An Interview about Timber! Outdoor Music Festival with Kevin Sur

Local Music
Jake Uitti

The inaugural weekend for Timber! Outdoor Music Festival is slated for July 26-27. The event, presented by Artist Home, an organization founded by Kevin Sur, marks a partnership with King County Parks and will be held in Carnation, WA. The weekend will include music performances from The Helio Sequence, Lemolo, Bryan John Appelby, Kithkin and others, as well as celestial talks and presentations. KEXP caught up with Sur to ask him five questions about the summer’s newest and hottest affair.

Why did you start Timber!?

We were looking for more events to do. Doe Bay Fest has grown to capacity and we’re really in love with these parties that we throw and we wanted to do more of it. King Country came along and knew about Doe Bay, Artist Home, our Bonfire Series and everything we’ve been doing. They met with me and brought me out to the park in Carnation and we devised a way that we could make it work. It was a no-brainer. It’s a huge park, 540-acres, and it’s in this great little town of Carnation. We have two different stages, rotating depending on the day. It’s a beautiful place and we’re very much into the environment. We have a campfire stage in the middle of a bunch of fur trees and the artists playing will be literally illuminated by campfires. There is a big field about a quarter mile away from there that’s in the middle of the woods and in there you feel like you’re in another place altogether. That’s where the main stage will be.

We wanted something that felt like a big neighborhood campout. It’s a combination of all the things we do in terms of programming. There’s a taste of Slack Fest and an element of the summer Bonfire Series and then there’s the big main stage which is like Doe Bay. It’s the best of all worlds on a much bigger scale. And besides that, we’re being real nerds about it. There’s an astrophysicist from the University of Washington doing a star talk. Astronomy groups will be out there at night so people can appreciate the outdoors and star gazing. The Park Ranger will be doing nature hikes. We may do intramural capture the flag and even a s’more cook off!

All these features seem integral to you, personally. What’s it like for you to put on such a party? 

It’s awesome! It’s like making a mixtape or mix cd. It’s really the same thing on a grander scale. You’re able to pick and choose a lineup of artists and present them in the same way. It’s super fun and we see ourselves as a group of guys who are just sort of inventing how to do it on our own. If anything, we’re just really good at throwing parties and at the same time not taking ourselves too seriously. It’s a dream job. Having been involved in the Doe Bay Fest, we learned this would be a really great way to make a living: throwing parties, having people and bands involved, helping unknown artists, bringing them up, working with bands we’ve always wanted to work with. It’s a lot of time, but it’s hard to call it work.

What are you still doing in terms of the day-to-day?

A lot of the sort of boring stuff: where porta-potties go, finalizing permits, working with food trucks. We’re excited though about bringing the food truck culture into Timber! to let people experience the really great food they have to offer. There’s one truck called 'Fried Egg I’m In Love', and it’s hilarious! They have a sandwiches like Yolko Ono, Free Range Against The Machine. It’s catchy but their sandwiches are mind-blowing. We’re working on a lot of stuff like that. A root beer garden for kids next to the beer garden. And between now and the end of July there will be a lot of fun ideas come up that we haven’t thought of yet, I’m sure.

Can you explain the family-friendly aspects of Timber! and why this is important?

We found out through Doe Bay and the Bonfire Series that families were glomming on to what we were doing. It woke us up to the fact that Washington doesn’t have a lot of all-ages music venues, a strong all-ages music community. At least not like the rest of the country where fans meet bands in venues and grow up with them. It comes from a personal place too. I have a family and my wife and I still want to go to shows but I don’t want to see the same five 'family friendly' bands all the time. It used to be that venues like Sonic Boom were the only place to go, but they were too infrequent. So part of it is serving the community but it is also to teach kids that music is something to go to early and discover. And musicians are people you can engage with, you can collect CD’s, become a fan of a band, this is a very normal thing for a kid to do. The next generation of these kids will be some of the most avid music lovers in town, if not some of the most talented musicians because they grew up seeing it was possible. Also, in a way, people behave better in the audiences when there are five- and six-year-olds around. It’s a really relaxed environment, I think we’ve found a nice balance.

What are you going to do once Timber! and Doe Bay are finished?

I don’t know – well, two weeks after Doe Bay, I have Slack Fest in honor of KEXP DJ Don Slack. That’s the finish line for me this summer. We’re doing three mini festivals within six weeks. First it’s Timber!, second it’s Doe Bay, and then third it’s Slack Fest. Slack Fest is a riot, people come and camp on Friday, then the music happens all day Saturday. They camp Saturday. The lineup is totally selected by Don. It’s on a dirt race track in Stanwood, WA. Bands play in flatbed trucks. It’s a rock and roll party! We have a great time. But I will definitely be trying to take a few weeks off after that. Maybe go backpacking for a couple weeks and get some peace and quiet.

The Helio Sequence - Hallelujah (Live on KEXP)

Lemolo - Letters (Live on KEXP)

Bryan John Appelby - Honey Jars (Live on KEXP)

Kithkin - Fallen Giants

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