All posts by Forrest

72 Hours at LIB

Thursday

As the first night approached on Thursday, we gathered around the Sacred Fire right outside the Beacon for the opening ceremony celebration. Here we commenced the start of the festival with an indigenous invocation to honor the land and pay respect to the ancestors of the space we stood. The acknowledgment of LIB as more than party was felt and the emphasis of a transformational experience was central. The elders who guided the ceremony spoke upon the importance of what the gathering was really all about in reflection of our ancient future where the spirit, magic and healing was to be felt deeper in essence beneath all the outward entertainment. It was apparent from the opening ceremony that this year was intended to be more than just about principles, but about creating a container for engagement and change.

The leaders strongly expressed how LIB should be internalized as a catalyst for helping to heal ourselves and the planet during these critical times. From the talks and workshops to the incredible art and music presented with a strong message of intention; intention to take the full spectrum of magic, love and consciousness experienced at LIB outside of the festival grounds and spread it throughout our communities. This celebration of life was paramount and awareness heightened as the weekend commenced.

As the sun set, the first musical experience began with mystical folktronic group Yaima performing at the Beacon stage. When the opening ceremony finished and gatherers filtered into the Beacon to hear the majestic sounds played by male member Masaru Hegasa and the heart piercing vocals of Pepper Proud, it was not long before the transcendental seduction was induced. The beautiful smiling faces and barefoot sensation of dancing on carpeted ground brought forth a deep heart opening, leaving us in feelings of exuberance and uplifted by the powerful undistorted vibrations. The Beacon space offered a intimate experience with close knit sound while still spacious and open with a high canopy as air flowed through from all directions. The freedom to expand, breathe and let go was essential to the Compass point as the interior was filled with many additions including cushions, plants, and an elixir bar. The decorative colors of green and blue were soothing and to immerse in and felt pleasantly natural. As Yaima’s set came to a close and the sun was over the horizon, a blissful atmosphere was flowing and the transformation had begun.

Later that night,  Saqi’s first set of the weekend cultivated a spirit of good vibes within the cozy Community Lodge stage. Saqi’s unique blend of old world acoustic instrumentation and and earthy beats infused the Craft with life on Thursday night. Accompanied by his brother and KR3TURE who offered an exceptional live flavor, Saqi played off his debut album, Quest’s End as well as unreleased material he’s made in recent months. Moving live vocal performances by Sasha Rose added some feminine medicine and were beautifully interspersed with upbeat remixes of Autograph and Biggie Smalls.

Friday

Friday kicked off with a full day of workshops, talks, music and exploration of the creative spaces that were spread out over the large site. In the morning, we started our flow heading to the Landing point of the Compass and attending the workshop at the Grid space titled “The Creative Process” with David Satori (of Beats Antique/Dirtwire). This was an incredibly inspiring offering for all artists, musicians and creators of some medium.  To listen, view and understand the process of doing creative work from someone highly recognized like David Satori who has years of experience was inspiring and eye opening. He broke down 7 key elements to the creative process and elebroted on from a professional stand point. He also displayed his personal music production process that he’s found success in and wats to get out of blocks when things aren’t flowing. After the workshop, many attendees were engaging with questions and felt a boost of confidence to get there own creative juices out in the world based off this informative lesson.

As the winds carried us onward with inspiration, the next stop on Friday was attending two talks within the realms of plant medicine as well as our introduction to the Craft area of the Compass. This interactive space was the home of earth alchemy, which included the Botanical Studies, Paleo Arts, the Witch’s Hut apothecary and the Community Lodge tree shaded stage. The first talk we attended was titled Becoming An Herbalist and taught by Special Blackthorn, who has long worked in plant alchemy with the organization, Potionarium. Her flowering spirit and delightful demeanor offered a sweet sensation to all who graced her presence. She spoke upon some of her favorite herbs as well as spread a plethora of knowledge surrounding plant medicine of all kinds. She was also the host of the natural healing space called the Witch’s Hut where she was nested all weekend, offering her herbal potions and tinctures to all who came in for a visit. She created a truly nourishing space to be and one where you could feel pure. It was here that she set up her own apothecary with mason jars filled with macerating medicine and fresh herbs from wall to wall.

As this opened us up to the healing magic that was abundant in the Craft point this year, we transitioned over the Community Lodge area where renown permaculture activist and long time herbalist Penny Livingston engaged attendees in her outdoor talk titled “Regenerative Herbalism”.  Her ethos and direction was geared around the methods and mindset needed maintain awareness in the face of the pharmaceutical and environmental destruction. Being a permaculture herbalist, she holds a strong message of healing the earth. Penny expressed points that emphasized regeneration, such as working with plant cycles to continue them, growing and foraging medicine as well as working to transform land by creating medicinal gardens in their place. She also focused on the magical qualities of herbs and stated how just sitting with them for a while to gain the energetic understanding is as impotent as the physical effects. Towards the end of the worship, we are all basked in the sunlight of the day and at ease from the refreshing breeze and shady space. Now that afternoon was approaching on our first full day of LIB, we were feeling down to earth and ready to embrace some music. Highlights from the first full night of music were the dusty sunset dance parties hosted by Armin Miran at the Favela Bar and Ecuadorean electronica artist Nicola Cruz at the Lightning Stage.

Saturday

Saturday brought us lots of music experiences that we’re memorable and diverse including the psychedelic bass extravaganza at the Thunder Stage with incredibly potent sets by Spacegaisha, Plantrae,  Kayla Scintilla and Hedflux. A  tribal take over and Crossroads including 4 hour ethnic-dance journey by Sabo and to top it off, the exceptional late night world fusion performances at the Beacon with Stallamara followed by Dirtwire at the Grand Artique.

One outstanding offering was Porangui’s multi-instrumental live shamanic sound journey that captivated attendees into a vibrational trance induced by a strong intensional power. Channeling through on the spot voice and instrumental abilities, the midday performance from this one-man orchestra began as a moving meditation on the power of music and ended as a vibrant cross-cultural dance party. Speaking from the heart, in English and Spanish, Porangui performed songs by looping his voice with hand drums, guitar, didgeridoo and a dozen other percussion instruments. Playing for the Water and earth spirits, his explanation of how sound can heal and breathe life into world was incredibly moving and medicine for the body, mind and spirit.

Sunday

The last day of the gathering was essential for leaving us in a state of empowering bliss to be inspired as we returned back to our homes and communities the following day. In the morning we visited the Learning Kitchen to indulge in some delicious nourishment as well as learned some informative knowledge into health, food and diet. We sat in for a workshop titled “Thriving on a Plant-Based Diet”, with Magda Freedom Rod who explained some key insights surrounding nutrition, superfoods and vitamin rich ingredients to implement into your daily diet. As always, she also demonstrated a few simple recipes for us to try at home.

After our uplifting and health boosting time at the Learning Kitchen, we carried on to the Beacon for a panel discussion and talk that truly impacted our lives in positive way. The panel titled “A Legacy of Empowerment:  Monitoring the Movement” consisted of four established earth activists and highly influential speakers, including Penny Livingston, Starhawk, Paul Stamets and James Stark. Hosted by Ayana Young, for over 1 hour they took turn answering questions and speaking upon some of the most pressing questions today in regards to how to become active, empowered and get involved to help heal the earth.

A couple questions discussed were on subjects such as “How to take the first step?” and “what are some essential ways that they find important to become actively empowered?” Penny’s responses raised awareness around finding mentorship in your community and how it first take’s a foremost desire to help others before the transformative work can flow through. Starhwalk stressed the importance of leadership and how a selfless attitude to be of service is key. James and Paul brought up the rebuilding the village model as well as the need for a revolution in the ecology of consciousness. Over all, the responses and input from each member brought to attention a deep insight on the great shift that is occurring right now on this planet and offered incredible ideas and working methods to take to heart so the all attendees can start to incorporate them. The push for empowerment, leadership and social action is needed more than ever before and after this inspiring panel, we felt that we had an abundance of methods to take the plunge.

 

Lightning In a Bottle Compass Preview

This year at Lightning in a Bottle Gathering in Bradley, California, Breaking Borders will be covering the alternative spaces and conscious acts that emphasize change making principles as well as actively engage attendees in educational opportunities. The vast amount of attractions are focused on holistic healing, traditional knowledge, environmental awareness and cross-cultural understanding. Our main focus will be centered around The Compass. This newly redesigned Temple of Consciousness will consists of 6 interactive areas including Craft, Landing, Feast, Crossroads, Cauldron and Beacon. Each space is designed to host different topics, disciplines and expertise through a mix of talks, panels, workshops, and global music performances.

As LIB continues to expand, we’ve noticed the general perspective can change. As is the case with many highly acclaimed festivals over time, the point of view switches from a smaller conscious gathering to a larger commercialized attraction. When this happens the underlying spirit can become masked by big names and trendy appeal. For this reason, we have chosen to look deeper into these essential aspects of Lightning in a Bottle that we believe are the soul of any transformational gathering. To give you an idea of the magic in store this year at the Compass, we have broken down each space, acknowledging their intensions and showcasing the type of experiences that await your arrival.

BEACON:

Created with the intention to educate and cultivate action, The Beacon supports the movement towards a better world with talks, rituals and performances.  The Beacon will serve as center stage for LIBs largest non-musical talks, in addition to hosting musical artists at night. The Beacon will center performances on connectivity with the earth and each other by focusing on our interwoven stories and collective  journey towards consciousness.

 

LANDING:

At the Landing, we expect to get our hands dirty. With a focus on the history of the First Nations, Permaculture and Technoculture, this stage will host the most diverse speaker line up at LIB this year. Talks on the rights and importance of indigenous land will highlight a speaker line up that promises to engage listeners and encourage action.

 

HAVEN:

The Haven will be LIBs most intimate hub. Healing sessions and lessons on body work promote enhanced contact with healers and with each other. Workshops on interpersonal dynamics and relationships will help realign relations with loved ones and strangers alike.

 

CRAFT:

Craft is an area dedicated to hands-on learning opportunities surrounding plant medicine, folk tradition, community healing and craft making. Home to spaces such as Community Lodge, Witches Hut, Herbal and Folk Arts Arbors and Hearth, this Point of the Compass will be your source to engage in beautiful crafts and learn new skills all related to earth based living with the intension of restoring harmony with nature.

 

CROSSROADS:

To enhance your global senses, we bring you our most anticipated area, Crossroads. This interactive space is your ticket to explore world culture at Lightning at a Bottle. Offering exciting and diverse classes on music and dance traditions from around the the globe, at Crossroads you will be able to break borders, learn methods and embrace the depth of cross-cultural expression.

 

CAULDRON:

A distinct space housed within the Craft area, Cauldron offers a powerful atmosphere full of magic and spirit. Centered around esoteric and mystical studies, this transformational hub will be a fuming container for you to explore the depth of our intuitive existence throughout history and uncover understanding of our place within the great mystery.

 

FEAST:

An always tasteful space at festivals alike, Feast will be a point of the Compass you will gladly attend at some moment. Housing the infamous Learning Kitchen, this nourishing space will provide opportunities to appease your palate and experience the culinary healing behind food culture. Along side workshops, Feast will provide the Last Supper’s Brunch Club, an eating area for you to indulge in the sensory delights of food in a social fashion.

 

The reimagined Compass Peninsula will provide LIB participants with speakers and music to bring life to the movement towards a better world. Sitting at the center of LIB, the Compass Peninsula includes workshops and speakers that will inspire, educate and motivate action. The Crossroads, Landing and Cauldren are aligned to serve as the primary centers of education at LIB. The Haven and Craft will provide opportunities to learn tangible methods of action and connect more deeply the self and those around us. The Beacon will stand at the center of the Compass, educating participants on alternative visions for the future and giving direction to the conscious movement.

Lightning In a Bottle will be taking place over Memorial Day weekend from May 24-28th. Breaking Borders will be covering the events music and speakers throughout the weekend. Look forward to another preview of Lightning In a Bottle’s musical line up soon.

Bringing ‘Andes-Step’ to the USA

An Interview with Nicola Cruz

Nicola Cruz is an eclectic international producer born in France of South American descent.  He has established himself as an underground icon of South America’s electronic music movement. By bridging local soundscapes from the mountains and jungles with deep latin flavored rhythms and bass heavy beats, Nicola Cruz is bringing the Andean soundscape to dance floors worldwide.

This summer Nicola performed at several popular West Coast musical festivals, including Beloved Festival in Oregon and Symbiosis Gathering in California. We were fortunate enough to meet with Nicola before his set at Symbiosis.  We delved right into his thoughts on why the South American sound has caught our attention in the U.S. and abroad.

He thinks that the “American music scene has lots of different crowds but [he] feels the response has been nice. The American listeners always show [him] a lot of love at shows, which always feels good.” His music “lacks talking but emphasizes unique samples and rhythms from [his] South American roots,” which he believes is becoming more popular in the US.

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Nicola Cruz’s music offers a beautiful balance of sounds, drawing from a verity of sources that reflect his passion for Andean culture and the landscapes, rituals and rhythms that raised him.  His vibrant mix of organic samples and deep rhythms, topped with smooth seamless melodies creates a soundscape for listeners to simultaneously journey into and move the body through.

He feels that the sonic qualities of his music is not just deeply reflective of the world he comes from, but also a personal practice of self-expression.  Thus his music is an example of his own personality, the greater identity of Andean culture and South America at large.

Ultimately, his sound and practice “came natural for [him] while living in Quito. Living there, you are really exposed to music from the mountains (Andes), the coast and the jungle. The mix of environments in Ecuador creates an interesting contrast of sub-cultures and through their soundscapes takes listeners on a whole trip from the jungle to the coast to the mountains.”

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He explained, “I really like to take music from around the country that I find through parties I attend or on vinyl records as well as natural environments, etc. Whatever I can sample from really, At the same time however, I love to record live instruments to create more sounds that I compose organically.”

We wondered if any traditional Andean Music or indigenous instruments inspired his music, but he responded, “not really, only some percussion“. Furthermore, “for me, studying the folklore and folk music is kind of a new thing. When I say that I mean in last 5 years but still I find it to be a new addition in my production. “

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The defining theme for us at Breaking Borders during our Symbiosis coverage was whether festival culture functions as a was to ‘break down borders,’ by bringing people together as one, regardless of cultural differences.  His response was simply, “yeah, well, several years I’ve been playing festivals world-wide so that’s integration right there.”  He symbolizes a new wave of artists who are breaking borders and defying cultural boxes and is the perfect example of an artist who does not fit into a single genre and is difficult to label.

He continued, “I’m known for playing everywhere from large disco clubs to smaller spaces that are more rustic and traditional, there are no limits.” This resonated with us and validated our understanding that the music of Nicola Cruz is an essential reflection of himself and his culture. A reflection which should be heard as personal musical expression, one that blurs genre lines, and returns the focus to the celebration of diversity without judgement of difference.

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We were curious what the future holds for Nicola Cruz and if any new tours, projects or any collabs are on the horizon. He replied, “I will continue to be active internationally with shows coming up in Mexico, Brazil and then back to the U.S for New Years in Los Angeles.” Additionally, “there will also be new compositions since if I don’t have that, I don’t have anything. As for upcoming  collaborations, they are secret right now but I can tell you that I am always working with others.”

As a final question, we asked Nicola if he recommended any global festivals in South America that are similar to Symbiosis. He told us that “Nomad festival in Chile is a good one coming up next year. It contains a strong global fusion element and is always looking to collaborate with people from around the world through volunteering, performance, etc.

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