Timothy Monkiewicz (Elements Music & Art Festival)
Festival Advisor Team
Oct 1, 2020
7 min read
Welcome to Festivals Advisor's Organizer Q&A series! Here, we have intimate conversations with some of the festival market's most exciting and influential innovators. We want to get to know our favorite festivals better, and today, we meet Timothy Monkiewicz, founder of Elements Music & Art Festival.
Sequestered in a real-life campground in northwestern Pennsylvania, Elements treats fans and artists to a nostalgic summer experience among scenic woods and cooling lakes. It's a summer smash with a soundtrack from some of the scene's best DJs and bands, with stages of varied sounds represented by the four elements of earth, wind, water and fire. Check out the video and read on below to learn more about this experiential event.
What is your name what is the name of your festival?
Hi, my name is Timothy Monkiewicz, and I am co-founder of Elements Music and Arts Festival.
When did the festival start and what inspired it?
The festival started in 2017, and I would say the main thing that inspired it was the need to have, I think a community arts and experience-driven music festival in the northeast of the United States, because I think there really isn't anything that's a sizable festival here right now.
When and where does it happen?
It happens on Memorial Day, every Memorial Day weekend, every year, which is towards the end of May. And it happens in northeastern Pennsylvania, in the Pocono Mountains.
Tell us about the site and how it influences the festival?
The site is a really amazing site, I think it's one of the most special and unique things about our festival. It's actually located on a summer camp that has cabins and some other activities already built-in, which is really nice.
I think the best part of it, though, is the diversity of the geography. There's a beautiful lake with a dock where we have our water stage and kind of like fun disco music during the day and like pirate ships and stuff. And then there's also woods like a really beautiful pine forest with trees, and we have stages in there, then there's kind of like a hilly section. And there's open fields. And it's really just all kinds of different geography, which I think is really special and differentiates us from a lot of these other festivals that are just, you know, open fields and bringing stuff in.
What kind of musical artists play at your festival?
Well, our festival, the musical artists are really varied, you know, like part of it is, is that we're not trying to go after one genre, it's really going after all different kinds of music that is tasteful, and inspirational to us.
We have our four different elements, Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire and each one kind of encompasses a different kind of music. The Earth stage is more kind of bass-y hippie trippy, some live music, different kinds of ethnic music. Our Air stage is more techno and tech hosts and stuff like that, and deep house. Sounds kind of like Tulum, Burning Man if you want to call it that. Our Fire stage is based on more like American-based tech house, bass house, like Chris Lake, Fisher kind of stuff. And then our Water stage is more disco, fun daytime vibes.
And you know, we're really kind of encompassing all different kinds – old school hip hop, even, you know, really just all kinds of music as long as it's tasteful. We're not really doing any big commercial acts, EDM acts, and we're trying to push the envelope and bring people new stuff.
Who was the first act you ever booked?
The first act I ever booked was, who was that – Felix Cartal with Cody Chapman at AM Only, back in I think 2012 or something – it was our first, you know, Elements started out as BangOn!NYC, which was kind of underground warehouses in New York City, which started back in 2009. That grew from you know, 200 to 300 person parties to about 6,000 person parties.
It’s interesting – Felix Cartal was the first one where we actually paid for a DJ, and that was when we were starting to get big. It was the first time we had like 2,500 people, it was like, you know, it's a really special experience to do something that big for the first time and just seeing all the people walking in the door and their eyes like light up, it was a really special time.
What’s the most memorable set for you?
The most memorable set at any of my events, I would say is definitely Maceo Plex at Elements in 2018. I've heard a lot of good sets and I've heard him before. I think he was just in a really good mood and enjoying it and the crowd was just going nuts and it's the last night of our festival. Just everybody at the festival, all my friends who helped me build the festival and a lot of the people who were part of it all just happen to be in the same area in the crowd not backstage, like normally a lot of festival owners are backstage. We're actually in the crowd dancing. And we just happen to be near each other in this crowd of like 1,500 people and seeing each other and we're just all smiling. And just everybody's really enjoying it and feeling it and I'm just grateful for those moments.
What kind of people attend your festival?
A lot of different people attend our festival I think, you know, New York is obviously a very diverse place. About half of people come from there and then the rest are from a good chunk or from the Northeast, you know, Boston to Maine to to there down to DC and then there's a lot of people driving in and people find him from California people driving up from Texas, Virginia, Florida, really all over the place.
What is unique about your festival? What sets it apart?
I would say we have some really funky esoteric things about our festival. And I would say being based out of New York and Brooklyn is really special. You know, we consider ourselves more of a music, art and kind of transformational – slightly transformational – festival where it's really something special. Similar festivals, I would think, obviously Burning Man is cool. There's some other ones in the West Coast like Lightning in a Bottle, there's Shambala. There's Envision in Costa Rica.
I think one thing that sets us apart from even those which are really special is that we come from a really New York based, underground New York based thing where we'll have some really more risky stuff and like, you know, a sex party dome, to some, like crazy tattoo artists and a tree, just we always go one level further with the unique, strange, funky stuff that you wouldn't expect. And, you know, we like to be bold, and we're not, you know, we're not hiding this and that, you know, that's coming from Brooklyn in New York, where it's a really cool culture that we can bring that to a festival, which I think is special. To a camping festival outside of the city.
Anything else you want to tell us about?
You know, we're really excited for 2021 and all that has to bring, it's been a crazy year. But you know, we've had fun this summer – we did, we started a new company doing COVID testing before these small events, anywhere from 50 people to 250 people.
You know, we've been keeping busy and getting people some jobs and, you know, we built some small stages and really honed in on our business and honed in on a lot of things. It was nice to be able to step back into these small events, to really have time to think about some of the small details and we're really excited to bring that back in 2021 we've got some new artists and some new some new ideas that we're really excited about.