Festivals, Conspiracy Theories, And Cartoons- Oh My!

Festivals, Conspiracy Theories, And Cartoons- Oh My!

Desert Daze Music Festival and an Accidental Interview with its Art Director, Mason Rothschild

Imagine an electric wonderland of music and art where cowboys and aliens not only coexist but—dance, on gritty desert sand, surrounded on all ends by wistful mountain ridges. What if I told you this utopia for music lovers far from civilization yet in the heart of the desert is a reality? What if I told you it’s all happening in a few months? Well, this wonderland will have you in daze.

With exciting additions Iggy Pop, Cigarettes After Sex, and Sleep being the final touches to already killer lineup it’s no wonder Desert Daze is expected to bring thousands out to Joshua Tree’s Institute of Mentalphysics in October. Moon Block, the organization behind this marvelous madness, has also included in this year’s festival lineup Eagles of Death Metal, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Twin Peaks, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Allah-Las, La Femme, and Ariel Pink amongst many more.

With the recent release of this full lineup, now is as good as anytime as ever to share my accidental interview with Mason Rothschild, guitarist of the band JJUUJJUU and art director of this whole euphoric shebang.

From talk of a magical music festival, to 90's Nickelodeon, to reptilian humanoids and the Illuminati my time with him was anything but ordinary.

It was 11:30 pm on a weekday in March when I found myself sitting beside Rothschild of the universe in a black-lit zebra striped room. To my left was Claire Hawley, the photographer half of our Claire Squared journalistic duo. She was capturing the moment as I conversed and commemorated my first official interview. Thank heavens Mason had a lot to say.

He was traveling with the Desert Daze Caravan tour, where he along with other featured artists from the past lineup ended up in our very own Downtown Las Vegas for Neon Reverb festival.

The conversation began with a personal explanation of how I was an aspiring journalist to which I was cut off with Mason’s reassurance, “Well no, you’re just a journalist. I feel like if you’re writing for a blog then you just are, you know?” “The first time I played a show, I’m a musician. The first time I was an art director—I was an art director.” he laughed and shrugged. With his words of wisdom, my mini notebook, color-changing pen, and my homemade badge I felt legit enough to continue with the confidence of the badass I could pretend to be.

I learned quickly Mason was a really cool guy to talk to and soon enough the basics were answered and conversation elevated. He shared his vision as art director “I wanted a story to tie all the installation, all the sculptural artists together so it wasn’t like Burning Man, a shipwreck here and a computer lab there.” With 125 people in his art department there was plenty of room for error and nervousness but Rothschild assured, “I luckily hired all these people that are such wonderful, talented individuals…” he was able to achieve sharing the wonder and amazement Disneyland brings little kids, with adults. “I wanted there to be more of a show than just a band on a stage.” He, and everyone involved in the making of Desert Daze ultimately aim to create an experience, “With our lineup and all our artists combined, we’ve just got the magic.”

“[When I think of music] I want to go to place with likeminded individuals…When you bring likeminded bands and all this very curated content you bring in a curated crowd. So the people that come in are all there for a singular purpose—to listen to music and experience art; not to show off fashion and hangout, that’s bullshit. That’s why we’re the anti-festival, Desert Daze is for a smaller audience…bringing the scene together.” He hopes Desert Daze can be a model for new festivals in other genres; more events that tailor to smaller crowds attending specifically to take in the environment created.

The commercialism of major leagues in the LA festival scene, like Coachella and Burning Man, was brought up. Mason affirms Desert Daze is simply not like that, “The commodification is just a byproduct. We want to do the coolest fucking thing for our community, but we also need to pay everybody.” Desert Daze is a rarity, genuinely by musicians and artists for musicians and artists, “we had to learn all this shit because none of us are from the festival world… we’re just trying to have a party, dude.”

We gabbed on a bit more about logistics and technicalities behind the creation of this experience before somehow ending up discussing Saturday morning cartoons. “I love cartoons,” after serious contemplation Mason declared his favorite had to be The Ren & Stimpy Show; a unique Nicktoons choice but a great one and no surprise at that. Talk led to internet streaming, the FBI, smart TVs, and finally conspiracies. Mason laughed, “Those fucking smart TVs they’re spying on your fucking house. Reptilian shape shifting aliens all the way at the top of the government—everyone’s fucked!” He denied being labeled a conspiracy theorist but did mention his name, “…the [Free] Masons and the Rothschilds are both kind of funny.” He did reveal one of his favorite books which he recommends to anyone, Cosmic Trigger I: The Final Secret of the Illuminati by Robert Anton Wilson; it’s the first in a series of autobiographical exploration pieces into the works of various conspiracies, religions, and perceptions; once again, an interesting choice to which I would expect nothing less.

An enormous thank you is due to Mason for not only taking the time to exchange words and share Desert Daze, but for bearing with me on the achievement of this milestone in my journalistic career and being undeniably interesting the whole way through. This will forever be one of my favorites in my reserve of stories to tell.

Mason’s and his partners’ with Desert Daze intention is to “create an experience that relates more to the senses than just a one dimensional band.” They create a temporary psychedelic sanctuary for lovers, funsters, and even punks to gather, revel, wallow, and enjoy. It’s a weekend of energetic multidimensional entity with a remarkable team coordinating and even greater attendees. So what are you waiting for? Get your tickets to #DesertDaze2017 now!


Cover Image Credit: Claire Hawley

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.

7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.


Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.

I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.

I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.

As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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