KUCI at Music Festivals – Coachella 2014 – Written by Rosario “DJ Chayo” Diaz of The Starlit Hour
Spring is finally among us, which means longer days, a sudden abundance in greenery, and importantly, the start of festival season. Round this time every year, people from across the nation and sometimes from opposite sides of the world are joined together in one place to bask in the universal love of music. Outside Lands, Desert Daze, Treasure Island, Stagecoach, Lollapalooza – these festivals are spread across different locations yet they each manage to attract hundreds of folks of all ages to engage in music and dance.
This past weekend, I was able to attend Coachella as a Press Member, so without further ado, I present my coverage of the festival, including photos of several KUCI featured bands and a brief interview with Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon.
The Takeaway Things from Attending a Music Festival:
Prior to this event, I had never attended any music festival of any sort but I figured it wouldn’t be much different from any of the concerts I had gone to before in my life. I mean, aside from the camping, it’s just like a bunch of bands playing right?
That and giant robots.
It sunk in pretty quickly to me when I arrived that what I had joined would be far different than what I had experienced before in any show. It goes without saying, of course, that the communal environment that comes from forming a camp in the desert will certainly influence your experience as a whole, but that fact was, surprisingly, not what I found so strikingly different from concerts. For lack of a better word, it was harmony that I found in the crowds at Coachella and which I often find lacking in concert crowds.
Aloe Blacc’s performance actually inspired people to hug each other
Both scenarios have people who are brought together by a common interest in music, and yet with concerts, there’s a sort of “every man for himself” feel in the crowd. If you’re not fighting for the front, you’re protecting your own circle of friends and just generally stuck in that sphere. In contrast, I hardly ever experienced that with the festival crowd and I found that the folks there, for the most part, were pretty jovial and easy to converse. Which brings us to the next point…
- Reach out and be as friendly as you can be.
This is solid advice that could probably apply to any situation but the reason why it’s so relevant to a music festival is that it is, without a doubt, the best way of getting the most out of the whole experience. That’s not to say that you have to be a total extrovert to attend these festivals (I’m shy myself so I sometimes find some difficulty with approaching others) but as I realized within hours of the festival, there’s just really no point in playing shy and hoping someone will take the initiative to start a conversation. Yes, you will find some of the most friendly-ass folk (and not just the doped out ones either) in these places, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t count yourself in as such. Reach out and start a conversation. Most people will actually appreciate a friendly stranger.
- Don’t just go see your favorite bands.
This is probably the most important thing to keep in mind when attending music festivals. As soon as I was able to get my passes for the festival, I started planning out my schedule for each day. I thought that if I could see The Knife on Friday night and catch Julian Casablancas and The Pixies on Saturday, as well some other big names, I’d be set for life.
Julian Casablancas at Coachella’s Mojave Stage
While I did get to see most of the musicians that I wanted to, the highlight of the entire weekend actually involved a lot of bands that I had never or hardly listened to before. Temples’ performance, to name a few, completely sucked me in with their mellow rhythms and the way that it resembled the psychedelic bands of the 60’s. And after hearing Bombay Bicycle Club produce such a soft yet rousing pulse to dance to, I knew I would have to do some expanding in my music library. And to drive the point home, I’ll bring up my experience with STRFKR as it was easily the most fun I’ve had at any show. I met up with my camping buddies there, who assured me that I’d be in for a treat.
STRFKR puts on a good show amidst a chaos of polar bears and cosmonauts
The show turned out to be a whole party as men in sumo and polar bear suits crowded the stage and eventually the crowd itself. Really, there’s nothing quite like seeing costumed heroes atop inflatable boats sail (literally) through the crowd to an electronic tune of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” In conclusion, don’t restrict yourself to seeing only the bands that you like. You’ll never know what you’re missing out on.
- Practice and Be Prepared (if you’re part of Press)
This next piece of advice is not so much for just anyone interested in attending a music festival but more for those who’ve got plans on interviewing the artists. Since I had been able to acquire a Media Pass for the festival, I figured I should try to get as much coverage as I can and sought to arrange something with the attending musicians. In the last minute, I was able to set up a slot to speak with Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon and although there was an internet station available that I could use for preparation, I had severely underestimated just how much time I would need to arrange my questions. As a result of that (and a sudden bout of the nerves) my words stumbled more than I would have liked and I ended up skipping over some important questions. Fortunately, Yukimi was very cordial through it all and answered those questions that I did manage to ask.
Yukimi Nagano, in front of Little Dragon’s trailer
Q: How is it that you’re able to move from more down-tempo and electronic tunes from your previous albums to that with a slow jam in your upcoming album, Nubuma Rubber Band?
A: It’s kind of a natural progression. We move with what we’re feeling. And we’re wanting to do something different. We never want to do an exact replica of the previous work. You know, you feel like you want to experiment.
Q: What’s the creation process like when it comes to making music? When do you know that you’ve got something?
A: Well, we try to start somewhere in the music and when you feel like the music- that part is speaking with you… then we know and we build off of that. It’s quite intuitive. And it’s also a lot trial and error. And I think, like with anything, you get to the point that you feel its special and then…maybe, it might not feel special the next day. Once it feels more stable and you still like it about a week and a half later, you think we’re on to something.
Q: I see. So do have some kind of regular ritual you practice when making new music? Some people, for example, have a daily routine before starting.
A: Hmmm, not really. Sometimes I try to write differently so I don’t always put myself in the same situation. Just to kind of challenge myself. And when I’m working, I can go out and write in the garden somewhere- or early in the morning late and late at night. You know, try different strategies to see what works.
Q: I was wondering how you and each of the band members collaborate when you’re making music? How does everyone put in their fair share?
A: We do it quite organically…everyone writes. Everyone in the band produces. Every one in the band has their own flavor and their own style…so I think it’s basically lot of ideas and sketches that come from a place inside us.
Q: Have you ever experienced any clashes with others when it comes to inputting styles or ideas for the music?
A: Well that’s part of being in a band. Of course it’s frustrating and it would be easier somehow for someone to come in and make the decision for us, but that takes out what’s special about the band. I think its just realizing that people with different views other than your own would be to your advantage. It’s nice to see what other people have to say.
Q: Did you think when you first started out that Little Dragon would be as successful as it is now?
A: Well like with anything you go in, if you really want it, you have nothing but success in mind. Of course, it’s thanks to the help of everyone that we were able to be where we are now. My friends have helped me out a lot and…really, we couldn’t be here without each other.
Q: Any advice to anyone out there who’s got it in mind to start their way out in the music industry?
Persevere. That’s all I can really say. It’s just really about perseverance and working hard. And with that, you can accomplish a lot.
Little Dragon performing Sunday night
With that, we thanked Yukimi for her time and ended our session to leave her to prepare for her performance later that day. Moral of the story, folks: It pays to rehearse and if planning to record using a camera, always bring a microphone as you never know how loudly your surroundings will be (Zoé was performing next to us at the time, and as good as they sounded, it sure as hell made conversation difficult to hear).
- To put everything in perspective, I’ll leave a final piece of advice for anyone planning to attend any upcoming festivals and that is to dance and dance your heart out. Even if you’re not familiar with the beat or don’t consider yourself to be the dancer type- dance anyway. Just think, you came to enjoy some good music and it’s that very same fact that brought hundred of others to dance next to you. And if that doesn’t psyche you out enough to join them, then I don’t know what will.
Photo Credit: Angie and Rosario Diaz
Jack Steadman of Bombay Bicycle Club
James Edward Bagshaw of Temples
Matt Bellamy of Muse
Dan Smith of Bastille
Zoé Colotis of Caravan Palace
Pixies (We were planning on getting closer, but a last minute change allowed only Goldenvoice photographers to enter the photo pit.)
The Naked and Famous