MUSIC / ART / PARTIES
text KRISTIN WINTERS & JORGE PEREZCHICA
When Coachella Season is in full swing, celebrity sightings, pool parties, festivals, and of course the latest music from around the world, flood the Coachella Valley for hedonistic fun. This year ushered in Tachevah: A Palm Springs Block Party, Stagecoach, LED pool parties, Zero Gravity, and Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, not to mention the countless pre-parties and after-parties that surrounded these Uber-Events. Coachella’s 2015 lineup offered a wide array of musical persuasions, from rock legends AC/DC to the hip-hop act of Tyler the Creator, and genre-twisting FKA twigs. New Zealand native Kimbra gave a phenomenal performance at both Tachevah and Coachella, complete with light shows, crazy costumes, and her powerhouse voice. Skrillex returned to drop the bass at the LED pool party at the Hilton in Palm Springs and made an appearance at Zero Gravity alongside Kayne West.
The Stagecoach lineup included country music giants Tim McGraw and Miranda Lambert, as well as up-and-coming artists Lydia Loveless and Parker Millsap. Breakout star Nikki Lane crooned country-rock anthems with blues and punk-rock influences. Truly, this valley has outdone itself again this year as the springtime music and party capital of the world.
Along with this frenzied atmosphere come the innovative visual artists who illuminate the scene with monumental art installations, complimenting the natural beauty of the Coachella Valley and raising the euphoria of the festival to its zenith. We’re talking about Poetic Kinetics, who brought the now iconic Coachella Astronaut in 2014 and this year’s interactive caterpillar and butterfly installations that roamed the Polo Grounds as if to exemplify the beautiful transformation of the Coachella Valley itself.
THE ART: POETIC KINETICS
Tell us how Poetic Kinetics came together as a group of like-minded artists and craftsmen?
We came together in 2008 as a bunch of skilled fabricators and artists who were working or had worked in the film industry and were feeling unfulfilled with the products of our labor; weeks and weeks spent sculpting a unique animal head that blows up three seconds into a movie, for example. Simultaneously we were going to Burning Man and were inspired by what single artists and communities of artists would do for themselves, without the hierarchy of a movie, commercial, or contract of any kind spurring them to action.
Can you tell us about the process of creating your art, from concept to completion?
We start at a round table sort of discussion with questions. Where do our inspirations lie in this? What is the goal of the intended piece? Who is it for? How can we make it interactive? How can we break the horizon? And then once we have a cohesive approach, we move to the computer to make specific drawings. We’ve developed a relationship with JLG that has allowed us to explore and hone in on innovative technologies that allow us to integrate our art with heavy machinery. After the computer, we use our collective skill sets and backgrounds to build the piece from the ground up and the inside out. As we near completion we check in with our engineers to be sure that everything is built according to plan, safe and secure. Each of us has an extreme attention to detail and pride in our work so that as we get ready to fire up the engines for the initial run, we are all thinking of ways to make it better and more awe-inspiring for the festival-goer; be it through the flashy sequined fabric on the butterfly’s legs, or the stamp given to patrons, declaring “I walk butterflies.”
How does it feel to have your work posted and tagged on millions of feeds on social media and has it impacted your approach to art installations?
It feels great! What a wonderful world we live in to be able to see our art across multiple platforms at once, affecting people of all ages. Social media, especially at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival, has been an interesting and exciting facet of how the public experiences our art. The interactivity that social media provides is so valuable to the things we create, making them more real: like with the astronaut last year when patrons could tweet their name and a picture of themselves to “become” the astronaut. And then again this year with the beacons in the butterfly and caterpillar that essentially gave the creatures their “voice” so that our caterpillar could tell you when it felt the change coming on after it ate all of the milkweed.
You’ve created iconic large-scale art for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival for years now, what keeps bringing you back?
Great people, great exposure. Where else can we make things this big and get such an amazing response? We were really fortunate to place the astronaut in the Science Museum, since their five-story atrium has only inches to spare to get the big white suit all the way upright. But on the field at Coachella, anything is possible and everyone is watching; it’s thrilling.
Many of your pieces allude to nature (snails, flowers, caterpillars, butterflies), yet utilizes technology to bring them to life! What inspires this dynamic in your work?
Technology makes all of our pieces come to life, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do, and especially on the scale that we do it, without state of the art technology. Pushing the boundaries of what is new and innovative in the technological world is super exciting to us and pursuing digital fabrication and cutting edge materials and processes allows us to create what we do. As for nature, we submit a wide array of proposals to Coachella and they choose the ones they like. There is a magical experience playing with scale, walking up to something so big that should be so small. But you have to recognize the thing for that to work. If it were abstract, while still cool, it doesn’t generate that same response. And it should be nature or a space traveler because who wants to see a giant sofa or fire hydrant? Oh hey, they have one of those in Beaumont, Texas!
What do you like festival-goers to come away with when they interact with your art?
A sense of whimsy and magic. We want them to experience these creatures we’ve made and be inspired to play, dance, make things of their own, and share. And on their ride home, they realize that they couldn’t have gotten that experience anywhere else.
If money were no object, what would be your dream installation project?
We’ve got a proposal that would make the entire Coachella field an immersive, interactive experience; the installation experience would begin weeks before you arrive at the field, and continue throughout the festival. This installation would incorporate all the things you love about the large creatures, but with the added magic of total and complete immersion into the world we would create in tandem with the festival.
LED POOL PARTIES
LED pool parties at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Palm Springs are now a must-do alternative to Coachella. The stage is set alongside the Hilton’s legendary pool — blasting the freshest EMD. Headliners Skrillex and DJ Snake got attendees fist-pumping on the dance floor and splashing in the water. Gorgeous tanned bodies adorned trending neon bikinis and sexy cutout one-pieces: everyone was grabbing drinks and having classic Palm Springs fun. Standout act MIJA was spinning her signature sounds. She boasts the title as one of the major up-coming artists on Skrillex’s label, and at a young age her music is already known around the world. She is coming back to the valley for the August edition of the Splash House pool and music festival.
HARD ROCK HOTEL PALM SPRINGS
Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs rang in Coachella season with an epic celebration — the “Not a Pool Party” kick off event on Thursday, April 9th. Presented by Culture Collide, the new platform of FILTER mag co-founder (in lieu of the annual FILTER Yacht Parties), the evening consisted of various DJ sets and performances by festival headliners and groovy DJs.
None shut it down, however, quite like Elliphant, who performed her feel-good jams late into the night in front of a packed house. The Swedish star’s late night performance was the highlight of the evening and set off the music-filled weekend to start on the right foot.
SocialNightlife presents Zero Gravity: The Afterhours Party in the Coachella Valley came once again to the Indio County Fair Grounds less than two miles away from Coachella. This unofficial afterparty is for festival-goers that still have their adrenaline pumping and want to rage all night long and then some. This year Skrillex and hip-hop mogul Kayne West crashed the party with a guest performance.
ACE HOTEL PALM SPRINGS
The Ace Hotel in Palm Springs and Tumblr IRL brought in Best Coast’s album release party with art by Adam Harding. Bethany Cosentino crooned to a packed audience of adoring fans in the Commune venue. The beloved SoCal band rocked the night with fan favorites as well as debuting songs from their newly released album, “California Nights.” The performance was an up-close and intimate celebration, the type of show concert-goers brag about long afterwards.