Why We Burn: Orion Keyser

(I really need to interview DJs I’ve booked more often. I’ve been lucky enough to have Orion spin at a couple of things I’ve done, and not even because he’s been one of the main selectros in the DISORIENT universe for years. His sonic sense impeccable, and I was honored to talk to him about how music at Burning Man has evolved over the years. Show him some love & if you’re in the city and need studio time, let me do you a favor. Interview by Terry Gotham)

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1. Favorite Burning Man memory?
I guess my favorite DJ memory from Burning Man is playing music for sunrise. It’s always amazing to DJ at the Burn, but sunrise is the most beautiful time of day out there and playing music for it is a rare and wonderful thing. I generally play something a little more sentimental than usual for a sunrise, in order to make the moment more meaningful and to bring a sense of pause into a sound world that is usually insistent or frenetic.

Most of my other favorite Burning Man memories come in the “stumble upon” variety. I usually do a bit of wandering about in deep playa at odd hours of the night, and the things or the people that you run into when you are away from everything are often the best. It used to be just some little lonesome temples and things like that, I remember one burn when there was a full moon I stumbled upon some wooden structure that had a mostly working telescope on it and I was able to focus it on details on the face of the full moon that I’ve only seen in pictures before. Another time I was far away from everything and hungry and confused and I stumbled on an open air Diner serving coffee and grilled cheese sandwiches that was serendipitously staffed by some friends from SF I hadn’t seen in four or five years. Surprises like that are always the best.

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Support Plug-n-Play – it’s not what you think!

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Legendary Burners Parts (Plug4) and Bacchus (Disorient, or as it is known this year, D16Orient) have teamed up to bring vinyl and old school beats back to the Inner Playa.

Parts at Plug4 has teamed up with The Mayor of Disorient, Dave ‘Bacchus’ Marglin to create an experiential installation called Plug ‘n’ Play on the playa.

A tribute to the essential power of hip-hop and its five foundational elements: Emceeing (oral) • Deejaying (aural) • Breaking (physical) • Graffiti (visual) • Knowledge (spiritual)

Plug ‘n Play is a countercultural interactive art installation at Burning Man 2016.

Within Plug ‘n Play, we facilitate, teach, and honor our analog past.

Plug ‘n Play is a large orange wooden electrical plug protruding upwards. Passersby can drop in on turntablism demonstrations, live MC cyphers, scratching lessons and sessions, lectures, films, and videos, ‘twerkshops,’ and other interactive moments.

Surrounding the Plug are five Quad Boxes – where you can immerse yourself in a gallery; each Quad Box visually represents one of the five elements of hip-hop.

We plug in; we explore & amplify the almighty vinyl record, the mic, and the crowd. Feel what it’s like to drop the needle on the record and physically engage with music and hip-hop culture at Plug ‘n Play.

While Burning Man has given us an honorarium, we have quite a way to go to cover our projected expenses. Please show your support and contribute so we can get things officially in Play!

To make a larger, tax deductible donation please contact Parts at ninjaneered@gmail.com

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This promises to be one of the highlights of the year, and the team behind it are some of the best Burners I’ve ever met. For decades they have selflessly given back on the Playa by helping literally thousands of Burners. This is the first time they have done an art project. They are reaching out to the community for help with the installations, volunteers and donations are needed. They did receive an Art Honoraria grant from Burning Man, but this is not enough to cover the cost of the project. With less than a week to go, they’re at 65% on Tilt.

Parts says:

Hello out there! As some of you know, I’ve taken on a sizable art project this year. When asked the age old question “What is Art?”, the great philosopher and millennial-whisperer Tyler Hanson once said, “Art is a conversation.” Yes indeed!

This project has been a social experiment from day one, thus the name Plug ‘n Play. What better thing to burn?!? Let’s talk about the elephant on the playa and figure out how to connect patrons with artists and build bridges while burning old models of experiential consumption, hyper social capitalism, and radical self indulgence.

So to start this conversation, two unlikely tribes – Plug4 and D16orient – have come together to celebrate and educate around an underrepresented culture on the playa via the elements of hip-hop.

Five structures represent the five elements: DJ, MC, Breakdancer, Graffiti Artist, and Knowledge. Some argue that Producing (beats) is an element, as is Beatboxing. Ah, the conversation continues!

Here is what is confirmed thus far:

– The DJ Dojo from Austin is coming with multiple “vinyl manipulation stations” where Manuel Muniz will teach basics of scratching and turntablism.

– The visual works of Gabe Shaughnessy and Dan Cohen will grace the exterior, while other notable muralists are stepping up to contribute to the interiors.

DPW’s own Summer Burke will be hosting a Twerkshop to teach basics of Nola Bounce and discuss the origins she witnessed during her time down there. We also hope that any playa-bound bboys and bgirls will drop in for our intimate 7″ sets at 7pm featuring some of the original breaks on vinyl.

– A special guest Master of Ceremonies will be on hand to educate and inspire at the Plug each afternoon while we have our workshop, lecture, or screening.

So why are we poking at Plug ‘n Play as a name and a concept? It is time to have this conversation around art on the playa, openly and unabashedly.

One of the major things that we pride ourselves on for this project is that we are also employing local carpenters in Reno and commissioning our artists as best as our budget allows.

In this final fundraising push, I’m asking for some last-minute support so we can share these funds within our community of builders and artists, helping us prepare for the big push to get this project out to the desert.

As another part of this social experiment, we do have some patrons that are matching funds that we raise within our own circles. Anything you could do to support this Conversation Called Art is much appreciated and will come back to the project many times over.

Thank you!!!

P.s. We will also need 100+ volunteers to help with our burn perimeter on Friday evening! Message me if interested…

If you believe “fuck plug and play, let’s take it back to the old school”, support this project. Or if you believe “I’m a Medici, let them snort cake!”, support this project.

And just for the sake of clarity, DISORIENT IS NOT SUPPORTING PLUG AND PLAY CAMPS. Disorient pride themselves on being the sort of camp where everyone participates and everyone gets the Ten Principles, NOT a dreaded “turnkey camp”.

 

Why We Burn: Nuvoletta, Art Direction into the Deep with DisOrient

(This is a rare treat for y’all. Nuvoletta, the creative genius behind what you’ve seen at DiSORIENT events for the last couple of years, agreed to pull back the pornj curtain and give us some insight on how one of the most recognizable camps at Burning Man makes it happen, on and off playa. Plus she included some of her favorite mixes from over the years, so what’s not to like? If you’re chomping at the bit for more DiSORIENT in your life, check out their weekend away, Country Club, in its sixth stunning year, May 27-30.)
By Terry Gotham

1. What’s on tap for DiSORIENT for 2016? Is it just me or has DiS taken a step back this season?
It’s a busy time, we are moving forward, sideways and inward. We just wrapped Bedouin Tech, the third year of our experiment in Dubai. On playa this year, we will be building our Teatro di Sorient a Disoriented opera house.. We work on our playa projects with a team spread out across the world. It’s a busy time internally.

If it seems like we have taken a step back in NYC, it is because we are evolving with the changing landscape. The old style of the same themed predictable events concretely on the calendar is fading away. We have some exciting new plans for 2016. It feels like the right move for us. People are capitalizing on the burner world, creating faux-burner production companies making profit by hosting faded facsimile copy of burning man art fundraisers. They use burner visual tropes and language for their promotion. The landscape in NYC is currently warped by these people commodifying it.

2. How does DiSORIENT run? Is the leadership based out of NYC or are you constantly coping with video chat across the country/globe?
We use a cell/module system. Anyone can propose any idea and if they attract enough people to their idea, they form a Disorient cell. We have some classic cells, sound, lighting, projection, etc. These cells participate in Disorient modules. A module can be a fundraiser, and art car, and so on.
The Disorient model is how we propagate worldwide. We have cells and modules throughout the United States and abroad. Absolutely- Video chats and emails are a constant as well as spreadsheets and phone calls. We have many smaller groups within Disorient, people get together for dinner, tecates and bubbles. We detail our system at http://wiki.disorient.info/index.php?title=Disorient_Model
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Why We Burn: Diva PsychicStar & The Geniuz

(This week, I’m truly honored to have spoken to two East Coast Burners that are truly larger than life. If you’ve partied in NYC in any significant fashion you’ve probably seen them out, dressed to the nines. They’re four time Burners with a unique perspective that we’d all do well to learn from. Diva PsychicStar (Patricia) repurposes furs & The Geniuz (Jeremiah) commands broadcasts. This is a deep dive folks, so turn on one of their favorite sets from playa, from White Ocean, Robot Heart, Pink Mammoth & Distrikt, while you read!)PandG 20071. How was Burning Man 2015?! How did this all start for you two? Burning Man 2015 was challenging! It was our fourth Burn with each one being different and each one offering a new experience and takeaway. It takes a lot of money/effort to trek across the continent from New York to join the tens of thousands of Burners for an event culminating months of regional festivals and camp fundraisers. Our style is to mitigate as much of the dry, dusty Playa harshness as possible by bringing as many creature comforts and tried and true costumes as we can. We have always been RV campers, which gives us a leg up when it comes to daytime sleeping and shelter from the dust storms. Continue reading

In Defense Of The Thirsty: A Plea For Water At Parties (Not The Burn)

funny-sometimes-drink-glass-water-surprise-liver-picsThis is a thought experiment, a call to action, or maybe even a plea. Perhaps it’s the ravings of a lunatic, if you don’t agree with me. The community of people who read this blog are the only ones on the planet with both the openness to listen and the determination to find solutions to complex problems. If we can figure out how to throw the best party in the world in the worst place to throw it, surely we can figure out this whole water thing.
8lHATcISpecifically, I want to talk about the cost & availability of water at events throughout the country, off-playa. We have Burning Man camps throwing stupendous parties as fundraisers for BM & regional burns. These events showcase the idea that parties can be principled, community-building affairs. These events are superior to “retail” or “EDM” styled dance music events, and we generally are pretty smug about how much better they are. Not for nothing, as they totally are. However, they aren’t perfect.

One thing that’s somewhat baffling is price of water at all of these events. The fact that I’m paying $5-6 for a bottle of water at Pacha, Avalon or Hakkasan is one thing. But when I’m being charged the same amount at a camp fundraiser, I think there’s a problem. I totally understand that it’s a fundraiser and we’re there to support, but we also rely on a gigantic population of people who go to these parties but never make it to Burning Man. I’m not sure why gouging these people is justified. I don’t believe water should ever be a profit generating item on party budgets but I also know I’m not the King of All Parties.

Malevolent GOdI think there’s a real opportunity for Burners to lead on this one, and make parties across the country better. There are plenty of influential DJs, producers, promoters, 1% & 0.1% members who enjoy the Burn and know that it’s important for us to ask serious questions about where we get our water, how, and who we buy it from/how it’s produced. Why am I paying 6 bucks for a bottle of water, that was ordered in bulk from some Big Water ZombieCorp? Why is it that we’re not making the hard, possibly slightly less profitable choices about providing tap water (it goes through the best water filter jugs at least once), advocating for water conservation & reforming the laws around large companies bottling our municipal water supply and selling it back to us.

Before anyone says it: No, this is not a call to have water given out at Burning Man. I’ve got a map from the 2006 Burn on my wall above the computer I’m writing this on, and would never want to make BM anything less than the rugged, non-plug & play carnival of stupendousness I remember it as and know it can be. The idea of having water provided at the Burn is antithetical to the goals of the event and those who attend. At burn fundraisers in real bars, warehouses & places that aren’t the deep playa however? I don’t understand why water is more expensive there than it is at the dubstep show up the street. Aren’t we better than that?

Photograph by Scott R. Kline. Click for source.

If we can spend thousands of dollars on desert dancefloors, epic structures, rainbow lights and art cars with dancefloors inside of them (yo dawg, I herd you like dancefloors…), we can drop a couple of dollars making sure the water that we’re selling at these fundraisers, or gigs we’re associated with isn’t exploitative. What would happen if DiSORIENT, False Profit, Opulent Temple, Kostume Kult, White Ocean, Bubbles & Bass,  Robot Heart just decided to negotiate with venues to ensure water was free or a dollar? If they opened with “what do we need to do to ensure water is free/sold at cost at our fundraisers?” I’d imagine they’d get a lot more traction than if I threw up another useless petition on change.org that you wouldn’t read or sign. What would happen if Burners who owned companies took a look at how they used water? What would happen if superstar DJs who play at Burning Man every year started putting “free water” in their riders off playa? If the green room can come stocked with a dozen bottles of champagne, what would happen if it started being part of what ticket holders expected when we went to a Burning Man camp fundraiser?
10157237_1554159521463579_1240439062530930905_nYes, this would mean we’d need to make some hard choices, work to ensure that California doesn’t entirely dry out, and that we’re more conservationist than hedonistic when it comes to water usage. But maybe it catches fire (like Western parts of the USA this time of year). Maybe headliners like Bassnectar & deadmau5 start demanding it. Maybe California BM groups help make this a signature issue to solve, not to spar or win political points on. Maybe we remember that it is about Gifting & Decommodification as much as it is about Radical Self Reliance.  Who knows, maybe we remind the dance music universe that water isn’t for making money on either, and things get better for everyone. Even people who will never make it to the playa.

It’s fun to dream. Thanks for dreaming with me, for a moment anyways. Hope you’ve got your reusable water bottle within arms reach while you’re reading this. I know I do.