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It’s hard to believe that Desert Hearts is already crossing into its fifth birthday. The Southern Californian transformational brand has grown from a humble, grassroots gathering into a veritable institution over its half-decade of existence, and only continues to thrive with its City Hearts offshoots. Now, Mikey, Lee, Marbs, and Pork Chop are celebrating their brainchild’s birthday in the most extravagant of fashions, holding the biggest festival to date and booking an equally immense lineup.
Damian Lazarus will be spinning a stirring four hour set, Doc Martin and Sublevel and SHADED will be bringing their live performances into the fray, and many other talented acts like Kenny Glasgow and Dance Spirit also making an appearance. Dancing Astronaut had the privilege of sitting down with a series of the talent on the bill, and hosting interviews that they conduct between themselves.
Two stalwarts join us for Round 2 of interviews. The first is an LA staple, known for his connection to house music and the underground scene. We’re referring of course to Egyptian Lover, who has dedicated his life toward helping the scene thrive and sharing his soulful and grooving sounds to the world. Outside the warehouse sphere, he’s releasing on the likes of Hot Natured, Ninja Tune, and more, and even earning his Boiler Room stripes.
He partakes in this series alongside “Papa” Lee Reynolds, the English transplant who has since become one of Desert Hearts most beloved leaders. There’s something so youthful and infectious about him that rubs off on those he encounters and inspires them to maintain a positive mindset. Catch him on stage rallying a full crowd of dance-loving individuals at the festival, or any of his brand’s offshoot events. Together, they share fond memories of past gigs, offer a glimpse into their inspirations, talk shop, and more.
Egyptian Lover to Lee Reynolds:
What’s the feeling you get when you play a song and people scream (in a good way)?
That’s one of the experiences that I live for and what I hope to achieve with every track I drop. Trying to hit that perfect vibe and frequency that gets the crowd totally in the moment, on the same wavelength and gives them a chance to detach from the all the bad news — we’re fed with the government controlled media. When I get the crowd whooping like a bunch of wild humans, I feel like I’m doing my job. One of the best feelings you can have! I’ve definitely been brought to tears during DJ sets from the energy I feel from the dancefloor.
I myself still play with vinyl records, what do you play with and why?
I mostly play CDJs these days for the ease of use and because I travel so much. It’s nice not to have to lug around a 50 lbs box and to know I’ve got a thousand plus songs in my coin pocket so I can take the party in any direction it needs to go. I’ve been playing vinyl for about 27 years and actually played my first all vinyl set in over a decade a couple of weeks ago, but I have to say that I’m officially addicted to the black crack again! Funnily enough I did play “Egypt, Egypt” which has always been a staple throwback track for me and gets worked into a set a least a few times every year. Having to dig through my collection to get ready for the gig was such an amazing trip down memory lane…many tears of joy and goosebumps were had!
If you could go back in time and be in the studio with any artist and do a Lee Reynolds Remix, who would it be with and on what song?
Great question. Wow, so many good ones. Kate Bush, Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode (ate my first acid at a DM show in London), Siouxsie and the Banshees (my first candy-flip), Grace Jones, The Clash, Bowie, Talking Heads, Fleetwood Mac, Bauhaus, Art of Noise, Bjork, Brian Eno, Giorgio Moroder, Echo and the Bunnymen, Gang of Four, The Human League, Liquid Liquid, New Order, Dead Kennedys, Prince, Queen, The Specials, Can, The Stone Roses.. I’d give my left testicle to have shared the studio with any of those legendary artists and I know my old brain is spacing out on many others. But ultimately it would have to be The Cure, my greatest ever musical obsession! Really hard to pick one song from their incredible discography but I’m gonna say Other Voices.
You are paid $10 Million to DJ a super private party. What are the first 5 things you buy?
1- Dream home for my parents
2- Three month worldwide adventure with my amazing wife Zoe and our incredible girlfriend Dani
3- The ultimate nightclub in my hometown of San Diego
not sure if there would be anything left by this point 😉
4- A plot of land to start my commune
5- A 12 pack of lager
What’s your favorite drink when you DJ? What’s your favorite drink at home?
Lager, lager, lager!!! I grew up in the UK and I’m know to kill at least a 12 pack on a daily basis. I try to steer clear of the hard liquor but that seldom works as I do love a bit of Tequila!
Egyptian Lover – Photo courtesy of artist
Lee Reynolds to Egyptian Lover:
“Freak-a-holic,” “Egypt, Egypt,” and “Sexy Style” are the first three of your tracks that pop into my head and all jams that I still play when I’m looking for some proper old school electro. They all make me feel you were having a really great time in the studio, which one of these was the most fun to produce and why?
I would have to say “Sexy Style” was the most fun. I always go to the studio with friends and at the time, my band. But this one weekend everyone flew to Las Vegas with Rodney O. So I was alone and booked the studio. I went in all by myself and created this track and did the vocals and when my band came back I played it for them and they lost their minds when they heard it. I felt good about it. I then released it right away. It was out in the stores within a couple weeks.
We all know that you’re the boss of the TR-808 but what’s your favorite synthesizer and when/where did you pick it up?
The amazing Roland Jupiter 8. I went into the Guitar Center and asked what’s the best synth you have? The employee said the Jupiter 8 by Roland but it’s expensive. I said “I’ll take it” and add the Emulator as well. His eyes got so big as I had them delivered to the Studio and recorded with them that day.
You been on the scene since the very early 80s and have had a huge influence on myself and many others. What inspires you and who are a few of the artists that influenced to start this journey?
My biggest influences came from Prince, Kraftwerk and the song Planet Rock. That song hit me way deep down in my soul and I knew I had to do something like that. The rap style came from Prince and by putting both of these two together you get Egyptian Lover.
I live in San Diego and I know that this city has shown you a lot of love throughout the years. Do you have a favorite venue down here and any funny stories about performing in my hometown?
I played the Kava Lounge many times and I absolutely love it. Very intimate. Once I was shooting a video there and my cameraman’s wife’s water broke and had her baby in San Diego. I finished my show and we all went to see the new born baby.
We’re super excited to have you at Desert Hearts this year. Can you tell us a little bit about your live set up, what your favorite DJ mixer is and what we can expect?
I’m gonna just do what I do best and that is Rock the House to the Ultimate of Par-tay-stivity. You will witness the evolution of The Egyptian Lover. My crazy DJ set with turntable tricks, playing records backwards, and then playing my 808 Live. Then performing my own songs. I like 4 channel mixers like the Pioneer DJM. I can plug my 808 right into it and have full control over the volume.