Oregon Eclipse Festival
In the summer of 2017, in a virgin location tucked away in the mountains of Oregon, a global initiative to organize a gathering celebrating the solar eclipse took place. This event assembled major players in the festival scene from around the world and brought an international perspective fueled by like minds to that offered something to interest all walks of life. As someone who has partaken in countless festivals around the globe, the tagline “burning man on the water” seemed to resonate deeply on both a musical, social, and spiritual level. We aimed to dig below the surface to explore the global collectiveness that it took to create this event, and to spotlight some of the art, music, and workshops bringing glimmers of inspiration weeks after the dust settled.
With the event kicking off Thursday August 17, 2017, the weeklong celebration had people assembling in Oregon days in advance. Upon the gates opening, a 20-hour line caused some frustration and fender benders, but with only one road in and 40,000 people to coordinate, getting everybody in was no easy task. The event coordinators seemed to have things flowing smoothly by late Thursday. The environment was as harsh as it was beautiful, with temperatures in the high 90s as extremely dusty, dry winds fueled wildfires across Oregon. The air made days at the festival hazy and difficult on the eyes. Yet, with months of preparation by both the organizers and attendees, the environment was in no way able to dampen everyone’s high sprits.
Musically, the festival was diverse. Each crew involved helped curate a stage incorporating everything from jam bands to deep psytrance. It was easily the most interesting assortment of music in one place I had seen in years. Stage designs, aside form the main stage, all seemed to be very organic, complimenting the environment. Each stage had its own atmosphere, nestled into creative places, and there was little to no sound clash between sound systems. Although we tend to be bass music focused, the curators for each of the stages brought a wide array of music to entertain even the most ruffneck of junglists. With seven days of music, the freedom to roam to areas we wouldn’t normally go was liberating. Artist such as STS9, The String Cheese Experience, Shpongle, and Desert Dwellers moved the eclipse stage throughout the weekend. An assortment of other BPMs would pulsate over the 9 stages; Govinda, Desert Hearts Takeover, Doc Martin, Terrakroma, Raga Nova, Jazz Mafia, and Thugfucker were just a few of the highlights throughout the weekend who brought deep, groovy vibes that demanded a jacket removal and some serious dance floor meditation.
Amid the hectic weekend, we managed to catch up with Andrea Graham, “The Librarian,” one of the co-founders of Bass Coast Festival. She gave us some insight into her role with the Oregon Eclipse Festival. She and her partner Liz Thompson just celebrated the 9 year anniversary of their own festival earlier in 2017, a festival that has become a pillar for arts, culture, and music in British Columbia. Bass Coast Festival creates a noticeable presence with their attention to detail and polished delivery.
Lost Kawz: How did Bass Coast contribute to Oregon Eclipse, and what was your favorite aspect of this collaborative project?
Andrea: Bass Coast contributed to Oregon Eclipse by bringing the deeper sounds of Bass Coast to the Moon Stage. Danny Corn and I curated much of the bass music on the Moon Stage and it reflected the aesthetic of both Bass Coast and Symbiosis. I loved working with Danny to program the artists and develop a flow throughout the weekend that was reflective of the time of day/night, that touched on different subgenres of bass music, and that highlighted many homegrown artists from the Pacific Northwest as well as some of our favorite international artists.
Lost Kawz: What importance do you feel music plays in creating global collectiveness?
Andrea: I feel that music plays an integral role in allowing people to connect with each other. It’s often referred to as the universal language and these days I find that is more and more poignant. Society is living in a digital age that isolates people physically yet connects people globally. It seems we are collectively searching for ways to connect beyond the Internet, and music draws people together at festivals, gatherings, and shows. On a global scale, artists are able to share their music online and connect with fans and other artists from around the world. Oregon Eclipse was an incredible demonstration of how music unites people from around the world.
Lost Kawz: With your contribution to Oregon Eclipse, what were you trying to accomplish, and what was the biggest obstacle to over come?
Andrea: Bass Coast has a unique musical offering that focuses on both bass music and techno/house. Our lineup is based heavily on talent from the Pacific Northwest, who may not be the biggest names internationally, but who are excellent artists, crowd favorites, and are all pushing boundaries in their music production. We wanted to showcase some of these artists at Oregon Eclipse in addition to bringing over some artists that have created the foundation for what inspires us, such as the Deep Medi Showcase, EPROM, and Machinedrum. I’d say the biggest challenge lay in narrowing down the options; there are so many incredibly talented artists out there. We also worked hard on scheduling the artists so the flow worked well. It’s very important to us that the arc of music throughout the night builds and then eases off and takes people on a journey.
Lost Kawz: What do you strive to promote with Bass Coast Festival?
Andrea: Bass Coast strives to inspire people in attendance to discover their own creativity. We do this by creating opportunities for people to interact, whether it’s through the stage environments, workshops, installations, surprise performances, or movement classes. Our music programming offers something for everyone, yet they may not be familiar with all the names on the lineup. Bass Coast provides an excellent opportunity to discover new sounds, to meet new friends, and to join an inclusive community that is open-minded and friendly. We are all Bass Coast.
Lost Kawz: What can we do to cultivate community and promote underground culture?
Andrea: We all need places in which to gather, to create, to share our art, and to foster culture. It’s important to support your local crews and collectives by going out to shows throughout the year, take chances on new artists, take chances with your own art, and help keep the underground culture alive in your own town. It takes a lot of energy, money, and dedication to keep venues open, and there are many ways we can all help. Buy tickets, volunteer, and spread the word about events. This will go a long way in developing culture and community. We are all in this together.
Bass music-wise, the Moon Stage was the place to be throughout the week. With big acts like Bassnectar, Troyboi, G Jones, and Bleep Bloop keeping it commercial on the bigger Eclipse stage, the flow of music at the Moon was fluid and underground. Though the focus was on the music and not the name, the week was spotted with some of the leaders in the industry. The stage featured a Deep Medi 7 hour showcase, Gaslamp Killer, Macinedrum, The Librarian, and Tusurda. With little focus towards Drum and Bass, it was great to see the undisputed queen of the Southern California desert, Dela Moontribe, wake everyone up Monday with her signature 170-175 selections. A veteran to the decks and a crowd favorite along the west coast, she wasted no time rolling it out as her fans made a point to be on time for her set. Selecting across the board, her range of music touched everything from new releases and worldly tribal cuts, to harder, in your face neuro-funk that sent the wildest of steppers and dancers into frenzy. Other great music gracing the Moon Stage came from Jpod, Barisone, Eprom, Bogl, Mhikal, Mandal & Tankgyal, and Huxley Anne. Based in LA and with a new release of her EP on 20/20 LDN, her set went off with a bang. Supported by Ivy Lab with many other heavy hitters in her corner, it was nice to see the best sets of bass music played by females.
For any festival, it’s easy to engage people with music. However, the current state of the world and the need for higher learning and education was a major focus at Oregon Eclipse. Designed to not only build community and inspire people, the deeper level of encouraging self-work and lifestyle evaluation was present at the festival. Workshops were on topics like Permaculture, Yoga, Dance, and Health & Wellness, and they fostered numerous discussions throughout the weekend. Amid the countless talks and platforms resonating was the workshop class “Breathwork: The Unlimited Power of Projection” given by Michael Brian Baker. It explored the power of breath meditation through a series of breathing exercises. We also caught the Soul Trigger crew workshop at the Dance Shala, which focused on street styles of dance. It was the last workshop of the week showcasing all the styles the collective has become known for.
With such a big production crew on site for weeks, the event had a big family presence. With an entire section dedicated to entertaining children, there was no shortage of activities to inspire their curiosity. Arts & crafts, ancestral stories, family dance, and make your own instrument classes were only a few of the countless opportunities to entertain the little ones. The focus on cultivating young minds was great to see, as they are the future of our world. Building a platform that allows them to be uninhibited while experiencing new ideas through deep conceptual learning is exactly what is needed to reshape the world we are living in today.
As the weekend drew to a close, the anticipation of the eclipse began to sink in. The apex of the global effort to assemble people from around the world in togetherness celebrating the sun, unity, and hopes of prosperity in a difficult time of the world was upon us. With crowds moving towards the viewing areas early, only positive attitudes and vibrations were around. Though festivals have taken place to celebrate eclipses around the world for year, it felt like there was a special element added to this one. Maybe it was the fact that it was a total solar eclipse, or that this festival might have been the biggest party to celebrate one in years; either way, time seemed to stand still. As the moon approached the sun to begin their dance in the sky, the regime of past suns was washed away in the shadow of the moon. The two danced in the sky and the world as we know it was basked in darkness.
Regardless the purpose of the gathering or ones taste in music, when the moon blocked the light and the masses were covered in darkness, those who find themselves driven by the light shone like stars. In that moment, clarity in direction and vision was obtainable. As the sun began to emerge, the new regime of sun fell upon us, and in unison the people of the Oregon Eclipse Festival erupted in elation. After years work organizing, preparing, and planning for the event, there could have been no better response.
All good things must come to an end, but the vibrations will continue to resonate and will be felt for all eternity. Oregon Eclipse gave us many different feelings—too many to sum up in one paragraph—but what took place in the summer of 2017 was nothing short of incredible. What was accomplished by this gathering and the global collectiveness it took to produce it signals the beginning of a new age of enlightenment. Only through unity and empowerment can we begin to heal our world and ascend as a species. There is no shortage of work to be done and it is everybody’s personal responsibility to try to create a better world for tomorrow.
Lastly, we would like to give a massive shout from the entire organization to everyone who helped, built, attended, and transcended. We hope to see more efforts like this to unite the world.