your second year with the festival, is this something you and your design team are striving for as Spirit Lake comes into its own as one of the most integral parts of the festival?

AC: First off, these are two very different events in two very different settings, so I don’t feel it’s fair to compare the two. Also, this is only our second opportunity to bring Spirit Lake to life as Spirit Lake, so no one (myself included) totally knows where Spirit Lake will end up. It’s a unique place, and a unique experience, and there is no need to compare. It’s similar to when people compare the Grateful Dead to Phish… sure there are some similarities, but they are two very different animals.

VM: Without giving too much away, would you say Spirit Lake is growing in size, compared to last year, and are there any new installations we can look forward to?

AC: As far as the general size, it will be very similar.  However, we have grown the scope of art, lighting, and performance in an effort to ‘go bigger, badder, better!’

VM: How is the local art community being integrated into this year’s design?

AC: We have many folks in the local art community bringing a variety of art installations, painting, performance, etc again. It’s exciting!

VM: What do you think makes Spirit of Suwannee so special?

AC: It’s been around a long time, and hosted many amazing bands, festivals and events. There is something special about Florida in general, and the Suwannee Music Park is absolutely gorgeous. The people of Florida are incredibly passionate and creative. As far as coming to the table, they ‘really bring it…every time. Plus, there’s nothing cooler than that dripping Spanish moss in the trees!


Photo Credit: Brad Kuntz

It all started when a much younger Jackie dove into her parents’ record collection, grabbed that trippy Magical Mystery Tour album, and played “Strawberry Fields” over and over again until it was engrained into her soul. She grew up on the dreams and stories of Simon and Garfunkel, “Bleeker Street” being one of her favorites, the seduction of The Doors, Van Morrison, because “Brown Eyed Girl” is definitely her song, and the likes of Jefferson Airplane, The Who, Jimi Hendrix…you get the picture. It may not show on the outside, but Jackie has a hippie heart, and that reflects in her musical tastes today. While some of her favorites may or may not be jam bands, her taste in music feeds into many genres. From alternative, Brit, and indie rock - OK, maybe all rock - to pop, to rap, to electronic, she loves it all. As a northerner, she thought she would never understand country until she found herself on a Georgia farm in cowboy boots watching Luke Bryan shake it for her- yeah, she got that. She is a chronic wanderluster, she doesn't believe in guilty pleasures, enjoys a great Moscow Mule, and is an absolute music festival fanatic- you’ll find her wherever the music takes her.


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