Rocco Gardner is a British-born musician, record producer and entrepreneur, who since making the US his home in 2010, has fast become known for his unwitting ability to take on highly implausible (and in some cases almost impossible) projects. Once described by The Times London) as “The next Richard Branson” Rocco is a renaissance man in the truest sense of the word. His business interests span music, photography, hospitality and the arts.
His first major project in the US was establishing Escape, one of the country’s most diverse and innovative production companies. The brand’s first outing involved staging the inaugural ‘Escape to New York’ festival on the Shinnecock Reservation in New York in 2010, with a brief to bring the renowned UK festival ‘Secret Garden Party’ to the US. The fact that despite the fact that the reservation had never hosted a public event of this scale and magnitude, the strict licensing laws which govern the land and negotiations stretching long into the 11thth hour, Escape was delivered, and was considered a roaring success. With 5000 New Yorkers and the world’s media in attendance, the three-day event staged such luminaries as Patti Smith, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes, and hundreds of DJs. All this in collaboration with New York’s leading restaurants, studios and artists.
Next up for the vehicle was the creation of its ‘Escape For Good’ charity series in partnership with Sunshine Sachs. The series involved a 24-hour race across the US with nothing more than each entrant’s passport and the clothes on their back in a bid to raise money for 501c charities. To date, the event has raised over $100,000 in charitable contributions and has received support from national news networks, celebrities including Stephen Merchant, Questlove?, Akon, and Natalie Imbruglia (to name a few). National brands acting as social media partners included Red Bull, Milk Studios and The Standard Hotels.
Once the organization was established, promoting and staging renowned events for the likes of Albert Hammond Jr (The Strokes) and Thom Yorke (Radiohead), Rocco took the chance to begin to scratch an itch that had been present for years – as a musician and producer. It was whilst working on a record with Dave Catching (Eagles Of Death Metal) at Rancho de La Luna for his new band ‘Your New Crush’, Rocco discovered the desert – and in particular, Joshua Tree. Immediately drawn to the magnetism and solitude of the landscape, Rocco was keen to give Escape a more permanent home. Whilst heading out of New York City in his search efforts, Rocco came across Rancho V; a 40-acre estate at 4,200 ft on the outskirts of Pioneertown, California, situated one mile away from world-famous music venue Pappy and Harriet’s. Immediately, Rocco secured the ranch. Complete with helicopter hangar, garages and airstream, he then proceeded to convert it into a retreat/ and creative space for musicians, photographers, and artists of various disciplines.
“Rancho V represents a journey – not just mine, but one that belongs to everyone who passes through. It allows people to breathe out, and either discover or re-align themselves with what’s important to each individual. Here they can think, create, and dream freely, which is exactly the spirit in which I was lucky enough to be raised. I never went to business school—I taught myself and learned by trial and error—but the people surrounding me gave me a great start,” Gardner acknowledges. “I was advised, cajoled and educated by wonderfully positive, decisive friends and family - and I love to share this with the like-minded souls who pass through the ranch.”
In two short years, the ranch has played host to major label artists including The Pierces, The New York Times best-selling author Neil Strauss, and a host of Hollywood celebrities. An accomplished photographer, Rocco has also shot many of the world’s top models including Aurelie Claudel and Eliza Cummings to name but a few. With a red-earth and almost alien landscape supplying an incredible photographic background, Rancho V has recently hosted Vogue, Porter Magazine, a cougar lion, a kangaroo and DJ Mark Kinchen - all of which were scrutinized by the resident pygmy goats Lulu and Junior.
Giving back has always been central to the development of Escape and Rancho V. Through the charitable efforts undertaken to date, whether those organized by Escape or others that Rocco entered into himself (including Travels to My Elephant in India, his most recent endeavour), over a quarter of a million dollars has been raised for charity. Combining his projects with his world travels and extensive drone footage and photography, Rocco is also the creator of a highly entertaining Instagram feed (@shotbyrocco).
Now surrounded with the most interesting, innovative and individual characters that the area has to offer, Rancho V is a striking and awe-inspiring landscape – further reflecting its owners quest to look and reach a little further outside the box with each passing day.