FestiHeads Pt 2: Inspiration Behind The Mellohead Design
If you read last weeks “Electric Spark” then you remember reading all about FestiHeads. We had the pleasure of meeting FestiHeads at EDC Orlando a few weeks ago. I fell in love with his work and needless to say, my friend is ecstatic about his Slushmello head. I mean who wouldn’t be? We were so mesmerized by his stunning creation. I couldn’t think of a better person to interview not once, but twice! This time he’s raving all about his melloheads and the magic behind them. Here is an exclusive part 2 interview with FestiHeads. The Inspiration Behind The Mellohead Design
Meet FestiHeads Part 2: The Inspiration Behind The Design
So obviously you’re a huge Marshmello fan. What turned you into such a huge fan and how has that impacted your life?
I started listening to Marshmello around the time of Electric Forest in 2016. I just remember listening to his Ultra set like fifty times that weekend. That’s one of the only things we could get to load and play on my speaker. Since then I’ve always associated his music with fun times that I’ve had with my friends. I saw him live for the first time at a smaller venue in my hometown of Nashville in October 2016. I’ve seen him four times in 2017. Lights All Night in Dallas will be my fifth time. It goes without saying that I’m beyond excited for that.
I’m the type of person that gets obsessed with something if I like it. Marshmello’s music really resonates with me for a reason that I can’t explain. It’s obviously impacted my life in a major way. If I hadn’t had that obsession with his music there’s no way I ever would have discovered how much I love building these helmets for myself and other people. By extension, building these helmets has taken me down a path that I couldn’t have imagined taking at this point last year. It’s amazing how quickly things can happen in life.
What inspired you to make your first Mellohead?
I had been wanting to build myself a music festival costume since my first Bonnaroo in 2011. To be honest, I never actually got around to doing it until I got the idea to make a Mellohead after seeing people wearing them at Decadence CO in 2016. I remember ordering the first materials right when I got home from that Denver.
At the same time, one of my roommates, Mark, was embarking on this huge project for his car and having him to look up to is really what pushed me over the edge and start building my first helmet. I originally set out to build a standard white one with LEDs but I had no idea what I was doing, so it took me like three months before I actually had anything actually built and presentable, and even then it was just the exterior with no lights – there was no way to actually wear it. I kinda put the project on the back burner until April.
How Hardship Motivated FestiHeads
Immediately after my birthday, I learned an extremely painful lesson about life as an employee in a large corporation, and my career at Tesla came to an end. I truly loved my job there and I was absolutely devastated, and I honestly didn’t really know what to do with myself for a while. After, I ended up impulse buying a ticket to Hangout (mainly to see Marshmello, of course) and buried myself in figuring out how to build my own Mellohead just to keep myself from going crazy, really. I didn’t really know what I wanted to build, I just knew that I wanted it to be something that was unique to me.
I wasn’t really sure how to go about it so I started using some my newfound free time to build my own Mellohead with my own unique design elements. “Some” of my free time turned into “all” of my free time as I tried and failed different ideas until I finally figured out something that halfway worked just in time for Hangout (I mean “just in time” in the most literal sense – the paint was still drying when I left my house for Gulf Shores).
If at First, You Don’t Succeed, Try Again
My first attempt really took a beating and it was pretty much held together by a combination of zip ties and desperate prayer by the time the weekend was over but I had an incredibly fun time and learned a few really important lessons about my design. When I got home I went back to the drawing board and built three more for myself & my friends to wear to Bonnaroo & Electric Forest and had even more fun at those festivals. One of the best parts of the entire summer came. A few weeks after Forest, Marshmello himself retweeted a picture we had all taken together in the helmets. He also replied to it with a compliment, which sent me even further over the moon. I don’t know how many times I got some variation of the “why are you wasting your time with this, dude?” question when I first started building these things, so getting a retweet and compliment from the Mello himself really felt like some form of validation. It sounds really silly, but that retweet literally changed my life.
Immediately after, I got dozens of messages asking if people could buy one from me. I didn’t even have an Etsy shop at the time, and my plans to start one were very vague. But, that was the moment that I decided to go all-in and actually making these for other people. From there, it’s kind of snowballed into something that gets me out of bed in the morning. I honestly can’t believe the amount of support I’ve gotten from complete strangers that are, in some cases, literally on the other side of the planet.
What was that process like?
Lots of trial and error…like, A LOT of trial and error. I didn’t really have any tools to speak of, so I had to buy and borrow a lot of the stuff I needed as well. The first one took an embarrassing amount of time to figure out how to build, but that was mostly my fault because I had to be unique and build mine with a cooling system in it AND have the option of different designs without having to build a bunch of full-on Melloheads for myself.
To get around that, I actually figured out a way to make the inner part with the fans and battery and hard hat independent from the outer part of the helmet that has the design on it. This gives me the ability to swap the design in about ten seconds, so if I want to wear a different Mellohead for each day of a festival or whatever, I can do that without having to spend the time and money to on building separate helmets. Figuring that part was definitely the hardest and most time-consuming step of the process. Once I got that figured out, it was a matter of choosing the designs I wanted and going from there. My newest versions are light years better than those first four I built because I honestly had no idea what I was doing.
Which Mellohead that you’ve made so far is your favorite?
As far as sentimental value for me personally, my Earth Mellohead is definitely my favorite. For me, I have so many incredible memories from Bonnaroo and Electric Forest tied to that one that there really isn’t another option for me. At Bonnaroo, I had so much fun that I barely took it off except for when I was asleep. I chose to put a map of Earth on it because I love the way our planet looks from space, because none of the petty differences that we as a species love to bicker over are visible from the perspective of a satellite.
I also chose it because a picture of Earth from that vantage point is a picture of every single human being that has ever lived, and I thought that goes along with the “we are all Marshmello” message pretty well. Honestly though, every Mellohead that I’ve has a special spot in my heart for some reason or another. Every time I finish one a little part of me is reluctant to ship it off because I put a lot of work into these, and I’m very proud of all of them.
What drives you to keep making these?
Personally, I like pushing myself and seeing what new ideas and concepts I can come up with (for example – my newest one for myself actually has a headlight so I can see when I’m walking through a crowd at night). I love looking at the progression from my first helmet to my latest one, each helmet I build teaches me something and I try to apply those lessons to the next iteration that I build. For me, I like the challenge of turning a request for a design into an actual item that you can hold in your hands. I love the reactions I get from people when I they get their Melloheads and hearing stories from people that have worn my work to a festival or show or party or whatever.
The support I get from random people all over the world is truly unbelievable to me, and I can’t even begin to explain what goes through my head when my work gets a compliment from a stranger that I’ll probably never meet. Just the act of wearing one to a show or a festival is always an incredibly fun experience on its own because then I get the chance to take pictures with people and talk about my work. I’ve made so many connections that I otherwise wouldn’t have made if I hadn’t built these things, and I can’t wait to see the ones I make as time goes on.
Do you ever run into people wearing your creations? What’s that like?
I had the good fortune of being able to hand over one of my creations (a Slushii/Marshmello-inspired helmet) in-person at EDC Orlando. That was honestly one of the proudest moments of my entire life. Seeing my customer’s face light up when he saw it for the first time was a really special moment and I’m thankful that I was lucky enough to have that experience.
Later that night, I was in the crowd at Marshmello and I saw the same helmet bobbing up and down near the front and I literally almost started crying right there in the middle of everyone because I was so happy. When I first made the decision to start making these for people, I remember telling my someone that my only goal was to be at a music festival and see someone wearing my work, so that moment was like a dream come true to me. I still can’t believe it, to be honest. Hopefully I’ll have many more experiences like that in the future, but even if I don’t, I’ll never forget how it felt.
Is there a specific vision for a Mellohead that you’re dying to make come true?
I’ve honestly always got a few designs that I’m working on that I’m really excited to turn into reality. I also have a design for a special LED Mellohead that’s a little different than what everyone else has made so far, I’m beyond thrilled to debut that soon (hopefully). Beyond the ones for myself, there are a few designs that I’d really love to build and auction off for charity. I really want to help make the world a better place in any way that I can, so I’m always looking for ways to accomplish that, even if it’s only in a small way. I’ve got lots of ideas on the drawing board that I can’t wait to implement and show off 🙂
What do you hope to accomplish with creating these?
I honestly just want to make people happy. Going to festivals, I have so much fun talking to people and taking pictures when I wear my Mellohead. I want others to be able to experience that. The process of turning an idea into a physical item is something that I really enjoy, especially when it brings happiness to another person. Building these gives me an outlet for the creativity that I didn’t really know that I had, and each successive one that I build allows me to explore that creativity even more.
In the future, I’d like to set up a way to have a portion of the proceeds from each item I make go to a charity. I believe that it’s my responsibility to leave a positive impact on the world any way that I can. I also want to branch out into different styles of helmets since I’m always open to a new challenge. It absolutely would be a dream to have the opportunity to work directly with Marshmello and his team one day. If that never happens, I’ll be okay with the work that I’ve done so far.
Words for Marshmello
If you could say one thing to Marshmello what would it be?
Honestly, it’s cliched and super cheesy but “thank you” is what I would say. His music is the soundtrack to some of the best moments of my entire life. I’m really excited to see him many more times in the future. I already know that seeing him at Electric Forest in 2018 is going to be life-changing. Obviously, I wouldn’t have been able to make a Mellohead without having his to model mine off of. But, his positive message and style of music was so helpful. Especially after I split ways with Tesla. I learned an excruciatingly painful lesson. If I hadn’t learned that lesson, I probably only would’ve made one Mellohead and called it a day. But instead of plowing into this project at full speed, and we wouldn’t be having this interview at all.
In the absence of the thing I loved to do the most, which was working at Tesla, I found something I loved more. Making these has been way for me to finally do a version of something that I had been talking about for the better part of half a decade, and for that I am eternally grateful. I want nothing but the success for the guy as an artist. Just because it’s always inspiring to watch people succeed at something that they’re passionate about. Artists of all kinds are heroes to a lot of people. They had the courage to pursue something that makes them happy. I think a lot of people sell themselves short in terms of what they can and can’t do. As a result, they don’t even try to pursue what makes them happy.
For the Future…
The reality of our world today is that billions of people have a supercomputer in their pocket. We have the capability to access essentially all of the information ever recorded at the speed of light. That means, that chasing a dream is more likely to be fulfilled than any other point in human history. It’s extremely inspiring to see someone utilize the tools at their disposal in an exceptional manner. It honestly motivates me to conduct my life in a way that can put me in the position where I can be that kind of role model for someone else one day. What’s the point of life if you aren’t living in a way that brings happiness to you and the world in general?