The Desert Hearts crew are back on the road with their Take the Ride North American tour this fall and we cannot be more excited. When it comes to party squads, Elrow has swept the globe as the quickest rising party brand, however, Desert Hearts is not far behind from potential global domination. In the last four years, the San Diego crew have risen from local 'JUNGLE' parties and intimate Mojave Desert gatherings to touring the entire country and throwing parties at BPM and Gratitude Migration.
More recently, Desert Hearts have started their own label, curated by Mikey Lion and supported by the team of Porkchop, Marbs, Lee Reynolds and Kristoff McKay. Honoring their slogan of, "House, Techno and Love...We are all Desert Hearts", the crew have managed to bring together a brand of partying that exudes love, camaraderie and goodwill as well as knockout music by the team and talents such as, Deep Jesus, Tara Brooks and Papa Lee Reynolds.
First stop on their tour this weekend, Desert Hearts brings the founding team of Mikey Lions, Porkchop, Marbs and Lee Reynolds to Terrace Afterhours in Las Vegas, the Belasco in LA and World Beat Center in San Diego with Mikey Lion, Rybo & Hylas. Magnetic Mag had a moment to corner Porkchop and Marbs and talk to them a little bit about themselves and the coming of Desert Hearts.
Magnetic Mag: What is your background in music, how did you end up DJ'ing & producing?
Marbs: I never played an instrument, but I always had music playing and it served as a conduit for other artistic avenues in my life. I started DJing in college and learned with my best friend, Ryan Orey, after he returned from his deployment with the Marines. We would stay up all night practicing on CDJ-350's learning to beat match and how to create a flow through the music we loved. Once we became comfortable we started organizing small parties with Mikey Lion in Encinitas (San Diego) under the name 'JUNGLE.' There were no venues in our hometown that played the house and tech house that we liked, but the three of us together had a great group of friends at home so we were able to get a lot of people into the bars. This allowed us to play the music that we wanted. We just wanted to have fun with our friends, it was never that serious.
When I started really understanding DJing it opened my eyes to a new way to communicate with people artistically in large groups (something I was not comfortable with normally). From then on out I promised myself that when I played parties or gatherings that the music I played would always be a journey and a story ... that it would leave a part of myself with the experience every time. I started learning production about 4 years ago and I'm having fun with it, but just like DJing for me, when I put music out there I want it to tell a story, so I'm taking my time to make sure that it translates that.
Porkchop: Ever since I can remember I've been a music head, there's good music in every genre. You just need to dig for it. Although, I've never played an instrument growing up besides the piano lessons I took (wish I took those seriously!), I just couldn't find myself musically talented. However, I've always had a good ear for music, yet respect everyone's different tastes in music. I gotta give it up to my brother, Mikey for showing me what's up when it comes to music.
I remember buying the Slim Shady LP when I was 9 (thanks Mom!) and from there my love for hip-hop was game over. Mikey was always one step ahead of me with the cutty tracks. Mikey first got his turntables when he was just a freshmen in High School, and it always inspired me when would just sit back and enjoy my favorite hip-hop records get blended together. Shortly after, Mikey introduced me to Daft Punk, Chemical Brothers, Orbital, and then the rest was history. I started DJing for fun in my senior year of High School but wasn't till a few years later I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
MM: How does working closely with your sibling influence your work?
P: My brother is my best fucking friend on the planet and I'm so lucky to have such an amazing relationship with him. We know exactly what each other are thinking, but sometimes we can butt heads and view things differently. It always ends up getting quickly squashed and we always come to whats best. He's unbelievably driven and can get a bet worked up, while I'm more of the every thing is going to work out just fine. We find that perfect medium, and in the end.. It always does!
MM: You handle most of the artwork for DH, where did this additional talent stem from? How does it influence or incorporate into your music?
M: Art has been my main focus since I was a just a kid. I played sports, I surfed, I skateboarded, I did a lot of things growing up, but none of it compared to the feeling I got and still get when I'm doing art. It's pure relaxation. It's the closest thing to a meditative state that I've been able to achieve, every time I do it. The one thing that really accelerated my art was an incredible hippy English teacher during my attendance at LCC High School. I wouldn't pay attention in English class (go figure) and I would just draw. Sometimes she would get frustrated, but for the most part she was really cool.
One day she kept having to tell me to stop drawing and instead of punishing me she walked me out of class, down to the AP art teacher, had all my prerequisites waived, and was able to get me straight into AP Honors Art classes. This is where I learned painting, multi-media, and more experimental art. I also used to do graffiti, both illegally and legally. My art teacher would let me build 10ft x 6ft canvases and work with cans in the alley. It was so much fun and it made me love school.
MM: In what ways do you feel that your production and style have developed since you started DJ'ing?
P: My style has definitely expanded over the years, and I hate sticking to just one sub-genre. Every track has a time and a place. For breakfast you want that feel good, sunshine, positivity, "today's going to be fucking awesome," soundtrack that will put a shit eating grin on your face. Lunch then evolves into groovy tech-house to throwbacks and so on. Skip Dinner. Midnight Snack is when you bring out the techno. Not talking about that repetitive nonsense, but that “woah! what the fuck am I listening too??” yet still has groove.
MM: How has San Diego's music scene developed over these last five years? Have things changed much since?
M: I think the scene is always getting better. Our good friends who organize the Sundown parties have created an incredible event that continues to propel the scene and attract new audiences. More mainstream groups like CRSSD are proving that bigger audiences are interested in quality electronic music now and are pulling big crowds. This is, in my opinion, a sign that the music is spreading and attracting more and more. The underground here has a great background from groups like Dance Klassique, Moonshake, and many more who helped lay the foundation that the younger generations are building off of today. I think San Diego has endless potential and it continues to move onward and upward. Some of our best stops on the tour are still always in San Diego. The energy and love that attracts to the events that we're able to be involved with in our hometown continues to blow us away every time.
P: I'm so proud to call San Diego my home. Over the past years, it's been unbelievable to see how the scene there has grown. Now it seems like every night, there's good music going on somewhere. Back before Desert Hearts, when we did our Jungle party, we had to search for house music nights and there was only a handful. Maybe we were just picky when it came down to it, because I know deep down San Diego has always had a little scene. But thanks to guys like Moonshake, Lovelife, Alphahyper, Deep End, CRSSD, Bang Bang, Dance Klassique, and Purps N' Turqs, the scene is thriving more than ever!
MM: Desert Hearts has become quite a name for itself and after a successful summer tour, DH is back on the road! How has developing the brand and now record label impacted your understanding of the music industry?
M: Well it’s certainly a lot different than the days where we just hauled everything out to the Mojave Desert for a weekend free-for-all, but the heart of those parties will be here forever. As we've grown and learned more about the industry we've found how important it is for us to teeter the line between the underground movement we've been a part of as well as the bigger picture goals we have. We truly believe we are doing something important, not just for music, but for society. We want to show people there is a different way to life, that there's an immeasurable importance to community and family, and that we can work towards a better way of living through spreading love through music and art.
The brand and record label are grown with the intention of continuing our grassroots approach and the progress of our community. We decided to have the record label be free because we want to get the music out to the world and we want it to be a "thank you" to the people who celebrate life with us. As for the brand, our brand is special because our product or service isn't just music, we believe that it’s love. Love is what we are trying to spread and put into the hearts of the people who come to our events, listen to our music, and connect with us. We'll never forget that and we'll always be working towards it. Any industry standards or politics that do not help us towards this very important goal are not followed. We're trying to do things differently.
P: It's crazy to think about how quickly our movement has grown. I'm grateful every single day to be doing what I love. Learning quickly about how skewed the music industry can actually be and what the "standards" are, you just need to be true to yourself and listen to your gut. Stay humble, yet know when to put your foot down. Desert Hearts is special because we stick to our hearts and ride that fine line of pushing the boundaries outside of "industry standards."
MM: What shenanigans have you guys planned for your Desert Hearts Presents Take the Ride tour! Are you excited for any particular cities?
M: This is a hard one since we enjoy going every stop along our tours, but a few different ones that pop out are Groove Cruise in Ensenada, DirtyBird Campout, and going back down to Costa Rica for Ocaso to reunite with our CR family. Having said that we look forward to reuniting and celebrating with all the cities on the horizon, the many people we've connected with in the past, and the many new faces we'll meet along the ride. We can't wait and we know that this is going to be our most love filled tour yet. Big hugs and we'll see everyone in a nearby city soon!
P: Best thing about traveling with your best friends is the shenanigans that come along with it. Every gig seems to get better and better, and I truly look forward to every city I have the opportunity of playing. It's 110% or nothing. But some highlights that I have been on my mind for some time is Dirtybird Campout, Meow Wolf (definitely check this one out), and going back to Costa Rica at the beginning of next year.
Catch the Desert Hearts crew at a city near you:
12th - MJQ Concourse - Atlanta, GA
14th - Flash - Washington, DC
17th - Post HTX - Houston, TX
25th - Meow Wolf - Santa Fe, NM
29th - Bijou Nightclub - Boston, MA
2nd - Venue TBA - Brooklyn, NY
15th - Coda - Philadelphia, PA