Desert Daze Preview, Interview With Founder Phil Pirrone

Desert Daze Preview, Interview With Founder Phil Pirrone

Desert Daze last year was a game changer. The outside-the-box approach to the event, plus the sheer variety of music, the dazzling art installations, late night film screenings, and incredible environment set it apart from your typical festival experience. The 2018 incarnation is swiftly approaching, and founder Phil Pirrone took some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few brief questions and drop some hints about what’s in store this year.

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For starters, Desert Daze has moved to a new location “in the valley of unbroken horizon” at Lake Perris in California. The fest has moved around since its inception, each venue bringing a new and unique feeling and influence. Lake Perris has been newly beautified, and its varied landscape and natural flora and fauna will be a delightful new setting, secluded from the outside world. However, Pirrone is excited about something else altogether: “I’m looking forward to the sunrise set on Sunday morning. The sun coming up, the lake, the band playing – it’ll be magic.” No word on which artist will be taking that spot, but the anticipation is electric.

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Speaking of electric tension, that’s been a key component in the lineup announcements from the Desert Daze crew this year. The two-month gap between Phases II and III drove the fan angst to a fevered frenzy; now that Phase III has arrived, let’s talk about the lineup as it stands today. Highlights include the bludgeoning, titanic wall of sound provided by Irish shoegaze pioneers My Bloody Valentine, legendary Chicago minimalist trio Shellac (led by Steve Albini, who will also be conducting an educational seminar at the festival), Gum (the solo project of Tame Impala/Pond member Jay Watson – he will be performing with all three acts), Ian Svenonius, Julia Holter, and Yonatan Gat and the Eastern Medicine Singers.

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The Phase III additions will join King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Death Grips, Warpaint, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, Chelsea Wolfe, A Place To Bury Strangers, Kikagaku Moyo, Earthless, Connan Mockasin, Beak>, Malcolm Mooney of Can, Wand, True Widow, Shannon & the Clams, King Khan & the Shrines, Ulrika Spacek, and more to create a swirling, heady concoction of screeching noise rock, pummeling doom metal, spastic improvisation, moody post-punk, high-octane goth, shimmering folk, and more.

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Speaking of the variety of music, Desert Daze has managed to avoid a potential festival pitfall: trying to have something for everyone without stretching too thin and doing too much. The international aspect is a huge part of why they handle this so successfully. This year, musicians hailing from England, Canada, Chile, Japan, Algeria, New Zealand, Spain, Ukraine, Brazil, Australia, Israel, and Syria will all make appearances at the festival, bringing their own country’s perspective and culture to the already singular environment. Pirrone describes the intent to host musicians from other countries as “On purpose, 100%, for a few different reasons. But mostly, because we love the music of the international groups we’ve brought over so very much.”

More important than where the artist comes from, though, is what they’re saying. According to Pirrone, “They need to be speaking the truth.”

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Fans have also been frothing about a few choice shows featuring artists performing albums in full. There are (so far) three instances of this on the bill: Ty Segall & White Fence performing Hair, Earth performing The Bees Made Honey In the Lion’s Skull, and Mercury Rev performing Deserter’s Songs. Listening to an album in full doesn’t happen so often anymore, let alone entire live performances. There’s something special about watching a band put on a show like that.

All these aspects of Desert Daze help it stand out in a saturated music scene, in addition to the constantly shifting lineup and tone of the festival itself. Pirrone put it best: “I just want to tell a story each year. I want the lineup to be a meaningful combination of artists that provokes thought and inspiration when you look at it and think about watching it, and then when you live through it – it does something to you. It awakens ideas and heals your cells. And I guess by using different characters each year, it becomes a different story. But, told by the same storyteller…or something like that.”

Whether you’re a veteran festival-goer, just dipping your toes in for the first time, or looking for something a little out of the ordinary to try out this year, think about Desert Daze. Chock full of amazing music in a captivating environment, with plenty of surprises left in store, it promises to be another top-notch experience. Hopefully I’ll see you out there!

Tickets, camping, volunteer info and more available here: https://desertdaze.org/

I do not own any of the photos used in this article. All credit to the original photographers.

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