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There are people who make art, and there are people who are art. British talent wAFF embodies the latter, as his creativity has led him to perform in a variety of mediums, including dancing, acting and our favorite, producing. The modern-day Renaissance man has developed an impressive discography throughout his career, with releases on Sven Väth’s Cocoon, Loco Dice’s Desolat and Adam Beyer’s Drumcode.
The young visionary has also conquered the performance realm. wAFF’s career has taken him on a sonic journey through the many landscapes of dance music, ranging from the lighter flavors of house to the dark depths of techno. A mastermind behind the decks, he has played at most of the world’s best parties, including extensive 10 hour sets at Sun Waves and Space Miami and an appearance at the epic Tomorrowland.
The esteemed selector’s most recent billing is the upcoming City Hearts Festival, which is set to take place at El Pueblo Historical in Los Angeles this weekend. In anticipation of the British DJ-producer’s performance, we caught up with wAFF to discuss his relationship with the Southern Californian collective and what it means to be a part of the Desert Hearts community.
You’ve been a longtime extended family member of the Desert Hearts family. Can you describe the moment in meeting the crew where you knew it was ‘meant to be’? Fondest memories?
Yes, it is a lovely thing to feel like I’m an extended family member of the crew. I do love them all a lot! Thinking back to when I first met the guys, it was definitely at Burning Man while playing at Pile Palace. I don’t remember how I actually got the gig to be honest. I can’t remember if I just met some of the guys randomly at Burning Man and they asked me to play, or if it was organised before going to Burning Man. But my memory of us all first properly meeting was when I very first played at Pile Palace. I remember being off my face on mushrooms, arriving at the Pile and thinking, WOW I need to live in here ha. That was the moment, just walking into the place, the design of the Pile was so good, all the guys have got stupid wigs on or crazy hats, music blasting out, loads of Porkchowder to drink, full of girls, of course I knew at this moment it was meant to be ha!!! I never really left the place all week, I would go to rave there most nights and even just go chill on all the dusty cushions at the back. But I just hit it off with all the guys straight away, they were fans of me and I became fans of them pretty quickly. Everyone was just so welcoming and friendly, that Pile Palace became my favourite place on the playa. And still is! I’ve had so many great memories with everyone, playing at the Pile or just hanging out. But one that stands out was playing b2b2b with Porky and Mikey on an art car named Kalliope (I’m sure that’s what it’s called ha). We was playing for a good few hours together but it was so sick.
Who from the crew did you meet first? What was that like?
Hmm that’s hard to remember fully, but I think it was Mikey and Porky, pretty sure it was. I kinda met everyone all at the same time. But maybe not, like I said I was on mushrooms and I don’t really remember ha so I could be making all this up!
On that note, you’ve played Desert Hearts a couple times, we believe. What are some of the kookiest things you’ve seen whilst playing there?
Well when I played the festival in San Diego, I really loved my whole time there. I was really impressed by the effort that everyone put in. It literally felt like Burning Man, exactly like it to be honest only it was in a forest instead of the desert. They had live art going on, catwalks, everybody was in fancy dress. This all together was the best thing. But I’d say I think it’s got to be Porky with about 100 fake eye balls glued to his face just walking around the playa like its completely normal. That’s probably the kookiest thing I’ve seen
In your own words, what sets the Desert Hearts community apart from other musical niches and leads to it being so familial in atmosphere?
I think they are completely unique to themselves. There isn’t anyone else like them. Everyone’s always dressed in something mental, each person has a huge personality and character. Like everyone is so silly and full of life and always in fancy dress. I don’t actually know why but they all seem to wear wigs all the time haha. But I think that’s wicked!!! Fuck it why not. But they have their own style of music that I notice is the sound of Desert Hearts, the vibe is the same wherever they go. They bring the spirit of Burning Man with them everywhere I find and its special. Everything together just creates a whole different energy and atmosphere. They stand out and that’s why they’re killing it everywhere they go. People just want to be a part of it
What’s the most random cut you have on your USB stick/have been rinsing on the live circuit at the moment?
Well, there is many, but one track that is getting some of the best reactions right now when I drop it into my sets is a new one from “East End Dubs – EEE007” I don’t even think it’s out yet and might be only on vinyl when it is but keep an eye to for it as its really really good. I close most my sets with this track now and it really goes off.
We’ve noticed 2019 has been fairly quiet on the release front (you had Sunmood and some remixes but haven’t seen much else); does this mean you’ve got something big in the works studio-wise, or are you feeling more like embracing your DJing/touring side at the moment?
Actually, I made the most music start of the year, by end of January I had 15 tracks finished ready to go, but unfortunately it takes some record labels a very long time to get back to you, so I sent out most the music to certain labels and I didn’t get a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ for months and months, to the point I decided to pull away and send elsewhere, which basically took up the first half of the year. I finally got ‘Sunmood’ out with Moon Harbour, I have 3 tracks coming out end of November on Solid Grooves, have some more remixes and I’ve been working on getting some collaborations on the go with the likes of Archie Hamilton, REME, Guti, Mason Collective and some more I won’t mention yet. It’s just difficult sometimes with bigger labels to get things moving fast as they are so busy. But if I’m honest, I find it difficult to get music made sometimes because I’m constantly on the road all the time, I never really have time at home and I just can’t make music on the road anymore. I used to be able to but now I need to be home and in the right headspace. I’m also around music so much that sometimes I just don’t want to listen to loud banging noises when I get home ha. But I have a lot of new music, I’ve just made about 4 new ones this week. And I have a load still to come out. 2020 there will be a lot more from me so all good
You’ve mentioned before that the best way to do life on the road is to be sober. What are some tips you have to offer on resisting temptation whilst gigging?
Just say no and fuck off ha. Literally all you gotta do is say no, I don’t know how else you can just stay sober without just saying no. But it’s so hard it’s the biggest challenge in my life, and it’s the only negative in my life, but whenever I say no I feel amazing and strong. It really does change your life by living this life sober. There’s no better feeling than waking up the next day after a gig and feeling great. Because 90% of the time your just dying and spending a week to recover to go and die again and again every weekend. So just say no, pick and choose your battles, and tell people to fuck off
Any last words for our readers?