I know attention spans aren’t what they used to be, so I’m gonna get right down to it. I went to the 4-day Envision Festival down in Costa Rica, and had a BOMB-ASS-EFFING GREAT time… the lineup was ridiculous — Beats Antique, Gladkill, Opiuo, Love & Light, Govinda, Nicoluminious and a whole bunch of other amazingly talented musicians.
Those lucky enough to experience a sunrise set performed by Random Rab will tell you – it is pure magic. His chill beats and compositions invoke emotions that are difficult to find words for. His music makes me feel alive. It makes me thankful to be not just in that moment, but also sparks feelings of gratitude for everything and everyone in my life. All that has come before, all that is, and all that will ever be. For hours he guides the audience through a sun-filled journey of the human spirit. It is pure and unpretentious. It envelops the whole crowd, bringing individuals together, as one. It has no detectable brand of a specific spirituality, nor does it have an association with a certain gender. It’s an empathy that speaks for all. It’s the stuff that tears of joy are made of. It’s tapping into the core of what it means to be alive. It’s dancing in the sun and knowing you are never truly alone.
(This is one of my favorite Random Rab tracks- from 2010 Big Bounce Festival Compilation….I saw 2 couples get engaged during that sunrise set…magic!)
Russ Liquid followed Random Rab’s set and upped the tempo a bit- got me bopping and hopping around, simply loving it. It was like Rab’s set was an exquisitely ethereal dream and Liquid was a beautifully-charged rise from slumber, into cheerfully energized finger-snapping, hipcheck, head-shaking Yes I am awake and it is fucking fabulous!
Now…..for my other favorite performance at Envision Festival…..Pumpkin. I have never seen this LA-based DJ perform, and oh boy- let me tell you- C’est magnifique! He played early Sunday night and brought it in a way I was not expecting. I mean, I really was not expecting him to do the things he did. He is the master of the remix. Throwing songs in like Blind Melon’s No Rain, Noah & The Whale’s 5 Year’s Time, and my personal current semi-obsession at the moment, Goyte’s Somebody That I Used To Know. He keeps it optimistic, upbeat and bubbly while maintaining a seriously impressive level of mixing and beat-matching skills. You can tell he knows how to have fun and doesn’t take himself too seriously (which is one of my qualms with artists and humanity in general). If his set was later, it would have been better- the crowd was good, but a few hours later he could have captured the hearts of the entire festival. His music is the sort that regardless of the dark evening sky, your eyes meet the eyes of others while dancing, and it is clear you wear the same costume; an ear-to-ear grin and eyes full of happiness. You can smile at them and know they feel elated, just like you do- it’s like a Joy Luck Pumpkin Club.
Mention the violinist to anyone who was at Envision and they will tell you- YES!!!!!! A young-looking guy would occasionally grace the stages of the festival with his violin to add a whole lotta feeling. His name is Samuel Wexler, and his violin speaks volumes to the heart and soul. There will be a Lost in Sound interview with this guy coming up soon, because Samuel- we loved you and want to know more. We hope to see you at many more festivals to come- you added such a beguiling element to the artists you collaborated with.
There were two visual performances I really loved. One was a silk performer whose name I didn’t catch; she was in all white, if I remember correctly, and I am pretty sure she was the best silk performer I have seen. What I loved was that she would wrap herself up entirely, like a cocoon, all in the most alluring way of course, and then emerge like a butterfly. Another performer who always wows me was KaytiBunny; I really and truly believe she is the best hulahooper in the Universe. Seriously, she hoops with 3, 4 or 5 hoops and makes it look as easy as blinking. Easier, if that is even possible. I’m secretly suspicious that the hoops are actually an extension of her body and she just hides them during the day. She’s like a brilliantly shining magical hoop octopus. If you’re at a festival somewhere in the world, or in the audience at a show, and see a hot smiling blond on stage doing unbelievable things with a handful of glowing hoops in ways you’ve never seen before, it’s probably KaytiBunny. You can see more of KaytiBunny at www.PermaJoy.com
Sometimes I live in Guatemala, and it was awesome seeing some of the cool variations of Guatemalan clothing in one of the vending booths. Jessi Long, coordinator of the vending booths at Envision, is also the designer and founder of JUSTA– Justice & Unity in Sustainable Trade for Artisans. It’s a “Fair Trade project that works directly with Mayan women artisans and families to support social entrepreneurship and self-sustaining development. They currently work with three different collectives based in different villages around Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. In total, the project supports 21 indigenous artisans, plus over 80 family members. Artisans receive a weekly living wage for their work. Rather than paying in bulk for infrequent orders, JUSTA commits to providing artisans steady and consistent payment at a fair and decent wage.” http://www.justafairtrade.org/
The actual grounds of the festival were small in size and kept extremely clean by the awesome Green Team volunteers, lead by Sustainability Director (and LostinSound’s very own) Eric Giambrone and co-lead Adam Henriques of Ecotopian Enterprises. A local Costa Rican who attended the festival remarked to me how excellent the recycling was- the best he has ever seen (and he goes to a lot of festivals). There were stations with specific bins for everything, and volunteers would be there to inform festival goers of what stuff could go where. The bins would be sorted right then and there, and compost was available near the food vendors and done on site as well. It was a very efficient system, because every time I went to throw something out or recycle, there was a happy friendly person there to make sure everything went where it belonged. Thanks, people, for doing such an impeccable job at keeping things clean; it really allowed for me to enjoy the artwork and structural architecture. The stages were made of bamboo and were beautifully designed. Especially impressive was the bar stage, which had a bar on the ground floor and a place for the DJ to play up top, overlooking the crowd. An artist who played the bar stage and really stood out for me was Rich DDT. A musician and event producer based out of San Francisco, Rich DJs in conjunction with an electronic instrument he made himself. lovetech.org
It was HOT during the day, and within a 15-minute drive were a few beautiful waterfalls. One was an especially cool party spot, with about a 2-story waterfall you can slide down, and water that cascades down into various descending wading pools. It was Shrangri-La all over this place. On top of the perfect setting, legendary Hologram maker Raja could be found serving up delectable tequila and pineapple shots through a split piece of bamboo; originally the brainchild of Clifford Millett, this eco-luxury-sustainable-libational-enjoyment-extra-plus contraption was quite enchanting. For 3 days I went to waterfalls and then different beaches after; the ocean water was the perfect temperature! So perfect. The music started at 6pm, so you didn’t have to worry about missing your favorite artists if you left the grounds for the day to enjoy the beautiful nature nearby. For those who didn’t want to spend the whole day outside the festival, there was an impressive array of workshops to take part in throughout the morning and afternoon- it was ideal for go-getters looking to expand their knowledge. laserguidedvisions.com
Lastly, my favorite element of Envision Festival was the people. Every single person I met at the festival was awesome. Intellectual, professional partyers with open minds. My favorite!