CVIndependent

Sat06062020

Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

For years, the Synergy Music and Arts Festival—or, as everyone calls it, Synergy Fest—has been a day when the community gathers to enjoy bands, check out some art, and become immersed in all that the valley’s talent has to offer.

This year’s eighth-annual Synergy Fest will take place on Saturday, Nov. 9, at Dateland Park in Coachella. Gabby Armenta, the director of Synergy Fest, said the festival has always been focused on building community.

“Synergy Fest started with an idea of wanting to bring more art and more music to the city of Coachella,” Armenta said. “There wasn’t really much of that back then, around 2007. The founders of Culturas Music and Arts (the organization that produces Synergy Fest) decided to gather our friends and family and see what we could do. It started off with the idea of painting a mural that is located on Shady Lane in front of Dateland Park, which is where we have the festival.”

If you haven’t seen this mural yet, you really should check it out. It’s 1,000-plus feet of art that shines a light on the culture of our valley.

“The first year was to showcase the mural, which depicts some of the pivotal events in Chicano history here in the United States, as well as in the Mexican culture. That’s how that started off,” Armenta said. “We knew a lot of graffiti artists who lived around the area, and we decided to set up a platform for them. There’s always a really bad misconception about graffiti, as a lot of people see it as vandalism. But we saw how much talent these people have—it’s an art!”

While that first festival was focused on the mural, Armenta and her team had discovered a formula that worked to benefit the community—so they continued hosting the event at Dateland Park, with more music and art each year.

“Music and arts are treated equally,” Armenta said. “Synergy is all about setting up a platform for local artists, whether that be a photographer, a painter, a dancer, an actor, etc. We treat everyone equally and try to shed light on the arts as a whole—all artists and musicians.”

The Synergy Fest has indeed become a platform for local artists and musicians to show what they can do.

“We usually send a call-out to artists, and whoever wants to participate can just sign up,” Armenta said. “Every year, we get people who approach us. We try to have a mix, and try to choose a diverse amount of different genres, but other than that, we really don’t seek out top bands. We’ve been very lucky to have everyone who’s wanted to be a part of the festival come and ask us, and we are very thankful that they all want to donate their time.”

This year’s lineup features some of the best music the valley has to offer, including local Latin-rock legends Giselle Woo and the Night Owls, up-and-coming metal prodigies E.A.S, and reggae masters Unity Frenzy, along with a mix of other local acts.

While the 2019 Synergy Fest lineup represents a high point in the history of the festival, Armenta has her sights set even higher.

“Ever since joining Culturas and becoming the director of Synergy, my goal has been to have a stipend for everybody,” Armenta said. “We try to at least throw in a little gas money or something. We value people’s work—and our goal is to one day have a really big headliner that can bring in more of a pool for the other artists and vendors. We want to make everyone happy and bring in even more people.”

The Synergy Music and Arts Festival will take place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 9, at Dateland Park, 51805 Shady Lane, in Coachella. Admission to the all-ages event is free. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/synergyartsfest.

Published in Previews

Alex Harrington—music fans know him as All Night Shoes—says that in the world of electronic music, it’s hard to stay unique.

Harrington hesitates when I ask him how he would define his music, which blends ambient and dance music together with a hint of Daft Punk.

“I’ve been referring to it as ‘tropical house,’” Harrington says. “I don’t like to put labels on myself, but if I had to put a label on myself, that’s what I would define it as.”

The 26-year-old La Quinta resident who once played acoustic-guitar performances in local coffee houses always had a desire to make electronic music. He saved his money to purchase the equipment he needed and made the transition a year ago. He makes his music on a MacBook with Logic Pro software and uses various keyboards and synthesizers.

Alex’s initial challenge was to create a sound of his own.

“The challenge is actually trimming down the influence I put in my songs,” he says. “Often times, for me, I love the genres. … But to get them to work together is where it’s a challenge.”

Over the past year, as Alex continued to develop his own songs and remixes, he has found himself generally unconcerned about sounding like too much like his influences while trying to stay original.

“I didn’t think I started to sound like Daft Punk, Brian Eno, Moby and all my other influences until about six months ago, because you just start to enjoy your own music, and you start notice the influences coming in naturally in your own music,” he says

Alex is aggressive in terms of how he produces his music as an independent artist; he’s a passionate believer in social media and utilizes it to connect with other local artists with whom he can collaborate. He’s driven and motivated to manage his own music, noting the advantage of being in business for himself and therefore collecting 70 to 90 percent of his own royalties.

Alex’s talent as a producer comes into play when he finds himself working with other artists.

“With social media, it’s very easy to reach out to other artists. I ask my friends who are artists if they want to be on my tracks. It’s really just about working with as many people as possible and being open-minded. The way I look at it, if I’m working with a new artist who isn’t that polished, it’s a challenge for me to get them to that point for my song. I think there’s a beauty in that, because you can help make each other better.”

Alex’s hard work has managed to pay off. In August 2012, he released his first EP, Crystal Son, via iTunes; he released his follow-up EP, Frisco in February, which he says is a nod to his Northern California roots. (Scroll down to hear the song “Frisco.”)

While he continues to evolve as an artist, he aspires to be in commercial production and to play in more clubs. He’s also currently working on new material titled Pacific Dreams that he hopes to release in May.

His first live performance will be on Saturday, April 6, at The Hue Music and Arts Festival at Dateland Park in Coachella.

“The way I see it, every band and DJ playing The Hue is bringing something different,” he says.

He mentions the diversity of the festival with some of the bands playing, specifically mentioning Ivanna Love.

“She’s played at some of the clubs in Palm Springs. She’s pretty (big) in the LGBT culture here, which is really cool, because having an artist like that represented in The Hue Festival shows how eclectic it’s going to be.”

All Night Shoes will play Saturday, April 6 at The Hue Music and Arts Festival at Dateland Park, 84521 Bagdad Ave., in Coachella; admission is free. For more on All Night Shoes, visit soundcloud.com/allnightshoes.

Published in Previews