(As the summer rolls on, we’re going to keep it going with great stories from your favorite East Coast Burners. Miss Sabado is one of those amazing DJs you see on playa then can’t find again for the rest of the week. Bi-coastal & a multi-talented entrepreneur, model, artist, actress, and all-around exceptional human being, Miss Sabado, talked with me about how Burning Man, being a woman in today’s society, creativity, inspiration and two coasts come together. Enjoy!)
Interview by Terry Gotham
1. What’s your favorite Burning Man memory?
There are so many! But I think no burn compares to your first burn. My first burn was the year of Evolution, 2009. I had never seen anything like it. I felt like I was on another planet, experiencing things for the very first time, with wondrous, childlike curiosity. I remember the carbon garden, and sticking my whole head into the faces of the flowers; I remember laying under the Cubatron under the nighttime sky and laughing my ass off with total strangers and passing Kleen Kanteens around full of questionable cocktails. And that big slide! How dangerous but so fun! I remember climbing up those steep rickety stairs, potato sack in hand, thinking to myself that I could very well die on this thing. I only weigh 100 lbs, so I flew down that slide sooo fast I was practically airborne (laughs). I remember the moment I first laid eyes on the rocket ship, and thinking to myself: is it really going to launch? I was so excited! It was utopia; festival earth. My favorite memory by far was dropping acid for the first time on Thursday night at the Twilight Spaghetti Theatre (right before twilight, of course), and walking out to the center of Esplanade, and I could hear every conversation from one end of the esplanade to the other, every bicycle bell ring, every footstep… everything. Art cars were floating off the ground, her purple sky majesty cloaking me with all her glory, dust in every crevice. Everything started to melt, and everything made sense. It was glorious.
2. Since you’re a West Coaster at heart, what’s the biggest thing you miss from Cali as a New Yorker?
Easy access to the great outdoors. You got the beach, the desert, the mountains and lakes— all within a couple hours driving distance. I was much more spontaneous and adventurous when I was living out west. Accessing mama nature was unceremonious, not like it is out here. You simply load up your car and go. I loved that. Joshua Tree was my favorite. I am making plans now to buy a piece of land in Joshua Tree in a couple years so I can have my own little desert Zion.
3. Have you had any difficulties walking the line between Burner DJ & bi-coastal entrepreneur? Has Burning Man helped with that journey at all?
I think it’s more accurate to say that I am a DJ who is very heavily involved and deeply connected to my burner world, rather than calling me a burner dj (I have adverse reactions toward classifications) and no, I have not had any difficulties walking the line between DJ and bi‐coastal entrepreneur. I thrive off the work and quite enjoy the dance, to be honest. I come from humble beginnings, and nothing was ever given to me, so I learned to work hard from a very young age as means for survival. When you work hard, with intention and laser sharp focus, the things you visualize manifest that much faster. I’m lucky to have stumbled upon that realization at such an early age. When I left my life behind in 2010 (over irreconcilable issues within my family) and transplanted myself here to New York City, my intention was to streamline, expand in my skills as an artist, and turn my art into a sustainable career. I arrived here with no friends, no money, no real job prospects. So the challenge was very real for me.
But it certainly feels like I’ve achieved that. I work full time as a parts model, which is mind blowing to me; and that has not only supported my cost of living but also enabled me to experiment, push my boundaries, and dive deep into my creative self discovery. It’s been a delightful journey. I have failed more times than I have succeeded, but it’s in those failures that I have really learned to love myself and pick myself up again— something I have taken away from burning for so many years. The burn is such an incredible teacher. The playa and everything that happens in BRC will stretch you, knead you, pull you in all sorts of directions. If you don’t take the time to find your sense of ground, and really get rooted in your sense of self, you will get carried away and lost in the dust storms. But if you can do that, you will be able to navigate through the white outs of life gracefully and effortlessly.
4. You produced events in NYC for a couple of years a little while back, have you ever produced events in LA? What’s the biggest difference between NYC and LA Burner parties?
I think NYC burner parties are quite extravagant, decadent, lush. New Yorkers have a work hard/play hard mentality, and it resonates in most everything we do. We are intense people; not for the faint-hearted. And our parties are a reflection of that. We definitely BRING IT (laughs). Every party I’ve been involved in or attended out here has been top notch and mind-blowing. Great times, great vibes, great atmosphere, great connections, and incredible afters. I am not as connected to the LA burner party world as I am NYC. I did manage to make some awesome connections whilst I was out there (I spun for LA Decom 2009), but I left for NYC shortly thereafter and did not have an opportunity to nurture those relationships. If I were to guess what LA burner parties are like, I would say they are a lot like a bowl of organic chia seed pudding with raw shredded coconut, trail mix with carob chips and goji berries and bee pollen granules, drizzled with Canadian maple syrup and a dollop of freshly whipped cream.
5. Lots of people feel Burning Man is one big community, while others feel that the sub-scenes and individual tribes are much more important for artistic & personal development. Do you feel you’ve been supported by the tribes you’ve been a part of, or that you feed on the energy of the whole macro-community?
Feelings are fleeting. One moment, you might feel the former; other times you might feel the latter. That’s the beauty of life. It’s constantly shifting, moving, morphing. I have felt at times that I have been supported by the tribes I’ve been a part of. Other times I have felt absolutely betrayed and mishandled by the tribes I have been a part of. They’re all elements of the same thing, so no judgement. Nonetheless, I have learned to rely on myself for support and self fulfillment (radical self‐reliance). I don’t expect anything from anyone, nor am I one to ask. I believe life is an ebb and flow, and it is certainly more intelligent than we human beings are as a whole. If you surrender to the flow and allow it, life will give you exactly what you need.
I’ll give you a first hand example. At this moment, I am extremely excited about what women are doing as one entity. More and more often, I am stumbling upon women circles focusing on the different experiences and many angles of being a woman. Earlier this year, I was faced with major complications concerning the male counterpart I was involved with over a project I launched last year, and things got very messy. I was forced to walk away from my own project, heartbroken. In an effort to understand why that was happening, I got the download during meditation to develop a curated network of women for women in creative industries, looking to partner up with other women launching professional projects and other artistic collaborations and endeavors that intersect. It’s a consolidated platform in which female members can access for reliable (trusted) human resources, women only. I decided to make it women only so as to eliminate any possibility of sexual tension between collaborators (something I have experienced my entire life, and again, recently this year). I want to create a safe space for women to be able to work, create, and expand. It’s exactly what I needed at the time, and it’s something that we as women need more of in general. I have been developing this idea since March, and I am very excited to launch it.
6. Do you go to regional burns? If so, do you have a favorite, ones you’d encourage peeps to travel for?
I much prefer going to regional burns now than I do going to the actual burn itself. I skipped the burn last year (first time in 6 years), and will skip again this year. I don’t like skipping burns, but the truth of the matter is: it demands a lot of time, money, and energy. And quite frankly, I am in a different place in my life now where I am more interested in exploring the spaces where burner world and default world meet. I am still trying to figure out what that looks like for me, in my line of work and purpose, but at least I am experimenting.
Regional burns: I am over the moon for Symbiosis Gathering. I have a lot of respect for their approach, their mission statement, their vision. They are a solid community of doers and I fell in love with them the first time I went in 2012. PEX does a great regional burn too. I call that a reliably good time. The doLab crew does fantastic work as well. Lightning in a Bottle has always been a pillar— much respect. Also, Country Club, DiSORIENT’s flagship event, one of my favorites on the East Coast. I’ve never been to Desert Hearts but I am dyyyying to go. I hear it’s incredible.
7. Any advice for the aspiring Lady DJs out there? Especially the ones who may want to spin on playa?
Just be you. Play music you like, not music you think people might like. There is so much homogenization happening at the burn, that bringing something fresh and uniquely you to the playa is not only encouraged, but it is needed, especially nowadays, to keep the spirit of diversity alive. Radical self expression! Don’t be afraid to explore the depths of your soul. Challenge yourself. Push your boundaries. If you think you’re doing it wrong because no one else is doing it— you’re actually doing it right! It’s not easy being a trailblazer. You are making way for something that has not yet been discovered or tapped into. It’s a necessary thing. Trust your womb, keep calm and carry on.
8. What is the one thing you wish you could explain to people about Burning Man?
I feel like Burning Man deserves to be its own spacetime dimension. It’s a total mind fuck. Being at the burn is like experiencing firsthand what it would be like to live in a hologram of a parallel universe in some other galaxy at some other time. It’s such a trip. Superstring Theory baby.
9. One thing you wish Burning Man had/did that it doesn’t?
Period Camp. My girlfriends and I have [seriously] joked about the concept of starting Period Camp. There’s a camp for everything at Burning Man… but there is no camp dedicated solely to women on their cycles. Women often become discouraged when they discover they will be on their cycle during the burn. I want to turn that attitude around and celebrate the menstrual cycle! Make women feel powerful, connect to the moon, practice a bit of witchcraft, etc. The camp could even collect and donate menstrual blood to BM artists, and we could incorporate that blood into some of the featured artwork on the playa. Now that’s innovation! Next door would be Womb Camp, a camp dedicated to… you guessed it, pregnant women. That would be wicked.
10. What does the rest of 2016 hold for Miss Sabado?
It’s a very exciting second half of the year for me. I am happy to announce that I am currently singing, writing, and co-producing my first studio EP, a triptych, scheduled to be released this fall. I am lining things up to support and catapult the release – and that means lots of new online content, new parties, and possible future radio shows/podcasts. A lot of things are on hold at the moment because I am fully immersed in the creation of this EP, but if I could make it work, I would love to get my 200 hour yoga teacher certification before the end of the year— a birthday gift to myself. All the while continuing to build and expand my line of shoes as well as strengthen my acting skills!