[The Audiofiles] Consciousness and Creativity Collide as The Gem & Jam Festival PreParty Descends on Los Angeles

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– Photos by Daniel Leist Photography – 

Through times of greatness and times of strife, moments of genius and seconds of insanity – the most bonding force we have is music. Sound, purported by old Native American tribes is the glue truly holds the universe together on vibratory strings, sonic spiderwebs and fractaling frequencies – and modern day scientists now understand it, the universe was propelled apart in an equidistant motion by intense vibratory sound waves after the Big Bang.  As socio-economic boundaries are broken down while far reaching forms of social media are on the rise, it makes all too much sense that music has become the bonding factor of my generation. Humans are a tribal bunch, we naturally congregate around those who share similar values, morals, senses of humor – and what better litmus test of a personable friendship than full immersion into festival culture?  Festival Culture. It’s where people hug instead of shake hands, strangers are simply friends whom you haven’t met, clothing more resembles costumes and the community itself is a giant support system and music is our religion.

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Just the other weekend, some of Southern California’s biggest fans in Bass Music – including my group of pretty party personalities – descended upon The Fonda Theater for a night where consciousness and creativity collided in a spectacle of audio-visual delight. The evening featured a wonderful cross section of community, music, culture and art sponsored by Euphonic Conceptions, In The Loop and The Do Lab as the upstairs area manifested into a Burning Man-esque vendor bazaar, hosted by Los Angeles’ own Grateful Generation. The night featuring booths from local vendors of permaculture, art, essential oils, IMG_8948_new_newgems, jewlery and costumes like K’ulu Misk’i, Lunavore Designs, Mostly Minerals, vibrant long exposure photography by Harmonic Light so much more entrenched in momentary lush surroundings.

With Jonathan Singer setting a vibrantly trippy visual mood, Soulular set the tone for the evening with a stellar opening set as live visual artists Sam Flores, Amanda Sage, and Alex + Allyson Grey got down on live paintings much to the crowd’s delight.  Desert Dwellers followed with a downtempo ‘World Bass’ set, followed by the convoluted, glitchy dubstep sounds of Thriftworks, who got the crowd in a frenzy; the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae being an unexpected appearance by Russ Liquid on the Trumpet, eventually ebbing into Russ Liquid‘s flow.  My first Random Rab  experience was last Summer for a sunrise set at Lightning in a Bottle, so I had little to no idea of the musical prowess he had in store for the evening.  For almost two hours, the entire arena was transfixed to the sounds and visuals stemming from the Entheon Stage as we were swept down a rabbit hole of music and wonder.

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From start to finish, the evening was swimming with fantastic company, boasting the best of their personalities while getting down in their most exuberant, colorful and quirky duds.  It was beautiful to watch the paintings manifest as each musician, one by one graced the epic Entheon Altar DJ Booth, a 3D printout of the official Entheon structure modeled by digital sculptor Ryan Tottle, who made an appearance for the evening.  Crowdfunded through Kickstarter and lovely backers of the arts, the official Entheon building will play host to Alex Grey’s incredible, immersive art at the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors in New York, known to most as CoSM.  And the stage is most certainly set for the official Gem & Jam Festival, happening in Tucson, Arizona from February 6-9

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As the Official Gem and Jam Festival Gets Closer, the Pre Parties continue heating up across the West Coast.  This coming Friday, Gem & Jam will be getting groovy with Vibesquad in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as well as Flagstaff, Arizona with Kaminanda, and Safi’s Lab.  On Saturday. Pumpkin and Late Night Radio bring the funk to Austin for the official Texas PreParty. Last but definitely not least, don’t forget about the grand finale – the Gem & Jam Festival itself! Thrown in conjunction with Infinite Music, Euphonic Conceptions, New Earth MuZiQ and Challenger – the Gem and Jam Festival is reaching a historic 9th year and can’t wait to celebrate with you.

Set in conjunction with one of the world’s best gem shows, for three days and nights, the air of Tucson will be vibrant with  Glitchy, Dubby, Wobbly and downright Trippy West Coast Bass and Jam Music sounds of renowned producers and astounding musicians like Random Rab, Desert Dwellers, Pumpkin, Late Night Radio, Emancipator Ensemble and Thriftworks.  With hip-hop influenced acts like Ill-esha and Amp Live from Zion I, there’s a bit of something for everyone in your crew.  While they’ve got your feet moving and your soul grooving, let your mind wander and eyes roam the grounds with astounding live art to match from the likes of Amanda Sage, Xavi, the Welch Brothers, Benedigital and of course – Alex
and Allyson Grey, founders of the fabled Chapel of Sacred Mirrors.  Come and witness the influence the cross section of artistic prowess and musical genius, as performance art of all shapes and sizes influences each other over the weekend.  With a healthy dose of intelligent dance music and mindboggling artwork, the weekend will truly appeal to all of the senses, maybe even your 6th.

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Our entire photo gallery can be found here on The DJ List.

For more details on the festival itself, read on after the event photos

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[A Higher State of Consciousness]

There’s a running joke within my circle of friends that our cats actually own us; when I consider the amount of time, money and effort spent curating those relationships, cuddling and cleaning up after them – it instantly becomes harder to argue the contrary.  What, if any, is the difference between a pet animal and their human counterpart? At its most basic level,  two lives are coming together to coexist in harmony; conversely, at it’s most complex, there are two differing levels of consciousness that are forced to somehow reconcile their innate differences.   Once the qualifications and implications for ‘ownership’ are considered within this seemingly symbiotic relationship, in it’s most simplistic form it all comes down to consciousness.  Is Sake my pet or am I his? To answer this question, you’d have to take a long hard look at our relative levels of consciousness and through that, infer which one of us has the ability to assert their consciousness upon another individual.   Regardless of if you’re inspecting the relationship between humans, animals, plants or even minerals – each and every relationship between two separate entities – is dictated by an individual understanding of consciousness.  In turn, this opens the door for even more questions.  What is ‘consciousness’, how do we as humans define ‘consciousness’ and last but certainly not least – who are we as humanity to ascribe or limit levels of consciousness?

Consciousness is defined two-fold as both being awake and aware of one’s environment through one’s thoughts, feelings and existence as well as the innate distinction in recognizing yourself within the world.  For an incredible amount of time, the definition of consciousness was limited to the human psyche; after all, can you ask a rock if it’s aware that of it’s mineral state or can you have a philosophical discussion with your dog about his motives for hiding every tennis ball in the depths of your backyard?   After a brief life as a stem cell, each cell within the human body has a distinct function, making it markedly different from other cells; does this mean that within each cell is a level of consciousness an self-awareness? A school of thought led by philosopher Ned Block proposed that there are actually two forms of consciousness, phenomenal and access; the former being the sensory reception of true, raw experience and the later being of the mind and available for analysis and introspection.  Overtime and through plenty of scientific research, it’s been proven that animals of all shapes and sizes – from Orangutans,  Elephants and Dolphins down to the Cephalopods like the Octopus and the Squid, African Grey Parrots, Dogs and Cats – all exhibit forms of what we now recognize as consciousness.   Whether it’s the ability to paint with their trunks, observe themselves in the mirror, or open cans with their tentacles – there have been ample examples of empathetic animals who are aware of the world around them as well as their place within it.  So, as I posited before – beside being at the top of the food chain, who are we to exert our opposable thumbs driven brand of control over the world?

There are ‘isms’ we choose to hie behind and  they each attribute and apply arbitrary levels of consciousness to forms far beyond our human understanding. At a larger, umbrella level – many people make their dietary choices based on what feels good for their body; like the 40-40-20, Atkins or Paleo diet.  And I fully believe that we should all pay close attention to the minutiae of nutritional needs and wants.  But if you look beyond those diets, you find people that ascribe to an ‘ism’ – like Veganism or Vegetarianism; each on the idea that animals retain a level of consciousness that doesn’t exist in plants.  Quite to the contrary – like humans, plants are born out of reproduction between a male and female, live, grow, undergo photosynthesis which produces energy and oxygen, reproduce and die;  blow by blow, a parallel life to any animal or human.   Humans, plants and animals alike all contain trace amounts of the hallucinogenic chemical dimethyltryptamine and to boot, plant systems – especially trees – have been shown to communicate with each other through a type of fungi called mychorrhizae.  If plants are able to communicate, this means they’re able to process and analyze their external world, and wouldn’t that make them conscious beings?

As a society, we’ve grown comfortable ascribing qualities, assigning traits and categorically grouping objects together because it’s the easiest way to deal with the unfathomable amount of chaos, clutter and disorganization within the world.  However, as we push for a greater understanding of our external surroundings, we’re left with the realization that not only do we not completely get it, but most likely we never will.  For years, because there’s been an assumption that animals don’t or won’t operate within parallel plane of consciousness we can exploit them for entertainment purposes like a circus, or Sea World, or as of recently – the Sochi Olympics .    As our definition of consciousness evolves, we should concurrently update our definition of entertainment as well.   The more we study animals like orcas, pigs and elephants within their natural environment, the more we learn about their high aptitude for learning and their incredible levels of both community and intelligence.  After all is said and done, can we still truly call it entertainment when we see our aquatic counterparts reduced to jumping through hoops, or when we limit a four legged friend to the limitations,isolation and dimensions of a cage?  If we acknowledge our own human need for a safe community where we can cultivate relationships, we can’t simply dismiss the needs and freedoms of other animals simply to satiate our necessity for control and amusement. Documentaries like Blackfish and The Cove have been more than influential in bringing these truths to light for me, and I highly recommend watching both of them.

When we sent the Mars Rover to explore the great red planet, there was an assumption that without a carbon based biosignature of life – like humans, plants or animals – that life literally ceased to exist.  But the big picture is anything but: because we’re limited to what we know about the building blocks of life on Earth, our view on life elsewhere is also limited; if we are allowed to expand our definition of life beyond a basic chemical building block, evolving our definition of consciousness shouldn’t be far behind.

Wednesday Watercooler: Week of August 28th, 2013

“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances:
if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”
― C.G. Jung

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

It’s almost been 31 days since August rushed in and it feels like it’s exiting my life is essentially the same fashion; the weeks get shorter, and the weekends – doubly so, but the memories I’ve made over the course of the past month are set to last me for a lifetime. As if it weren’t obvious, I’m beyond in love with the most wonderful man; he makes me feel equal parts sexy, intelligent and hilarious – what a hat trick, right?!   To me, the best part about being in a relationship is constantly evolving myself to be the best person I can be; and he completely does that for me.  I’ve been all over the map (literally and figuratively) for the past few weeks.  I had a master plan to shake things up and I did! I cruised to LA State Historic Park for downtown’s now annual event HARD Summer, I had the luxury of heading to San Diego for an exciting weekend on the sea, I introduced my boyfriend and his housemate to the wonders of the J Paul Getty Museum and for the upcoming long weekend I’m taking my boyfriend home to meet the rest of my family and friends. A whirlwind for sure….but I couldn’t think of a more beautiful one to be stuck in!

Sunset from the J Paul Getty Museum

Before I get to the gusto of this post; I think it’s time for a teensy tinsy confession.  The Wednesday Watercooler piece slowly but surely became my favorite post to churn out on a biweekly basis; but as I’ve been honing in on my writing style – and niche – I’ve enjoyed devoting full posts to interesting topics instead of glossing over them like stepping stones on a riverbed.  I’ve gone head over heals about Doing It Right, a series of pieces on the way I play – my favorite vacations, staycations and day-ventures with friends; I’ve been creating my own visual quotations and adoring every second of the process – especially the photo editing, which I also do in my Oh, Snap segments; and last but definitely not least, I can’t help but want to write for days about my love of music – whether it’s the EDM scene, new artists, concerts or the community – if I’ve experienced, felt, laughed, screamed or cried about it, I want to share it with the world.  In the past year, this blog has catapulted into over 100 followers and 200 unique and, at least in my opinion, well researched posts – all inspired by the effervescent and ever changing world around me.  As I’ve developed personally over the past year, this blog has manifested into something bigger than I can imagine – and that’s thanks to my wonderful readers, like you! Anyways, now that’s out of the way let’s get down to business.

The 50th Anniversary of I Have a Dream

Today is an extra special day in History; if you haven’t seen the Google Doodle or been inundated with posts from your favorite social media outlets – then let me break it to you nicely.  50 years ago today, one of the most influential characters in our Civil Rights Movement gave one of his most famous speeches.  There’s a kickass interactive website set to capture and chronicle the voices of today discussing the changes and state of race relations in the United States today.  Currently, the site contains almost 100 interviews from people involved in the civil rights movement – from leaders and activists, to elders and clergy members; if they had a voice, they’re telling their stories.  If you feel inclined, you can head over to the website and submit your own story commemorating the 50 year anniversary of the event.

Twerk Somethin’

One thing’s for sure about the upcoming Generation – I’m a little nervous about their role models!  Working for Disney maybe I’m hyper aware of this – but I’ve seen more than a handful of child stars that were plucked from the masses and put on pedestals completely disengage their fanbase and – essentially – say fuck the media, I do what I want. Currently, the Queen Bee of this scene is none other than ex-Disney star Miley Cyrus.  Now, a girl can do what she wants – shake what her momma gave her, twerk sometin’, hang with the cool kids and run rampant on the streets; but in my opinion, once you’ve garned the power of popularity you should also have some semblance of social responsibility – mmm, yeah…right.  This past weekend at MTV’s infamous VMA Awards, Miley treated us all to a lesson in Twerking; something I’d much rather soon forget.  Between shaking her money maker on Robin Thicke, raging with Borgore and living the good life – I have to say, she’s doing something right; I’m just not sure what it is!

Concerning Consciousness 

I’m no psychologist – but I’m earnestly and honestly fascinated by the human mind, how it can be manipulated and how it relates to others; as far as consciousness is concerned, it’s beyond interesting. What makes something sentient and self-aware?  How can we possibly assume that because we cannot quantify consciousness in other things – a cat, a rock, a shooting star – that it ceases to exist?  As far as humanity is concerned, I believe in a massive,collective unconscious that slowly gets siphoned in and out of reality and in and out of our constrained, physical bodies.  But like they say in Fight Club: that’s just me, and I could be wrong. However, Aeon Magazine published a magnificent article about the condition of consciousness and I’m so exited to share it:

“We can’t help it, and the fact that we can’t help it ought to tell us something about what consciousness is and what it might be used for. If we evolved to recognize it in others – and to mistakenly attribute it to puppets, characters in stories, and cartoons on a screen — then, despite appearances, it really can’t be sealed up within the privacy of our own heads.” [Read More Here]

Pendulum Swinging Back Into View

At the beginning of last week I heard maybe the best EDM news of the entire Summer! A few years ago, one of my favorite groups decided they were done with their signature drum & bass sound in favor of evolving their craft the way of the industry – Trap, Dubstep, Drumstep, etc.  They went from having 3 members to 2 members, and from being a live group to essentially being a DJ Set.  If you haven’t put it together by now, the group I’m talking about is Pendulum – made of the trio Paul Harding, Gareth McGrillen and last but definitely not least Rob Swire; and Knife Party – their offshoot, is made of only the two later members.

In Spring of ’12, right after Coachella, one of my friends and I moseyed over to Funktion Wednesdays at Avalon to see a Pendulum DJ Set; I remember explicitly asking what the difference between a Pendulum DJ set and a Knife Party set was and they honestly couldn’t tell me.  Low and behold, three months later Pendulum announced they were going to stop touring together in favor of pursuing Knife Party – much to the dismay of the majority of their fan base, including myself.  Now, don’t get me wrong because I love me a bloody Knife Party – but there’s absolutely nothing like a live set from Pendulum!  I’m definitely doing my happy dance in eager anticipation of their next album; bring on 2014!!

Who Gave Us Numbers

One of the greatest debates a mathematician or scientist can get into is distilling their craft to this: when it comes to numbers, did we as a society invent them or are numbers divinely created and handed down to us?  I’m sure your side of the debate weighs heavily on your views of this world, or even worlds beyond this; but regardless of your stance, the following video from PBS’ Idea Channel asks the simple following question – does math exist; as a statistician, I’m sure you already know my response but I’ll leave the job of answering that question to you guys 😉