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Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

DJ Sugarfree is one of the valley’s top DJs—a regular at Bart Lounge and Chill Bar Palm Springs. Over the years, she’s played at virtually every club in the valley.

However, DJ Sugarfree—her given name is Noemi Rodriguez—wants more. Specifically, she wants to take things underground.

With friends and fellow female DJs Femme A and Aylex Song, the queer DJ from Indio is trying to provide the desert with an authentic rave experience—and the group is planning an underground electronic event that recalls the spirit of the famous “desert raves,” which Sugarfree and others would organize off Dillon Road in Indio around this decade’s start.

But creating a scene is easier said than done.

“Nowadays, most people listen to mainstream EDM music, and only care about events with big popular names on the lineup,” Rodriguez said. “Many people’s music listening is limited to what’s on the radio. They will drive out of town to go to a big rave, but they are uninterested in local underground events.”

However, things are beginning to change. Sugarfree said she has noticed an increase in local appreciation for electronic music thanks to Coachella pre/post-parties and Splash House—but that appreciation is removed from the authentic/original rave experience, and it doesn’t compare to the current popularity of underground electronic music in Los Angeles. Sugarfree theorized that people in the desert today are conditioned to experience dance music at events that are limited by space and time—such as parties at clubs.

“When people go to a bar, the party is over at 2 a.m., but oftentimes, people aren’t ready to go home,” she said. “Raves, on the other hand, are supposed to go until the sun comes up. Going to a rave used to mean you were staying out until 6 a.m. At clubs and venues, the party has to end—and we want to create an event where it doesn’t have to.”

Sugarfree—a nickname long ago given to her by raver friends, because she abstains from sugar due to her diabetic condition—also wants to change the conception of what it means to be a DJ.

“A lot of people think being a DJ is just like being a jukebox,” she said with a laugh. “But that’s not true, because a real DJ will take the listener on a journey. The DJ will blend songs together so that multiple songs seem like one song which happens to be hours long. The goal is to take the listener on a memorable journey and make her feel good.”

When you combine the magic of a DJ with the right setting, the experience can be moving. For Sugarfree, creating the perfect sonic adventure starts with asking the promoter what he or she is looking for.

“I like to know ahead of time what they’re expecting, and then I try to find songs that have similar BPMs (beats per minute), have similar melodies or styles, and are in the same key,” Rodriguez said. “This is how you get the songs to flow smoothly. How the songs are going to sound sequenced together is very important.”

Sugarfree started working with turntables in 2006, the year after she graduated from high school, but she was curating listening experiences for people as far back as middle school. “Everybody would come to me to make them mix CDs,” Rodriguez said, again with a laugh. “I was always talking about music, and I was into different kinds of music. I started making mix CDs, and I would take them to school and ask people to listen. After that, people started asking me to make CDs for them.”

During her senior year in high school, Sugarfree’s mother passed away rather suddenly from lupus complications and an encounter with an aggressive tuberculosis—a loss which still affects Sugarfree significantly. She struggled to complete her final year of high school, and though she did graduate, she was in a dark place.

“It was the worst thing that ever happened to me,” she said.

The opportunity to express herself via music saved Sugarfree. “After high school, I befriended a girl who had DJ equipment, and I started messing around with it, and it felt like I was born to do that,” she said. “I had always wanted to be a DJ.”

Her DJ career began to blossom at a critical time in her life, and it created an opportunity for her to express herself and distract herself from her grief. It is no coincidence that many of the most-requested dance songs revolve around heartbreak, like Cher’s “Believe,” Alice DJ’s “Better Off Alone,” Haddaway’s “What Is Love?”, The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me Baby,” and so on.

Equipped with a cheap controller and CDs, Sugarfree learned how to DJ quickly, improving by talking to other DJs and listening to mixes. She soon acquired better equipment and started playing at friends’ parties in backyards; her first gig was at a quinceañera. As she became more well-known, she moved on to clubs, where she continues to perform frequently today.

However, Rodriguez admits she’s become disenchanted by the demand to play just popular songs; she prefers music from the more-obscure electronic genres she was becoming acclimated with as her career progressed. Today, she enjoys playing techno, trance, tech house and progressive house—music that would be more welcome at an underground event.

“I can’t really play trance music out here,” Rodriguez said. “Nobody really knows it, and nobody really likes it. I’ve tried to play it, and people don’t really feel it.”

The sight of an empty dance floor is not a good feeling for a DJ. As a result, she generally succumbs to what the crowd wants.

“When I first started, I did have hostile crowds. It feels like you’re not doing something right,” she said. “It made me not want to play what I was playing. (Later), I tried to please the crowd more and get them leaving happy. It’s important to leave the crowd wanting more.”

Sugarfree said she and her fellow DJs are continuing to work on developing more underground events, although no plans have been finalized; follow her social media for updates. In the meantime, she’s continuing to enjoy her monthly Bart residency—and continuing to learn as well.

“I’m still working on developing perfect pitch, and the ability to instantly tell what key a song is in,” Sugarfree said, laughing.

For more information on DJ Sugarfree, visit www.facebook.com/9sugarfree9, or i_am_sugarfree on Instagram.

Hello, readers! My name is Alex Harrington, and I am a music producer and DJ based in the Coachella Valley. I have been playing music for more than 16 years, and I’ve been a DJ for the last six. I’ve been fortunate enough to play at venues across the valley, from downtown Palm Springs to Old Town La Quinta. This has helped me develop my sound—and inspired me to dive into the local scene to find the best spots to enjoy music.

I consider Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley to be an internationally influential location. What does that mean? It means people visit us from all over the world. There is no universal culture here; we’re truly a mixing pot. Still, while the valley has grown, it feels like the music scene has stagnated at times.

Is that because of a lack of talent in our scene? No, it’s not. I know many people out here, true artists, who offer something different—and I think that bodes well for the future of our scene. The valley is home to some artists who provide listeners with a truly unique experience—something people will fly home and talk about. The Flusters are a great example of a band who entertains and tells a story in an original way.

This stagnation has not just been limited to bands. The “producer” and “DJ” monikers have been thrown around a lot in recent years. It’s true that many people can get into DJing, but it’s not necessarily easy to translate this “passion” into something people can actually enjoy. It’s not just about playing the hits; that’s why some people choose to visit places off the beaten path. It’s about having options and variety. Look at Los Angeles, Miami, New York, London and Tokyo. What do all of these places have in common, music-wise? Nightlife and scenes with creative people bringing it to the masses.

I don’t see our valley—and Palm Springs specifically—as being too far removed from those locations. Why? Again, we have a valley full of people from all over the world, both visiting and living here. It’s also no secret that many people here enjoy nightlife, no matter their age or class. So shouldn’t there be more choices when it comes to hearing music? We have great places to hear reggae, hip hop, Top 40 and rock … but what about house, disco, funk, indie and dance? I’m not talking about a disco throwback playlist being played; I’m talking about DJs who dug for tracks and worked them into mixes everyone can enjoy.

Many other cities, and even towns, have numerous lounges and bars that provide DJ entertainment—and people love them. This inspires me to stay original and to strive to bring my listeners something fresh. It’s also why I wanted to start this column!

In this space every month, look forward to interviews, in-depth discussions, local artist features and more. In the meantime, you can hear me play at the Landmark Lounge in La Quinta every Friday and Sunday night, playing the best in funk, soul, house and more. Details can be found at alexharrington.co.

Published in Subatomic

Since 2013, local DJ Alex Harrington has been beating the pavement, playing countless local poolside and club gigs.

He’s also been branching out—regionally, nationally and internationally, collaborating with different artists through various DJ internet communities, and building up his Spotify page with listeners from around the world.

On July 25, Harrington will release his new album, Stargazer. During a recent interview in Rancho Mirage, Harrington discussed how the album came about.

“Ever since July of last year, I’ve been releasing singles pretty steadily,” Harrington said. “Over the past few months, I started writing and stockpiling tracks, not sure what I wanted to do with them. I sat down and said, ‘I’ve put out about six or seven tracks and have another six or seven that are unreleased.’ I wanted to do an album for a long time, and a friend of mine told me that now would be a good time to do it, so I put it together. It’s all come together at the same time as the poolside gigs. Playing the poolside gigs gave me the inspiration to write the tracks and the album.”

Harrington has ventured into varying styles of DJing, from nu-disco to tropical house, and he said playing poolside gigs has always given him inspiration.

“I think with club gigs, you have a certain amount of freedom as far as the vibe goes, but for the most part, you have people who are there to ‘turn up.’ They have drinks, and they get excited. It’s the nightlife,” Harrington said. “With poolside gigs, you can do that, but you can take it in a different direction, and what I really like is that you can affect the crowd. The last set I played poolside was three hours long. I started off upbeat and got the crowd excited, and I dropped it down a little bit to chill them out, and brought it back up at the end. That’s something you can’t necessarily do in a club, because you’re building and building and building, and you hit that crescendo at the end of the night; then everyone gets excited, and the club empties out. Poolside gigs offer more freedom to work with the crowd and more freedom as far as your direction in music goes.”

His DJing has frequently taken him into Los Angeles, most notably at Bardot.

“That was a lot of fun. I was fortunate to have played there a few times as part of an event called School Night! that’s thrown by Chris Douridas from KCRW,” he said. “It’s a fantastic venue. It’s Victorian-themed, and it has two different rooms. I would be in one room DJjing, and (there would be) a band in another room. We’d switch off and go back and forth. That’s something that you don’t get anywhere. It’s right on the Sunset Strip, and I’d walk out on the balcony and see the Capitol Records building.”

Harrington said there’s a definite difference between Palm Springs and Los Angeles crowds.

“I try to bring the same vibe wherever I go,” he said. “It’s the same mixture of my energy and the energy of the town I’m in. Los Angeles is a little faster, and people are a little more with it, so when I go out there, I’m more free to play music from across the board. Out here, I’ll stick more with familiar stuff—but it depends. Los Angeles has a more-trendy crowd that’s looking for new music and to hear stuff they haven’t really heard before, whereas out here, they like the familiar a little more. The bachelorette parties out here are great, but they want to hear Beyonce and Rihanna songs. In Los Angeles, you have so many clubs. … With Bardot, within a stone’s throw, you have so many other clubs. You have to bring something different, because there’s so much great music. Out here, we’re still developing.” 

These days, being an independent DJ/musician is easier than ever … but in other ways, it’s also tougher than ever.

“I think that the tools that artists have to succeed these days—there are a lot more than (artists) used to have,” Harrington said. “But with greater means of access in this business comes a flood of more people doing it. On things like YouTube, 1,000 hits used to be a lot; now it’s 10,000 is a lot. The same with Spotify: Now it’s 10,000, then 100,000 and then 1 million. I think you have to be savvy about it. It’s a lot easier if you know your sound and find the right tools for it.

“I will say this: You have to invest these days. You just can’t put something out there and say, ‘Enjoy it for what it is.’ Even if it’s $100 or $200, playlist services are something you can pitch your music to and say, ‘Hey, I have $100; if you guys like this song, can you help me get some exposure?’”

On Sunday, June 17, plus other dates throughout the summer, you can catch Harrington at the Saguaro.

“The Saguaro has done a fantastic job over the past couple of years curating music that’s on the forefront—music they bring in from all over,” he said. “If you go to a Saguaro pool party, whether you’re there to relax, hang out, grab a day bed or float on an inflatable ice-cream cone, there’s something for everybody.”

For more information, visit www.alexharrington.co.

Fans of Independent resident DJ All Night Shoes’ monthly FRESH Sessions mix were treated last July to a guest mix by JF//Discord.

The “De:Volve” mix showed just what makes JF//Discord (Jeremy Ferguson) unique: It featured some familiar dance music—tinged with a darker side.

Ferguson recently discussed his interest in becoming a DJ.

“I just wanted to move people with good underground electronic music,” Ferguson said. “I think I have a good ear for underground electronic music and hopefully translate the connection I have with people to where they can dance.”

Ferguson isn’t shy about his adoration for metal music. He often wears a hoodie jacket with the logo of the metal band Death. He’s also known for his saying, “Horns Up!” He said first discovered metal music when he was in the fourth-grade.

“I first started off with Def Leppard and Pyromania, and I got that on cassette,” Ferguson said. “It was my first actual music purchase. When Hysteria (Def Leppard’s follow-up to Pyromania) came out, I got that one. There was a store in Palm Desert at the time … called Music Plus. My brother and I would go in there, and we’d just start looking through their audio section in this thing they had with four pairs of headphones you could use to listen to music. I remember seeing the list of bands … Autopsy, Death, Testament, Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth. We started listening to all these bands, and it piqued my interest. From there on out, it was just all metal.”

Ferguson was even a member of a metal band in high school.

“I was in a death metal band called Discordance the whole I time I was in high school, as the lead vocalist,” he said. “Metal took a real bad turn when all the grunge stuff started popping up. Nobody wanted to be associated with metal whatsoever in any way, shape or form. I was still kind of young back then, so I was like, ‘Maybe metal is starting to die, and maybe it’s going to start fading away.’

“I got exposed to electronic music. It was super-underground at the time, and the masses didn’t really like it yet.”

Ferguson’s interest in metal led him toward a different side of electronic music.

“I was drawn more to the underground, darker styles,” he said. “The darker production style (features) a lot of minor chords. House is a lot more soulful; deep house is a little bit more deep; and trance … is atmospheric and euphoric. I like the darker, more subtle, disturbing undertones with bass music. Right now, I really like the underground techno coming from Greece. Guys like Christian Cambas, Axel Karakasis, Spiros Kaloumenos … are putting out some really good techno.”

Ferguson’s equipment includes two of his own Pioneer CDJs and a Pioneer mixer. He said that while he started out using turntables and likes vinyl, a lot of the music he selects isn’t available on vinyl.

Ferguson also said the local music scene is not always so embracing.

“It sucks getting no love from anybody in your hometown,” he said. “You don’t get any love from the locals here at all. No one really comes out to shows. No one cares, really, and it’s just tough. It’s not just DJs, but it’s universal to all artists here. We have no venues to play at, and the venue owners don’t really understand electronic music, or care about it. It’s tough to get something built and keep it going on a regular basis.”

Still, Ferguson said he enjoys what he does as a DJ.

“The upside for me is focusing on that musical side of me and getting it out,” he said. “Hopefully, somebody that you play for in the crowd will connect with it. That’s the cool thing—when you expose somebody to a different style of music, and they say, ‘Oh yeah! I’ve never heard that before. Who is it?’ That’s what’s cool for me.”

Ferguson explained what he wants to happen in the Coachella Valley’s DJ scene.

“I’d like to see all of us come together as a community and not be so fragmented,” he said. “We should support each other whether or not we like the musical style—and I’m saying that for me, too, because I have my own certain style. We all need to be more open-minded and come together to make an impact for the local community here. That’s what we need in order for it to grow and succeed, and to get exposure from out of the valley.”

For more information on JF//Ferguson, visit www.facebook.com/JFDiscord1.

The Hood Bar and Pizza in Palm Desert has become known in recent years for both its incredible bookings of big-name punk-rock bands and its support of local music.

Now, the venue may become known for another thing: a fantastic electronic dance music night.

On Saturday, Sept. 20, The Hood will be hosting Fresh Sessions Live, hosted by Independent contributor All Night Shoes (Alex Harrington), with special guests Synthetix and Coffee Blvckk. (The Independent is also a sponsor of the event.)

During a recent interview, Harrington and Jack Kohler, the booking agent for The Hood, said the idea for the EDM night developed in part due to a successful birthday bash for Synthetix back in July. They realized that creating a regular dance-music night might be a good idea, especially since the eastern Coachella Valley doesn’t have a lot of music venues.

“It was my idea, but Jack encouraged it,” Harrington said. “The main idea behind it is it’s all about a form of collaboration. It’s not just one person or one thing, and it’s not just The Hood throwing a show. It’s artists coming together and doing something at The Hood.”

Kohler said he was happy to work with Harrington to put something together.

“I’ve noticed what he’s been doing locally, and I think it’s a neat thing,” Kohler said. “There are people out here who are cutthroat about working together. I think it’s rad that someone is starting a collective group of people. Another thing that’s difficult with this style of music is pairing people. I have a couple of favorite local DJs, with Alex being one of them. Coffee Blvckk is kind of an up-and-comer doing his thing. I had a night scheduled with him that we had to drop because of another show that interrupted it, so it’s cool that he’s going to be a part of this.”

Kohler has joked in the past that The Hood is more known for bros “high-fiving each other and throwing up,” and he said that some of the venue’s patrons have left “Boycott DJs!” messages on The Hood’s Facebook page.

“People would get so upset that we even had DJs,” Kohler said. “People have a kind of negative definition for a disc jockey and someone who uses new technology, so there’s a lot of purism with certain people. The funny thing is: In this town, you can’t just use this venue for straight rock ’n’ roll; it’s impossible to do that without repeating certain acts. Adding DJs to our schedule gives people a new flavor.”

Harrington agreed.

“That’s what I like about The Hood: The Hood just isn’t an average venue,” Harrington said. “They’re always trying to bring in the freshest and highest quality of musicians—and the people here don’t realize it. That’s what I’m trying to do with this event: bring my knowledge and view on (music) to a place like The Hood, and keep that edge, keep that freshness—but also keep an underground vibe.

“People who go out to dance at places like the Hard Rock Hotel don’t necessarily want to go there all the time and be around that; sometimes, it’s just bit much. Sometimes, it’s nice to go somewhere where there’s not a pretentious fiasco going on. You want to let yourself go, but still have that experience with a DJ, and I think that’s something that people are looking for.”

Both Harrington and Kohler said they hope to make the EDM night a regular event.

“I’ve reached out to multiple artists in the area, and I’ve gotten positive feedback and people wanting to do it,” Harrington said. “If this takes off, it could be used in a way to combine local artists and DJs with acts from Los Angeles and San Diego. We don’t really have a place out here that’s like a real dance club; everything is kind of commercialized, to an extent. So I’d like to use it as a hub for local artists and DJs, and broaden the horizons of the scene out here.”

The event will be free. The Hood is also known for being on the cheaper side regarding beer and cocktails, so Kohler sees the potential in creating something new that people can enjoy without breaking the bank.

“I don’t like doing covers for events here,” Kohler said. “I also don’t like the high prices at clubs. That’s why I don’t really do that scene personally. I don’t want to spend a ton on drinks, and I don’t want to pay to see something I believe I can universally see somewhere else. This is a neat opportunity for us. … It’s not douchey, and you don’t have to ‘fit in.’

“I don’t want this bar to be selective to just punk rock, because that’s what it was for so long, and people have gotten over that. I have a lot of national punk rock coming up over the next couple of months, but I don’t want to stick to just that.”

Harrington hopes to see the place as packed as it was for Synthetix’s birthday party back in July.

“It got pretty busy,” Harrington said. “That event was thrown together (at the) last minute, so we’ll see what happens with this.”

Fresh Sessions Live, hosted by Independent contributor All Night Shoes (Alex Harrington) and featuring special guests Synthetix and Coffee Blvckk, takes place at 9 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 20, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free; this is an event for people 21 and older. For more information, call 760-636-5220, or visit www.facebook.com/thehoodbar. Below: Synthetix.

Published in Previews

Splash House, like every other large-scale music festival these days, is inevitably compared to Coachella.

The two festivals both feature a variety of acts—including a mix of locals, up-and-comers and superstars—spread over a three-day period. However, that’s where the similarities end.

For one thing, the culture surrounding the festivals is completely different. EDM culture features many musicians who work with a DIY ethic, yet have played to large crowds around the world. However, these DJs are often not the focus of attention during their shows: Attendees and their crowd participation is often more of a spectacle.

Oh, there’s one other huge difference: Swimming pools!

It’s a popular joke that all it takes for a DJ to be successful is to “push play.” However, a true DJ doesn’t just “push play.” Instead, he or she has the job of selecting the right music to set the vibe; manipulating the mixing board to create a unique sound; and merging it all together.

This was all on full display at the most recent Splash House, held Friday, Aug. 8, through Sunday, Sept. 10, at the Hard Rock Palm Springs, The Saguaro and the Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club: While most DJs had crowds hopping, others didn’t create the right vibe—and the crowds around the pool would lose a reason to dance.

A great example of a unique EDM act performed at the Hard Rock in the early evening on Friday. (The Hard Rock was the only venue to have an official schedule on Friday, and the festivities were pretty low-key, especially compared to the other two days.) Tone of Arc is a duo featuring Derrick Boyd, who has a haircut similar to a mullet, and who wore a tanktop and yoga-style pants above his bare feet; and Zoe Presnick, a female vocalist who looked like she was almost in a trance as she provided backup vocals. The music featured a heavy beat that included Boyd providing some bass and electric guitar here and there. The lyrics referenced UFOs and metaphysical mumbo jumbo. It was bizarre, to say the least—but those in attendance enjoyed it, because Tone of Arc offered something to dance to and provided the right kind of vibe.

When the pool and patio shut down, and the festivities moved inside to the Hard Rock lobby, the place filled up as people watched sets by Gorgon City, and then Oliver Heldens. Gorgon City and Oliver Heldens are both world-class acts that draw crowds and sell records. They brought out hardcore EDM fans who had illuminated sunglasses similar to Daft Punk’s helmets. Beach balls flew around, and bodies jumped up and down in the air—creating as much of a show as the music did.

Viceroy, who performed at the Saguaro on Saturday, is an artist like many others on the Splash House lineup: He doesn’t have a record deal; he releases remixes independently through Soundcloud and uses social media to promote himself; and he has a large following.

“It’s just the vibe about it,” Viceroy told the Independent before the set, when asked to explain the EDM culture. “It gets you to dance and have a good time and let loose, and that’s what it really is—just having a good time. It’s not worrying about the normal things on the weekdays. The babes are out; DJs are playing sets; and you’re drinking beers. There’s nothing better than that.”

Viceroy has performed around the world, and he said that every crowd has a different vibe.

“The Aussies are the craziest; they know how to fucking party,” he said. “I saw a guy over there run around without pants in a club once. Two pantsless guys at shows in Australia had me wondering, ‘Is this a normal thing in Australia? Guys get pantsless in the club and run around?’ It’s funny.”

Viceroy’s set started with an early ’90s hit from Del Tha Funkee Homosapien called “Mr. Dobalina,” which got the growing crowd in a party mood. He proved that he could play the right kind of music to establish the tone—yet remain consistent through his entire set.

After getting on the shuttle to the Hard Rock Hotel, I arrived as a young man called Trippy Turtle was in the middle of his set. He was clad in a hoodie with turtle eyes on the hood, and a shell on the back. He pumped up the crowd and played a set of heavy dance music with an audio sample of a video, repeated a handful of times throughout the set, that was popular on YouTube, of a little boy responding to a newscaster’s question with a random reply of, “I like turtles.” Attendees were dancing in front of the stage, partying in the pool and occasionally splashing water as the beat got heavier.

After Trippy Turtle, GoldLink took over. GoldLink is a hip-hop artist who is also taking the EDM world by storm.

“I’m from the East Coast, so we don’t get too many events like this going on,” said GoldLink’s DJ Kidd Marvel, with a laugh. “I’ve never been to a pool party like this with all these acts like Trippy Turtle, A-Trak, or Chromeo, and it’s a great event.”

He also made reference to the monikers, symbols and references to retro-cultures that some EDM artists use. The symbol of GoldLink is a tribal African mask.

“It’s like the tag, you know?” he said. “It’s what people are going to remember you by. They know your songs, but you need to have a stamp for them to really remember who you are. An example, Trippy Turtle has a great one.”

The resurgence of the retro pool party has become a key element in bringing millennials to Palm Springs. However, Splash House elevates the pool party to an entirely different level.

“You can program out a pool, but multiple pools?” said founder Tyler McLean. “It gives you a different air and more excitement, because it’s a bigger event than just one pool party. Above all, I think when everyone is on vacation together, and each of the rooms in each of the hotels is here for the same party, I think that automatically gives you a different atmosphere.”

So why is EDM so popular? The reaction of those in attendance at events like Splash House makes the answer obvious—it’s fun. Whether the performer is trying to create a metaphysical vibe and referencing UFOs, or whether the DJ seems obsessed with turtles, it’s all in the name of fun and having a good time. Add to that the Palm Springs pool culture, and it’s easy to see why Splash House has been such a massive success.

Published in Reviews

Meet Lino A.F. Mendoza. The Santa Ana native works as a server as his “day job,” but at night, the Rancho Mirage native becomes a member of the House Whores. The DJ/electronic dance music group regularly plays at Azul/Alibi, and has a standing gig every other Saturday—including this Saturday, Sept. 21—at Clinic Bar Lounge, 188 S. Indian Canyon Drive. The music starts at 9 p.m., and admission is free. Lino, “da sound guy,” recently was kind enough to take the time to answer The Lucky 13. For more info, find the Whores on Facebook.

What was the first concert you attended?

I believe it was Santana and Rusted Root at Glen Helen (now known as the San Manuel Amphitheater).

What was the first album you owned?

Violent Femmes.

What bands are you listening to right now?

None. I like EDM, so I like a lot of Sonny Fodera, Little Louie Vega, and Julz Winfield

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

This is a hard one, because I can’t say one thing is bad or worse than the other, so I’m gonna quote Ray Charles (and others): “There is only good and bad music.” It just depends on what’s being played.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

It would be Pink Floyd—Roger W. Pink Floyd. And Prince!

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

L.A. underground deep house.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Greek Theatre (in Los Angeles).

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

Jamiroquai’s “Little L”: “Why does it have to be like this? … With a little ‘l.’”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

The Doors. Jim Morrison music was always really deep. He made you think, like, in 5-to-1.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

It would be Little Louie Vega: “How much has the music scene evolved since you were playing at Studio 54 in NYC?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Spirit in the Sky.”

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Mark Farina’s Mushroom Jazz Vol. 1, and/or Bare Essentials or Carte Blanche Vols. 1 and 2.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Anything from the Butter Factory.

Published in The Lucky 13

While the electronic dance music genre (EDM) has become flooded with artists as of late, Younghoon Beats has nothing to worry about: He shows off a distinctive sound with his independently released albums—and his latest, Tha Blew Demos, is a real delight.

Originally from South Korea, the Cathedral City resident moved to the Coachella Valley during his childhood. He hasn’t had any local shows to date, but said he is open to doing some. (The Independent first learned of Younghoon Beats when he sent us a link to Tha Blew Demos via our online contact form, along with a succinct message: “play me.”)

He’s released four albums via Bandcamp.com as free downloads, and each release is exceptional.

His sound is a bit similar to that of Portishead, as he uses vintage sounds from the ‘60s and ‘70s. The songs are all mixed with his unique touch; they could be used in Quentin Tarantino films, or perhaps some modern, indie thriller movie.

“I like a lot of older music,” he said during a brief phone interview. “I’m not too familiar with artists, but I sample a lot of older stuff for instrumentals.”

He puts his material together in a way that not many EDM artists or DJs would admit to: “I just put the sounds together,” he said. “More or less, it’s kind of like stealing. It’s like taking people’s drawings and putting them together in a different way.”

The opening track on Tha Blew Demos, “Only You,” definitely has a Portishead feel, with a mellow loop and echoing vocals. It’s something you could play on a rainy day or late at night while relaxing.

“I’m a Fool” has a chaotic mixing effect, with flanging effects and haunting sounds in the background as you hear a woman singing about self-pity. “Blew” is a strange, eerie track; some effects sound like something from one of Moby’s ambient albums, with a gospel-sounding organ, a loop of a beautiful choral sample, and fresh ambient techniques.

“Feeling I Have” is another great track that features mixing effects you’d hear from a hip-hop DJ, mixing well with a vintage theme. With a nice beat and a heavy bass line, “Feeling I Have” is a bit unorthodox and goes against the grain of most traditional mixing techniques—but it works.

“Monsters” is a mellow, hypnotic track that relies more on the instrumental than the unintelligible vocal sample in the background. The album ends with “All the Game,” which melds a deep bass and drum sound, a jazz-trumpet sample, and an acoustic guitar riff that plays here and there.

Younghoon Beats is an up-and-comer and a local delight. While he’s currently underground and trying to make a name for himself, there’s no doubt that he has potential. Expect to hear more about him in the near future.

For more information or to download Younghoon Beats’ music, visit younghoon.biz; younghoon.bandcamp.com; or www.facebook.com/YounghoonBeats.

Published in Reviews

Purity Ring is about to wrap up a remarkable year of touring behind their debut album, Shrines—and they’re making a stop at Pappy and Harriet’s in Pioneertown on Friday, Aug. 30.

The Canadian electronic music duo, consisting of Corin Roddick (samples and instrumentals) and Megan James (vocals), has accumulated a lot of success in a short span of time. The duo’s sound echoes that of Goldfrapp, The xx, and Phantogram.

Roddick and James came together in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, thanks to mutual friends within the city’s music scene. When Roddick saw James perform, he was impressed by her creativity; the two of them eventually became friends.

Roddick was touring with the band Gobble Gobble (now known as Born Gold) as a drummer when he began studying electronic music production, not too long before Purity Ring came together in 2010.

“I would say I’m still very much learning,” said Roddick during a recent phone interview. “Making electronic music is still an ongoing journey, and I feel like I’m still scratching the surface. It took me maybe a year to really focus on it (and) to feel comfortable to the point of actually releasing something.”

James had several books of songs that she’d written, but she never had any intention of performing them or putting them to music; meanwhile, Roddick was determined to develop himself in electronic music. The two wound up collaborating, and released their first song, “Ungirthed,” in January 2011. From there, things moved quickly, and in July 2012, 4AD records released their debut album, Shrines.

“We worked on that record for a year and a half. It was very different,” Roddick remembered. “The first couple of tracks I made when I was on tour with Gobble Gobble. I was just working on headphones in a minivan. … The last two tracks we made in Montreal. We didn’t have a consistent environment. We were just kind of all over the place. We were trying to make things sound the best we could with what we had.”

Shrines was well-received by the critics, earning praises and high ratings from Pitchfork.com, NME and ConsequenceofSound.net. The album was No. 24 on Pitchfork’s “50 Albums of 2012” list and was nominated for a Canadian Polaris Music Prize.

Roddick said the critical praise and success of the album were pleasant surprises.

“We just wanted to make an album we wanted to make for ourselves—and then some other people began to take notice of it,” he said. “That was unexpected and a pleasant surprise for us. When it got picked up by other places on the Internet and the media, it was great. We’re definitely happy with how things have turned out.”

Since the release of Shrines, Roddick has been exploring his love of Southern based hip-hop as well. Purity Ring released a free download of a cover of Soulja Boy’s “Grammy” back in February that was well-received; in fact, excited fans crashed the website’s servers. They also collaborated with Danny Brown on “Belispeak II.”

Working with Danny Brown was a great experience for Purity Ring, Roddick said.

“He works really fast, which is amazing,” Roddick said about Brown. “We worked with him a couple of times, and we have a track coming out on his new record. I think his style, his flow and the sound of his voice works really well with Megan’s voice and my production.”

Purity Ring’s live performances have been noted for a large contraption, resembling a tree, which both Roddick and James utilize.

“There are about eight lanterns that are touch-sensitive,” Roddick explained. “They sort of fan out like a tree around me, and I play them with mallets, kind of like you would a percussive melodic instrument or something like that. All of the synth lines and melodies from the songs I perform by hitting these different lanterns. They also light up in a pattern or color or pulse when they’re struck.” 

While Purity Ring has been classified as electronic dance music, Roddick said he doesn’t really see any relation between Purity Ring and the term.

“I think EDM is one of the most vague labels, because it just implies electronic dance music, which really should be a large bubble,” Roddick said. “I guess the term has kind of come to focus on certain types of music made over the last two years. I never really felt we fit into that bubble. We kind of have some crossover here and there. When we make music, we take a very wide influence from a lot of different places. I wouldn’t say we’re an EDM group.”

As for what’s next for Purity Ring, Roddick said they are getting ready to begin gathering ideas for their next album.

“We’re wrapping up shows for the summer and the fall,” Roddick said. “We’ve played a lot of shows, and we only have about eight left. Once that’s done, we’re just going to be focusing on creating the next album.

“We’ll probably go into hiding, and you probably won’t hear anything from us for a while,” he added, laughing. “Hopefully, we’ll re-emerge next year with a new creation.”

Purity Ring performs at 7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 30, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $16. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

For her DJ pseudonym, Cici Ochoa combined her middle name, Ivanna, with the word that describes her point of view—that music is love.

Ivanna Love will be closing out the American Cancer Society’s 24-Hour Dance Party, during the afternoon tea-dance portion of the event on Saturday, Aug. 3.

Ochoa, who lives in La Quinta, has been DJing publicly since 2011, but she spent many years of honing her skills before she felt up to the task.

“I learned to DJ in my bedroom, and after doing that for so many years, I just was like, ‘You know what? I think I need to get out there,’” Ochoa said. “Music has always been a huge passion of mine. After a while, I knew it was something I had to pursue. The love for music is just so central to my life that I need to be able to get people to feel the rhythm that I hear. I just want to share it with everyone.”

Inspired by trance artists such as Armin Van Buuren, Paul van Dyk, ATB and Tiësto, Ochoa’s sound is energetic, funky, delightful and undoubtedly great for dancing. Ochoa said she believes that while anyone could become a DJ, only great artists can create a signature sound.

“The signature sound is what makes it unique,” said Ochoa. “… For a DJ to take you into another place is remarkable. I think it has a lot to do with the DJ having a symbolic sound to captivate the crowd.”

She admitted that it was a tedious process for her to find her own sound.

“It was nerve-racking,” Ochoa said. “You don’t know how people are going to take what it is you’re playing out there. … It really takes courage to go out there and be original.”

Her first gig outside of her bedroom was at the now-defunct Space 120 in Palm Springs, in January 2011. She’s done DJ gigs at various fashion shows, and for the International School of Beauty. An appearance at the Hue Music and Arts Festival in Coachella back in April may have been her best gig to date, she said.

“For me, being able to close the set for that, it was just inspiring, because I got to see kids just take in an amazing reaction to what I was putting out there,” Ochoa said. “I’ve always said this: Children are the future of music. I think it’s really important for them to get the vibe of Coachella and artists who stick themselves out constantly to make them feel a sensational moment of dance music.

Joining her on the tea-dance bill will be another local DJ, All Night Shoes (Alex Harrington), and Canadian singer Angie Whitney. She is elated and has nothing but accolades for Harrington’s “Tropic Trance” sound.

“I have always been drawn to (Alex’s) style. His vocals and synths are very captivating and soothing,” Ochoa said. “I am so excited to be playing with him at the tea dance. Great energy will definitely be brought to the stage.”

When Ochoa was approached by the American Cancer Society to take part in the event, she was quick to say yes, inspired by her vision that music is love, and because she knows people who have fought cancer—including some who have lost the battle.

I had a strong instinct that this was going to be right up my alley,” Ochoa said. “Overall, I feel like a tea dance (should have) overall feel-good music. Everyone can just get together, dance and have a great time. I do want to say: Prepare yourself; just let go; be free; and go with the rhythm of the beat. It’s going to be a huge success.”

The tea-dance portion of the Relay for Life Palm Springs’ 24 Hour Dance Party begins at 11 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 3, at the Riviera Palm Springs, 1600 N. Indian Canyon Drive. The whole party begins at 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 2. Admission is $20; cancer survivors are admitted for free; attendees may re-enter. The event is an alcohol- and tobacco-free event, though cocktails will be available at other parts of the Riviera during alcohol-serving hours. To donate, create a team or receive more information, call 760-568-2691, ext. 3, or visit relayforlife.org/palmspringsca.

If you are a cancer survivor or are currently battling cancer, and need support, services or simply someone to talk to, call 800-227-2345. The line is open 24/7. You can also visit cancer.org for more information.

Published in Previews

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