SPLASH HOUSE: The Lisbona Sisters
interview + photography Jorge Perezchica
Palm Springs, CA — Splash House, a music festival hosted at the Riviera Palm Springs and The Saguaro Palm Springs with afterparties at the Air Museum, came and went August 12-14 like a massive euphoric wave of music, bikinis and shirtless bodies dancing, splashing and gyrating to the rhythmic summer beats. Guests came with floaties in all shapes and sizes; from green aliens, to the shape of giant pizza slices and unicorns inhabiting the pool areas and soaking up the vibes, or relaxing poolside with a drink in hand, enjoying the atmosphere to catch their favorite acts — dancing, letting go and lost in a world of electric sounds, palm trees and eternal sunshine. To the untrained eye, it might have looked like a fire hazard, but to the twenty-somethings who gathered from all over Southern California to Arizona arrived to party as if those last summer days were quickly fleeting and back to school was on the horizon — and Splash House did not disappoint. On Sunday, the Lisbona Sisters who grew up in the Coachella Valley and got their start in San Francisco and currently live in Los Angeles returned to their hometown to play a set at the Riviera and enjoy the chillness.
Coachella Magazine caught a moment with Ava and Laura of the Lisbona Sisters to talk about growing up in the desert, DJing at Coachella, the music industry, spending time in the studio and more.
JORGE: What was it like growing up in Coachella Valley and then moving to LA.?
LAURA: You know. We were just saying on the way here that a really big difference is driving 30 minutes. Driving 30 minutes here is so much easier than driving 30 minutes in LA. I mean, as far as like yeah, of course, things are more fast-paced. In LA., you rent somewhere and you don’t get such a beautiful view everywhere. Here, no matter where you rent or you live or you own a home, you get to look out and you see beautiful mountains and really cool stuff like that. It’s definitely more of a…
It’s a vacation lifestyle. Total resort life.
LAURA: All the time year round, which is beautiful.
JORGE: Did you have to adjust to the fast pace of living in LA.?
AVA: Oh, no. Growing up here, I was certainly ready for that fast pace for sure.
AVA: In terms of like the last ten years of my life. I’ve been ready for the city, for sure. At the same time, that contrast of living in the fast buzzing like the city, it’s created this contrast where I really appreciate the desert in a way that I never could have had I not left it. This place is gorgeous. I can’t wait for the day that I own a home here. You know? At this point in my life, I still need a little more of that city life going on. Then again, it’s like coming back here… I’m just like, “Oh, my God!”
LAURA: It’s definitely not hard to adjust from going from LA. and then coming out here. It’s like, “Nope! I’m ready for this chill-ness.”
JORGE: Is this your first time playing Splash House?
LAURA: First time at Splash House. Yeah. We played at Coachella for the last two years, actually. Last year, we played the Do Lab. Just last year previous we played in the Yuma tent. We feel really fortunate and like the fact that we get to come out and play in the place where we’re from — everyone’s so supportive.
JORGE: What was it like playing Coachella? Can you tell us a little bit about that?
AVA: Oh, my God. It’s like nothing else.
LAURA: You know what’s so crazy is starting as the DJ… It’s hard to know where you’re going to go from that. Playing Coachella is such… it’s one of the biggest festivals in the world! For us, obviously, that’s what you strive for is to play the biggest festivals in the world, but actually getting to play at one of the biggest festivals that you know about — at the place you grew up. I’ve been going to Coachella since I was… What? Fourteen-years-old or something like that. Watching it grow from something so small into something so immense, that was so insane. It’s an honor.
JORGE: What would you say the main difference between playing last year and this year?
LAURA: Well, you know, we played on two different stages. One, we played on the Do Lab, which is very vibe-y and it’s outside. It’s amazing what they do. What the Do Lab does is really, really impressive. The other one that we played at was the Yuma tent. It’s like a nightclub out in the middle of the desert. It’s air-conditioned and it’s an indoor tent. It’s definitely a very different feeling.
JORGE. Do you feel this is still a male dominated industry?
LAURA: 100 percent. Absolutely male dominant… Females are still a minority in this industry but you see more and more ladies coming out of the woodworks. What we always say is, “Yeah. Of course. From the dude’s perspective, it’s great to see.” The guys love it. It’s like it’s two girls up there frickin’ holding it down. That’s the most rewarding, we get so much love from the ladies.
AVA: So much.
LAURA: That’s what we’re about. It’s not about hating on dudes, it’s about loving ladies and the ladies support us and we support them. It creates such a nice environment.
It also, in a sense… We get a lot of people kind of … It sounds so terrible, but scrutinizing us because we’re girls. It also kind of pushes us more.
AVA: We’ve had to push ourselves more.
LAURA: We definitely had to prove ourselves and push ourselves to know more music and be better technically.
AVA: Sure. Yeah. We definitely bring a different energy because…
LAURA: We’re sisters and we’re best friends. We get to hang out with each other and we have fun back there. We also have some times we want to kill each other.
AVA: Let’s be real. The best dance floor’s going to come when the girls are having a good time and really into it. Then, the guys are happy. That’s basic.
LAURA: First rule of DJ-ing, if you don’t have babies on your dance floor, babies meaning women, girls, ladies… If you don’t have them on your dance floor, you’ve basically failed.
JORGE: What would you say is like the biggest challenge?
LAURA: I guess going back to what we were saying before is, I do feel like that we have had to work extra hard to prove ourselves. Not only are we ladies, but we’re sisters and we’re also really silly and really fun. I think people kind of look at that and they go, “Okay, well these girls are kind of like fucking around.”
AVA: We take it very seriously.
LAURA: We’ve had a lot of people asking us if we’re press and play, if we’re really DJ-ing up there. If we’re really producing our own music. We’ve also had people coming and asking, “We want to write your music for you.” That’s not what we’re about. We really want to be a part of it.
JORGE: How would you describe your sound and your style?
AVA: That’s difficult.
LAURA: I think that we’ve kept our sound really diverse. We’re so fortunate because we’ve really opened for, in the last year especially, we’ve opened for like some of our biggest inspirations musically, you know, people we’ve been following 20-25 years; people like Green Velvet, Jamie Jones, The Martinez Brothers, we played a show with Diplo. It’s all over the board. The fact that we can play so diversely is like we can really play an underground set in a grimy warehouse and appeal to the old-school music heads and drop in some tracks that were being produced in the eighties or we can play a more big-room set. We opened for Duke Dumont in San Francisco about six months ago and it’s like that’s a bigger room sound. You have to be able to appeal to like a larger crowd. In terms of classifying what we play, it’s really difficult. One of my favorite sets to play is an after-party set where we can play all old-school hip-hop and R&B from the early nineties. It’s really being able to read the crowd and having that music collection where you can switch it up in the blink of an eye because you don’t ever know what that crowd is going to want or what that time is going to bring you.
JORGE: What do you do to stay on top of the game and to stand out?
LAURA: Be kind. Be humble. Never be full of yourself. Appreciate every opportunity that’s given to you. I think the reason that people want to book us so much is we’re nice, we’re fun, we play good music; but we’re always very appreciative and we always want to engage.
AVA: You have to definitely make sure that you are appreciative… and kind of be making everybody feel as important as they are. Everybody’s important in this whole vibe of everything.
JORGE: What are you guys working on now?
LAURA: Right now, really our focus has been turned to the studio. We’ve been really working hard. We’ve really been taking our time learning the music production side of things. That’s really where we’ve been, especially for the last six months to a year. Now that I’m living down in LA., we’re in the studio a lot. Stay tuned for that.
JORGE: Do you want to give a shout out to anybody in the Coachella Valley?
LAURA: Mom, dude!
AVA: Shout out to our mom and our step-dad. What’s up? And our little sister who came to see us today.
JORGE: Thank you.