Why a musician started a new kind of festival in the Arizona desert
This month, a group of 2,500 people will descend on Arcosanti, Arizona. The reason is the fifth installment of FORM Festival, a creative retreat with programming like concerts (headliners include Anderson .Paak and Skrillex), poetry showcases, and art workshops. In addition, Equinox will provide Vinyasa flow classes, Tier X programming, a sleep coaching session, and Body Lab activations. FORM takes place in Arcosanti, an experimental town created in the 1970s by famed architect Paolo Soleri to test his ideas about urban planning. Years later, it remains a unique site conducive to hosting large-scale events.
Furthermore caught up with Los Angeles–based FORM co-founder Zach Tetreault to discuss the festival’s genesis and unique offerings.
Why did you start FORM?
I had been touring extensively with my band, Hundred Waters, playing about a hundred shows a year. We were really tired and losing sight of what we were doing. I thought it would be fun to come up with a platform that would give us a bit of inspiration and revitalize the idea of touring and playing festivals.
Why did you decide on Arcosanti, Arizona?
We looked for a venue that would be interesting and exciting while having a focus on nature and landscape. My friend told me about Arcosanti and we made a trip out there together. When I saw it, I was immediately certain that this was the venue. We paired the first festival with a show for our new album release, called it FORM (it’s a name we felt aligned with the architecture of Arcosanti and the community), and opened it up to a free-by-application pool of participants.
What impact does Arcosanti have on the festival?
FORM is very much in response to the infrastructure of Arcosanti. We don’t build any temporary stages—we use all of the permanent structures, like the beautiful amphitheaters, that are there. We’re in line with the minimal impact and sustainably-minded principles that Arcosanti was built on.
Can you give some specific examples?
All of our food vendors and bars use compostable materials and we invest in initiatives and partnerships to make sure we’re not creating any sort of footprint in the area. We have a comprehensive recycling program and bring on a ‘green team’ to sort all of the waste that gets generated. Additionally, we host talks, panels, and workshops on conservation and sustainability to amplify these principles.
How is FORM different from other festivals?
The most obvious is the capacity—we limit it to 2,500 guests, and I don’t think you’ll ever see a festival with a lineup like ours and such a limited attendance. We have no VIP sections because we wanted to create an environment that fosters intimacy and connection with artists and participants across the board. You’ll be watching a show right next to an artist who performed earlier in the day. Also, we don’t do overlapping programming, so you’ll see every band play. We try to create a tailored experience that takes on you on a journey.
What are some examples of the non-musical programming?
We have talks around sustainable design, Planned Parenthood is hosting a discussion on gender identity, and Florence Welch [of Florence and the Machine] is interviewing one of her favorite poets among others. We want people to be able to think more critically about their minds, bodies, and surroundings. This is also our first year doing a fully realized fitness program. Equinox will lead workouts, morning yoga, and meditation in addition to cupping, acupuncture, and more. We’re super excited to have the partnership—it’ll definitely take things to the next level.
What about you? What’s your preferred form of fitness?
I'm an avid rock climber and have been for about 15 years. After becoming an Equinox member, I developed a passion for indoor cardio (treadmills and swimming) and TRX.
This interview has been lightly edited for publication.