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When the Coachella Valley Art Scene announced the first 111 Music Festival last year, the idea of putting local bands and DJs on SunLine buses seemed pretty crazy. But the festival was a success—and the 111 Music Festival will return for a second year on Sunday, Nov. 1.

The festival will take place on the 19-mile long Route 111 Line from Palm Springs to Indio—and back again. Bands playing the festival include The Flusters, Alchemy, Brightener, CIVX, IIIz (formerly the Yip Yops), Machin’ and others. The fare will be $3 for the whole festival; a one way ride will cost $1.

Coachella Valley Art Scene founder and director Sarah Scheideman and marketing director Ian Cush recently explained how they came up from the concept. (Full disclosure: I also do work for the Coachella Valley Art Scene.)

“It actually came from Portland,” Scheideman said. “I went up there (to Oregon), and I saw a much smaller version of it, and I thought it was a cool idea. I thought about doing it down here in the Coachella Valley. It was like, ‘They do it, so why can’t we do it?’”

Cush explained the differences between Portland’s festival and the 111 Music Festival.

“Their festival is tiny,” Cush said. “They have carolers and things. Sarah mentioned she had a good time with it, and that it was fun and cool. I worked with SunLine before, doing their training and tutorial and training video. I said, ‘Let’s do something like that, but really put it on the bus.’ The one thing that comes down to this festival is that this place is open to ideas, too.”

Cush said there was no resistance to the idea when it was pitched to SunLine.

“The logistics of it is where there was a lot of worry,” Cush said. “I think we came in strong with the idea, and we were both passionate about the idea. I called them on the phone, and within two minutes, I had the CEO on the line. They were like, ‘Yes, we want to do something like this!’ Once they met us and realized we’re not completely crazy, it was more like, ‘How is this going to work?’ We still probably freaked them out every day.”

The festival results in no changes to the normal SunLine schedule.

“We didn’t want to change anything that they were already doing; we just wanted to add to it,” Scheideman said.

The response to the 111 Music Festival last year was quite positive.

“Ridership was good, but we could have had more riders,” Cush said. “I think there was a little worry the first time of, ‘Is every bus going to be full?’ It’s such a small venue. You put 30 people on there, and it’s packed. We had a worry and said, ‘Let’s not go too crazy.’ So many people talked about it that the idea now is clear. Everyone was excited about doing it, too.”

Playing on the bus isn’t hard for some bands, although others obviously cannot play on a bus. When I was discussing the idea with Dan Dillinger of Bridger, he remarked, “You think we could fit Katie (Cathcart’s) drum set on a bus?”

Cush said organizers talk to participating bands in advance about what they can and can’t bring.

“The nice thing about bands is they are road guerillas,” he said. “(Some) brought the full arsenal. We did have some inverters go down on the bus, and they just had to play acoustic. They also had some swinging mics, because things move on a bus. That’s what makes it cool, though: It’s live, and it’s a crazy event; everyone is in there together. You’re going over bumps, and you’re mobbing. It’s like road trippin’ with the family.”

Local musician Alfa Cologne said his performance last year offered him some welcome exposure.

“It was very interesting. It gave me a new crowd to play music to: people who were just riding a bus, and also people who came to see me play on the bus,” he said. “It was a little wobbly; the mic was swinging, and felt like a Disney ride at times. But it was a very fun experience.”

There will be some changes to this year’s festival. Scheideman said an event in downtown Cathedral City has been added.

“This year, instead of having people get on the bus and not have any direction, we’re going to be directing traffic toward the Cathedral City City Hall lawn, where we’re going to have a stage, and headlining bands performing on the stage,” she said. “You can ride the bus with the bands to here, and they’ll perform on the stage, too.”

Cush said almost every city on the Route 111 Line has been supportive of the festival.

“Next year, the line will go all the way into Coachella. Coachella has been a donor; they see it coming, and they want to be a part of it,” he said. “They donated last year, and they donated this year. Every city on the route donated to this festival. It’s a true public festival, and it’s for the people. The whole point is we’re connecting everyone: Everyone is getting on the bus together and enjoying this experience. Cathedral City stepped up and said that they wanted to be more involved, and they let us have the lawn to produce something.”

Cush said he hopes next year’s fest has even more stages.

“I hope next year, we do the same thing we’re doing in Cathedral City at city hall in Coachella, Indio and Palm Desert. Why can’t we do the entire valley?” he said. “I also hope businesses along 111 will do something for it. They don’t need our permission, and they can get involved. If the stop comes by your business, offer something.”

The 111 Music Festival takes place from 3 to 10 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 1. For more information, visit 111musicfestival.com.

Published in Previews

The members of the Yip Yops spent much of last summer holed up in their Palm Desert practice space, writing new material and honing their skills.

Turns out all of that work paid off: This summer, the Yip Yops have spent much of their time recording with producer Ronnie King at his studio, Chateau Relaxo, in Thermal—thanks to a recently signed a record contract.

I arrived at Chateau Relaxo on a recent Saturday afternoon just as Mari Brossfield (right), the newest Yip Yop, was getting ready to record her vocals for a song called “Straw Dogs.” Through a handful of takes, her vocals kept sounding better and better. Alvin Taylor, producer and a local drummer who has performed with Elton John, Eric Burdon and Sly and the Family Stone, was also present, and tutored Brossfield on where her vocals fell flat a couple of times.

The Yip Yops have certainly come a long way. The band earned a slot at the Coachella-affiliated Tachevah Block Party in 2014, before spending much of last summer in their practice space. After the Yip Yops re-emerged, the group won the Battle of the Bands at the Date Festival back in February.

Then came the biggest accomplishment of all: In May, the Yip Yops signed with Hood and Associates, a talent-management group and record label headed up by Randy Hood and hip-hop artist Ditch.

Soon after, the band made up of four local teens was recording with Ronnie King, a man who has worked with Mariah Carey, 2Pac, Snoop Dogg, Rancid, Pennywise and many others.

At this rate, who knows where the Yip Yops will be next summer?

Ison Van Winkle, the band’s guitarist and front man, said recording sessions have been going well.

“There haven’t really been any challenges so far,” Van Winkle said. “I think it’s gone pretty smooth, because for the most part, we’re playing the music we’ve been playing for a while now. We have kind of a clear vision as to how the songs should sound before we come in.”

However, Van Winkle said the experience of recording in a studio has led to some tough lessons.

“You can practice it one way in the studio, and it sounds phenomenal, and then recording in the studio, everything is magnified times 10. You have to change and maneuver around it,” he said.

Drummer Ross Murakami agreed.

“We’ve learned from some mistakes early on,” he said. “But I wouldn’t really say they’re mistakes, just ways to do things better. When we come back to the studio, there will be a different approach, especially for my drumming. I’ll do some programming and have a personalized click going that will make my recording a lot smoother.”

Ronnie King has been a good fit for the band. His studio in Thermal is also a perfect location for the band members, because it means they don’t need to make the trek to Los Angeles to record.

“He was the first person that the label brought to us, and we heard a lot of great things about him,” Van Winkle said. “We met up with him, and things just sort of clicked. We didn’t really see the need to find anybody else. It’s nice to have someone this good, this close.”

King’s studio in Thermal is on a date farm. There’s a swimming pool, a tennis court and a basketball court.

“If you get really stressed out, and you’re over-thinking things, you can just step outside,” said Jacob Gutierrez, the band’s bassist. “The name that Ronnie has given it fits perfectly: Chateau Relaxo.”

Murakami agreed. “You’ve got a tennis court; you have a pool—and there’s a cute little wiener dog to play with.”

King said it’s been rewarding to work with the Yip Yops.

“This project is interesting for me, because I grew up here in Indio; I was born and raised in Indio,” King said. “I left the desert 20 years ago. Ever since I came back, I’ve been really into the local music scene. It’s something that’s starting to gravitate, and it’s even starting to gravitate toward the studio here.

“It’s kind of a weird thing, because I heard about the Yip Yops … through Alvin Taylor. I’ve known this guy for years who works at their label, and he called me and said, ‘Hey, we’re going to sign this band, the Yip Yops, to a deal, and they live in the Coachella Valley, and I know you have a studio out there.’ After I went and saw them, I said, ‘This is going to work!’ It’s not a crapshoot, and it’s not just a band off the street looking for a miracle. We have big executives and big financing behind this thing, and there’s nothing left to the imagination—it’s a business deal. … Their dream gets to come true, so it’s been a fantastic time working with them.”


This wildly successful year for the Yip Yops has also included a big change: The three-piece group became a four-piece, thanks to the addition guitarist/keyboardist Mari Brossfield.

“Last summer, I wasn’t even a full-fledged member of the band,” Brossfield said. “I didn’t even know I’d be recording with them. I met Addison (Ison) through our guitar teacher, and I was singing, and Addison was also playing, and he heard my voice and asked me to try singing this song called ‘Sugar.’ It just kind of took off from there—and here we are.”

The other members refer to her as the missing piece of the puzzle.

“Before, it was just kind of a guitar, bass and drums kind of thing,” Van Winkle said. “But then when we brought in Mari, we were able to add a whole new element of keyboards, which is a huge part of the band. Then a female vocal on top of that—it takes it up another notch. She really helps shape the band.”

There’s a fascinating story as to how the Yip Yops encountered Hood and Associates—involving a chance encounter with CEO Randy Hood.

“Jacob and I were leaving Coachella in 2014. We were in the car getting out of the parking lot, and this guy knocks on my car window,” Murakami said. “He’s like, ‘Want to make $100 and give me a ride to my hotel? We drive him to the Hyatt. In the car, we’re showing him our ‘Oduya’ music video, not thinking anything about him or who he is. We were just trying to spread the name, and we’re showing him the music video on a phone, and he immediately came up with some ideas with what he’d want to do with this. He called us three or four months later, and he wanted to schedule a meeting.”

Gutierrez said he still has problems believing this chance encounter happened. “The funny thing is we met this guy driving out of Coachella. We completely forgot about this guy, and all of a sudden, we get this call about meeting up with his manager, because they want to put us on their record label. It’s mind-boggling how that happened.”

But … did Murakami get the $100?

“I did!” he said with a laugh.


After Randy Hood spoke to Ison Van Winkle’s ever-supportive father, Tony Van Winkle, Tony was eventually put in touch with hip-hop artist Ditch, who also works for the label.

“He had some things he was doing, and he was trying to find a way to fit the band into it,” Tony Van Winkle said. “It was a couple of TV pilots and things like that, and trying to see how to incorporate the band, and then after several conversations, it sort of went cold.

“Then back in October, I got a text from him saying, ‘A manager friend of mine is going to be reaching out to you.’ I got a phone call from Ditch, and he said, ‘Hey, we put something together to meet the band.’ He said, ‘If you can bring your equipment, we’d like to rent a studio and hear you play live.’ (The band) did a 45-minute set with Ditch, and the comment I think I remember from Ditch is, ‘I hear 20 bands when I hear you guys perform, and you don’t sound like any of them.’

“Eventually, that led to a proposal, which led to a contract.”

Ditch explained what Hood and Associates does, and what attracted him to the Yip Yops.

“It’s basically everything under one roof,” Ditch said about Hood and Associates. “It’s a modern-day label: distribution, production, artist development, PR and marketing. We spent a lot of time looking for talent and auditions. We’ve gone through every online band you can think of, and we even tried some of them out live. We didn’t find anything. There was nothing innovative and nothing really current; it’s a copy of a copy. We didn’t find anything interesting enough to invest a large amount of money into.

That is, until that chance encounter happened between Randy Hood and his young Coachella drivers.

“(Hood) showed me this music video of these kids he met at Coachella, and they’re in a garage, and there are garbage bags all over the wall. He’s like, ‘Go check them out live,’” Ditch said. “I came out and checked them out at their rehearsal house a few times, and I said, ‘You know what? These guys really have some potential here.’ They were different; their energy was different; their attitude was different; and they all worked well together. It took from January until May to us for them to actually sign them.”

Hood and Associates is deeply invested in the Yip Yops and has goals in mind for the group.

“Randy’s goal and my goal is to get a hit song,” Ditch said, “whatever we have to fuse together to make a hit record—because in this day and age, it’s extremely hard to do that. We’d also like to get the band to work with Skrillex, and we’re heavily in talks with him and his team, and (we want to work) with him or Diplo to get a song to bring us into that festival market. There are some other collaborations we’d like to do, and we’re in the position of where we hope we can do that for them.”

Alvin Taylor said the band’s potential is off the charts.

“I see a real hunger, thirst and desire for them to be the best that they can be,” Taylor said. “I like the quality they have as young people who are very innovative, creative and open-minded. They’re one of the best bands in America I’ve ever seen or heard. Believe me, I’ve heard and listened to a lot of bands. I’m not bragging, but I have 57 gold records and 28 platinum records to my credit, and to be able to take the experience I’ve had working with those groups and bring it to working with these guys—it’s amazing to see how they’re like sponges, and they soak up everything.

“The lyrics are great; the music is great; and the musicianship is at a high, mastering skill. I’m excited to be working with them.”

Stay tuned.

Photos by Kevin Fitzgerald

The Yip Yops won a coveted slot at the Coachella-related Tachevah block party back in April.

And then, the three teens seemingly disappeared, save a few shows here and there. Turns out they’ve had quite a summer vacation.

The band recently invited me to frontman Addison Van Winkle’s home in Palm Desert. The band practices in the pool house behind the Van Winkle family home—and these are the nicest digs I’ve seen any local band have for a practice space.

There’s air conditioning. There’s nice carpet, couches and top-of-the-line equipment, featuring brand names like Fender and Gibson.

The band played two new songs for me; Van Winkle’s father, Tony, played the keyboards on one of them. Van Winkle’s vocals are somewhat similar to those of late Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis, and the band’s sound hints at ’80s alternative—but with an experimental touch that is not typically heard in music today. Van Winkle, 15, looks as if he’s in another world as he sways along, playing his guitar and singing. Ross Murakami, 18, the group’s drummer, is a hard-hitter with impressive skills, and bassist Jacob Gutierrez, 15, gives offbeat songs even more of a personality.

Van Winkle said Murakami offered him the primary motivation for starting the band.

“On a random day, we got asked by a family friend to come over, because their band was playing,” Van Winkle said. “It just happened to be Ross’ old band. I went over there, and I was the shy guy, kind of like a turtle, sitting there and not saying anything. When we were sitting there, my dad looked over at me and said, ‘It’s incredible how hard that drummer hits!’ You couldn’t take your eyes off of it.”

Van Winkle, a La Quinta High School student (along with Gutierrez), started the Yip Yops about year later.

“It was a week after I broke up with my old band,” Murakami said. “It was weird timing.” He soon became a Yip Yop.

The band won a slot on the Tachevah stage—and the experience inspired them, they said. Gutierrez said he and Murakami zoned out and found a place where they played better.

“When you see everybody responding to what you’re doing, it makes you so much more inspired to play,” Gutierrez said. “… It was so crazy how fast the set went by.”

After Tachevah, the band members at first wanted to play more shows right away, but they instead decided to spend their summer vacation largely under the radar. They’ve practiced for at least several hours almost every day, and Van Winkle has written about 10 new songs, they said.

Where does the dedication come from? Murakami and Gutierrez both pointed to Van Winkle.

“A lot of the latest songs, I’ve been programming on my computer,” Van Winkle said. “I’m in here constantly, until 3 in the morning sometimes.”

Murakami attested to that fact. “I bet most of the time, when Jacob and I aren’t here, Addison is here working on a new song.” 

Do they ever wish they could be doing something else—like taking time off and enjoying their summer vacation?

“Sometimes, it gets a little boring,” Gutierrez said. “… It’s funny that my mom told me the other day, ‘This summer has been really entertaining.’ I’ve been at this house a lot. Throughout the week, when she’s at work, I’m at band practice. When she’s off work, she picks me up. When she goes to work, I go to work.”

Murakami, who has already graduated from high school, also works a part-time job at Hot Dog on a Stick in the Westfield Palm Desert.

“I just got promoted to ‘assistant hot-dogger,’” Murakami said with a laugh. “I’m getting a lot more hours, and even with those long hours, I’m still here more than I am at work. I don’t have school in the picture, so the time I don’t spend here is pretty much at work. This is my home away from home, I guess.”

The Yip Yops have been working on new material, but they aren’t interested in recording an album to sell independently. Instead, the band members said—without going into specifics—that they’ve been sharing material with record companies, some of whom have expressed interest.

When it comes to the dream of being career musicians, the Yip Yops have ample support from Addison’s father, Tony Van Winkle.

“When it started out, I looked at it as Addison’s hobby,” Tony Van Winkle said. “As this trio came together, and seeing the talent they have, seeing the way they work together, and the commitment that they have, it didn’t take long to realize that it was more than that. They had a very strategic conversation about where they were going and (their goal of) getting on to the final bill for Tachevah. They set a goal for themselves—and they went out there and did it.

“I’m a bit surprised that they are as committed as they are, but I realize with Addison that he has to do this. It’s something that’s in him. He wants to get it out, and he wants to do this for a living.

For more information on the Yip Yops, visit www.facebook.com/TheYipYops.

Tachevah, a Palm Springs Block Party, offers a great concept: It allows up-and-coming local acts to take the stage with nationally recognized bands—in the midst of all the Coachella-related music insanity.

In the second year of Tachevah, Fitz and the Tantrums and Classixx will be joined by three local acts who won their slots via a public poll, followed by showcases at the Hard Rock Palm Springs: CIVX, from Cathedral City; One11, from Coachella; and the Yip Yops, from Palm Desert.

Only 10 bands were selected to play at the Hard Rock showcases, where they performed for the likes of country singer Shelby Lynne, The Desert Sun music editor Bruce Fessier, and representatives of Goldenvoice (which puts on the party with The Desert Sun, P.S. Resorts, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, and the city of Palm Springs).

During the first showcase, CIVX beat out local scene veterans Blasting Echo, along with In Viridian, Elektric Lucie and the mysterious local band Alchemy. At the second, One11 and The Yip Yops won slots, beating out one of last year’s winners, Tribesmen, along with The Mellowdie and The Morning After.

We decided to get to know these three local bands a bit.

CIVX

Cathedral City’s CIVX was born after the dissolution of local band PSSSTOLS. Former PSSSTOLS members Nick Hernandez, Salvador Guti and Joel Guerrero formed the band after recruiting guitarist Dillon Dominguez.

“When Sal and I were in PSSSTOLS, we were writing music on the side,” Hernandez said. “I would do my solo thing and record the songs by myself with drums, bass and guitar, and this was while PSSSTOLS was fading out a bit. I told Sal I wanted to do something with one of the tracks that I did, and Sal played on that track. From there, PSSSTOLS just kind of broke up, and we planned to do something else. So Dillon, the other guitar-player we have, he was in another band that I played in, and he decided to come with us, too. After that, we got Joel to come along, too.”

In January, CIVX played its first show under the name of Past Decades, along with Parosella and Tribesmen.

“We didn’t let anyone know that we had formed another band,” Hernandez said. “We had just gotten Joel in the band, and we only had about four original songs, and one of them, I didn’t even write the vocals for yet, so I just hummed out the melody for that whole song. People didn’t understand it; they thought I was singing vocals, but I was just sort of humming and making up stuff as I went along.”

When the band entered their video for the Tachevah poll, the members had low expectations.

“We just wanted to enter the competition,” Hernandez said. “We were like, ‘We’ve only been a band for such a short time, and we have nothing but having just played a show.’ We had one of our fans record us about a week before the deadline. Two days before Tachevah, we went out to the desert for recording the video with our cell phones. That whole night before, we just worked on the video. We didn’t know what to expect, because we just did it for fun.”

The members were stunned when they learned they had nabbed a spot in Tachevah.

“It was one of the best things I have ever felt,” Hernandez said. “I’ve never been in a competition like that. A lot of the local bands we like have played something for Goldenvoice, and it felt so good to play at that level.”

The members of CIVX have been working on new material, and Hernandez said the band will play a new song during their performance. “We have this one new song that we’re working really hard on, and it’s already done. We’re just adding new stuff here and there, and this song is pretty much Tachevah-made. When we write music, we want people to be into the music as much as we are, and just going into it with that.”

The Yip Yops

Like CIVX, The Yip Yops are also new—in fact, they are only about six months old. During a recent interview, guitarist and lead vocalist Addison “Ison” Van Winkle talked about how Jacob Gutierrez (bass) and Ross Murakami (drums) joined him to create the band.

“I met Jacob in seventh-grade at a talent show; we actually competed against each other,” Van Winkle said. “After we performed, he came up to me and asked me if I was doing anything or if I was in a band. I didn’t really have answer, and being the douche that I am, I was blowing him off for a little bit. I met Ross about a year or so before I started the band. … It was one of the reasons why I started the band, because I saw him and his former band playing at a family friend’s house, and it was a life-changing experience seeing how cool it was interacting with other guys playing music and sharing music.”

While the members of The Yip Yops certainly didn’t expect to earn a Tachevah slot this year, it was a goal they had in mind. 

“When we first got together, our main goal was to play Tachevah,” Van Winkle said. “That’s kind of what we were getting ready for a little bit. We knew it was going to be a real big struggle, because we weren’t around as much; we didn’t have as many fans like Parosella or One11 does. Somehow, we just spread the word, and we got in. We’re kind of blessed to be in this position and have all the fans and support we have behind us.”

Playing the showcase at the Hard Rock alone was a dream come true for the band.

“Speaking for the whole band, I think that was one of the best experiences that we’ve had as a band and probably in our entire lives,” Van Winkle said. “Just the energy of the crowd, the energy of getting up on stage in front of Goldenvoice and Shelby Lynne—I think we just liked the pressure of doing that kind of thing.”

Van Winkle said his band hopes to turn in a solid performance at Tachevah.

“It’s not like any other gig because of the exposure, and a lot of people are going to be there,” Van Winkle said. “It’s going to be bigger than anything than any of us have ever thought about. I just think we’re going to do the same thing as we did for the voting: We’re just going to tell as many people, and hope for the best. We’ll see what happens.

“We don’t really have any fears. … It’s all part of the experience for us. It’s cool enough for us just to be on the lineup and playing there.”

One11

One11 may be more experienced than CIVX and The Yip Yops, but they aren’t exactly the Rolling Stones: The group has been together for just two years.

However, the band has made the most of that time, playing more than 200 shows both locally and in well-known venues around Los Angeles, such as the House of Blues, The Roxy, and The Key Club.

One11 has become a local favorite thanks in part to their combination of pop-punk and an alternative sound.

“We all have a lot of different inspirations,” said drummer Ryan Cenicola, whose bandmates are Evan Boydstun (lead guitar), Michael Ramirez (lead vocals, guitar) and Matt Sutton (bass). “Our guitarist is really into classics like Led Zeppelin; I’m into Green Day; our other guitar-player is into Arctic Monkeys, and it all just comes together into this unique sound. We all bring our own unique twist into it.”

When it came to entering Tachevah, they focused on putting together the best video entry that they could. When they found themselves in the showcase, they knew they had some intense competition.

“The competition was really, really fierce,” said Cenicola. “I saw CIVX when they played, and they were awesome; The Yip Yops are really cool, and every band that played was awesome. After we played, we felt good about ourselves, but with the competition being so fierce, we knew it could have gone either way.”

While One11 has played many shows, Cenicola said he was still blown away the amount of support they received during the showcase.

“I can’t believe how many people came out to see us,” Cenicola said. “It was awesome how many people came out to support us. All of us were overwhelmed with the love we were given. It was a really unique show, because it was intimate, and I just wanted to play my heart out so I could earn this spot at Tachevah.”

Cenicola said that Tachevah represents the big time to the band.

“This show is obviously going to be of a higher caliber, because a lot of people are going to be there, and it’s on such a huge stage,” Cenicola said. “Because it’s on a huge stage, we need to make it a huge show. We’re going to tweak our show and make it as big as possible, as great as possible, and bring as much energy as we can.”

The Tachevah Block Party takes place on Wednesday, April 16, at the Spa Resort Casino, 401 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs. Doors open at 5 p.m., and admission is free. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/Tachevah. Below: One11.

Published in Previews

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