Life in Color Festival on "Growing From the Bottom Up"
In Life's Little Instruction Book, H. Jackson Brown Jr. famously wrote: "An overnight success takes about 15 years."
If that's the case, Life in Color is way ahead of schedule.
Over the course of just seven years, this crew of Miami-based paint party professionals has fought, struggled, and lost a lot of sleep. But the rewards have been great. So far, founders Paul Campbell, Sebastian Solano, Lukasz Tracz, and Patryk Tracz have brought EDM to the collegiate masses, earned the backing of a powerful millionaire, and took their show to four continents.
Now the LIC guys are celebrating the only way they know how, by pushing even further and giving their hometown the first-ever Life in Color Festival.
The plan: Invade Sun Life Stadium on Friday, December 27, and rage with Calvin Harris, Steve Aoki, Major Lazer, Excision, 2 Chainz, and ten others. There will be carnival rides, a zipline, dancing robots, flashing lights, and of course, "shit-tons of paint."
But it wasn't always fun and games. Actually, it's been a grueling climb.
"We're the biggest EDM tour going on and have been for a while," says Campbell. "It was hard the way we did it, because we've done it from the grassroots."
He started the company, then called Dayglow, with Solano and the Tracz brothers in 2007, while attending Florida State University. They had noticed a growing yet unorganized trend of paint parties hosted by frats and sororities, and they decided to take the idea to Miami. It was a hit. And soon, they were putting on Dayglow events in cities across the state.
Back then, though, dance music was not "the rage."
"In the beginning, we couldn't play EDM the whole time," Campbell recalls. But the crew pressed on and found that paint helped open people up to new sounds and experiences. "It really gives you a lot of excuses to let loose. Everybody is a blank canvas."
More and more kids told friends about "the greatest night of their lives," and Dayglow expanded.
"While we were growing, the scene was growing, and I think we're part of that," Campbell says. "It was definitely like, 'Now Indiana wants you, Kansas wants you, Kentucky wants you,' and we were just like, 'Alright, cool.' We went to all of them."
In 2010, he and the company moved all operations to Miami, just as EDM exploded. By the end of the year, the LIC guys had taken their party to Mexico for Spring Break in Cancun. And in 2011, they logged 65 U.S. shows in the spring and another 65 shows in the fall.
"It was awesome. I mean, we fuckin' rock 'n' rolled," Campbell laughs. But, he admits, the stress of running an international promotion company with only a handful of friends takes its toll.
"It was actually really hard to manage it," he says. "One night, I drove my car from Tallahassee to Indiana with all the productions from LIC -- black lights, tarps, paint. We drove overnight, took mad energy drinks. We've done it all."
And sleep wasn't all they lost.
"We put in about four really hard years before we got any kind of return," Campbell admits. "I'm talkin' 'bout no money in the bank account, borrowing money, getting loans, whatever to keep it on."
That commitment and work ethic led to hundreds of shows, and even took the paint party to Australia.
"We made insane jumps like that," Campbell says. "And then in 2012, we got acquired by SFX."
With the backing of that EDM-focused promotions company and its founder, Robert Sillerman, Dayglow gained power, knowledge, and resources. Of course, the crew also changed the name of the company to Life in Color. But at the end of the day, Cambell insists that he, Solano, and the Tracz brothers are still the same music-loving, fan-cherishing local dudes that they've always been.
"We have a different growth and a different model than a lot of the other brands, but we're a brand that's growing from the bottom up," he says. "We want to just stay hungry, stay humble, and if all goes well, we'll to have something very special that we are going to be able to take across the world."
Life in Color Festival. With 2 Chainz, Calvin Harris, Steve Aoki, Major Lazer, Excision and others. Friday, December 27. Sun Life Stadium, 347 Don Shula Dr., Miami Gardens. The festival begins at 2 p.m. and tickets cost $90 plus fees via wantickets.com. Ages 16 and up. Call 305-943-8000 or visit lifeincolor.com.
Follow Kat Bein on Twitter @KatSaysKill.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.