Photo by Maclay Heriot

Lollapalooza: 25 Years of Music

(Feature Photo by Maclay Heriot)

Lollapalooza first became a part of the festival circuit 25 years ago in 1991. It began as a touring festival by Jane’s Addiction frontman, Perry Farrell, and has since developed into a world-renowned music event that provides a stage to some of the most influential musicians of our time. It has taken place in different countries around the world but its current and most notable home is at Grant Park in Chicago. In honor of 25 years, Farrell added a fourth day to festival and was set to take place from July 28 – 31, 2016.

As music festival enthusiasts, Lily and I, knew we had to attend.  We had never been to Lollapalooza and it was definitely on our music festival bucket list. This year’s musical acts, the 25-year anniversary, and the added fourth day provided us with more motivation for us to attend – and off we went to Chicago.

Location and Layout of Lollapalooza        
This year, an estimated 400k people were in attendance. With such a huge quantity of people, festival organizers needed a large, widespread venue like Grant Park.  This iconic Chicago park is filled with grassy fields, a majestic water fountain, iconic monuments and borders Lake Michigan.

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Photo by Maclay Heriot

There were 3 blocks of the park that were sectioned off for the music festival. The area was occupied with 8 different stages, various vendors, and VIP sections. The stages were strategically placed so that there was enough space in between stages to avoid sound clashing. However, in two areas there were two stages that occupied a space, one major stage and one minor stage. In this case strategic artists scheduling for set times was required to avoid any sound issues.

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Photo by Charles Reagan Hackleman

List of new songs debuted at Lollapalooza (that we saw)
Flosstradamus, FKi 1st & graves – Came Up feat. Post Malone & KEY!
Radiohead – new songs off their brand new album A Moon Shaped Pool
Vic Mensa – two new songs off his upcoming LP, one featuring Joey Purp
Die Antwoord – Shit Just Got Real featuring Sen Dog and DJ Muggs of Cypress Hill plus a cover of Insane in the Brain

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Photo by Cambria Harkey

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Photo by Greg Noire

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Photo by Roger Ho

Favorite Set
There were many amazing sets from the weekend, which is to be expected from a momentous music event like Lollapalooza.  One of my favorite sets from the weekend was from a mainstream artist that I did not plan on seeing but decided to check out last minute.  That artist was J.Cole.  It was my first time seeing him live and to be honest, I only knew his songs that were played on mainstream radio. When we walked over to the stage and you heard his voice in the distance, you could hear the passion and feel his energy.  The tone of his voice acted as an emotional guide as it led you into the right mindset of the next song. He truly opened himself up not only as a musician but also as a human being.

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Photo by Greg Noire

Most Common Theme of Lolla – Peace and Unity
Of the select sets that we were able to make our way to, there seemed to be a common theme amongst many of them. J.Cole, Major Lazer, Vic Mensa, and Die Antwoord all discussed the topic of unity amongst people no matter their race, gender, religion, or age.  They each made it a point to say that peace is the ultimate goal and that we all need to make an effort to help reach this goal.  I found this very important and touching because part of being an artist is creating but the other part is about having something important to say.  In today’s world, this message has never been more important.

28366397930_d9a8918c66_zPhoto by Roger Ho

Favorite Attendee
Lollapalooza is an all ages event.  You have a wide array of groups from only young adults to families to only groups of parents.  Of all the people that I saw at the event, one person stood out to me the most.  During Future’s set on Friday, there was a little boy on top of his dad’s shoulders and was most likely around 4 to 6 years old.  At first, I thought the dad wanted to see Future but since they were so close to the front, he put his son on his shoulders so that the boy could see and also avoid being trampled.  As I watched the pair, I knew that wasn’t the case.  This little boy knew EVERY SINGLE WORD to Future’s set. He was dancing and raising his hands. This little boy could not have been happier.  There is something about seeing the enthusiasm on a young child’s face that I just love.

Favorite Chow Town Stand – Momofuku Milk Bar
I have heard many great things about Momofuku Milk Bar over the years. I have never been able to try it due to the fact that they are located in New York, Washington DC and Toronto. When I saw that they would be a part of Chow Town at Lollapalooza I had to check it out. Momofuku is known for its cakes, shakes and baked treats created by James Beard Foundation award winning chef Christina Tosi. At the Lolla stand they offered a variety of cookies and crack pie. We decided to try the crack pie and a cornflake-chocolate-chip-marshmallow cookie. Both were delicious but the crack pie was like nothing else I’ve tried before. I am not a fan of fruit pies. This is totally different. It is a cold gooey cookie pie with a butter filling and a toasted oat crust. If you have a sweet tooth, I highly recommend giving it a try. Luckily for those of us who live on the West Coast, Milk Bar announced they will be opening a location in Las Vegas at the Cosmopolitan in the near future.

Favorite Random Moment – Chalk Art
While walking through the event grounds on day 3, we came across a random group of people who brought chalk into the festival. We aren’t sure if they were permitted by the festival or not, but there they were, drawing on the ground. A giant rainbow that encompassed “Lolla Love,” was the primary focal point along with a colorful heart.  This random piece of art on the floor seemed to brighten up the festival that much more. Anyone who walked by smiled at the sight of it.

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Least Favorite Part of Lollapalooza – 1-Hour Entry Wait Period
No matter what festival you attend, there will be issues. It is practically unavoidable at any large-scale event. The main issue for us at Lollapalooza was the entry period, especially on Saturday.  There were only two entry points for the festival for 400,000 people. The event did try to alleviate some of the crowd through the CitiPass and VIP entries, but it was not enough. Those who did not have a Citibank account or VIP passes had to suffer in the heat and humidity with other sweaty bodies touching theirs.  Luckily, we were in the Mid-West and not in LA. If this happened in LA, I know everyone would push and mob to the front.  Since everyone is nice in the Mid-West, that didn’t happen. I did have a brief flashback to my time in Germany for the last Love Parade.  The festival organizers only had one giant entryway. There was a mass panic, which ultimately led to a stampede, many people dying, and the end of the festival.  All I kept thinking to myself was, “this better not be a repeat of Germany.” The limited entries led to a massive crowd, which led to an hour-long wait. I could deal with a massive crowd or a long wait but not both at the same time.

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Photo by Charles Reagan Hackleman

HELPFUL HINT: If you ever find yourself in the situation mentioned above, you need to be smart and aware of the potential dangers.  There can be a mass panic or some people may push through to the front. Either situation can lead to you being trampled.  To avoid this potential danger, stand closest to the side that provides a way for you remove your body from the crowd as quick as possible.  In the case of Lollapalooza, we stood by the side with the fence barricade. We could simply climb over it if we found ourselves in a dangerous situation.

Post Lolla Grub Spot – Shake Shack
Every night, after the festival was over, we had to regain our energy before we could continue.  Our favorite spot – was Shake Shack! Lily had been there before and told me I had to go. Since I had never been and was already craving a burger, we decided to go. Even though we had to wait in line for about 30 minutes or so and the two girls behind me kept coming a little too close into my personal space, it was still worth it. All I have to say is, if you have never been to Shake Shack, you really should go because it is absolutely delicious! It is now one of my favorite post music festival meals.

Post Lolla Bar – Buddy Guy’s Legends Bar
There were many after party shows with artists that played at Lollapalooza but unfortunately the shows we wanted to attend were sold out.  As a result, after eating we headed out to the bars near Grant Park.  First on our list was Buddy Guy’s Legends.  Buddy Guy is one of my favorite blues guitarists and I have had the honor of seeing him perform in Hollywood.  I wanted to check out his blues bar and it sure lived up to the hype.  It was one giant room with 2 bars, one on each end, and reserved table seating in the middle.  The main act for the night was the Nikki Hill band and she sure rocked the house. At the end, I was able to score a free shirt and I also bought one for my dad because he is the one that introduced me to Buddy Guy in the first place.

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Photo by Charles Reagan Hackleman

Lollapalooza was a fun experience especially since it was our first big music festival experience in the Mid-West.  There was even something beautiful to be seen when the event ended.  All you could see was the youth of Chicago taking over the streets for blocks in every direction.  As people tried to find their way home or to their hotels, you walked by people trying to hustle, street drummers that started a dance mob, and people just singing on the street.  After all, that’s what a music festival does, it breathes life into the people that attend and they breathe it back into the city.

Lollapalooza: Enriching Lives and Helping the Community Through Lolla Cares

It has been 25 years since the first Lollapalooza debuted in 1991. Starting off as touring festival by Jane’s Addiction frontman, Perry Farrell, it has developed into a world-renowned music festival that hosts some of the most influential musicians of our time. For those who consider themselves festival aficionados, Lollapalooza is considered a festival MUST.

This year, as you find yourself navigating from stage to stage to stage, you are going to stumble across a very special area. No, I’m not referring to Chow Town. This area, known as Lolla Cares, is set to showcase select non-profit organizations that focus on enriching the lives of others as well as helping the environment and local communities. Twelve organizations have arranged to have a booth this year.  Each non-profit has a unique purpose with missions that range from political activism, sober living, medical funding, natural disasters, and poverty. Here are a select few that stood out to us.

Lollapalooza has roots in Chicago and it’s no wonder why the festival gave the nonprofit Chicago Cares a platform for its cause. Chicago Cares is a organization that looks for volunteers in the area to help with projects that improve the immediate needs of the city. One of the events that the organization holds every year is called Warm Up Chicago. Warm Up Chicago is a clothing drive that asks residents to donate hats and gloves to thousands of children, adults and seniors who do not have access to these essential winter items. Their website has a daily calendar featuring events across the city in need of volunteers. An event that happens every Monday is Lakeview Seniors Pet Therapy where pet owners can bring their friendly animals to visit with residents of the Lakeview Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre to help spread love and joy. Every Thursday they hold an event called Bingo Fun at Symphony of Lincoln Park. This event asks volunteers to assist or play bingo alongside seniors of the Symphony of Lincoln Park rehabilitation center who otherwise may not have many opportunities to interact with others and have fun socially. There is an option on the website where you can enter your zipcode and find volunteer opportunities close to your neighborhood. Chicago Cares is a fantastic way to volunteer and create immediate change for the better in Chicago.

A organization that speaks to me personally is the Love Hope Strength Foundation. This charity founded by two cancer survivors uses concerts and music festivals as a platform to ask attendees to sign up for the International Bone Marrow Registry through a easy cheek swab that could lead to a life saving transplant. Adding names to the registry gives people with blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma hope across the globe. The foundation has added over 129,000 music fans to the registry. When Love Hope Strength Foundation began they focused on using funds raised “to purchase medical equipment and supplies, raise awareness through special events, documentaries and media, and help build cancer centers”. A documentary was commissioned by MTV called ‘Everest Rocks’ that featured the Love Hope Strength founders James Chippendale and Mike Peters plus performances by bands the Fixx, the Alarm, Stray Cats, Squeze, Nick Harper and more on a two week trek up Mt. Everest. On the journey, they raised money for the Nepal cancer center. The foundation can be found at concerts and festivals across the United States and is constantly looking for volunteers to run their booths.

In 2004, more than 200,000 people died due to the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. It is considered to be one of the ten worst earthquakes that have been recorded. In addition to the high death toll, cities were destroyed and hundreds of thousands of people were left with nothing.  In response to this natural disaster, the band Linkin Park founded Music for Relief (MFR).  The organization’s mission is to provide aid and support to victims of natural disasters and to reduce climate change. MFR is comprised of musicians and fans that organize online auctions, benefit concerts, and other events to assist those in need and help rebuild their communities.  The humanitarian organization has helped raise over $7 million since it first began.  They have helped survivors from all around the world including those who were affected by Hurricane Katrina, China’s Wenchuan earthquake, Zimbabwe’s cholera outbreak, earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.  If you would like to make a donation to help those in need, please visit here.

For more than 25 years, Rock the Vote has helped to created ways to make voting easier for young adults. It is currently the largest nonprofit and nonpartisan organization in the United States that is driving the youth vote to the polls.  They utilize music, art, pop culture, and technology to encourage young adults to become politically active.  The organization facilitates in voter registration, shows you how to contact your state elected official, and how to check your voter status.  Rock the Vote wants the youth community to know that their voice counts and ensures that their vote does too.

So, when you have a moment to spare in between acts you want to see, you should visit the Lolla Cares area. Also, select organizations may be hosting a limited amount of giveaways throughout the duration of the event. Why not help out your local community and score awesome freebies at the same time?

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SPLASH HOUSE JUNE 2016: Southern California’s Most Iconic Pool Party

It’s Summer time and for us Californians, that translates to festival and pool party season!  One of Southern California’s most iconic pool parties just took place this past weekend in Palm Springs and it was nothing short of a wet and wild adventure.

Photo credit: Quinn Tucker

Photo credit: Quinn Tucker

For those of you that are unaware of this awesome event, you might be asking, “What makes Splash House so iconic?” The answer is EVERYTHING. It is the perfect blend of a Vegas style pool party and an electronic music event that is located in the California desert.  Splash House is hosted at select hotels with the primary hotel being The Saguaro.  This year the additional hotel was the Riviera with two pools.  The event offers attendees special room packages with their ticket and I must say, if you want the FULL SPLASH HOUSE EXPERIENCE, you really should book a room at one of the hosting hotels.  You can still have more than a great time booking a room at a different and cheaper hotel, but there is nothing like being a part of an entire hotel party. The hotel comes alive with that Splash House festive spirit.

Photo credit: Galen Oakes

Photo credit: Galen Oakes

The musical roster of this sold out June 2016 edition included the like of Odesza, Justin Martin, Lee Foss, FKJ, Jai Wolf, Guy Gerber, Billy Kenny, Cut Snake, Nora En Pure, Christian Martin, StarRo, and so much more!  Bixel Boys were also on the roster playing three different set times throughout the weekend.  At night, there were a few after parties with the most notable ones having Justin Jay and Flight Facilities play over at the airport hanger.  With fun-filled lineup like that most of the weekend was spent pool hopping then straight to the after party to continue dancing! Most of my time was spent at the Riviera but I was able catch Lee Foss and Billy Kenny’s set at the Saguaro for a bit. Both sets provided a perfect poolside vibe and a packed dance floor.

Photo credit: Galen Oakes

Photo credit: Galen Oakes

Now last year when I attended both June and August, I spent most of my time on the dance floor. This year, I thought I should aim for a different experience. I spent most of my time in the pool where t-rex, unicorn and pizza floaties, water guns, and new friends surrounded me.  My favorite part and arguably one of the most iconic parts about Splash House, was when the music was so good that everyone in the pool started splashing to the music and water was flying everywhere.

Photo credit: Galen Oakes

Photo credit: Galen Oakes

When we left the Saguaro and hopped onto the shuttle, we entered the party bus atmosphere. Although it was packed with people and many had to stand, we ended up making friends with people and they invited us back to their room to party with them. That’s the other fun thing about Splash House, you make so many random friends and everyone invites people back to their room to drink for a bit. Personally, I cherish small run-in adventures like that.  This is probably one of the best events to meet new people in Southern California.

Photo credit: Galen Oakes

Photo credit: Galen Oakes

The entire weekend went off without a hitch. The weather was cooler than last year, the line up was fantastic, and the attendees were filled with nothing but a positive and friendly attitude. Now, we are counting down the days until the August 2016 edition!

Photo credit: Quinn Tucker

Photo credit: Quinn Tucker

Article by: Dominica Murillo

DESERT HEARTS Continues to Inspire and Recharge Your Spirit!

The 8th Desert Hearts festival took place this past weekend at Los Coyotes Indian Reservation. The festival centers itself around music, art, good vibes, and spiritual healing. It has gained a good festival reputation by being such an open community that focuses on enjoying life through music and art. Also, since this event is off grid, it is known as an amazing place to disconnect from society and recharge your spirit. The festival has been growing more and more with every event. This spring festival was it’s biggest yet. The crew was still able to keep it intimate and keep the vibe that the festival has been known for.

IMG_6212This was my first Desert Hearts and I was more than excited to attend. I had been prepping for a few weeks. Part of going to camping music festivals is the mental preparation that takes place weeks in advance. It leads to the excitement and I always consider festival prep part of the experience. It was just Lily (WOLFshoes of OthermusiC) and myself (Ms. Indigo Jones of OthermusiC), but I was still concerned that we wouldn’t be able to fit everything in the car. Somehow, all the camping supplies did fit into my tiny Honda Civic. After packing the car and 3 hours of driving, we were in a car line waiting to enter the festival grounds. We arrived there well before sunset but the wait for the car line was 2+ hours so by the time we entered in dark.

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CAMPING
When it came to pick a camping spot, there were many areas to choose from. There were even theme camps – Chronic Kava Camp, Native Alien Camp, and the Animal Kingdom. Many of the tents were pitched close together. As the weekend continued, more people entered and the more crowded it became. We ended up pitching a tent close to the parking lot area by the hill. Many people that arrived at the same time did the same thing. This was because it was less crowded and easier to manage the transportation of camping supplies from the car to the campsite. Our site offered ample room and was far enough from the crowd but close enough that we could still hear the bass and screams from the dance floor.

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THE PEOPLE
Upon setting up the camp, we were greeted and welcomed by our neighbors. They were both so cheery and positive that I could have talked to them for hours. I would have too but I had to set up the tent first. The next day I was able to meet more of our neighbors who were full of festival spirit and ready to interact with everyone and anyone.

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Over on the dance floor the vibes were even friendlier! I was hugged so many times by random strangers. One man even came up to me and told me that he wished that I had the best weekend of my entire year. There was never one sad face on the dance floor. Everyone respected each other’s space and connected with each other on a personal level. Each person’s positivity made the event special but their creative outfits also facilitated in making the festival feel like an open, carefree, and respectful environment.

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ART, YOGA, & WORKSHOPS
There are many aspects that make Desert Hearts it’s own community. In addition to the music and friendly atmosphere, the Desert Hearts crew recognizes that art, yoga, and spiritual healing are essential in order to be connected with each other and the universe. Throughout the main area there were artists working on beautiful and colorful paintings. Some of the art was playful and others glowed in the dark. As you walked to the floor to dance, you would see all of the art. There was even free art being given away.

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The workshops and yoga took place off to the side near the parking lot. You could still hear the music but it was away from the crowd. Both yoga and the workshops took place from 10am to 7pm. So many different types of yoga classes were offered. It ranged from sacred roots, to galactivated, to soul searching, to vinyasa flow, to cuddle yoga.

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Right next to the yoga tent was the Shaman Sound Sessions with Nico. Crystals were placed around the participant as he/she laid down. Nico then proceeded to use the rhythm of a drum to heal the participant. I wasn’t able to part-take in this or stay long enough to observe what fully occurred during each session but I will say it did look extremely soothing.

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There were many interesting workshops offered too. There were classes on experiencing true transformation, shamballa healing, hooping, hooking up without hang-ups, and more. Some classes were in high demand so they repeated in the following day so that everyone had a chance to go. One of the most in demand and intriguing workshops was the sound healing. Everyone gathered around the dome, laid on the floor, closed their eyes and listened to the relaxing sounds. Time flies when you are at peace.

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THE MUSIC
Desert Hearts stayed true to their promise of 72 hours of non-stop techno. The musical roster included Super Flu, Butch, Joyce Muniz, Dance Spirit, DJ Harvey, the Desert Hearts crew and many more. There was one stage only, as it has always been in the past. This is intended so that everyone remains connected as both one force and one family. Everything was carefully curated to hold true to the Desert Hearts mantra, “We are all Desert Hearts.”

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It’s difficult to only spotlight select artists because each set brought such a strong and positive energy to the dance floor. At night, the dance floor was packed with attendees dancing the weekend away. If people weren’t on the dance floor, they were either dancing with their friends on the speakers or dancing on stage behind the artists. The sound system was perfect for the festival. Not once was the music too low. It echoed throughout the festival grounds so that no matter where you camped, even in the parking lot, you could always hear the music. In a way in made it so that you never left the stage.

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On Friday night going into Saturday, Joyce Muniz heated up a packed dance floor. Following her was supposed to be a much anticipated live set from Extrawelt. They were going to use vintage analog equipment for their performance. Unfortunately, due to a miscommunication issue, they were not able to play. Dance Spirit rang in Saturday with their refreshing sunrise set. Sunrise sets aren’t for the weak of heart. They are for the hardcore attendees. The majority of these people have been dancing all night so sunrise sets are meant to provide a softer and steady groove to enter the day. Dance Spirit did just that. Their set had me feeling like I was driving down PCH on a sunny day with my windows down and the wind in my hair. At noon, DJ Harvey took the decks and gave us a little disco. Jozif was up next and he coordinated his set with a fashion show that took place on the dance floor. The fashion show captured all the creative festival outfits that people enjoy putting together. Shortly following the fashion show, there was also a wine and cheese party on the dance floor.
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*photo by Lily Colovic

From late Saturday afternoon into the evening, the Desert Hearts crew consisting of Mikey Lion, Deep Jesus, Lee Reynolds, Marbs, and Porkchop dominated the stage with 2-hour set each. Justin Campbell and Sabo provided the Sunday morning tunes. Both delivered amazing sets that were spot-on for daytime dance floor fun.

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By the time Super Flu came on, the attendees were rested up and ready to pack the dance floor again. It remained full from there on out, especially since it was the last night. We had to get back to reality so we couldn’t stay for all of Sunday night but from many recounts I have heard and read, Lonely Boy, Fritz Carlton, and Treavor Moontribe all delivered sets that made the last night unforgettable.

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Article by Dominica Murillo
Photos by Dominica Murillo and Lily Colovic

INTERVIEW: Bag Raiders Talk about Latest Checkmate EP & Tour

We recently had the opportunity to interview Australia natives, Bag Raiders before their show at the El Rey on April 1st. They released their latest EP Checkmate in March and now they are headed to Australia to finish off the last leg of their tour.
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What was it like growing up in Australia? How does it compare to Los Angeles?
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To be honest, Sydney and LA are pretty similar. Lots of sun, pretty spread out, beach vibes. People in Australia say Sydney is LA and Melbourne is NY and I can see that…
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Who were your influences for your latest EP Checkmate?
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I think we draw inspiration from all over the place, not just music. Food, people, nature, art, it all finds its way in there somehow. The title track has a UK feel for sure, the drums are kinda on a 2-step tip, which is something we were/are both into. Breakdown is much more of a driving into the sunset vibe. And then Magic Feel has a “cool guy walking round sunset junction” flavour going on.
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Who did the graphics for your latest EPs?
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The amazing Mat Maitland from Big Active!
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What are your favorite instruments that you used in any of the 3 EPs?
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Tracking live drums on Checkmate was super fun. And Magic Feel has same samples from an E-mu SP-1200 which is a dope old sampler. Then the arpeggiated synth lead that starts Breakdown is from Chris’s modular system. So again, we draw sounds from all over.
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Which keyboards or synths do you use?
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Too many to list! But we love the Dave Smith stuff, the Mutable Instruments and Make Noise modular gear and then a bunch of old stuff. Usually the MS-20 and Jupiter-8 are on everything we do in some way or another.
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Both live shows and DJ gigs are intimate in their own ways. What type of environment leads you to prefer one over the other?
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Just depends what mood I’m in. Live is way more challenging so that can either be good or bad!
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How do you handle mistakes during a live show?
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I think we’ve learned to just let them go and move on. In my mind people who come to the shows are pretty forgiving. They already like us, they like our music, if they can see we’re up there busting a gut then I think they’re gonna leave happy even if there are a few wrinkles along the way.
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What is your most anticipated stop on the tour?
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For the shows it’s gotta be NY, LA and SF. Always the biggest crowds and funnest venues. But we’re also keen to go to places in the middle of America we’ve never been before. Texas, New Orleans, even places like Saint Paul, bring it on!
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For music and tour info visit bagraiders.com.

INTERVIEW: Tiga Discusses No Fantasy Required

Ms. Indigo Jones and WOLFshoes had a chance to speak with Tiga about his recently released album ‘No Fantasy Required’, the tour, and his college radio show. Tiga’s album ‘No Fantasy Required’ is available online now.

iTunes: po.st/nfritunes
Counter – po.st/nfrcounter
Spotify – po.st/NFRSpotifySampler
Amazon – po.st/nframazon
Bandcamp – po.st/nfrbandcamp

Serenity Gathering: Celebrating the Spring Equinox Under the Desert Sun & Moon

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It’s no secret to the festival community that there has been a huge wave of transformational music festivals taking over the scene. It’s been happening for the past few years. On March 17-20, 2016, the third annual Serenity Gathering took place, making it the first transformational music festival of the 2016 festival season in Southern California. A total of 50 different musical acts were set to take the stage including Shpongle, Nahko & MFTP, Emancipator, Del the Funky Homosapien, Bleep Bloop, Ill Gates, Phutureprimitive, Random Rab, Desert Dwellers, Big Wild, the Moontribe crew, and many more.

Serenity Gathering was a unique festival that celebrated the Spring Equinox. It focused on the balance of the universe where, “night and day, dark and light, are in perfect balance”. Serenity provided a positive and creative environment where the attendees could connect with one and other while also reflecting and honoring this special time.

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THE BASICS

The 4-day event took place at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center. This is the oldest and largest retreat center in the Western U.S. It is 2 hours away from both LA and San Diego, making it a perfectly central location for Southern Californians.

This location was also ideal for camping. The beautiful California desert and the clear night sky truly added to the festival element. Car camping was included with every ticket. This was definitely a HUGE PLUS. Car camping is always essential at these types of festivals and not having to pay extra for this is always a come up for attendees.

The weather was optimal for being out in the desert. Honestly, when I was preparing for this event, I thought it was going to be so hot during the day that I’d get a headache and so cold at night that I’d have to wear 2 coats at night. Thankfully, none of that happened. The daytime temperature was more than bearable and at night I only had to wear one furry coat.

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ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY

Like many transformational music festivals, this was an environmentally friendly, leave-no-trace event. Reusable cups and plates were encouraged, glass bottles were not allowed and taking home your own trash was strongly enforced.

The site also mentioned that they would be instituting a parking fee so that they could help reduce air-pollution via carpooling. There was a $40 fee for solo drivers, a $20 fee for two passenger vehicles, and free parking for cars with 3 or more people.

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LAYOUT

Right outside the JTRC grounds there was a Serenity Gathering sign. If that wasn’t there, we would have definitely missed the entrance and drove on for another couple miles until we realized we were lost. We drove on to the dirt road that was near the sign and soon came across the will call and entrance tables. Once we drove past that and further down the dirt road there was a fork in the road. The left path led directly to the main stage area and the right path led to parking and campsites. At the middle of the divide, were two men and a black pig on a leash. Before continuing to the right, I got out of the car to quickly pet the pig. He was so sweet!

The campsites were located behind the main stage and vending area. This area consisted of the vendors, food trucks, bathrooms, healing sanctuary, and the Serenity Stage presented by The Untz.

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FAVORITE SPOT

Right behind the Serenity stage was a hill that over looked the entire location. Once you walked to the top, you saw some people doing yoga, others meditating, a few people taking pictures, and the rest were just enjoying in the scenery. It was the perfect location to stop and appreciate that moment in time. Did you even really go to Serenity Gathering if you didn’t see the sun rise or set from this hill?

You could also see the other two stages at the top, both of which were off to the far back left. At the main area exit/camp entrance, there were additional vendors to the left as well as a face painting station and an awesome psychedelic painted bus that had color changing lights projected onto it.

Continuing down this road, we walked past some camps, shrubbery, and cacti. Behind all this was the Bridge Family Stage. This was where the live bands and artists performed. The New Moon Stage was located even further behind that. This was where the Moon Tribe crew played. Even though we did see this stage while we were at the top of the hill, it was still a little harder to find. However, once the music started playing at the New Moon Stage, it was easy to locate. You could simply follow the sound and the people that were dangerously running around the cacti.

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THE PEOPLE (Staff & Attendees)

The staff was friendly, helpful, and patient. They were decked out in their festival gear and spread their positive energy to the attendees. Some drove around in carts getting to know the attendees as they picked up pieces of trash. On Sunday, we saw one staff member trying to keep a pole stable so that the tarp it was connected to wouldn’t be blown over by the wind.

As for the festival attendees, there were people of all ages since it was a family-friendly event. Toddlers were running around and playing in the dirt, with their parents close by of course. Older children were seen with their parents at the family dome. The young adults and those with more life experience danced until night became day with their faces painted, jewels on their bodies traveling from stage to stage in their fur coats.

I also want to give an honorable mention to all the hardcore festival dogs I saw. The site said no pets but it seems that there were a lot of people that chose to ignore that rule. There were a few that were service dogs but you could sense that most of the dogs weren’t. You could tell simply by the dogs’ demeanor that this wasn’t their first festival either. They ignored most humans that went up to them but were extremely friendly to all other dogs they saw. They also worked out a festival system. The dogs made friends with the food vendors so they could manipulate the vendors into giving them scraps. It was definitely interesting to watch them roam and know exactly what they were doing. Perhaps one day I’ll do an article on festival dogs.

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FAVORITE OUTFIT

There were so many awesome outfits but the best accessory was a girl’s rainbow unicorn umbrella! Where does one buy this? We should have asked her.

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Those who attended were there with open hearts. Our neighbors greeted us and welcomed us to the festival right when we arrived. There was also a girl walking around offering hugs. At one point, this girl walked up and asked me if I wanted a hug. Naturally, I was confused at first. Once I processed the moment, I smiled and gave her one of the best hugs I had in me. Then we wished each other a good day and went our separate ways. Plenty of people were ready to connect, even if it was for a brief instance. On Saturday night, we were walking back to the camp and a random guy appeared from the dark trail. He asked us what we loved most in the world and we gave our answers. He smiled, said “thank you,” and then disappeared back into the darkness. We connected with someone unique everywhere we went. When that wasn’t happening, we definitely overheard hilarious bits of conversations of strangers connecting.

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FAVORITE QUOTES

“The Rice-a-Roni people are in town!” – I don’t know what this means (if there was any sub-context) or what preceded the conversation. All I can say is that the genuine excitement in this man’s voice when he said this made me laugh. Maybe he really enjoys eating Rice-a-Roni? We will never know.

“I’m going to keep singing until this girl comes out of the shower…. (Proceeds in singing voice) Girl, please come out of the showerrrr, I need to showerrrr too!”

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FOOD/WATER/VENDORS AND BATHROOMS

All of the attendees were really good with bringing their own food and water. With that said, there was still one water station in the main area just in case you ran out. There may have been another one but this is the only we saw. As for the food, they offered a healthy and organic selection. Also, if you wanted Kombucha, they had it!

Serenity also had an assortment of vendors that met all your festival needs. You could find people selling hand made, one-of-a-kind jewelry, clothing, and art throughout the festival. People were also selling crystals, tapestries, photographs, and so much more.

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As for the bathrooms, there were three locations. The primary bathroom location was located in the main area, right near the camp entrance. There was more than enough port-a-potties and I didn’t have to wait more than five minutes. They were also cleaned every day but they were definitely cringe worthy to go into at night. There were also 2 indoor bathrooms, which were located all the way towards the back of the camping area. Each bathroom had 2 sets of showers, a toilet, a sink, mirror, and soap. There was always a line for these but they were much cleaner and worth the wait.

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FAVORITE VENDOR

There was a trailer right outside and to the left of the main area exit/camping entrance. It was selling some of the most beautiful hand-made dream catchers I have ever seen. Although they were expensive – the smallest one being $222 – they were absolutely beautiful. The feathers that were chosen were perfect and the crystals that were picked and artfully placed in the middle made them simply breath taking. On the tag, it read, “Live with Fierce Intentions.” We couldn’t agree more.

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YOGA & WORKSHOPS

Serenity Gathering also offered its attendees a variety of workshops meant to enhance their lives and promote sustainability. Throughout the festival, they offered various 30-minute sound healing sessions. They even offered a special sunset sound bath with Eric Dingo. The event also offered festival yogi classes from acro-yoga to galactivated yoga to family yoga. If you wanted to work on chakra enlightenment or awakening your chakras with Vinyasa flow they had classes for that as well. Over at the Nova Family and Community Dome they had a Forts and Fantasies class, which seemed really interesting. The four year old in me would have attended but I missed it.

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MUSIC & ART

As previously mentioned, 50 different musical acts from different genres across the board were scheduled to help enhance the vibe of the festival. There were so many amazing performances each day but our favorites were TV Broken 3rd Eye Open and Lafa Taylor. Both played on the Bridge Family Stage. First off, TV Broken 3rd Eye Open can best be described as a psychedelic jam band that unifies its listeners to the universe through their music. When they were playing, I closed my eyes while dancing and felt like I was floating through a colorful vortex that was being created through their sound. Lafa Taylor also had an amazing set and live mixed his voice. I felt like he was truly able to connect with the crowd in a special way. By the end of his set he had everyone singing along.

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In regards to sound, it could have been louder at the Serenity Stage and Bridge Stage. When both stages were crowded and we stood towards the back, I do remember wishing it was louder. The New Moon Stage was a smaller area and I felt that the sound was just right.

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FAVORITE PIECE OF LIVE ART

Over at the Bridge Family Stage, they projected live visual art on to the back screen. When we went around the back of the stage to take a closer look, we noticed 4 people with 5 projectors pointed towards the screen. Each person had a clear Petri dish, various oils, food coloring, and a projector. They put the oils into the Petri dish, dyed them with food coloring, moved the dish around on top of the projector, while they displayed it onto the screen. Each projection overlaid on top of the other one. It was live psychedelic art at its finest.

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Serenity Gathering was a unique festival that celebrated the beginning of spring, balance, life, and music. It was a great start for our festival season and we thoroughly enjoyed dancing in the moonlight under a clear night sky to some awesome beats with good-hearted people. We can’t wait to go back next year and we hope it’s at the same location too!

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Article by Dominica Murillo
Photos by Lily Colovic

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INTERVIEW: Marbs Talks Art & Desert Hearts

WOLFshoes and Ms. Indigo Jones speak with Marbs. He is in charge of the Desert Arts program, creates the Desert Hearts Records album artwork and he will also be DJing at the Spring edition of Desert Hearts happening April 1 – 4, 2016 at Los Coyotes Indian Reservation.

For tickets and more info visit www.deserthearts.us.

Neon Indian @ The Observatory 2.23.16

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Neon Indian is currently on a North American tour promoting their latest album VEGA INTL. Night School, which was released October 2015. The show began at the Observatory a little later than expected. The band was sound checking for about 15 minutes and the crowd began to grow restless with excitement. One of the band members came on stage to switch on two neon lighted signs. One pink VEGA INTL. sign to the left of the stage and one blue Night School sign to the right.

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Soon after, Neon Indian took the stage and everyone cheered while someone shouted “Take your shirt off!”. The band started their first song with great enthusiasm. Alan Palomo, the lead singer, took a second to take a sip of tea, mentioning that he just got over the flu but you could never tell based on the consistency of his voice.

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The band members include Jason Faries on drums, keyboardist Drew Erickson, Max Townsley on guitar, and Jorge Palomo, Alan’s brother, on bass. People sporting sequin jackets and flannel shirts alike were grooving to tracks reminiscent of 80s synthpop and chillwave.

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About half way through the show, Alan said “We’re going to keep playing some songs for you guys because we have a symbiotic relationship going.” He was right, as the energy from the band rose, so did the energy from the crowd.

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Two crowd favorites from the night were Polish Girl, off the 2011 album Era Extraña, and Slumlord off their latest release VEGA INTL. Night School. Slumlord featured Alan Palomo playing a Korg MS-20 and Max Townsley on the timbales.

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The show made me feel like a character in a nostalgic 80s movie on the way to the swankiest party in town and who doesn’t want to feel like that. Neon Indian’s next stop is Las Vegas, NV Friday, March 11 at the Neon Reverb Music Festival. For tour dates and more info visit neonindian.com.

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Article and photos by Lily Colovic

Desert Hearts Releases Spring Festival Lineup with Superflu, Extrawelt, Jozif, Atish, Manik, Butch and More!


Following their City Hearts Winter is Coming tour, the Desert Hearts crew is ready to ring in the new season with their Spring Festival. For those who have never been, it’s one stage with a bangin’ non-stop groove. The 21+ event is set to take place at Los Coyotes Indian Reservation and tickets are selling out fast. Superflu, Extrawelt, Jozif, Siopis, Atish, HeartThrob, Manik, DJ Harvey, and Fritz Carlton are among the 37 artists that are set to take the stage April 1-4. You can also expect our dearly beloved Desert Hearts crew to be taking decks as well. This impressive lineup has us getting our dance shoes ready and our hearts racing.

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Check out this warm up mix for Desert Hearts Spring 2016 that Mikey Lion just put out today for free download.