Forged in Fire - Fresh Memories of Shambhala's 20th Birthday

Hard to believe it's only been a few months since Shambhala's 20th Birthday. Like every year, it went by too quickly and like every year, it left far more than four days worth of memories. After the festival I wrote about how impressed I was with how everyone around me handled the nearby, threatening forest fires. And of all the stories I've been told since leaving the Farm, my favourites continue to be the stories of how people dealt with the entirely bizarre situation they found themselves in while simultaneously sucking every bit of joy and glory out of it. Over the last month a couple of acts who graced the Shambhala stages have been kind enough to share their time and stories of how they dealt with fire in their own way. Shambhala veteran and world-famous party rocker Z-TRIP used every trick he could think of on Saturday to get through to his second set on Sunday. While exploding-like-a-super-nova-right-now 'lean bass' duo CHUURCH had their Sunday set cancelled and rescheduled at the last minute to Saturday – a set that will go down as legendary for all those that were there to commune. As the cold begins to creep back in, it seems like a perfect time to take a look back at a couple magical summer moments from the Salmo River Ranch. 

Z-Trip

 Photo courtesy  Sound Flash Photography .

Photo courtesy Sound Flash Photography.

Shambhala was fucking amazing. I did two sets. I did the Forest and the Village. It was fucked up because of all the fires there. The night I was playing in Forest they were like, “Yeah, it doesn't look like tomorrow is gonna happen.” Fuck. I had sort of crafted sets there that were based around spirit animals. My spirit animal was the Elephant in Fractal and in the Village was the Wolf – wolfpack, bass. As I was doing my Elephant set in the Forest, we got to the end of the set and I said, “We're gonna have a rain dance. We need rain, so tonight's the rain dance.” Basically we did the set and I had this song that I played, I had everyone sit down – which was maybe the first time anyone had done that – not have everyone jump up but just sit down and listen to a song. That was heavy. That was really incredible. We were bummed because I really wanted to that next set. We woke up the next morning and they said, “It rained last night! You brought the rain!” So we went and set up to do the next day. Maybe a quarter of the people had left. It kind of felt like the way-back Shambhala vibe, when there weren't as many people and you had room to dance, from maybe 10 years ago. It had that vibe – the diehards were there. I played my set and did my thing. At the end of my set I played a song called “Feel the Love.” I said, “Can you feel the love out there? We almost didn't have today! Where are my wolves at?” “Ooowwwwwooooo!” Everyone's fucking howling and the rain starts coming down! Right at the very end of the set. It rained so quickly and it was done. It was one of the best sets of all time for me. That place is so fucking magical. That was heavy. I love those guys, I love that place, I love PK Sound. The whole organization, I back it 100%.

Watching you up during the Fractal Jam reminds me of why I like music so much. I go into media areas and backstage areas sometimes as I writer and I get bummed because I see so many people in work mode forgetting how amazing it is to be so close to the music. I see DJs like that sometimes, all serious and shit, and you just look like you're having the most fun ever.

Oh man, thank you so much. That was the best. That was my first Fractal Jam. I've wanted to do it every single time but every time I've had to go somewhere and do some shit. It took me this long. I was so fucking excited, are you kidding me? I finally get to hang with the cool kids! <laugh>

It was awesome, it made me so happy. And the year before when you found your spirit animal, the elephant, I was there alone. I had lost my friends and I was just by myself rocking to your set.

The whole spirit animal thing came from the time before I was there. I played the Forest and somebody handed me this big crafted leather owl mask. I was with Gaff and he said, “Yo, that's your spirit animal, the owl.” I thought, “Uhhhhhh okay? I don't really connect with it at all.” The mask is amazing! It's incredible and I'm super grateful to have it. It sits in my house. That got me thinking about what would my spirit animal would be. That's how that whole thing started. My idea now is to play every stage and do a different animal on every stage.

Chuurch (As told by Makemdef)

 Photo courtesy  BEEDEE .

Photo courtesy BEEDEE.

I was sitting in a hammock somewhere when I got the news that our set [On Sunday] was cancelled. I immediately shot up out of the hammock, “Well, I'm going to reschedule this thing, right now.” It was really awesome because a lot of the artists...Lazy Syrup Orchestra, that's Dunks from the Funk Hunters and Soren, they cut their time in half on their set to give 45 minutes to someone else. There was a real vibe there. I shouldn't have freaked out so much because everyone there is the most professional in the industry and I should have known they were going to make it work in the face of crisis. It was our second year, this was a big year for us and I wanted to make sure we did it right, twice as good. I got the news about an hour before we actually performed, it was a long day.

So, our show is cancelled and I just wanted to try to make it happen with all my heart. I took all my food vouchers, like $45 worth of vouchers, and bought mini-donuts. And me and my girlfriend walked around handing out mini-donuts trying to raise the spirits. I handed out three buckets of donuts and got my set back. It was magic. People really like donuts. They make people super happy. When it was finally game-time, I went kind of cuckoo. There had been a lot riding on that whole Monday set. We were supposed to debut this new song we'd done with Rezz, right after her set. That would have been cool. But it was such a meant-to-be kind of thing. It was an amazing learning experience. It changed people. I learned a lot about myself through that performance.

The best part of that whole thing, is after that was all said and done, my girlfriend and I walked through Fractal Forest and the first song I hear after my set was Jazzy Jeff playing “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” It was a surreal moment. It was amazing. Definitely, looking back, Shambhala handled that situation pretty good. We brought the rain that night.

#festivalseason - There are way too many amazing musical people to see at Shambhala20. Here are a few highlights to help deal with the crushing burden of choice.

The best thing about the legendary Shambhala Music Festival – hidden away in the Kootenay mountains, in Salmo, BC – also happens to be the worst thing about the legendary Shambhala Music Festival: There is an overstuffed cornucopia of a lineup that is completely impossible for one human person to consume. With six stages thumping bass near-endlessly , Shambhala has something for everyone in amongst the chaos. Whatever your groove is, there's something on the Farm to satisfy your bass-lust. Rather than attempt to run down the near-endless list of everything Rags Music is hoping to check out, or to randomly select things with little to no regard for scheduling, I'm going to recommend an artist (or two) per stage with the “Rags Music Home-run Guarantee,” spaced out throughout the four days (Hint: Get there for early entry on Thursday. It's worth it). This being a milestone year 20 for the Festival, I'm going to try to split the list between new faces and what could appropriately be called Shambhala Legends. I promise, if you catch even a couple of these things, your ears will be very happy.

THE AMP - MAT THE ALIEN b2b The LIBRARIAN - Thursday @ 12-1:30pm

Like I said previously, I'm getting into Shambhala Legends mode this year and this begins with planning my Day 1 festivities around a few festival cornerstones. Opening the AMP with Mat the Alien & The Librarian?! Yes, please! Mat the Alien is a DJ I'm happy to see any time I can. The veteran bass master is as versatile as anyone in the galaxy, able to shift moods and genres on a dime, and a fantastic scratcher to boot! Big, big legends vibes on this. The Librarian is someone I've been wanting to see properly for a long time. Her dark, spacey bass vibes call to me. Now is the time. I caught a very tiny portion of her set at Shambhala last year and everyone I've talked to who just returned from Bass Coast (Her home bass) said hers was the set of the weekend. I blew my chance to see them when they toured together for their Mutiny tour, but honestly, would it have been as good as seeing them team up to wreck the AMP at Shambs? Nah. This'll be better.

FRACTAL FOREST – MARTEN HØRGER – Sunday @ 1:30-2:30am

Finally! I get to see Marty fuckin' Horgs, the German bass phenom in his proper environment – the middle of an old tree, armed with a bananas powerful PK sound rig. Marten Horger has been one of my go-tos any time I need a little extra OOMPH! ZORP! BLAMO! in my breaks diet. His mixes and tracks come at your ears like a crazed monkey with a knife, but the monkey is wearing a little hat, so while it's pretty dangerous, it's also super fun! A veteran of the always reliable PUNKS label, Horger, the talent behind of some of my absolute favourite tracks like “Blood” and “Deeper Down,” I can, in the words of the immortal Vince McMahon, “GUARAN-DAM-TEE” Horger will lay down the perfect blast of hard breaks energy to fuel through the last few hours of your Sunday night. (And he's a past answerer of the 5 Questions! Extra points!) Also, Horger also just recently got into the world of drum 'n' bass – a world I still don't understand – with an uplifting gem of a track that hit me right away!

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My Shambhala 2015 Wishlist - Part 1

My first Shambhala was in 2013 and it couldn’t have been a more positive experience musically. I went into it completely unaware, “Open heart and open mind” was the motto, and definitely found the entry point into the world of DJs there. In that time I’ve become a pretty big fan, though my heart still lies elsewhere. So, you, expert EDM person, might find my wishes and tastes rudimentary and lacking in things like DnB and aggressive dubstep and whatever the hell else y’all kids listen to these days. I’m like Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon (TOFTS) and just want tasty hip-hop and funk-heavy grooves. Some of these are realistic wishes and some of them are just completely Shambs-dreaming. Whatever. It’s a fun exercise either way.

The Polish Ambassador

Ideal Stage: The Grove

How perfect would the Polish Ambassador, “the World’s Funkiest Diplomat,” be for the Grove? His masterpiece record from last year, Pushing Through the Pavement, is taylor-made for the hippie, world-beat loving audience of the Grove. It’s laid-back, groovy hip-hop weirdness at its finest and all those tribal drumbeats would sound too fine blasting out of those lovely PK speakers (As most things do, admittedly). Sometimes I think the good homey PA is too laid back for a some of my EDM-loving friends, but he’d fit perfectly here and provide me with enough tasty funks to appease me if for some reason Opiuo doesn’t make the trip. I can’t stress how good of a fit this is. The Ambassador’s Permaculture Tour campaign is a fucking fascinating inspiration and makes me happy that someone with a voice is trying so hard to fuse his love of and care for the Earth with his hip-hop art. That’s a Victory.

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All hail the ruler of Wicked City, King Krafty Kuts!

For years Krafty Kuts represented the great divide between one of my greatest friends and I. He had stolen my friend from the comfortable groove of the classic hip-hop and reggae that formed much of the basis for our friendship and dragged him into (What I perceived to be) the cold, ruthless clutches of electronic music. All I heard about was how great Krafty Kuts was. He stood at the gates of my aural Mordor, along with Stanton Warriors, as the guards to some terrifying hellscape, waiting to pierce me in the ears and take away my great love in life if I dared to venture too close. Also, the guy goes by Krafty Kuts. Read that three times. Think about it and realize what an easy target that is to make fun of. It's nearly impossible to discuss something you're afraid of with such a ridiculous name and not bring attention to it.

(Mixes, tracks and photos abound within.)

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I talk with Five Alarm Funk's resident Animal, Tayo Branston. Also, it's wicked!

Five Alarm Funk has been a West Coast institution for nearly a decade. Their Empire of Funk may be based on the quiet, slow coast of Canada, but they're slowly marching on the rest of the world, establishing a New World Order of Fun. I was there to witness one of their highpoints of Glorious Fun at Shambhala where they destroyed the Amphitheatre (Formerly the Rock Pit) and made my good friend and Guide to the Cosmos, Hingle McCringleberry, admit to their live-band greatness. Fuck yeah. Anyways, I was supposed to talk to frontman and guy who surprisingly isn't Animal from the Muppets, Tayo Brantson whilst at the festival but I was unable to make it. But luckily we managed to hook up on the phone a little more than a month later and talked about that missed opportunity, the grueling nature of the F.A.F.'s tour schedule and the dangers of spilling on oneself.

This week Five Alarm Funk celebrates 10 years of funking the hell out of fans in Victoria at Sugar Nightclub. Read this, get amped and then get some tickets here. 

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