Coachella Co-Founder Discusses Decision to Drop Mask and Vax Mandates, Kanye’s Exit in New Interview

Paul Tollett also re-confirms that Frank Ocean will be headlining Coachella in 2023

coachella mask

With weekend two of Coachella in the rearview mirror, co-founder Paul Tollett reflected on the festival’s return in a new interview with the Los Angeles Times. Among the topics addressed were Tollett’s decision to drop the mask and vaccine mandates prior to the festival’s launch, and the last-minute exit of headliner Kanye West. Tollett also re-confirmed that Frank Ocean would be headlining Coachella in 2023.

Tollett said he decided to drop the mandates after attending the Super Bowl in Los Angeles in February. “I got there and no one was wearing a mask in the place. No one. So I took mine off,” he explained, which convinced him that Coachella should also be “back to normal.”

“I wanted to be honest [with attendees] that everywhere they turned, it wasn’t going to be on lockdown, because it’s not anymore anywhere,” Tollett continued. “Especially in the desert, in the Inland Empire, it’s just not. I didn’t want someone thinking that it was going to be on lockdown and then be caught short. Maybe don’t come if you’re afraid.”

Elsewhere, Tollett addressed Kanye West’s last-minute cancelation. “I’m good with Kanye,” Tollett said. “I Zoomed with him a couple days prior, and I think it was a good decision for him.”

After Kanye’s sudden departure, Tollett said The Weeknd personally reached out to him about being a possible replacement. “Abel [Tesfaye, a.k.a. the Weeknd] and [his manager] Sal [Slaiby] called and said, ‘What do you need?’ I said, ‘I actually don’t know yet. Right now I’m a little stunned with Kanye leaving. I’ve got to think what to do here.'” He eventually decided to pair The Weeknd with another one of Slaiby’s clients, Swedish House Mafia, for a co-headlining performance to close out the festival on Sunday night.

Tollett also did not elaborate on why another one of the festival’s initial headliners, Rage Against the Machine, dropped off the bill. He only said that, “When [Rage] pulled out, I let a day go by and didn’t think about it. I just let it sit there for a second. I figured people have been waiting forever for the lineup already, what’s another day?”

“I came back kind of mellow and the Harry [Styles] thing worked out. We got a really good response on the poster reveal. People seemed to have been waiting a long time for some good news.”

You can read the full interview at the LA Times, and see our complete coverage of Coachella 2022 here.


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