Nothing makes me more happy than seeing the bright and shiniest of San Diego’s finest DJs breaking out of the county lines and performing alongside the giants. This year’s Lightning in a Bottle Festival, being held over Memorial Day Weekend (May 24th-28th) in Silverado, CA, has brought to light a couple incredibly cool and inspiring stories, starring two of San Diego’s most respected and active campaigners on the local underground EDM circuit. Rarely, do we get to see not only one but TWO of SD’s own on the line-up for premiere dance music festivals, alongside some of the biggest names in EDM around the globe. Much less, get an opportunity to report on such developments within the local electronic dance music community.
Thus, without further adieu: First-up, we’re donning the spotlight on one positive and ever-excited SD individual, who’s been having quite the amazing 2012 thus far: to much excitement, bright-eyed co-founder of tropical-tech night Jungle, San Diego’s own Mikey Lion, was included on Lightning in a Bottle‘s first official line-up announcement for 2012, alongside massive names including Bassnectar, The Glitch Mob, Shpongle, Tipper, Justin Martin, Gramatik, and just so many others. A pursuit he says has been his goal for the past year, or rather since his striking experience at the festival last year, Mikey is decisively at the forefront of San Diego’s talented individuals, who, and very necessarily so, have ardently pursued and attained a name for themselves, separating himself from San Diego’s unfortunate history of unmotivated and isolating attitudes.
On top of all that, Mikey recently launched a fundraiser on KickStarter, reaching out to friends and family to help him raise money to put together a documentary about his Lightning in a Bottle experience, appropriately titled “Mikey Lion in A Bottle.” While one would expect raising $2500 for any project would seem like a stretch, Mikey’s dedicated legion of support readily answered his prayers and his humble call to action: and the response far exceeded anyone’s expectations. Both Mikey’s loyal supporters and kind strangers alike, graciously contributed to the project; and within just a matter of DAYS following the launch of the fundraiser, Mikey and his crew had exceeded their goal by $250+.
This excitement for Mikey’s accomplishments and his inspiring journey leading up to his performance at Lightning in a Bottle this year, is not merely just his own; Rather, there’s this collective excitement that exists, and it has manifested into something not only incredibly powerful, but tangible. It might very well be one of the first times that an individual in San Diego’s underground EDM culture has ever received this kind of selfless support, from within San Diego’s music scene itself. Clearly, Mikey Lion’s enthusiasm and his elated passionate for sharing his music has had an enormously contagious effect on his followers, the San Diego population, and beyond.
As anticipation builds for the upcoming festival, we decided to catch up with San Diego’s man of the hour, to get a better idea of what Mikey Lion is all about, how he got so involved in San Diego’s underground EDM scene, and how he attained his goal to play at Lightning in the Bottle this year, along with his plans for his documentary and his forthcoming set at one of the biggest festival gatherings on the West Coast.
MIXSTER - Introduce Mikey Lion to the readers: Who is Mikey Lion?
MIKEY LION – It all began with Wu-Tang & Daft Punk. What started as an obsession with underground Hip-Hop, turntable scratchin’, and nimble fingers at the age of 13, shit got real for Mikey Lion during a trip to the top of the Daft Punk Pyramid. Now 23, the life of Mikey revolves around dancing and making people dance. Heavily influenced by a four month DJ residency at super club Sala Razzmatazz in Barcelona, Mikey’s style has evolved into a roller coaster of tech-house grooves, deep tribal drums, and everything fun that makes the booty shake. What moves people is the name of the game. Determined to bring the European sound back to the Southern California scene is what spawned the creation of Jungle – a forward thinking deep-tropical-tech house party focused on pushing the good kind of house music onto the masses. Is it time to Woogie yet?
MIXSTER – As far as I know, like most San Diego DJs, you don’t have a booking agent and you aren’t on some huge artist agency. I think you have an inspiring story to tell. So, how did the opportunity to play at a large, high profile festival OUTSIDE of San Diego, come about for you?
MIKEY LION – It’s actually pretty crazy how I got added to the lineup but here’s the story. It was basically an infiltration. Last year was my first LIB and I was blown away by the music and the vibe of the festival. The Woogie Stage pretty much became my home for 3 days straight. It became my goal for the next year to play The Woogie in 2012. I introduced myself to Sammy Bliss and Jesse Wright who run the stage. A short while later they were hosting a chatroom on Turntable.fm (a virtual DJ chatroom where you can share music). I played a couple of my edits and bootlegs for them and I guess they were impressed. Over Halloween weekend, we all got booked to play the same 3 day mini-festival called Spirit Dance. I knew it would be the best chance to really get to know them and show them what I had as a DJ. Everyone had a lot of fun during my set and I told them I was hounding for The Woogie Stage more than anyone. Eventually they asked me to open for one of their Woogie Nights parties and at the end of the night, they announced to the crowd, “Who wants to see Mikey Lion at Lightning in a Bottle!?” I just stood there in awe as all my friends and complete strangers cheered me on. It was such an amazing moment for me as I realized I had attained my goal for the past year. Ahhh I still get goosebumps thinking about it!
Let’s get people excited – tell us what your plans are for your set at LIB! (direction of sound, specific artists you’ll be supporting in your set, etc?)
MIKEY LION – I was thinking about going deep with it and giving everyone a nice, lovely, spiritual set… but then I thought, fuck it, we’re gonna party instead. Tribalistic daytime party tech is comin’ atcha!
Tell us about what you plan to include in the documentary.
MIKEY LION - Oh god I’m scared for what’s going to make it into this documentary. The cameras are going to be following me throughout the duration of the festival. I’m sure there’s going to be some ridiculous footage of my friends and I partying. I think there’s gonna have to be a PG version for the grandparents and an unedited version for the friends. I’m sure it’s gonna get weird… There will also be plenty of interviews from my family, friends, DJs I’ve worked with, promoters, etc…
WHY are you making the documentary? What do you plan to achieve with it?
MIKEY LION - My friends Mike Iwata and Michael Miller came to me with the idea for Michael’s next film project; They wanted to tell the story of “The Last Guy on the Lineup”. We launched the Kickstarter page thinking we were going to have to pay for most of the project out of our pockets. But the response from friends and family was unbelievable. Even complete strangers I’ve never met reached out for me and let me know they would be donating and were rooting for me. If that’s not a testament to the greatness of humanity I don’t know what is. People want to see others dreams come true. Now that the project is almost fully funded, it’s going to be full-steam ahead. I think it’s going to be a great marketing tool for me to get my name out there. I can’t wait to see how it all turns out!
What is your perspective on San Diego EDM – the culture, the artists, parties, etc?
MIKEY LION - When I first moved back home after college in 2010, the scene was hurting really bad. Maybe I just didn’t know the right people who shared my taste in music, but all of the clubs only played commercial electro-house. Not my cup of tea… It wasn’t until I found an awesome party called Moonshake in North Park that I realized not all was lost in San Diego! I started frequenting their parties and made friends with their resident DJs, Lee Reynolds and Bob Dazzla. Lee actually just won the LIB mixtape contest and will be playing The Woogie Stage this year as well! I’m really stoked for him because he’s an amazing person and hands down my favorite DJ in San Diego. Since then the scene has been booming with underground house music. 2 years ago it was unfathomable to have to decide between which deep/tech house/techno party you wanted to go to. I’m actually about to head off to a legit warehouse party after I’m done with this. It’s amazing the progress we’ve made here!
Presently, are there any specific people, parties, sounds, etc, in San Diego, you are genuinely excited about?
MIKEY LION - The party I throw with a few friends, JUNGLE, has been an absolute blast to be a part of. We got to bring in one of my favorite all-time DJs, Justin Martin, for a massive show at The Belly Up. The Lovelife parties thrown by Jimbo Roit and Jon Dadon are always great. Moonshake is awesome and so are the Art of Sound parties. I’d say the biggest inspiration for me in San Diego came when I was introduced to the regional Burning Man/Desert community. I thought I was happy going to clubs every weekend until I ventured out to some of the weekend long parties in the desert. The vibe is always amazing and the people are even better. Mix in some awesome music and they’ve really become my favorite parties.
Future Sound of San Diego: Where is San Diego’s dance music scene going? What direction do you hope it will go in?
MIKEY LION - I think it’s going in the right direction! People are starting to get sick of banging electro-house and I think they are looking for something deeper and more meaningful. While EDM is the biggest I’ve seen it in my lifetime in San Diego, I think the underground parties are going to keep getting better and better. I’m really excited to see where it goes, but for now, the sky’s the limit for all of us so we’re all going to keep pushing the scene together!
Mikey Lion’s latest serving of techy goodness:
Set times for LIB haven’t been released yet, but be sure to keep it locked to Mikey’s Facebook & Soundcloud pages for updates on both his performance and the progress on his documentary covering the occasion.
Another exciting San Diego peep that deserves a very big, BIG up: Recently added to the Lightning in a Bottle line-up for his STELLAR contribution and performance across the Soundcloud boards for LIB’s mixtape contest, is Moonshake‘s co-host and resident future spacey disco cadet, Lee Reynolds.
Reynolds’ “Let Me Woogie” mix is an incredibly diverse, effortlessly moving, and expertly-mixed collection of future-inspired gems. The Lightning in a Bottle judge’s reactions to the mix, are very well-stated:
[Lee Reynolds] came in with a bottom heavy tech house mix spanning minimal melodic to tribal tunes, all of which were colorful, a little emotional and quite musical. What got us was the areas of the mix that were hypnotic and inspired inward thinking. The subtle intensity of the mix makes it dance floor friendly without even trying.”
With thousands of plays and well over 500+ hearts on the mix, Reynolds won over his fans, the Soundcloud population, and the LIB coordinators with flying purpley colors. Alongside Mikey Lion, Lee Reynolds will too, represent San Diego’s evolving underground music scene; and will take the Woogie stage and its wavering crowds to deep, dark, and dodgy diskoteky places.
Stream or download the stellar and 1st prize sounds of the Woogie stage below:
See and support your fellow San Diegans as they take the Woogie stage Memorial Day Weekend, buy tickets to Lightning in a Bottle here. If you can’t make it to the party, support these local, future-minded movers and shakers across their digital social stations: