Get to know your Desert Hearts: wAFF & Mikey Lion
It’s hard to believe that Desert Hearts is already crossing into its fifth birthday. The Southern Californian transformational brand has grown from a humble, grassroots gathering into a veritable institution over its half-decade of existence, and only continues to thrive with its City Hearts offshoots. Now, Mikey, Lee, Marbs, and Pork Chop are celebrating their brainchild’s birthday in the most extravagant of fashions, holding the biggest festival to date and booking an equally immense lineup.
Damian Lazarus will be spinning a stirring four hour set, Doc Martin and Sublevel and SHADED will be bringing their live performances into the fray, and many other talented acts like Kenny Glasgow and Dance Spirit also making an appearance. Dancing Astronaut had the privilege of sitting down with a series of the talent on the bill, and hosting interviews that they conduct between themselves.
wAFF waded through multiple scenes to get to where he is today — from hardcore, to minimal — and throughout his early years participating in the underground sphere, grew an distinctive understanding of sonic direction and a clear vision of where he wanted to go with his music. These days, he lays down multitudes of pumping, percussive rollers that wreak havoc on the dancefloor. His talent, passion, and drive have led to a quick ascension through the ranks over his time as an international talent.
For this final edition of Get to know your Desert Hearts, our subjects dive deep into the New York vs. California debate, wAFF luscious locks, living life as a transexual peacock, and more.
Mikey to wAff:
wAFF Daddy Flex! Psyched to have you at the festival at the end of the month! What good things are happening in your world? What about in the world?
Yo yo you sexy twat! I’m all good, life’s great, I’m not as fat as I was 6 months ago and this weekend, whilst i’m writing this I have the weekend off so that’s nice, plus I’ve just bought the whole Oculus Rift Virtual Reality set up so life is absolutely wonderful right now. Just got back from Snowbombing festival where I was playing but also got to enjoy a ski holiday with 3 of my best mates which was sick. I’ve just spent the last couple of months producing loads of new tracks to get released this year, and so far so good. Got some BIG tunes ready for action, Hot Creations and Desolat have already taken EPs plus I have more remixes to come out this year too. Oh, and also working on another Drumcode EP, so yeah got shit loads going on.
Have you always had long, silky smooth hair? What were you like as a kid and where did it all go wrong?
No I actually haven’t, when i was younger and a little shit, my first hair doo i remember having was curtains with an undercut, like Peter Andrea’s hair in his Mysterious girl music video or Nick Carter from Backstreet Boys but way worse! (enter pictures). Then i remember after that, I got an even worse doo, i don’t know if you remember Scott from the band Five? Well he had stupid hair where it was all gelled and hair-sprayed together in loads of separated spikes, it’s hard to describe but here’s a picture so you can just see what the fuck I’m on about.
So yeah, I had that but what makes it even worse is that I bleached my hair bright blonde as well; which turned out to be pretty much yellow. So it looked absolutely shite and then my dark brown roots started coming through so as you could imagine I looked like a right cunt! Next after that, when i started to become closer to being a normal person and when GHD straighteners were the best thing to have, I had the petty boy Quiff which i rocked for a few years. I used to even take battery powered straighteners into my first and only job which was in a call center selling insurance and I would straighten my hair on my toilet breaks, I loved it!! Then, after that I had a mullet added to my perfectly straightened hair… then I think i became a weird hippy and just couldn’t be fucking arsed with it anymore and let it grow to be all sexy and smooth flowing curly locks! So thats my hairs life story for ya!
As a kid I was the biggest nightmare for any parents! I was sooo badly behaved. I was living in Blackpool which is the worst city in England in my eyes, it’s a stag and hen doo paradise. I don’t know if in the states you call it the same thing but basically where everyone goes to get wrecked before they get married. Everyone’s drunk all over the place, rough as fuck and a massive tourist hell hole! My parents got divorced, so i stayed with my dad in Blackpool and my mum moved to Yorkshire. My dad moved to the city centre and became a Landlord of one of the roughest pubs on the promenade. I was 13, never would go to school, and ended up getting into a really rough and bad crowd of people, I would be getting done by police all the time, fighting on the streets, I would sleep on the streets and the older lads I knew in these gangs would make me carry all their drugs and basically use me as a stash point for their drugs in case they got caught. I didn’t even know what drugs were then or what I was doing, I was just going along with whatever trying to fit in.
Anyway, I was going more and more off the rails, my parents never knew where I was or what I was doing as I would just run off and not come home half the time. And somehow I ended up losing my virginity to this girl named Salina that looked exactly like Carl Cox—gap in the teeth, long purple braided hair and she was big too, ha! So I ended up running away to the roughest part of Manchester called Moss Side for a week with her and her family which was awful and scary, i was shitting myself at the place we was at, I was the only white kid I saw. It was all gangs and just proper dodgy. After a week, I called my mum to tell her I was scared and I wanted to come home, so my mum told me “when you get home Jon, were taking you away from all this and bringing you to Yorkshire”
I think the little shit I was back then would have just said fuck off and not thought anything of it. But when i came home, my mum and dad arranged a secret kidnapping, I like to call it, so as soon as I stepped into my dads pub, my mum, dad and step dad all grabbed hold of me put me in a restraint hold and my step-dad pinned me down to the back of my mums car and they drove me to Yorkshire. When i arrived my amazing mum had already created a whole life for me there, I had new friends waiting at my door to say hi, a school sorted and everything. I was still a little shit for years, I got suspended from school about 10 times, I was the worst behaved kid at the school. I made everyone in school fake IDs so we could all get pissed up buying alcohol every weekend, I stole my mums car and crashed it into a farm barn and then set fire to the car which then set fire to the barn… the list goes on but then at some point I changed and started to love life and everything in it. And here I am now, some weird Jack Black look-alike boshing about the planet playing tunes to loads of sick humans. Life’s fucking mad!
California or New York? Why?
California definitely. Loads of reasons why, First of all the weather is way better in Cali. You can do everything from surfing to skiing. I’m vegan and its well good for vegans, especially in LA. In fact, Iwant to move over to LA at some point, I can definitely see myself there and I wanna get back into my acting and do Film so couldn’t think of a better place to live really. NY is dope but Cali is definitely the one.
wAFF to Mikey:
Whats the most mental, crazy situation you can remember ever being in? Could be something really funny, or a crazy LSD trip or just some fucked up situation you was part of.
Probably the most radical thing that I’ve been a part of in recent years was the tragic shooting that happened at BPM Festival last year. It was the final day of the festival and we had just thrown one of the best parties of BPM to cap off an extraordinary week. We were all on such a huge high and were so ready to celebrate at El Row. I walked in the club 5 minutes before the shooting happened and went straight to the backstage area which was only about 30 feet from the entrance. When the gunshots started going off, I honestly thought it was just the pyrotechnics or confetti drops that El Row is known for. People started running past me toward the exit and I was literally saying “Haven’t you people ever been to an El Row show before!?” But then the shooting kept happening and this huge 2nd wave of people starting bolting for the exit. It was absolute chaos. We all ran out into the streets and took cover in the back of a restaurant. Those moments waiting in the unknown were some of the most terrifying moments of my life. We didn’t know if our friends were safe, and it turns out Lee Reynolds was 10 feet from the shooter when it all happened, and literally ran for his life as people around him were shot. It was such a tragic way to end such a magical week. This experience was like a difficult psychedelic trip. It was a nightmare as it was happening, but in the end it gave me this profound appreciation for life and the community that I’m a part of.
How excited are you that I’m playing for Desert Hearts? (answer by using a metaphor too)
I’m as excited as Donald Trump gets hearing his name be praised on Fox News while eating a McGriddle and getting a blowie from Stormy Daniels. HIGH ENERGY!
At what point was it you decided to dress up like a wonderful transexual peacock and what gave you the inspiration to do it?
Haha nice! While prepping for my first Burning Man, I went to this killer costume sale that was specifically put on for Burners. I thought a top hat could be a dope way to dress up and get into the spirit of things out there. I had also been crafting a green fur jacket for weeks by literally cutting pieces of fur and glueing them onto a sport coat. I didn’t wear the top hat for the first half of the week but on Wednesday of the Burn, I took a fat dose of LSD and thought it would be a good day to try out the hat. I don’t know what happened but while wearing that hat and jacket I morphed into the peak possible person I could be, transcending the universe and becoming a party god in that moment. I think my brain melted into that top hat because every time I’d wear it, magic would happen. Literally every time I’d reach into the chest pocket of my jacket i’d find a freshly rolled doobie in there. The top hat has become a part of who I am and a part of my identity. There’s a certain weight to it that just feels natural to me. I feel naked when I party without it. Since then I’ve had a bunch of different top hats that I wear on different occasions. It’s become my signature style and I fuckin’ love it!
You know I love you and your whole DH crew, you’re the best people and full of love, everyone’s such a character and you’ve all got a great sense of humour. Whats the most special part of all of this for you, what is it that motivates you carry on doing what you do?
The most special part of all of this to me is the culture that we’re building with our community. We’re showing people that it’s OK to love themselves. It’s OK to love a stranger you just met. It’s OK to act hedonistically and take psychedelics and have profound realizations that alter your psyche for the better. We want to provide a home for the weirdos and the free thinkers to be the best possible version of themselves they can be. Every time we throw a party, no matter where it is, there’s a vibe in the air that you can touch and feel. I can’t tell you how often someone comes up to me and tells me that Desert Hearts changed their life for the better. It’s an incredible feeling and I’m so proud of everything we’ve accomplished so far. The best part of all of this? We’re just getting started.
Last of all……. if you had a gun at the back of your head and you had to choose out of all your MALE friends, who would you have sex with and why?
I can’t decide between Lee Reynolds and one of our Desert Hearts resident DJs, Justin Campbell. Lee Reynolds because he’s a savage animal and one of the horniest people I’ve ever met and he’d probably bust in 1 minute so it’d be over quick. If I really wanted to get into it and enjoy myself I’d have to go with Justin Campbell aka Sexy Jesus because he’s a motherfuckin’ dreamboat! He would be a caring nurturer.