Category Archives: Dance Music

[The Audiofiles] Coachella 2k17: Choose Your Own Auditory Adventure

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Photo:// Daniel Zetterstrom for Do LaB

Over the last two decades, Coachella has transformed from a simple music festival to a cultural time capsule.  Between the LA Weekly ranked munchies to the immersive artistic experiences, and of course the exceptional musical talent – the Coachella Music and Arts Festival provides an adult playground while tickling the senses in all the right places.

In event, and in ethos, Coachella is an elite gathering of international tastemakers and up and coming West Coast talent, ranging from musicians and artists, to stage designers, lighting and sound techs, production managers and more.  The festival curates from the creme of the crop, and the energy surrounding the event is palpable as everyone is operating at their highest frequency. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone. For two consecutive weekends, Coachella plays host to 125,000 domestic and international audiophiles, ten stages of music and around 200 musical acts spanning literally every genre, and then creating some live, over a 72 hour span. That’s just on site – so, if you found those numbers overwhelming, now – imagine being there.

That said, one of the many beautiful facets about Coachella is that it’s truly a choose your own adventure type festival, making the weekend anything you want to be. You can go to a punk show at the Sonora Stage one moment, then indulge your inner lyricist with Hip Hop artists from Travis Scott, Denzel Curry, Kendrick Lamar, and Schoolboy Q. Between the Heinekin Stage, Do LaB stage, Sahara Tent, Gobi and Yuma you can spend the weekend at a dance festival – wholeheartedly embracing the PLUR vibes that the event was made for. Or, you can only go to two days of the three day festival and spend the third having an actual vacation in Palm Springs, attend Desert X and come home revived for once instead of coming home burnt out. It can be a fashion show, a foodie’s wet dream or a family reunion, a chance for musical discovery and treasure trove of timeless favorites.  Sometimes it seems like the adventure chooses you, and not the other way around, but either way we all go in with one set of expectations and habitually have them slapped in the face, swirling at 180’s by the time we’re leaving.

The XX, Bon Iver and Bonobo were both gorgeous touches on the main stage, providing an oasis of calm in a colorful, and at times overwhelmingly overstimulating, storm; while in beautiful contrast, Kendrick Lamar closed the stage down on Sunday night, leaving the crowd with something to really think about. Per usual, the Sahara tent opened the doors to significantly more Rap and Hip Hop acts this year, once again providing a proper dance party with artists ranging from SNBRN, Galantis, DJ Khaled, Anna Lunoe, Gucci Mane, Autograf, GRYFFIN and more throwing down while keeping the energy up.

As with previous years, dance music has matriculated through the lineups on other stages beyond the Sahara. The Yuma provided a delightful disco den of deep, tech and progressive house with an internationally acclaimed roster of talent like Nora en Pure, Sasha, Tale of Us, Allison Swing, Dixon, Loco Dice, Hot Since 82, Four Tet-Daphni-Floating Points, and Maya Jane Coles.   Artists from Madeon x Porter Robinson, Justice, Tycho, Nicolas Jaar, What so Not, Jai Wolf, and Tourist were scattered from the Mainstage to the Gobi, and the Mojave to the Outdoor Theater. While the Heineken House and KROQ House both provided refreshing reposes from the rest of the grounds, with ample amounts of shade and air conditioning – two creature comforts that you have a hell of a lot more respect for after several days sweating to the beat in the desert. Last, but certainly not least, my home base and the place that always feels like a family reunion – the Do LaB stage.

As should be expected from Southern California’s premiere party planners, Do LaB’s stage designers outdid themselves with the construction of The Beacon, a bright and bold structure that will be coming with the crew to Lightning in a Bottle. Boasting a unique and expertly curated lineup for each weekend of Coachella, Do LaB’s stage is a wet, wild and whimsical artistic experience, fully equipped with dancing DJs, supersoakers, and high flying acrobatics; a festival within a festival, and a stage that’s a party within a party, quintessentially becoming a gateway drug to the beauty and beats of Lightning in a Bottle.

I think I’ve said this every year of Coachella, but kudos to the Do LaB for their impeccable bookings – perpetually and passionately giving us a birds eye view of the top acts in dance music.  If you’re in the mood for raw, upcoming talent – look no further than the first act each day: KNGSPRNGS, divaDanielle, Jonnie King, Oscure, Gone Gone Beyond and BOGL. Want a proper Sunday Funday dance party? Try the Desert Hearts squad on for size. And when it comes to big name artists, Do LaB provides an arena for artists to return to their roots – or just forge new ones, allowing for musical exploration and artistic experimentation.  For the first time since Chase & Status brought down the Sahara tent nearly a decade ago, Coachella had a true taste of Drum and Bass from Netsky and Liquid Stranger, oh – and then some guy named Skrillex showed up for a secret set and shut the place down, touching nearly every genre of music ever created and even creating a few new ones on the spot.  Other secret sets at Do LaB over the two weekends included Classixx, Richie Hawtin, Louis The Child, Rufus du Sol, Tycho and Autograf.

Two years ago, there was a giant caterpillar that roamed the festival grounds, metamorphosing into a lovely, large butterfly.  That was amazing.  Last year, there were corporate hippos, which were not nearly as cool as the butterfly but art being art, whatever – I liked them a lot more than the giant chairs and lamps which made me feel like my name was Alice, I ate something and now I’m in Wonderland…but Wonderland is just an Outdoor Ikea; anyways.  This year…well, this year someone let Dr. Seuss’s dildo collection loose among the main stages and though it provided some laughable moments, I just wanted that damn beautiful butterfly back.

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Coachella and the Goldenvoice name have grown exponentially over the last decade: adding more days, stages and weekends. But this year, for the first time in a long time – the festival increased in capacity as well, adding 25% in ticketed attendance and finally feeling the growing pains.  As festival population increased, the local Coachella Valley population also exponentially increases – and at a faster rate, to boot: consider the percentage of friends who would come and not even attend the festival, additional amount of event workers to handle the new stages, paired with a gross increase in the amount of events that occur in tandem with the festival – Goldenvoice’s LED Pool Party, Desert X and the menagerie of private parties for and by the musicians.

To combat the population  growth, the grounds were expanded and pushed back – but I actually had no idea where three stages were the first day, because fuck a map apparently. Yes, there’s a lot of room for activities but Coachella might finally be at the point of too much room for activities, when you actually get FOMO mid-festival because you simply can’t experience everything.   Handling the growth of the festival from inside it became relatively manageable by the end, but what wasn’t manageable was the parking situation which became exponentially worse as attendees trickled in through Sunday: causing up to a 3 hour backup as reported by the Press-Enterprise.  And if you wanted to forgo day parking and try using Uber, who has been touted as a partner with the festival itself, users were charged a disgusting minimnum of $175 – sometimes upwards of $250 – due to surge pricing as reported by the LA Weekly.  These two factors alone were enough to drive a variety of non-camping festival attendants to either exit stage left early Sunday and forgo favorite acts from Kendrick Lamar to Galantis, or take to social media to rant and rave about their first world travesties.

The adventures we choose at Coachella forge the musically monumental paths of the weekend, but I think the real testament to Coachella are the adventures we choose after we leave – did we find ourselves wanting more of a specific artist or genre?  Have we been rock fans our whole lives and suddenly find our niche with Dubstep and Trap?  Do we enjoy witty lyricisms in music and have a new appreciation for the incredible hip hop artists that were featured at this years event?  Do we snag our ticket to Lightning in a Bottle immediately upon returning home to decompress because we feel like we’ve finally discovered a hub of technicolor creation that mirrors the kaleidoscopic nature of our soul?

Despite the gradients of heat waves we endured for over 72 hours, each and every festival attendant left Coachella left feeling emotionally recharged, refreshed and revived – even if our sore muscles felt anything but.  We laughed, danced and discovered – not just music, but the true nature of ourselves: that child who had been forced to grow up that we’ve been shoveling under 40 hour a week jobs, forgetting that there’s another part to our soul that has needs and wants to – and fun in the sun with like minded souls to amazing music that touches every subject and genre is a large part of that. The idea of festival is necessary, when the only difference a stranger and I might disagree on is what our favorite act was – not which way they voted.

Keep your eyes on The DJ List as we dish on our top acts, best musical discoveries from the weekend and so much more.  To keep up on all things Coachella and their content curators, follow the links below – and be sure to keep your eyes and ears open because tickets for next year’s gala featuring Beyonce will probably go on sale any moment now.

Coachella // Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Goldenvoice //  Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Soundcloud

Do LaB // Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

KROQ // Website | Facebook | Twitter

Photo:// Watchara for Do LaB

[The Audiofiles] Lightning in a Bottle: A Journey to the Space Between the Sound

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A creatively curated three day adventure into a playground of house, bass and underground music equipped with immersive, thought provoking art – Lightning in a Bottle has had a special place in my heart for almost as long as I can remember.  When I went to school in Santa Barbara, I heard fantastical fables of a land so close, yet worlds away.  For my first few years in Los Angeles, I chased the dragon of a dream, coming in a day late and a wonderful weekend short. When Lightning hit Temecula’s Lake Skinner Recreational Area I finally dove in and experienced firsthand what was so highly revered about the event. Breathing in feelings like fresh air, I floated through the festival on Cloud 9 – forging bonds and breaking barriers, I reveled in my newfangled oneness with the world as I fell in love, over and over again on the grassy nooks and crannies of the grounds.  Watching as beautiful souls ordained in otherworldly outfits lost themselves to dance, I fell back in love with the moment.  Joining in, I could feel a shift in the senses, an emotional evolution mirrored with a social revolution, inspiring me to fall back in love with myself. As the festival  evolved,  I grew in tandem – learning to find my place within this novel conscious community as Lightning in a Bottle manifested from a boutique music festival to a staple of the West Coast’s festival scene.   Even with a migration to Bradley’s San Antonio Recreation Area, the magic was never lost – it was only magnified as serendipity met synchronicity.  Masquerading under moonlight, long lost and new found friends became family as we were initiated with glitter blessings and hugs, laughter and jubilation.

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Since its inception, Lightning in a Bottle has been an artistic catalyst where personal growth and spiritual renewal unfold infinitely into themselves.  Senses stream towards overload as colors dance in time with elaborate harmonies emanating from every corner of the fields.  The weekend celebrates much more than musical talent and artistic prowess; it’s the reunion and synergy of souls energized by the sunshine and their dancing feet; it’s the church where we revere our minuscule yet infinite place on this rock that’s spinning through space while we’re born again through the bass; it’s the home away from home where we feel so very safe, and so very loved.  Over the last three years, for one spectacularly extra-special weekend – I felt the pull, heard the call and knew where I belonged so it should be no surprise that I found myself back there this past Memorial Day Weekend, for another journey down the rabbit hole.

But unlike previous years, it didn’t feel like I was supposed to be there – my energy wasn’t focused on a festival, it was focused on my family; my mind wasn’t lingering on lineups or salivating over set times.  For the last decade, I’ve found sanctity and solace in festivals and on the dancefloor – my sweat, my hips, my feet, my heart and soul, and sometimes even tears were taken by the beat, and eventually I had to wonder: with all that we give to these events, our emotions, our headspace, our physical body, our money, our sobriety – what exactly are we getting in return? In a 31 going on 13 moment, I called the only person who could make heads or tails of a spinning situation – my dad; and I caught myself…because who in their right mind would deprive themselves of beautiful experiences, wonderful vibes, fantastic people, ethereal music and an otherworldly weekend? Most certainly not I – so last minute packing became a thing once again while I mused about the upcoming adventure ahead.

Since leaving Temecula, Lightning has been on the Central California Coast in Bradley and now that the event has found a more permanent home, it’s grown roots – both with the outlying community over it’s Permaculture Awareness Day with The Polish Ambassador, as well as implementing permanent infrastructure within the park. Between the water stations and the bridges between areas, seasoned festies were overheard in galvanized conversation about what the very first year at the campgrounds was really like.  For the first time, the grounds opened on Wednesday for select ticketholders and offered an extra day to set up, get comfortable and explore many of the non-musically inclined opportunities that the festival has to offer participants.  Yes, the world that the Do LaB has created there has massive amounts of music for those that want it – but for others, the festival also has beautiful spaces between the notes and serene silence between the music; the moments and love experienced outside of the stages were tantamount to the lucid dreams and delectable drops created on the dancefloor. There’s something to be said for the experience when the music is turned off, and the community vibes are turned all the way on – each and every one of us was operating at the highest possible frequency, making connections, forging bonds and cataloging moments that last a lifetime.

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Rousing ourselves for an early rise on Friday morning, we left right on time – which for us is exactly an hour after we promised we’d have the car packed and be on the road.  Perfect. After meeting up with some friends along the way to trade stories and party favors, Danny and I were off, off and away – celebrating our fourth Lightning together and our three year anniversary of saying ‘I Love You’. After a quick entrance, which I can only assume is one of the few benefits of arriving almost a day after most participants, we were onto the next challenge – finding a camping spot.  With how much fun we had as just the two of us without a squad at Shambhala, we were excited to set up shop and create ‘Camp New Friends.‘  Claiming a site near the corner of Monkey Business and Croatia, we felt like it was left there just for us; as we began to set up our shade structure and tent – Danny took one look around and exclaimed to our neighbors, “Hey, you – yeah, we’re gonna become really good friends this weekend.”  And let me tell you, I love it when he’s right. Cody and Dane from the camp behind us had our backs with the tent, and while we were setting up our shade structure – it felt like parallel worlds collided:  slowly and sweetly, a couple waltzed up into our peripheral view.  Under his breath, Danny started stammering ‘That guy looks like Mickey….I can’t wait to tell Mickey that I met his doppelganger….’ until….we realized that the doppelganger was Mickey!  A well kept secret and wonderful trickery only became more meaningful when we realized how organically we had all just found each other.

As Danny gathered his camera gear to head out to a quick shoot for the LIB Promo Squad, my cell phone vibrated with a silent intensity. My step mom had been back on the East Coast for the last week helping with a family emergency, and I’d gotten to the point that seeing her on the caller ID was equally warming and disheartening.  A short breath and two words into the conversation, and I already knew the direction things were headed.  With a late stage cancer diagnosis, we knew my aunt’s prognosis was bleak – none the less we’d been hopeful; after all – she’d been stable, she’d been laughing, she’d been being; but now we knew, that whether it was an hour, day, or a week – that was unequivocally all she had.  Forgetting where I was for a second, I sank into my skin and the feelings I had before we left, quietly begging me to stay, latched back into me. How would you live your life if you knew your own expiration date? You would push, dare and defy your ego to grow instead of denying yourself of the will to live.

Settling into our surroundings and cracking a cold beer as the sun descended from the sky, we were finally ready to head into the grounds. After wandering through Camp Altered States and catching up with friends over Mija’s basslines, we were off to catch  Big Gigantic on the Lightning Stage then slowly sauntered our way around towards the Woogie – I thought. The Favela Bar, which was once a smaller side stage had blossomed into a full on party brigade, fully equipped with all of the bass and all the vibes.  The music in there was so good that I could have easily forgotten about the Woogie itself.  Taking a break from the massive crowds, we found ourselves on a seemingly spiritual pathway to the Do Art’s artistic arena.

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After spending a solemn moment reflecting on what turned out to be my favorite piece of art at the festival -the powerful and poignant depth of this cascading collection of twisted wood and tangled emotions, we stumbled right into the delicate and deliberate strokes of Negne Mwuara‘s mural from this last Coachella. One of the pinnacles of the event for me has been the live art on the grounds, in between the trees and near the stages but this year it felt more scarce and hard to come by. Taking a lengthy lap between the easels, we literally walked right into our camp neighbors as we were exiting towards the Woogie’s booming techno vibes.

Delectable cucumber jalapeno margarita in hand, we wound our way around the Woogie’s dancefloor – trying to come to a conclusion on how we actually felt about the new stage design.  The treehouse DJ booth and whimsical color creations that oscillated like sound waves towards the sky, two facets of the festival that I thought were an iconic staple, were missing and replaced by industrial, neon piping which made me feel more like I was at a warehouse party in a technicolor boiler room than prancing in a magical forest among the faeries.  In the mood for the less traveled path, we headed around the back of the stage, down the abyss into the Grand Artique, cartwheeling into the emotive, instrumentation of LAPA.  Truth be told, for the first few minutes we weren’t sure who we were seeing – but we knew it made us feel a lot better after collectively missing Emancipator Ensemble; and then after a few minutes, we realized it kind of was Emancipator – it was Ilya Goldberg, Emancipator’s violinist, giving the most intimate of performances in a magical location. Heading back across the expansive grounds to our tent, pockets of after parties popped into existence – but none with the eclectic talent, lasting power or super awesome disco ball of Camp Altered States.

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The next morning, thousands of house heads and festival lovers flocked to The Woogie for a beautiful tribute to the musical legend of Pumpkin.  The hearts in our community have weighed heavy since his passing, and for really the first time since – the entire LIB community was together to celebrate the life he led, and the life he had inspired within all of us. Per usual, the heat beat its way into every daytime activity, making it necessary to have a water bottle in hand, a bandanna around your neck and a mister or fan in the friend group.  Taking our leisurely time, we meandered across the grounds to the food court near the Pagoda Bar to level up on some food.  Unlike previous years of LIB, the vendors this week had more to offer than just vegan and vegetarian offerings and we were  excited taking full advantage of the situation and then head back to the sanctity of the campsite.    Two days into LIB, and we’d already overused our joke about “Camping in a Bottle 2016” – there were literally some moments that it just seemed too hot to do stuff; blame it on our age, blame it on our psyches or willingness, but mostly blame it on the heat – all we could seem to do was sit around camp and share stories in the shade, which is an honest highlight of my weekend.

Saturday night we were on a mission, and found a perfect place to plant ourselves for the Lucent Dossier Experience.  Transfixed in the moment, the crowd almost ceased to dance, move or breathe until the tantalizing performance came to an emotive close – only to erupt in jubilant cheer.  As we sat on the ground, patently waiting for the Jamie XX to take the stage we found ourselves involved with what I still consider one of the most impressive glow stick ropes of all time.

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It started small, with our neighbors sitting in front of us gleefully funneling the pieces down a supply chain of silliness and we couldn’t help but join in once the chain reached us.  Once the people around us realized what was happening, it felt like all hands on deck as the glowing snake wrapped itself from the lighting booth and up to the front row – and back again before the start of the set.  I wasn’t familiar with Jamie XX before his set but I’ve easily been converted into a believer after watching him effortlessly move between three different equipment set ups and what sounded like all of genres: disco, house, funk, industrial, and some groovy warehouse tracks with heavy bass that were unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.  We felt the pull of the mindwarping, brain melting bass coming from Minnesota and G Jones B2B set at the Thunder Stage but after a few tracks, found ourselves back at the Lightning for the genius that is Jamie XX to finish our night.

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Both a festival and a nature adventure, Lightning in a Bottle was rich with reasons to ditch the cell phone and live in the moment, harmonize on your serendipity when you find long lost squad members and create new bonds when you can’t. And for the most part, I’d left my phone on airplane mode all weekend less talking to my parents when we set up shop on Friday, but Sunday I had a gut feeling that never left, and a last text to reaffirm my unfortunate suspicions – it was Sandy’s final night, and full of light and love, her life’s candle was snuffed out as her soul dissolved back into the collective unconscious.  

With little sleep in our veins, the whole camp was up and at’em early on Sunday morning, and with good cause – with all of our powers combined, we pulled off some epic bacon bagel sandwiches and finally had a family meal in the shade as we geared up for our last hurrah. Gathering our bearings, we were excited for a day outing with just a little less heat.  Making last minute wardrobe changes in the middle of a champagne campaign, I mused about the circumstances that brought us together and the friendships that we’d curated. And for the first time all weekend, all the camps that we’d bonded with were making it out to the dancefloor together; five camps that had fused into one – ten life trajectories that were tangled in all the right places for one a beautiful weekend.

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Dancing our way over to the Russ Liquid Test, the beat controlled my body as I giggled and grooved to this modern day jazz experiment, a funky side project that was perfect for my Sunday Funday get down. We ebbed over to the ethereal temple built from cans and upcycled materials and took in the final sunset while Desert Dwellers effused a tantalizing, tribal set that sent waves of euphoria through my veins.  Drinking in the moment, and a tasty margarita, our inner spirit animals came loose one last time, howling in delight as the sun made it’s last LIB descent, pulling a curtain of galaxies closely behind her.

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After a quick rendez-vous at the camp site, we gathered our squad for one final hurrah as we tromped through the festival grounds.  We drank from a giant spoon as we gleefully gallivanted  over to cacophony of carins in the shadow of the Ferris Wheel. Heading to the Favela Bar, B.R.E.E.D.’s tantalizing brand hip shaking, booty popping, soul writhing bass music was calling us and made it was easy to forget that anyone else was playing, let alone Mr. Carmack and Moderat.

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One of the only sets that caught my squads’ attention for it’s entire duration, B.R.E.E.D. had the entire side stage engulfed in the masterful, musical moment.  A perfect segue to closing the festival out with pantyraid on the Thunder Stage.

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Over the last decade, Lightning in a Bottle has evolved from a benevolent birthday celebration to a 20,000 person festival and growing. As long as the Do LaB has operated their stage at Coachella, there has been a technicolor wormhole that sieves rave babies and bros towards LIB.  In turn, the festival as no choice but to grow at an exponential level – and with those growth spurts come growing pains.  Now featuring a sold out crowd, almost every space feels cramped for the night time sets as stages filled with neon totems that in mass essentially block the stage. Within the five or six weeks between the two festivals, it feels near impossible to inform thousands of fist pumping, neon Sparkle Ponies on the ethos of LIB’s ‘Pack in – pack out’ and ‘Leave it better, leave it beautiful’ mentalities though they’re certainly hit over the head with reminders to buy their ticket and take the ride.  Beach cleanups pair up nicely with events they’ve paired up with like Subtract On The Pier while block parties and BBQs with street cleanups, and I believe there are ways to implement their green mentalities year round and in their home communities of Los Angeles, San Diego and the San Francisco Bay Area. But a place to buy extra trash bags, or a location to collect recycling and donate funds to the community or back into the event are also viable options albeit outside of the original ethos of the event.

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The magic and music of Lightning in a Bottle will always pull an esteemed crowd of audiophiles and art fanatics, merry makers and music lovers, festival families, LIB virgins and seasoned veterans – all coming together to celebrate this thing called life.  Put together with love and passion by the team at the Do LaB, this year’s festival boasted an immaculate range of talent and a community thirsty for Lightning’s transformative power. If you couldn’t get enough of the Do LaB crew at LIB, try out their Summer sister festival – Woogie Weekend just a few days away!  Soak in the sunshine while you bounce around to International House legends and locally loved Techno talent.

Tickets for Woogie Weekend are still available here.

For more on Lightning in a Bottle and the Do LaB, connect with them on their socials:

Lightning in a Bottle: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

The Do Lab: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Soundcloud | Youtube

All photography courtesy of Daniel Leist Photography

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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[The Audiofiles] Beyond Wonderland: The Beauty and The Beats

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Every day is a delightful dance of dichotomy infused with synchronicity, where we’re flirting with paradoxes and adapting to chaos.  We’re perpetually awarded the opportunity to pursue our destiny and unearth our desires; though, to do so, it’s imperative that we’re constantly discovering ourselves, in an ever evolving fashion.  It’s not about reinventing the wheel, rather shedding our skin like snakes and blossoming like Babushka Dolls.

“My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”
The Red QueenAlice in Wonderland –

Life, it seems, isn’t much different – working tirelessly to stay above water; where too often than not, we’re a victim of our own feedback cycles, part of the mundane 9 to 5 trivialities where we’re exhausted by the end of the work day and have to ration our passions.  But, when you go beyond yourself,  beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone, and beyond your preconceived notions, you can be free; when we go Beyond Wonderland, the possibilities are beautifully infinite and infinitely beautiful.

Ten years ago when I was still at UCSB, a few friends threatened me with a good time and convinced me to go to my first big music event: Electric Daisy Carnival 2006, or as they referred to it – a ‘rave’; and now, almost 10 years later, I was heading back to San Bernadino for my first Beyond Wonderland.  Rave, Massive, Music Festival …whatever you want to call it, what it ended up being was life changing. But what the media reports, is an entirely different story, and it’s imperative that we acknowledge the connotations surrounding the word.

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One look at any mainstream media source and you’d believe that the events run rampant with illicit drug use and explicit, if not deadly, amounts of consumption, a place where rules and regulations are replaced with dystopian views of reality. But spend one day engrossed in an event, one moment in the dancing shoes of someone who’s been there…come over to the other side just once and you’ll be singing a different song. Our festivals are explorations of time and space, creating a world that celebrates the moment and the best that humanity has to offer, where attendants have each others backs and look out for each other. The current negative stigma surrounding raves is even more unfortunate because these events more than live up to the literal definition.  One look into the linguistics and etymology of the word, and you’ll understand why.

Rave descends from the Old French raver, a variant of resver – meaning ‘to dream.’ By the 1700’s, to rave meant to discuss something with great enthusiasm and admiration.  During the 1950’s and 1960’s in England, ‘rave’ was a term used to describe wild bohemian parties, a word revived by the electronic music scene of the 1980’s.  The rest you could say – is dance music history.

But, it’s the second denotation that gets me: a rave is a physical framework added to the sides of a cart to increase its capacity.  Over the course of this ride we call life, a rave absolutely can increase it’s capacity – by increasing our emotional magnitude for understanding and the depth of our being by enriching us and enlightening us to the wonder we cultivate.  Built on individuality and creativity, raves are for the odd balls and weird eggs, the rare birds of a feather that get down together every blue moon under an electric sky.

Last weekend on Friday, March 18 and Saturday March 19,over 60,000 music fans arriving in festival families flocked to the stunning landscape of the San Manuel Amphitheater to dance away the last moments of Winter and Danny and I were both honored to capture the magic of the occasion.

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From lovely lightning on the overhang of the entryway to decadent decoration adorning literally all of the trees, the entire park was illuminated in a warm technicolor glow as an array of costumed characters filtered in, filling the grounds. With the combined Friday night and Festival traffic, we didn’t reach the festival until almost 10.  Dancing our way in to the sounds of Chris Lake, we gave our legs a quick stretch while we jumped in line for some tasty cold beverages.

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After quickly surveying the scene, we scampered from the Queen’s Domain, through the Cheshire Woods where Kink was throwing a good old fashioned House Party, and made our way to the Outer realm hosted by Dreamstate to scope out the very end of Myon & Shane 54’s Trance Showcase. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to an Insomniac show, and there’s no better feeling than the inspiring tones of trance booming from a glorious PK Sound System.  Next, Giuseppe Ottavianni & Solarstone dazzled the crowd with their ethereal, spine tingling performance as Pure NRG – but I had to pull myself back to the main arena for some feels as Galantis pulled out all the stops.

A supergroup made from Christian “Bloodshy” Karlsson of Miike Snow fame and Linus Eklöw, best known as Style of Eye, Galantis’ blissful beats layered over crooning vocals and textured synths made for one of the best sets of the weekend, playing hits from their debut album ‘Pharmacy‘ like ‘Runaway (U+I)‘ and my personal favorite’Peanut Butter Jelly‘. In a fit of irony, I tried to get a picture of their amazing Seafox visuals on my phone – but my phone apparently had other plans and took a hearty bath in my mixed drink. Originally annoyed, I quickly remembered that I knew all of three people out of the thousands in attendance, one of them being my fiance.  Almost immediately, I let a smile wash over my face as I resolved that the universe did me a solid by forcing me to forget about my electronic leash. Plus, Danny is an exceptional photographer and I knew I’d be able to rely on him to snap some stunners – which he definitely did!

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After another quick boogie with Kink in the Cheshire Woods, it was back to the Outer Realm to hear what Andrew Rayel had to offer: an uplifting, progressive Trance set that rattled your bones; a brand of ‘festival’ Trance that I immensely enjoy. While we were comfortably waiting on the lush grass, a jolly gentleman skipped by with his hands full of water bottles.  Eagerly, he turned to all of us – ‘Do you need any water…Would you like a bottle?’ He echoed, effusing the area with his infectious spirit. ‘We’re giving them out for free; here – have one!’ It’s this kind of spirit that creates the ethos of our community, and the type of giving that’s a cornerstone of our culture.

And then, what I’ve personally been waiting forever for – Ferry Corsten’s new live concept show: Gouryella.  From ‘Beautiful’, ‘Fire’ and’Into the Dark’ through ‘Black Velvet’ and ‘Twice in a Blue Moon’,  I’ve been a huge fan of Ferry’s for almost a decade now and  I find solace and strength within the weight of his music. And Gouryella did not disappoint – the poignant, visuals containing emotive questions forayed into mathematically influenced nature sequences as his driving brand of trance brought the music home.  At the end of the night, we made it back to the Queen’s Domain for some good, old fashioned champagne and bananas with Dada Life, as we kicked out the epic motherfucker to wind down the night.  The crowd was amped, with banana inspired totems, flags and costumes…which for the most part were amazing, but I have to admit that with a vast sea of totems clogging the bottom of the stage I feel like I’m missing part of the show.

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As I lamented the premature black screen of death on my phone while we sauntered out of the grounds, Danny and I were gleefully surprised as one of our favorite humans, and photographers, Juliana –known in the scene as Get Tiny,popped out of the woodwork as we made our way to our car.  If you haven’t seen her pictures, do yourself a favor – scope her out. One of the other two people I knew at the event, I was beyond ecstatic that our paths had crossed – but with the way festivals and coincides work, I was definitely not surprised – we were exactly where we needed to be.

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Get Tiny for Insomniac Events

With the last minute decision to attend Beyond Wonderland, I’ll be the first to admit that we weren’t the most prepared – but we did finagle a last minute hotel about ten minutes down the road from the event. Decompressing, we basked in the afterglow of Day 1.  As we cataloged memories, swooned over our favorite sets, I began to mull over the last few months and the direction of my life. Somewhere along the way, I’d convinced myself that I was growing up and out of the festival circuit. It’s not that I don’t, or didn’t, enjoy them – quite the contrary: I love festival. Maybe it’s the energy necessary to last at top emotional, mental, physical and spiritual shape for the entirety of the weekend events, or the detailed preparation that goes in from outfit choices to set times, the cacophony of personalities whose paths you cross…and on top of that, camping and surviving in the elements;  but, within that unique mixture of quality and quantity, I had burnt out.  Give me one night back at an Insomniac event, the music and the magic of community surrounding the event and the sheer ethos of it, and the fire inside has been reinvigorated ten fold.

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After an incredibly haphazard Saturday morning and afternoon that included absolutely no dull moments,  it was time to don our dancing gear and Caturday best to prepare to do it all over again – but with a twist!  Two of our good friends surprised us on Saturday afternoon after springing for a pair of tickets and we were excited to have our squad double in size for Day 2.  We made sure to get there with daylight to spare and headed straight through Sleepy Tom at the Queen’s Domain to the Outer Realm for Spag Heddi, one of our friend’s personal favorites and must see’s of the weekend. Hosted by the Bassrush Imprint on Saturday night, The Outer Realm highlighted the key players, movers and music makers currently in the Dubstep and Drum and Bass scenes…and not in Miami, but I digress.  It’s always more difficult to navigate a festival in the dark than the day, so we were on a mission to find the Ball Pit, the ‘Turning Wheel’,  Insomniac’s steam punk inspired art boat – the Beyond Wench, and their illusive fourth stage – The Upside-Down Room.

As we took in the sunset from the top of Lookout Mountain, it felt like the event was evolving in front of our eyes as layers of lasers at every angle cascaded through the cotton candy skies; and once again, we were off, off and away on the night’s musical adventure, gleefully bouncing back and forth between the stages, making sure to dance our way through each nook and cranny of the festival. Friday night had ample room to roam around, but with Saturday’s sold out status – I definitely felt the claustrophobia creeping in.  Good news is that I’ve never been around a more gracious group of people in my life, constantly with the ‘Please’ and ‘Excuse Me’…well, except for that one guy.  But apparently, more of the venue was used for last year’s festival and with the amount of flow toys that are admitted into the venue, I wouldn’t mind them expanding the grounds again for their next event.

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Klingande was an absolute delight, but I had to tear myself away for some Delta Heavy – but not before getting down to bangin’ Dirtybird sounds of Will Clarke.  One of my favorite groups for quite some time, I finally had my chance to catch Delta Heavy live.  Their euphoric drops and booming bass were doctor ordered and hearing ‘Ghost’ live was just as good as I expected.  Then it was back to the Queen’s Domain for a sonically salacious set from Slander, back again to the Outer Realm for an unbelievable set from Troyboi, who threw a full on electronically infused hip hop party.

After, we went back to the Queen’s Domain and headed  front and center for what I consider the best set of the weekend – an artist that refuses to fit into any one genre, Seven Lions.  Within one fell swoop during the height of his set, Seven Lions expertly fused ethereal Trance into a Bassnectar-esque breakdown and immediately into a Drumstep beat; I even had a few good cries to an incredible remix of Ferry Corsten’s ‘Beautiful’ and ‘No One On Earth’ from Above & Beyond.

With a few last minute changes, Doctor P was replaced on the lineup by the notorious NGHTMRE; I thought that my friends with last minute tickets would be a bit bummed by the revelation, but to the contrary – they were stoked!  After a few flight delays, NGHTMRE took the place of Ghastly on the Bassrush stage and oh my goodness, did he deliver – even giving us a hearty mix of ‘Gold Dust and closed out by bringing Slander on stage for one last song together.  Then, you guessed it, back to the main stage for the beginning of Deorro to get our Melbourne Bounce on.  As usual with the genre, there’s only so much I can take so I was thrilled to close out the night with some grooves on the giant Boombox, and then back to Datsik.

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While the clock neared 2 at the end of the night, Datsik started to close out his set with Red Hot Chili Peppers’ classic track ‘Otherside.’ I can’t tell you how many times I’ve actually heard the song remixed, so I was delighted to hear the emotive chord progressions of the original, an ode to our childhood and the music that inspired our musical tastes – the music that pushed us to where we currently are today.  As the soundboard insisted they cut the music, Datsik turned to the audience and urged us to sing along a capella – and sing along we did: tens of thousands of us, with an abundance of voices there were so many harmonies, scales and tones that regardless of how loudly or softly, on or off key you sang – you fit, you had a niche, your voice had a place, and the collective brevity of our voices can move mountains.

“I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night. Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle!”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

For one weekend, thousands of friendly faces put their regular lives on hold in order to release themselves into a world where anything is truly possible.  A world where we give more than we take, offer compliments not condescension, decorate ourselves as loudly and boldly as we choose and can become whoever or whatever we desire.  We come together to celebrate the music and the moments, the beauty and the bass, while rediscovering our individuality within a heart warming community. For one weekend, we went Beyond Wonderland, and we’ve left forever changed.

Over the last twenty years, Pasquale Rotella and Insomniac Events have carefully created and curated an unshakable dynasty within dance music. The production value of the stages was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, it’s just as ostentatious, colorful and out of this world as it should be – and then some. I mean, did you see the water spouts on the Queen’s Domain, or that thrilling, shooting fire from the stage and sides of the Outer Realm, or any of the incredible fireworks shows?  Attend just one Insomniac Event and you simply won’t be able to take Fourth of July Fireworks seriously ever again.  Between the precise attention to each detail of the festival, pristine PK Sound System, ornate dancers and costumed characters in envy worthy costumes, a vibrant community with deep roots in the evolution of the dance scene and world class musicians, Beyond Wonderland proves once again that Rave is King.

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Next up for night owls and other rare birds of a feather – the sold out Bassrush Massive on April 2ndWe Are NRG heads to the NOS Center on May 20 + 21, Audio on the Bay May 28 + 29th in Northern California, and Nocturnal Wonderland was literally just announced for Labor Day Weekend. For those in Southern California, keep your ears to the ground for a new Warehouse party series in Downtown Los Angeles!

Be in the know on all things Insomniac and catch up on all the latest events through their social media channels.

Beyond Wonderland: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Insomniac Events: Website | Facebook Twitter | Instagram

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is: Infinite”

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[The Audiofiles] Get Your Rocks Off at Gem and Jam’s 10 Year Anniversary

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A shining beacon of the Electronic Music Scene in Tucson, the Gem and Jam Festival returns for their 10 year anniversary to celebrate both the symbiosis of music and art within the conscious festival community as well as the love of precious minerals and gems featured at Arizona’s fabled Gem Show.

Thrown in collaboration with Infinite Music Productions, New Earth MUZiQ, Euphonic Conceptions & Challenger, the Gem and Jam Festival constantly evolves the perception of dance music with a livetronica take – almost every act you’ll find at the festival includes live elements within their performance. This year, headliners for the event include Beats Antique, The Polish Ambassador, Lettuce, Minnesota, Ott and so many more – plus a plethora of unreal live painters. Last year hosted the likes of Alex + Allyson Grey, The Welch Brothers, Benedigital, Ngene and Jef Logan; this years lot is slated to be just as magical. And let’s not forget, the magical, mystical and magnificent minerals and gems on dazzling display – best believe you’ll leave with at least a few of them!

For those that hit up the event last year, you’re in luck – four more hours of music have been added to each day!

Details
Dates: February 12-14
1102 W Grant Rd
Tucson, AZ 85705
Doors open at 12pm each night
Music goes from 12pm – 1am nightly

If you’re itching to get your rocks off early, head to San Francisco or Los Angeles for one of the official Gem and Jam Pre-parties with Shpongle, Ott and Alex + Allyson Grey!

San Francisco @ 1015 Folsom on 1/14
RSVP // Tickets

Los Angeles @ The Belasco on 1/15
RSVP // Tickets

For a look into last year’s magic, take a look at the official aftermovie –

Life at Gem & Jam 2015 (Official After Movie) from The Art of Bohl on Vimeo.

For more on the Gem and Jam Festival, head to their socials –

Website | Facebook | Twitter

[The Audiofiles] Sounds Seduce With ODESZA’s Remix of “Something About You”

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When life pulls me in a thousand directions, music helps to regain emotional and mental stability.  From when I wake up til the last seconds that I’m falling asleep, it’s the medicine in the rhythm, the vitality in the pulsing beat and succulent harmony that get me through.  When Sydney based Hayden James’ “Something About You” first came out I was entranced by the bubbling bass line whimsically woven through haunting lyircs.  As the rhythm writhes and rolls, the vocals sink into my head in serendipitous motion.   Always a fan of original works, I was interested in hearing the remix packages stemming from this gorgeous single – and so far, I have yet to be disappointed.   First, Sandrio heated it up with a deep and groovy remix, then Ben Pearce debuted his expertly timed and almost staccato rework and finally Just Kiddin released their version, raising the BPM and the Summer Vibe.

Adding another amazing remix to the stack is none other than ODESZA, the Seattle based Electronic Music Duo that’s been constantly on the rise over the last few years and rightfully so.  Their original singles are seductive and emotional, their remixes are innovative and their live sets are absolutely phenomenal.  It’s the little things, like the sound of a record dropping onto a record player, the haunting vocal elements of an angelic voice to raise you up and a symphony of synths to ring in the uplifting feel. Hands down, this is one of my favorite remixes ODESZA has produced and I can’t wait to hear what they have in store for us for the rest of the year.

For more on ODESZA and Hayden James, check out their socials –

ODESZA: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | Instagram

Hayden James: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud

[The Audiofiles] /ˈlo͞osid/ Puts a Delirious Spin on Galantis’ ‘Gold Dust’

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The already ephemeral ‘Gold Dust’ from EDM power duo Galantis has been receiving the remix treatment across the board. Once again, Linus Eklöw – better known to fans as Style of Eye – and Christian Karlsson of Miike Snow fame have crafted an effervescent mix of feel good, four to the floor rhythm with hauntingly beautiful vocals. Artists ranging from Hook N Sling and CRNKN with Hotel Garuda have had their way with the Original mix, and now, it’s time for /ˈlo͞osid/ to mix in his magic.

An enigmatic producer who elegantly juxtaposes multiple genres within just one song, /ˈlo͞osid/ has forged his way onto the dance music circuit with an impressive catalog of remixes and original tracks. From John Mayer’s ‘Falling’ to Evanescene’s ‘Going Under’, I’ve been both catapulted back to childhood and ahead into the future of bass music while ‘Chaos’ and ‘Dim the Lights’ still hail as two of my favorite original productions from 2015.Now, with his latest remix of ‘Gold Dust’, he’s both raised the BPM and my interest; weaving bass heavy synths into crunchy melodies, unpredictable and euphoric breakdowns.

Mark my words, this is an artist to keep on your radar. For more on /ˈlo͞osid/, keep track of his socials –

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud

Cross Published on The DJ List