Governors Ball talent booker Jordan Wolowitz talks festival’s decade-plus relationship with dance music

Dance music and Governors Ball have perpetually remained intertwined. From securing Pretty Lights during its 2011 inception to being the birthing grounds for Axwell Λ Ingrosso to hosting the likes of Skrillex, Duck Sauce, Silk City, RÜFÜS DU SOL, and so many others in the decade-plus since, Governors Ball has unfailing played its part in securing a diverse, well-rounded billing each and every June of the caleendar.

That pattern expectedly brings itself into 2023 when Governors Ball heads to the other side of the LIRR tracks to debut in its new home at Flushing Meadows’ Corona Park. As far as the dance/electronic universe goes, Governors Ball has the likes of Diplo, Sofi Tukker, EVAN GIIA, and last but not least ODESZA—its Saturday headliner—all making the trip to Queens from June 9 – 11. And Dancing Astronaut will be in attendance on June 10 when the Foreign Family Collective heads bring The Last Goodbye back to New York for their first Governors Ball slot since playing at the Gotham Tent eight years prior.

Ahead of Governors Ball’s annual return this June, Dancing Astronaut sat down with its talent booker Jordan Wolowitz to talk through everything from dance music’s role in the festival’s curation, how far ODESZA have come in the time since 2015, and much more. Tickets for this year’s festival are available here.

“Since Governors Ball’s first year in 2011, electronic/dance artists have always played a big role in the festival’s overall curation. Over the years Governors Ball has featured such acts as: Pretty Lights, Girl Talk, Empire of the Sun, James Murphy, Major Lazer, Chromeo, Duck Sauce, Big Gigantic, Skrillex, Disclosure, Glitch Mob, RJD2, Axwell/Ingrosso, Ratatat, Deadmau5, Flume, SBTRKT, Hot Chip, A-Trak, Flying Lotus, Jamie xx, Duke Dumont, Bob Moses, Galantis, Marshmello, Gryffin, Silk City (Diplo + Mark Ronson), Cut Copy, Gesaffelstein, Zhu, Kaytranada, and RÜFÜS DU SOL among others.

What makes music festivals unique is the wide variety of musical experiences you can have in one setting, jumping from post-punk to pop to hip-hop and psych-rock. But it doesn’t feel like a true festival experience without some massive dance parties in the mix as well. That’s a big part of why we’ve always made a point to incorporate great electronic and dance acts into the lineup each year. If I had to pick a favorite all-time dance/electronic set in the history of Governors Ball it has to be RÜFÜS DU SOL in 2021. It was our first show coming out of COVID and they put on a truly epic set. The energy of the crowd was amazing. You could tell everybody had been missing the kind of communal experience only dancing with a ton of people at a festival can fulfill.

Aside from watching the audience have a great time at an event you’ve put so much work into, one of the most gratifying parts about booking the lineup for Governors Ball is seeing artists who play the festival grow in popularity as the years go by. That feeling pretty much applies to all genres. We’ve booked plenty of dance and electronic acts that have grown in popularity and stature along with the festival. For example in 2015 ODESZA played early in the day in our dance tent. Fast forward 8 years and they’re headlining some of the biggest festivals in the country, including Gov Ball. You could tell they were special back in ’15. What’s great about festivals is that artists can get great exposure to new audiences and fans who might stumble upon their set or discover their music while listening to a playlist of artists playing a festival they’re about to attend. It’s clear that they’ve put in the work and grown their fanbase through touring and festival plays, and that’s part of what’s led to where they are today. It’s going to be amazing to watch them headline on Saturday night this year.

But I’m equally excited for people who come to Governors Ball this year and discover a new favorite artist earlier in the day. For example, Evan GIIA is an amazing Brooklyn based dance/electronic artist that plays at 1:30 pm on Saturday. Anybody that shows up for her set is going to be really glad they did.”

Featured image: Governors Ball/Instagram

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