INTERVIEW: Reggae on The Mountain’s Amit Gilad Talks About Bringing Ziggy Marley & Steel Pulse To Santa Barbara

INTERVIEW: Reggae on The Mountain’s Amit Gilad Talks About Bringing Ziggy Marley & Steel Pulse To Santa Barbara

Reggae on the Mountain is one of the premiere reggae festivals in and around Southern California

Reggae on the Mountain aims to share an epic three days of positive music with fans in beautiful Santa Barbara and spread peace, love and positive vibrations.

This year’s festival will take place on November 18th-20th at Live Oak Camp in Santa Barbara, CA. It will be headlined by Ziggy Marley, Steel Pulse, Ky Mani Marley & Barrington Levy. The festival will also feature performances by some amazing new blood like Groundation and Nattali Rize, DENM & Hempress Sativa, Tom Curren and Makua Rothman.

The sat down with Reggae on the Mountain Festival producers Amit Gilad and Matt Diamond to break down how the festival comes together behind the scenes, as well as who they are looking forward to seeing at this year’s show, their work with local charities, and how Reggae on the Mountain strives to be an eco-friendly festival.


The Pier: This year’s line-up is incredible. Can you walk us through the planning for a line-up like this and what’s involved? Many fans just show up and have no idea the work behind the scenes that it takes to pull off a festival of this magnitude.

Amit Gilad: It’s basically non stop grind all year. Our headliners are major international touring acts so the booking process begins about 10 months out. Throwing a festival as you can imagine is an intricate assembly of moving parts. Dozens of bands and DJ’s, hundreds of staff and of course thousands of attendees to keep happy and safe. I think of it as a clock. If we can set all the gears just right, when gates open everything runs just how it should.

It takes months of hard work and incredible attention to detail to get to this point. The key is to have killer teams in each department. We are blessed to be able to do this show since its inception with our best friends and family. All of the departments feel personally connected to the event and want to see it succeed. I think that makes a big difference and every year comes with huge challenges. We always just have to deal with what comes our way and make it happen.

The Pier: There is a great balance between more traditional reggae and the newer sort of West Coast sound. How much of a balancing act is it for you to get a delicate balance between the two just right?

Amit Gilad: We’ve built our brand over the years as a Roots Reggae centric event. We are seeing fewer and fewer Jamaican artists at Reggae Festivals, so we really feel like it’s important to maintain and honor the culture from which the genre originated. We always include some of the west coast Reggae/Rock artists to keep the musical selection modern and eclectic. As musicians and music lovers, a lot of it just comes down to our taste in music and who we know will put on amazing performances.

The Pier: How does the live camping factor into making Reggae on The Mountain stand out from other Festivals?

Amit Gilad: The Camping aspect truly makes ROTM an immersive experience. When you camp at a festival you can really unplug and take your festival adventure to the next level. You can have a great time all day and just get cozy in your tent or RV at the end of the night and wake up to another day of great music and vibes! Camping is also a great way to fully appreciate the beauty of our venue. Nothing is better than enjoying amazing music a beautiful natural setting.

The Pier: In addition to camping, you also have Yoga and Wellness and Arts and Culture at the festival. What can you tell us about the decision to include those two and what fans can expect?

Matt Diamond: We have a well curated Wellness Village experience. It will consist of some great community vendors and brands from around the greater area. The Wellness Village will offer a great lineup of instructors covering many different styles and practices such as Yoga, Sound Healing, Sounds Baths, Tai Chi and Quigong. Our daily schedule is available on our festival website.

The Pier: The food and drink will be provided by many local Santa Barbara companies to offer a unique taste of some of the amazing food and drinks from the area. How important is it to offer fans a taste of the host city instead of Reggae on the Mountain? What goes into planning something like food and drink at Reggae at the Mountain?

Amit Gilad: Yes we will have dozens of local food, beverage and craft vendors representing at ROTM! It’s always crucial to involve local vendors. ROTM is all about building community. We plan to be in this venue for years to come and offering our attendees the best the area has to offer is essential!

The Pier: In addition to the food and drink, there is a charitable aspect to Reggae on the Mountain with a portion of proceeds benefiting Life Rolls On and Amigo Bobs. Tell us a bit about your partnership with those local charities?

Matt Diamond: Yes, we are very pleased to have been able to support Life Rolls On Foundation. Jesse Billauer, a 3x world adaptive surfing champion and 6x US national adaptive surfing champion, founded it. Life Rolls On is committed to raising the standard of living for those with a range of disabilities. Jesse has been a leading advocate for quality of life programs for surfing, skateboarding and beyond around the world. A portion of Reggae On The Mountains proceeds will go towards supporting Life Rolls On events. You can learn more at www.LifeRollsOn.Org

Amigo Bobs Organics is an all organic education/ plant nutrient superfood company that supports all your home and commercial gardening needs.

Started with the intention to bring the purest organic seeds and plant nutrients to support healthy growing practices for people. It is all achieved through a pesticide free practice that supports a healthier more sustainable environment. The charity is named after Amigo Bob, who is a leading advocate and professional organic farmer from Northern California.

A portion of Reggae On The Mountains proceeds will support community grow programs that deliver all organic grow kits to kids and families to help get them started on their path for healthier living through home gardening practices. You can learn more at

One more thing, but Reggae on the Mountain has continued to strive to be an eco-friendly festival, and will continue to do so. This year, we will only be using aluminum cans. We also will be urging all food vendors to use sustainable eco-friendly products. We are very proud to support the environmental needs of our community.

The Pier: Is there any one guest in particular that you have this year that you’re particularly looking forward to seeing at the show?

Amit Gilad: I always look forward to seeing Steel Pulse but bringing Ziggy Marley to our show is our biggest booking to date. Of course I really look forward to seeing that come to fruition! I’m also excited to see some of the incredible female artists on the bill like Hempress Sativa and Nattali Rize, two killer artists that I’ve been following for years, so seeing them will be great.

Check out Reggae on the Mountain’s website and get tickets to this year’s festival below.



Interview by James Wright