Coachella Valley Arts & Music Festival

Nochella 2020

It’s been several days since the news finally broke about the year’s biggest party in the Indio desert being cancelled. 3 months ago I would have been absolutely devastated to hear about Coachella being cancelled. In fact I spent a weekend crying about it. Over the first few weeks after Coachella got postponed and live music every where ceased to exist, it became evident that Coachella in October was probably not going to be a thing. I stopped thinking about it. I hosted my own Couchella during the Coachella weekends. I watched the new documentary and decorated a room in my house like the polo fields. I even watched former live Coachella sets. I tried to celebrate Coachella as it should be celebrated in the best way I could.

Even though I expected this to happen, I’m still bummed about the news. This year has really become the year without live music and it’s absolutely heartbreaking. Times are so strange right now. Life feels so weird and everything is upside down. I actually prefer being home these days since at least it’s comfortable. Home is the world I’ve always known, but I still miss the rest of the world as I knew it too. I miss the days when two weeks in the southern California desert listening to music with thousands of people on fields at a polo club would cure any similar heart break.

Time felt like it moved so slowly in March. Then it started to speed up. Now, 3 months later, it feels like we’re 3 months closer to be able to live, breathe, exist, and listen as we’ve done for our entire lives. Coachella 2021 dates have already been set, but even next April is in question right now. The uncertainty of it all feels like someone has taken a bat to my stomach and knocked all the air out of me. The only thing we know is that live music will be back the way we knew it at some point, we just don’t know how long it will take and I really hate thinking about it. I’m just trying to focus on right now and enjoy what I have in the present.

However, until it’s back, I’ll also still be here yearning for the days spent admiring flower crowns, sweating in the afternoon sun at the Outdoor Theatre, capturing pictures of art installations and that iconic ferris wheel, losing myself to the electronic beats of the Sahara tent, relaxing in the air conditioned Arctic Dome, drinking yerba mate and living my best life with my co-workers, indulging at catering, appreciating the palm trees and snow peaked mountains, eating In-N-Out Burger, catching one of my favorite bands at sunset, spying celebrities, witnessing ground-breaking headlining performances at the main stage, and getting lost in the good vibes and good tunes that only Coachella has to offer. We’ll be back there some day and I can’t wait for that moment. Can’t wait to see you again Coachella. You know I’ll be prepped and ready and I hope you will be too.

Sad Philly Boy Music/Coachella Band Preview?

It’s been a while since I last blogged. It almost feels like I actually did go to Coachella since this is what usually happens. I write Coachella blogs until I leave for Coachella then stop until I return from being out in the desert for a few weeks. At this point I should have no excuse for not writing. I’m home. The problem was I couldn’t figure out what to write about. There’s a few upcoming albums I plan to review, but until then I haven’t really discovered anything new I like, until Saturday.

I’ve been talking to my friend Kelsey for most of quarantine. We’re quarantine buddies for sure and we’ve agreed that it feels a lot like being in high school since we’re both with our families. Kick in the nostalgia. We often talk about bands we grew up listening to like Brand New and Taking Back Sunday. We were both emo/punk/alternative kids. Lately though, quarantine has brought in some deep cut local bands and musicians that were a part of our teen scenes. I started talking about Title Fight and how my friends and I watched them play small venues in our area as they grew bigger in their scene. She sent me a picture of her and her prom date Alex and then told me how he’s now in a band that sells out large venues. That’s when I first heard of (Sandy) Alex G.

According to Kelsey, (Sandy) Alex G, aka her high school friend Alex Giannascoli, really started when he was in high school. He was in a pop punk band called The Skin Cells with several of their other friends. Kelsey even sent me one of their songs Saturday night. It was great. She said Alex was super dedicated to music and would record his own stuff in his room, put it on CD, and personally decorate the CD. She said it felt like he did this at least once a month. He was good too. She always thought he would be famous one day and she wasn’t lying. He’s now an indie recording artist.

He began self-releasing music on Bandcamp between 2010-2012. His music spread by word of mouth and music blogs and eventually lead to his signing with Orchid Tapes who he released his debut album DSU under in 2014. At that time he was just Alex G. In 2015 he signed with Domino Recording Company and began releasing records under that label. He released three albums with Domino in 2015, Rules, Trick, and Beach Music.

In 2017, Alex G announced that he would be changing his name from Alex G to (Sandy) Alex G shortly before the release of his album Rocket. The album ranked on many indie publications’ lists as being in the Top 50 of the year. In September, Alex released his latest album House of Sugar, which again received similar accolades

(Sandy) Alex G is a typical indie artist. His music also bridges into that post-punk/pop-punk/alternative scene that bands like Turnover and Tigers Jaw are a part of. He’s also from suburban Philly. Based on his style, he probably attracts a large following of “sad Philly boy” fans, which is a term I’ve heard referring to the new indie scene of young urban outfitter wearing 20-somethings that originated in Philly. Regardless of what your style is, if you’re an indie music fan, you’d dig what (Sandy) Alex G has been putting out.

Normally, at this point of the year Coachella would already have passed and we would be looking forward to next year. Unfortunately at this point, 2020 hasn’t happened and no one’s really sure if it will. That being said who knows what happens to the 2020 lineup? If it happens this year, will the same artists be playing? If it doesn’t, do they play next year? I’m sure Goldenvoice has already started booking a 2021 lineup that looks much different than this year, but I bet if Coachella 2020 doesn’t happen in the fall there may be some smaller acts booked for the following spring. The reason I’m even talking about this is because (Sandy) Alex G was supposed to be on the lineup this year! He was slated to play Sunday. Even though everything is very TBD right now, I’m hoping he still plays in October and if not, I’m hoping he’s on the 2021 lineup. I’d love to see him out on the polo fields and I now have plenty of time to listen to his music. So big shoutout to Kelsey for the introduction and big shoutout to Alex for putting out this great music since high school.

 

 

 

Music’s Got Me Feeling So Free

Couchella Weekend 1 was a huge success. The documentary was fantastic and a great reminder of happier times both in the past and to come. I learned a lot about Coachella from it. I watched it each day of what would have been Coachella 2020 Weekend 1 including a special Friday premiere viewing party with a few of my Coachella coworkers. I decorated the room a bit to feel like Coachella and trust me it kind of did. It helped me separate from the outside world much like actually working a festival does. It also introduced me to new music, which is what I need to write about today. I mean new as in the sense of I wasn’t really into the music before last weekend because this group has been around since the 90’s. Their set in 2006 was very notable in the history of Coachella and that group is Daft Punk.

The French electronic music duo Daft Punk was formed in 1993. After their lack of success in the punk band Darlin’ (which also included Laurent Brancowitz of Phoenix), Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter created Daft Punk. They went in a different direction musically, after being introduced to the rave scene. The name “Daft Punk” came from a negative review of Darlin’ which referred to their music as “a daft punky thrash.” The group got their break at a rave in 1993 when they handed off a demo to Stuart McMillan of the Scottish electronic duo Slam. Slam had their own record label Soma.

The duo hired Pedro Winter to be their manager and signed with Virgin Records in 1996. In 1997 they released their highly anticipated debut album Homework, which included their earlier singles “Alive” and “Da Funk” along with “Around the World.” They released their second album Discovery in 2001. The album had a more of a synth-pop sound than what the group was known for from their debut album, but it lead Daft Punk to commercial success. The album reached the Top 10 in music charts throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the U.S. When performing during their earlier days, the duo would cover their faces with different masks. It wasn’t until Discovery came out that they adopted their robot alter egos.

In 2005, Daft Punk released their third album Human After All. Despite reaching high positions on music charts throughout the world, the album didn’t quite have the success that Discovery did. In the early 2000’s Daft Punk also got into the visual entertainment sector and released two films, Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem in 2003 and Daft Punk’s Electroma in 2006. As I mentioned before, 2006 also brought Daft Punk to Coachella for their first and only Coachella appearance. They debuted their famous pyramid that they also used on tour that year.

In the years between their third and fourth album, the duo was again busy working on films, specifically the soundtrack for Disney’s Tron: Legacy. Then, they won their first Grammy in 2009 for Best Electronic/Dance Album for their live album Alive 2007. They also won a Grammy for Best Dance Recording for “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.”

On May 13, 2013 Daft Punk released their fourth studio album Random Access Memories. The album featured collaborations with Nile Rodgers of Chic, Pharrell Williams, and Julian Casablancas of The Strokes. The album became their most successful album to date with hits like “Get Lucky”, “Instant Crush”, and “Lose Yourself to Dance.” The record earned them peak positions on music charts worldwide as well as numerous accolades and awards including a Grammy for Album of the Year. In many countries the album has reached Platinum status or beyond. Daft Punk were also co-producers on Kanye West’s 2013 album Yeezus.

Since Random Access Memories and the few years that followed, Daft Punk has been relatively quiet. Their most notable project came in the form of collaboration with The Weeknd on his hit singles “Starboy” and “I Feel It Coming” in 2016. They’ve since been working on solo projects.

Daft Punk’s style of electronic music is very much house music. Through the years though, it’s varied album by album. It also incorporates elements of rock and disco. Personally I think Daft Punk’s music is ahead of its time, especially the album Discovery, but again I might not know that much about the history of electronic music since I’ve started listening to it only in the past few years.

I first learned of Daft Punk around the time of Random Access Memories due to the popularity of the album. I wasn’t a fan of their biggest hit song “Get Lucky” though. It was still at a point where I detested main stream music nor did I like EDM. I didn’t understand the hype and in the past few years as I got into electronic music, Daft Punk wasn’t really a name I heard often unless it involved headliner predictions for Coachella.

The Coachella documentary shed some light on Daft Punk for me. After watching the scene about their 2006 set, I thought to myself, “Wow this looked like a lot of fun! Maybe I should see what Daft Punk is about.” So I started listening to some of their stuff on Spotify. I realized I heard plenty of Daft Punk tracks over the years, but it was probably just background music for me. So I went through their discography and listened to tracks from all their albums. I listened to them while I attempted to cook my favorite dish from Coachella catering last weekend. It hit me that I’d been missing out on Daft Punk for a while now. I finally understood the hype. I’ve now become one of those people who hope Daft Punk is on every Coachella lineup. I would love to see them live. I want to see them live and I want to see them at Coachella.

With all the negative outlooks for the relatively near future, no one is sure when live music will be back, especially large-scale events like music festivals. Who knows when the next Coachella will happen, but when it does happen again it will likely be an epic event. In the mean time, I can always remind myself it took me 4 years to get to Coachella from when I first wanted to go. I can also do my best to take in Weekend 2 of what would have been Coachella 2020 as best as I can. I plan on watching the documentary each day of Weekend 2 just like I did during Weekend 1 and I also plan on watching some full Coachella sets from past years that I found online. I watched RÜFÜS DU SOL’s 2019 Weekend 1 set last weekend (I was actually at the set for the end half too!). This Weekend I have Dillon Francis’ 2019 set, Foster the People’s 2011 set, and yes, Daft Punk’s 2006 set because I found it in full on YouTube. I can’t wait to see how fun it actually was and I can’t wait for the day we’re all back at Coachella. Hopefully we’ll be listening to Daft Punk live one more time. It could happen. We could get lucky.

Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert

Since I left Coachella last year, I hoped to spend today checking in guests who stay at the campground where I work at the festival. I even expected it from mid-July until the beginning of March. Then, life changed unexpectedly. Even now with Coachella rescheduled for October, everything is uncertain. It’s crazy because life is always uncertain. Anything can happen at any moment to change the course of the expected. Sometimes it could incredible, great, or good. Sometimes it could be terrible, awful, or bad. Sometimes it could be crazy, wild, or unthinkable. Regardless of what it is, it could happen because nothing is ever a guarantee. With that being said, most times we can rely on things. We can make plans and look forward to them. Right now though, everything is predictably uncertain, when usually it’s just predictable. It’s hard to tell where we’ll be in a few weeks let alone a few months given the state of the world. So, I think the best we can do right now is take it one day at a time and remain hopeful, but also keep expectations low. With that advice it’s safe to say I’m still looking forward to this weekend, specifically tomorrow for reasons involving Coachella.

In January, Coachella announced a documentary premiering on Youtube on March 30th that would commemorate 20 years of the festival. Over the last month sometime though, they announced that the premiere would happen April 10th at Noon PST, the exact time gates were supposed to open for Weekend 1 (big sigh). Over the last week the festival has been promoting the documentary, calling the circumstances surrounding the premiere “Couchella.” They even released a preview for it that features many acts who took to the Coachella stages over the last 20 years like Beyoncé, Madonna, Paul McCartney, Post Malone, and the famous Tupac hologram. The preview also included commentary from Billie Eilish, Moby, Ice Cube, and Perry Farrell. In addition to that, they’ve been teasing a few acts in the documentary throughout the week.

The other day I checked the Coachella website and it has since been updated with a whole page about the documentary. It gives a timeline of each year and mentions an artist for each one. They’ve also added 4 playlists featuring those artists and more. I’m expecting the artists mentioned on the page to be featured in the documentary. If it’s anything like the 2006 documentary, I’ll probably love it. My heart will also probably ache for Coachella. I’ll wish I was there instead of here. I’ll wish everything was predictable instead of predictably uncertain. Honestly over the next 2-3 weeks, I’ll wish I was in Indio. I already do. That’s where I was supposed to be. Nothing is going to change that feeling for me, so I might as well embrace it and just let myself feel it. I waited long enough and I deserve to feel it.

So I decided, for the next two weekends, which were supposed to be Coachella 2020, I’m going to try to live my best Coachella life and Couchella. I’m going to watch the documentary every day. Maybe I’ll mix in the 2006 documentary as well. I’m also going to try to find a video of last year’s Sunday Service from Coacheaster. I plan to attempt to make my favorite dish from catering too, Orzo pasta with cream sauce. I’ll probably look at old pictures and videos I took from 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019 too. It won’t be Coachella but I’m making Coachella a part of my life over the next two weeks regardless of the fact that it’s not actually happening. I have nothing better to do anyway so why not?!

I encourage you to do the same. There’s no reason you can’t live the greatest party in the desert in your own head and dream about the next Coachella whenever it happens to come. It will come too! If I can wait 4 years from knowing about Coachella to actually attending, we’ll be able to get through this wait. See you on Youtube when the gates open! Happy Couchella!

 

You’ve Never Danced Like This Before

I’m defining this quarantine/isolation by the number of days we have without concerts or festivals. Currently we’re on Day whatever. In the meantime, I’m going to be posting weekly and I’ll be using this time to catch up on a few artists I’ve wanted to write about. Back in the fall Milky Chance released their third album Mind the Moon. I’ve never been a huge Milky Chance fan, but there were several tracks on the new album that I absolutely loved. I wanted to write about them at the time, but there were rumors they would be at Coachella. I decided to hold off because I anticipated writing about them in my Coachella previews. Needless to say, they weren’t on the lineup and I needed to focus on writing about the acts that were. Now, since we have some time, let me tell you a bit about this German folk band.

Milky Chance was founded around 2012 when members, Clemens Rehbein (bass) and Philipp Dausch (guitar) played in a jazz group together. When the group broke up, the two still kept up their musical connection and began writing and recording their own music. They began posting it to YouTube. The band recorded their first album Sadnecessary in 2013 after only playing two live shows. It was the song “Stolen Dance” that really became their claim to fame. The song became a viral hit on YouTube and earned them top spots across music charts in Germany and many other countries in Europe as well as reaching number one on the Billboard Alternative chart. From 2014-2016 the band toured extensively in support of their debut album, playing shows and festivals throughout Europe, North America, South Africa, and Oceania. They played their first Coachella in 2015.

In 2017, they released their sophomore album Blossom. They toured worldwide through 2018, but their second album did not have as much commercial success as their debut. Their latest record Mind the Moon was released on November 15, 2019. Again it still hasn’t reached the level of success as Sadnecessary but I will say it’s a pretty good record.

Milky Chance is primarily an alternative folk band but they also incorporate elements of reggae, jazz, and electronic beats into their music. In this way a lot of their songs sound different from one another. Two of my favorite songs on the latest record show that. “The Game” has a reggae/electronic feel while “Oh Mama” has this hip-hop/middle eastern/folk sound. One thing has remained persistent over the three records though and that is Rehbein’s deep and hypnotic vocals.

I can only imagine Milky Chance will be back on the touring and festival circuit soon once live music also resumes in support of their latest record. They’re a pretty unique indie alternative band because their music is so varied. I’ve seen them perform once, back at Coachella in 2015 when I attended. I remember not being impressed by their live performance, but I know I only saw part of their set. I’d be willing to give them another chance. They’re definitely worthy of a listen if you’re a fan of indie, folk, or reggae and given the time we all have now, it’s always worth it to discover something new.

Coachella 2020 Postponed

I know. I know. This is coming about 2 days late. It’s old news at this point, but I still needed to post something because as you may have guessed my Band Previews are also postponed. We were about a month away when Goldenvoice released the official announcement postponing the festival to October so now we’re about 7 months away. As a result, I’m gonna get back into posting about Coachella in spurts around August/September. There’s still a few more bands/artists I’d like to preview and also with this change who knows how things are going to go. Will there be artists who can’t play both weekends? Will there be new acts added? Will the festival itself add anything or make changes to the original plan? There’s a lot of unknowns out there, but here’s some positives to take away from the move.

First, Coachella is in October for the second time ever. The first time was in 1999. It was the first Coachella! Oddly enough, Rage Against the Machine played that one too! October is way different than April. It’s Fall vs. Spring. I guarantee you’ll see different kinds of Coachella fashion. There might even be different kinds of food and drink offered that are in theme with the season. The weather is likely to be hotter for weekend one than it usually is. The average temperature in the Coachella Valley in October is about 3 degrees hotter than it is in April, but overall not much different. Another interesting factor is that the sun will set sooner by about 1 hour! This means different kinds of sets for different artists. Obviously certain kinds of production look better at different times of the day based on daylight or darkness. This also plays a factor into the sunset sets. Do the set times change? Who knows, but it’ll be fun to see what happens.

With Coachella in October, that also means that it’s close to Halloween. Instead of Coacheaster, Coachellaween/Spookchella is now a thing! There might be costumes. There might be pumpkins. Maybe a Haunted Heineken House?! There will for sure be Danny Elfman playing music from the Nightmare Before Christmas and what could be a bigger mood than hearing the performance of “This is Halloween” in October at Coachella?! Exactly. It’s gonna be incredibly unique and a special version of Coachella that we may not see again!

Do you want to know the best part about all of this though? Coachella wasn’t cancelled! Not only that but, Coachella 2020 in October means that Coachella 2021 will be in just under 6 months!!!! Yes, 2 Coachellas within 6 months. This is 100% the best news of all! Sure we’re waiting 1.5 years from one Coachella to another but having 2 within 6 months will be well worth the wait.

Will I be sad next month when I’m not experiencing Coachella in Indio? Absolutely. Am I worried and anxious over my career in general given the current situation and especially in the wake of all the latest news? You bet I am. But as the saying goes, “Things will get better with time.” (That honestly sounds more positive than I’m feeling right now.) Hopefully sooner rather than later and who knows maybe I’ll still take that trip to Cali next month anyway. Until then though, I’m going to get back to posting normal blogs. I surely have enough time on my hands to do so. So I’ll be back with more soon. In the meantime, keep listening to those Coachella bands/artists because we just gained way more prep time. We’re gonna know all the songs by October and the fall Coachella vibes will be in full swing! I can’t wait til then.

Coachella Forever

In the past few days since I made my last Coachella blog post, a lot has changed. Currently the fate of this year’s edition of the festival is in a state of uncertainty with everyone involved in the festival. When news of Ultra Music Festival being cancelled over growing concern of the virus sweeping the nation and world came out Wednesday evening, I felt my yearly excitement and anticipation for Coachella dissipate in favor of anger, worry, and sadness.

I still had some hope though because Miami and Ultra have a poor relationship. The festival and the city have had battles in the past so I figured this was just another reason to get rid of the festival. Then Friday evening SXSW announced its cancellation. That broke me. I was counting on SXSW to be an example of a large scale event that generates worldwide traffic successfully operating without a hitch in the wake of this mass hysteria.

Coachella seems to be next on the bubble in the music festival world. It generates an attendance of 125,000 people per weekend with people traveling from all over the globe to attend. It also generates over $700 million for the economy in the Coachella Valley. To cancel it would be financially devastating to many who work in the music industry as well as to those who profit from it locally. For me, this is definitely a concern, but I think what hurts the most has more to do with the festival itself.

I spend the year anticipating Coachella. Sure there are other festivals and things that happen along the way to pass the time, but I always talk about Coachella. It’s my thing. It’s the reason why I started working in this industry along with my love of music. I know I’m not the only one who loves Coachella, but I feel like each year it’s something I work towards. So if I have to wait another 13 months for Coachella after being teased of its existence all year, it’ll be really hard for me especially with this impending outlook for my line of work.

I’m not gonna lie. Everything I’ve seen and read over the past few days has felt hopeless especially with recent news that the large-scale tennis tournament in Indian Wells has been cancelled. It feels like a matter of time before the polo fields themselves are quarantined. It’s very hard to take in for a normally hopeful person who cares a lot about this festival and the experience it provides. I feel like I can’t be excited anymore. This month normally flies by in anticipation of the festival and now it just feels like an agonizingly long wait until its fate is decided.

There’s still a little under five weeks until the festival begins and for once I wish it were a little longer. It’s very difficult to predict what might happen because 24 hours could make a difference in times of uncertainty. For once I can’t give you a good guess like I can with set times or stage locations. All I can tell you is that I’ll be very sad for a lot of reasons, but I think the most important is because I care so much. I always think that maybe I shouldn’t care so much. It would save a lot of heartbreak. When I was super into sports, there was one year I believed the hockey team I followed was destined to win a championship. When that didn’t happen I vowed to not care about sports and winning as much. It was much easier. Then win or lose, I felt almost indifferent. I was happy if a team won and unaffected if they lost.

Then I started going after this music dream of mine. Music was always something I loved. It got me through a lot. So I decided to pursue a goal of bringing happiness to others through live music experiences, the same kind of joy I experienced at my first Coachella in 2015. I’ll never forget the moment. It was while I was sitting during Belle & Sebastian’s set at Outdoor and I thought to myself it would be so cool to put on this festival. That moment gave me the motivation to chase this dream and I’ve been passionate about Coachella ever since. I never thought this passion of mine would be able to create the same kind of heartbreak that sports has done, but here we are because I care so much. I care about my job. I care about music. I care about the festival. I care about creating experiences for people who enjoy the same things I do. I just care.

I do care about the safety and wellbeing of others too but honestly I think this has created an irrational sense of fear in people. I think it’s over-exaggerated. Yet when someone kills 59 people at a music festival in Las Vegas almost 2 1/2 years ago, nothing is done about gun violence and music festivals are still occurring with precautionary measures. That was just in 1 night too and yearly the number of deaths from gun violence is over 30,000. Yet here we are looking at these small numbers of people dying and infected and creating draconian measures to try to combat it. It’s mind blowing.

For me and my fellow industry friends, it’s also how we live. We freelance. We work part time gigs and this is destroying our livelihood. It’s funny how when some sort of natural disaster occurs funding gets provided to the affected area, but it doesn’t seem like anyone is starting a disaster relief fund for the folks of Austin who will be affected by SXSW being cancelled (Update: There has been. Thank God! Click to donate). Trust me this is a disaster in its own right. It’s a financial disaster. It’s a mental health disaster. It’s an emotional disaster. I’m not wrong. Fight me on it.

So now all there is to do is wait. Wait and be prepared to have some backup plans. The only positive is that at least a festival cancellation won’t be sprung out of nowhere. We have a little time to come up with some alternatives. I’m debating whether I should keep up with this blog series. I have 2 more specific artists I want to preview (regardless of the outcome of all this, you should listen to all of these artists I’ve previewed…they’re fantastic!). But I feel like a cancellation is going to happen any day now. I’ll probably update one way or another in early April based on the outcome of the festival. I’m also coming up with my own little contingency plan which involves a bit shorter of a trip to California. A trip to Cali for fun, who would have thought. It’ll be what my soul will need at that time so I’m intent on it. Until then, let’s hope this gets better rather than worse and keep our fingers, toes, legs, arms, eyes, and any other body part I’m missing crossed. I hope Coachella 2020 is somehow a thing and I’ll be devastated if not…truly I already am…because no matter what, I will always long for hot days, cool nights, dope views, and desert vibes. Coachella Forever.

 

Coachella Band Preview: Hayden James

It’s been two months since the Coachella 2020 lineup was released, which means we have 5 weeks and 2 days to go before the masses start flooding the Coachella Valley in preparation of southern California’s most famous music festival. I can’t believe it’s only a little over a month away. Time really flies when you spend the winter in Mexico. Now it’s full steam ahead towards my 5th Coachella. It’s pretty surreal how I started these yearly band previews in preparation of my first Coachella and now here we are 5 years later and I’m on the brink of being at my 5th one. It was truly the festival that started it all for me and this crazy music industry adventure that I’m a part of. Alright…enough of me being super grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had, it’s time to focus on the music. This week I’m previewing an artist I wrote about back in 2018, Hayden James.

When I first wrote about electronic artist Hayden James, I had been listening to his song “NUMB” ft. GRAACE for months. It was my most listened to song of 2018. Since then, James released his debut album Between Us on June 14, 2019. I also did an album review of it in August. Since the debut release, James has only played a few music festivals and a few tour dates, which is a bit out of the ordinary surrounding an album release. Most of his sets were in his home country of Australia with a few dates in the U.S., Europe, and New Zealand. This year includes several more tour stops in Australia, Mexico, and the U.S. including his Coachella appearance.

Coachella 2020 will mark James’ second Coachella appearance. His first came in 2015 as a Do Lab artist. This time he’s officially on the bill though and likely to play the Sahara Tent, if not, Gobi or Mojave. His soulful and sensual house style will surely bring plenty of fans out to his set no matter where it’s played. I would definitely expect a larger draw at Sahara since a lot of younger festival goers like to spend all their time at the stage, but who knows because many people enjoy a good electronic set. After seeing him in 2018 at Electric Forest, I know he’s capable of bringing lots of dancing and a lot of bass to his sets. He’s also very capable of setting the Coachella vibe with his tracks. Here are the one’s you should know:

  1. NUMB
  2. Something About You
  3. Just Friends
  4. Better Together
  5. Just A Lover
  6. Favours
  7. Nowhere to Go
  8. Hold Me Back
  9. Remember You
  10. Permission to Love

Coachella Band Preview: Big Wild

We are officially a month and a half away from Coachella 2020! The anticipation is building for me as it so often does. I’ve been doing my best to listen to the Coachella playlist I made and since the lineup dropped on January 2nd I’ve made an early discovery when I realized there was an artist on the lineup I had been listening to for months. Sure months is a stretch because it was like 3 months and there was only one song, but since then I realized his other stuff is great too! That artist is Big Wild and here’s what you need to know about him going into the festival.

Jackson Stell, better known to the music world as Big Wild, has been producing music as an electronic artist since 2012. He came from a music-oriented family and really got his break with the single “Aftergold” featuring Tove Styrke in 2016. The year prior he toured with Odesza and collaborated with the duo on a remix of their song “Say My Name.” He released his debut EP Invincible EP in 2017 and just released his debut album Superdream last year.

His indie pop style of electronic music incorporates instrumentation into his live sets. He is known for using synth, keyboards, drum pads, and live vocals in his performances. He also sings on a few of his tracks which is often rare for an electronic artist.

I got into Big Wild when I heard his song “6’s to 9’s” in a video posted by someone I follow on instagram. I added the song to my workout playlist once I listened. It then became a staple in my music listening regimen towards the end of the year.

Big Wild plays Sunday at his first Coachella. I would expect him to play in Sahara earlier in the day or at Gobi or Mojave. His music really falls into the Coachella vibe so I expect that his set will be a lot of fun. If you’re into the indie electronic stuff, you’re gonna want to check him out. I recently got into more of his stuff and have been listening to him quite frequently so here’s what I think you’ll need to now:

  1. 6’s to 9’s
  2. When I Get There
  3. Aftergold
  4. City of Sound
  5. Maker
  6. Show Me
  7. Invincible
  8. Empty Room
  9. Venice Venture
  10. Joypunks

 

Coachella Band Preview: Rex Orange County

This is my last week in Mexico and I have to say it’s been a great run. It’s always an exciting time to start the year, but I think all of us here are aware of the unofficial name of the Mexico runs…the Coachella pregame. Now that we’re halfway through February, Coachella is officially on the horizon. I’ve realized one thing while preparing for Coachella down in Mexico. It’s that there’s no better artist to prep for Coachella with down here than Rex Orange County.

At just 21 years old, Alexander O’Connor, aka Rex Orange County, is an indie pop artist from Grayshott, England. He got his moniker from a nickname he received growing up, “the OC”, based on his last name “O’Connor”. While growing up he was in the school choir and also learned to play drums. Because of his drumming talents, he attended the BRIT school, whose alumni include Adele, Amy Winehouse, and King Krule. Beyond the drums and singing, he’s also a self-taught pianist and guitarist.

In 2016, Rex Orange County self-released his first album bcos u will never b free on SoundCloud. The album release brought him some attention from Tyler the Creator. Rex eventually worked on a few of Tyler’s tracks (“Boredom” and “Foreword”) on Flower Boy. He released his second album Apricot Princess in 2017. That year he also released one of his most popular songs to date “Loving Is Easy” in collaboration with Benny Sings. His most recent album Pony was just released in October and Rex Orange County is currently touring in support of the album.

Rex Orange County’s music comprises a lot of different genres, combining hip-hop, R&B, pop, and indie music. His tracks range from feeling very vibey and Cali-influenced to hip-hop tracks and soulful R&B sounding vocals. He definitely defines post-genre indie music.

This year will be Rex Orange County’s first Coachella. He plays Friday. He’s high on the bill of artists and very well known amongst youth so I’d expect to see him on the Main or Outdoor Stages. Expect a huge draw for this young Brit’s first Coachella. Also expect some pure Coachella vibes from some of his songs. Here are a few you should know:

  1. Loving Is Easy
  2. Best Friend
  3. Sunflower
  4. UNO
  5. 10/10
  6. Corduroy Dreams
  7. Television/So Far So Good
  8. Pluto Projector
  9. Happiness
  10. Untitled