Today we’d like to introduce you to Gregg Lillie.
Gregg, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born in Philadelphia and grew up in southern New Jersey. At around 13, I taught myself photoshop and started making show flyers and promoting shows the older kids in town were booking at the time. Almost everyone who ever had a notable name in the pop-punk scene came through my small town (Vineland) at some point in the, and I was at them all.
Being a part of the local music scene and marketing shows have been part of my life ever since. At 18, I moved across the country by myself to study Film Production at Chapman University in Orange, CA. While there I had a decent amount of success with film, including traveling to Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia, Africa to shoot a documentary about the indigenous San Bushmen peoples which went on to win a handful of selections on the film festival circuit.
Around the same time, I was exposed to SoCal rave culture and was immediately hooked by the entire scene. I attended multiple festivals a month during college and spent every penny I had going to shows. I picked up the flow art known as Gloving along the way and got pretty good at it.
When it was time to graduate, I realized I loved going to festivals more than I loved making films, and applied for an $11/hr social media job at EmazingLights (now The Emazing Group) as a way to stay involved with the EDM/festival industry. Within a year, at the age of 24, I had worked my way up to the Brand Manager position at Emazing and found myself in charge of the branding and marketing department of a multi-million dollar company while also being allowed to travel the country going to festivals and performing light shows.
The company ended up on the show Shark Tank, where the business I helped grow received an investment from Mark Cuban and Daymond John. Although things were going well at Emazing, it was still one step from where I wanted to be; on the inside of the music industry. One night I sent a cold email to my favorite artist, Excision, along with my resume and the planets aligned as X started shuffling my work.
At the time, I was working 55+ hours a week for Emazing in addition to a 2-hour commute in SoCal traffic each day, then get home and grind out X work each night.
Eventually, I made the decision to leave my executive position at Emazing to pursue my dreams and started all the way at the bottom again as a merch booth assistant on the 2015 Excision Tour. I continued to grind, my role on the team grew, and before I knew it, I was back to leading up marketing and branding, this time for the biggest bass music artist on earth.
As Excision’s popularity grew, so did rumblings of him curating his very own festival. When the time came, I was already leading the team that handled all content creation, video, marketing, and branding for X, and had spent more time attending festivals than everyone on my team combined. X reached out and asked me to help him plan the inaugural dinosaur-themed Lost Lands Festival (Ohio).
Last year, we added a second festival, Bass Canyon (Washington) which I also now co-produce and head up all branding and merchandise with X. This will be Lost Lands’ 3rd year, and Bass Canyon’s 2nd this summer. Because working 60+ hours a week and traveling the globe with X wasn’t time-consuming enough for me, I decided I also wanted to start a merchandise brand of my own to grow.
In 2016, the idea for Scummy Bears was born on a no-sleep drive back from Shambhala Festival up in Canada. Since then, we’ve used both our connections in the EDM industry to grow the brand and now have merchandise collaborations with some of the biggest names in bass music, a pop-up on Melrose in LA and are also starting to book shows under the Scummy Bears moniker.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’m butchering the exact quote a bit, but have always lived by the “being successful means not giving up when everyone else normally does” mantra. There have been more times in the past six years that I wanted to give up everything I was working towards than I can even count, but I stuck through it.
On the flip side, I’ve also made some pretty ballsy moves, like quitting my cushy executive job to sleep on a tour bus and sell t-shirts for a DJ. I think the biggest challenge has been figuring out when to take risks and when to stay the course. Making the big decisions that could affect my entire life and career have by far been the most nerve-racking for me.
I also have trouble turning my brain off, so I’ve been living this lifestyle and pushing my body to its limits on very little sleep much of the time which provides its own set of challenges. I think I’ve embraced the sleeplessness by making sure all my awake time is productive, it’s oddly what keeps me sane.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Excision Music + Scummy Bears – what should we know?
I have three main gigs going for me at the moment so I’ll break them down the best I can:
Excision Music – I oversee all branding, marketing, merchandise design and fill in a ton of management duties for both Excision and our up and coming artist, Dion Timmer.
Everything from creative directing album art, to putting together video/photo content, to coordinating PR and 3rd party communications flows through myself and my team. It’s important to note Excision runs his own ship however, we are the support that makes his ideas come to life as he is very independent when it comes to decision making and vision for the brand.
Excision Festivals – on the festival side, I co-produce both Bass Canyon and Lost Lands with X along with overseeing branding, media, and marketing duties there as well. From dreaming up fan experiences to managing 3rd party activations, to aiding with top-level decision making for the fest, I work with X and an amazing team to make it all come to life.
On-site, I am X’s eyes and ears and am responsible for making sure the fan experience is playing out as planned. I also curate 100+ unique merchandise items for the festivals each year, overseeing a talented team of artists, graphic designers and manufacturers to create unique merchandise for fans each year.
Scummy Bears – I am co-founder and co-owner of the EDM lifestyle brand and lead up all marketing on that side as well. My typical day involves digital marketing, coordinating social influencers, garment sourcing, and festival activation planning. Scummy is my creative outlet and lets me really do things exactly how I want to. The ridiculous colors, designs, and wonky marketing are cathartic for me.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
This sounds a little silly, but if I didn’t wake up and do what I did every day, I think I’d quickly be bored with life. Don’t get me wrong, I love my free time (when I can get it), but even the hardest days never feel draining like a desk job. I have an internal desire for success that gets me out of bed and working every morning. Once I got my first taste of seeing ‘my work’ on fans at events (originally seeing fans using Emazing products and apparel at shows), I was hooked.
The festivals are definitely the most time-intensive and stressful beasts I handle, but logging onto Instagram after a long day and seeing a video of a boyfriend surprising his girlfriend with Lost Lands tickets and seeing her reaction in a fan-posted video is overwhelmingly motivating to me. There’s something about seeing your work give people positive memories, experiences, and confidence that makes every bit of stress worth it for me.
- Website: http://www.scummybears.com