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Pharrell Williams Teams With Complex to Launch Music and Culture Festival

Inaugural ComplexCon set for Nov. 5-6 in Long Beach

Pharrell Williams has signed on to help create the inaugural ComplexCon, a two-day festival from media company Complex covering pop culture, music, art, food and more set to debut this fall.

Pharrell will work both in front of and behind the scenes as cultural director and host committee chair for the event, under a deal Complex inked with the singer-rapper-producer and his creative venture, i am OTHER. ComplexCon will take place Nov. 5-6, 2016, in Long Beach, Calif., at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center.

Marc Ecko, the fashion designer who founded Complex as a magazine in 2002 and serves as its chief brand officer, said the concept for the event is to couple “the intellectual discovery environment” of South by Southwest with the party atmosphere of a festival like Coachella.

“I’m inspired by a myriad of different events I’ve had the fortune of being a part of, whether they’ve focused on art, design, music, food or science,” Pharrell, who is also a judge on NBC’s “The Voice,” said in a statement. “When i am OTHER connected with Marc Ecko and the Complex team, we were instantly aligned — we wanted to combine a little bit of all these elements and create a unique, new initiative.”

Complex, which caters to a millennial-male audience and claims to have 57 million unique monthly visitors online, was acquired last month by Hearst and Verizon Communications.

ComplexCon will feature concert performances, shopping, art exhibits, food and discussion panels (dubbed “Complex Conversations”). “It’s really about bringing our brand to life,” said Ecko. “We really wanted to make something different that wasn’t just another music festival.” The event was deliberately scheduled outside the summer music-fest circuit, while Ecko also hopes the early-November timing will let it take advantage of brand promotions tied to the holiday-shopping season.

Complex will promote the festival through its existing media properties, and will feed content produced from ComplexCon back into them. “It’s not just about the two days,” Ecko said. “It’s about the road-to and the capture-at.”

New York-based Complex has signed a multiyear deal with Reed Exhibitions’ ReedPop, which runs events including New York Comic-Con and TwitchCon, to produce ComplexCon. Ecko said the company has been working on plans for the event for the last 18 months.

In addition, Complex announced that contemporary artist Takashi Murakami has joined as ComplexCon’s first host committee member. He is responsible for designing the event’s brand identity and will lend his oversight to the overall design and aesthetic experience. “It looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun!” Murakami said in a statement. “I hope it will turn into something crazy!”

Complex is expecting 10,000-15,000 attendees in the first year, but it has the capacity to scale beyond that, Ecko said. In picking Long Beach, “we were looking for a location where the city itself becomes a backdrop to the event,” he said. The Long Beach Convention Center & Entertainment Center includes a 3,000-seat hall for “film-festival-like experiences,” Ecko added.

Tickets for ComplexCon are slated to go on sale in the next 30 days; pricing is yet to be announced. More info will be available at complexcon.com.

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