Skip to main content

Artists Asking Artists: Shaded & Mikey Lion of Desert Hearts

California locals Shaded and Mikey Lion go deep.

Welcome to Artists Asking Artists (AAA), our newest series where we hand the interview duties over to artists to get a better understanding of what it's like to work with each other. Hot of his latest release, California local Shaded chats with Mikey Lion of the Desert Hearts crew sit down to discuss their origins, how they found their groove, and their plans for the future.




ML: How did you get into electronic music and more specifically techno? Any early experiences that you'd consider "life-changing"?

SH: I guess like most I would imagine... I ended up at a rave in San Bernadino and heard music I have never heard on a sound system that was so huge I was tripping. So after that, I really dove into electronic music, and naturally, I guess I gravitated toward the techno sound. It was experimental and new to me, and that was exciting, especially being from Orange County where I never heard that type of music ever.

ML: I know Dubfire was a major influence early in your career, and to me, he's one of the biggest legends in the game. How did that relationship with Ali come about and any words of wisdom that he gave you when you first started touring?

SH: That connection was made through my previous project called SHDWPLAY. We had signed a few records to SCI+TEC, and that's where the relationship started. I would send him demos and he was really digging them and releasing a fair amount of SHDWPLAY. So right around this time, I went solo as SHADED, and I had moved to BCN where he was living and we started hanging out. We got to chatting about touring and the next thing I know I was his opening live act on the road. Just touring with him I learned so much. It was me just always observing and soaking everything up. It was super organic how it all unfolded, and now we are super close friends.

ML: Man, you're literally my favorite techno act to watch perform live. If you had to pick right now, who would be your 3 go-to techno artists to see live?

-Thanks, dude! My number one would have to be Octave One. Those guys are so sick. Number two would be Gessafelstein, always loved his live shows. And number three would be someone like KiNK, he is dope. I guess anyone whom I can feel and hear their distinct sound, that excites me.

ML: What's on the horizon for SHADED? Do you have any interest in putting out a SHADED album?

Recommended Articles

SH: Releasing lots of music is the plan. Make up for lost time from this pandemic. I just want to take my live show to the next level sonically and visually. So I will be making lots of new tunes and hopefully get the visual show moving forward as well. No plans on an album just yet. I have been writing lots of ambient stuff so maybe put an ambient album out, but in terms of dance floor stuff, I am purely focused on singles and getting my new 2-hour live show mint!

Mikey Lion

Mikey Lion

SH: So we both come from the same Southern California area. Not sure about you, but for me growing up in Orange County it was so hard finding electronic music shows to go to. I always had to go to LA or San Bernardino for raves which were hard when I didn’t have a car. You being from SD, where did you start getting your first taste of house and techno?

ML: My first taste of House music was at Coachella 2006 during the debut of the Daft Punk Pyramid. I was 17 and a hip-hop DJ at the time and that one performance changed my life forever. After that, my friends and I would drive out to San Bernardino for the big Insomniac raves like EDC and Nocturnal. I went to college in San Luis Obispo and every once in a while we’d drive down to Santa Barbara because we’d hear about a dance event happening at a house party. Then in 2009, I studied abroad in Barcelona, and on my first night out I went and saw Popof who completely blew my mind. Now 12 years later to know Popof has a release coming out on Desert Hearts Records with a remix from you that blows my mind.

SH: You recently moved back to San Diego from LA, what prompted that return to your home zone?

ML: I was living in LA for 5 years when the pandemic hit but once lockdown started, my wife and I decided to move closer to our families in San Diego. We ended up moving to Oceanside about a 5 minute walk from the beach and we couldn’t be happier. All our closest friends and family have all been moving back to San Diego so we’ve got a real sense of community which means everything to me.

SH: How does it feel to now run one of the premier brands of North America? I guess when I think about North America brands and festivals I think of 2: Dirtybird and Desert Hearts. So for you, looking back on the journey to this point from the beginning, what feelings and accomplishments stand out to you.

ML: I don’t really think of it like I’m running one of the biggest brands in America because to me it still feels like we’re just getting started. The first Desert Hearts party will always stay with me because it was only 200 of us vs the coldest weather I’ve ever been in yet the vibe was unlike anything I’d ever felt before. Starting Desert Hearts Records in 2014 was such a dream come true for me and now in 2021 I just released my debut album as the 100th release on the label. It all just kinda lined up perfectly and I couldn’t be happier. Finally, winning Best Boutique Festival in North America from DJ Mag was a major milestone that solidified our community as something really special.

SH: Looking forward what are your goals for the brand? Since I first played the festival about 4 or 5 years ago it seems that both festivals and your event series throughout NA have become a huge success… where do you take it now?

ML: We really love doing our new City Hearts Festival in California so that’s definitely a priority. We’re also working on a potential Desert Hearts destination festival which would be incredible.

SH: What’s the end game for Mikey lion? House by the beach with the family? Where do you wanna be in 10 years !?

ML: I don’t really have an end game as I hope I’ll still be DJing and producing music for the rest of my life. I love this industry and am so grateful I get to play music for a living. In 10 years I’d love to own a house by the beach in San Diego with a couple of kids and be close to my family. The dream is to get to the point where I don’t have to tour as relentlessly as I am now but still be able to support my family and have a beautiful life spreading love and positive energy in the world with my music.

Related Content