Tamarindo, Costa Rica will ring in the new year with another dose of underground dance music with Ocaso‘s arrival on January 2 to the coastal town. The five-day festival has grown over the years into a veritable institution within the Central American house and techno scene, with curious travelers from around the globe visiting each year. 2019’s billing is a strong mixture of veteran and new performers per usual, with notable headliners including Jamie Jones, Damian Lazarus, Loco Dice, and Guy Gerber. Ahead of the festivities, Dancing Astronaut spoke to the artists to get to know them a bit better, and hear what excites them most about Ocaso.
Anyone who knows Desert Hearts brand is intimately familiar with the name, Lee Reynolds. Moving to California from his native England as a teen, initially for a career in BMX, he soon fell in love with house music and began DJing his local circuit. It was from there that he crossed paths with Mikey Lion, Porky, and Marbs years later — and subsequently decided to throw a renegade in the Mojave. A behemoth institution of House, Techno, Love was born that night and has since been named the “Best Boutique Festival of North America” by DJ Mag, expanded into a touring entity called City Hearts, and launched its own label.
Reynolds is a jovial character, whose virility and kindness have earned him the nickname, “Papa Lee” by fans. His joie de vivre is palpable behind the decks and on the dance-floor, where he’s seen dancing as hard as the audience he typically commands during his boisterous tech house sets. Prior to joining his fellow Desert Hearts on the Ocaso stage, he dropped by to tell us a bit more about his background.
Tell us about the moment/time period where you decided that a full-time music career was the only way to go.
Well, I became immersed in the underground dance music scene around 1992 and quickly started throwing events, honing my DJ skills and building a studio. However, I soon had two daughters to take care of and had to switch my focus to graphic design to pay the bills (a skill that would prove useful when we started Desert Hearts 20 years later). I never lost my passion for the music and continued to throw local events, building my body of music and dabbling in production, but it wasn’t until about 4 years ago that I was able to fully make the transition from graphics to music. My studio has really come together over the past few years and when I’m now on the road that’s where you’ll find me, often times collaborating with the many talent artists in San Diego and LA. It’s been a long time coming but that makes me appreciate that much more! 2019 will be the year for me to unleash some of these tunes!
What’s your favorite part about the Costa Rican dance scene, if you’ve played there before? If not, what are you most curious about regarding the crowds, club culture, etc?
This will be my 4th or 5th time playing down there and it just keeps getting better and better! As a DJ I thrive on peoples’ energy and Costa Ricans have and energy and a zest for life that feeds my fire. Being a fairly new scene it comes with an open mind and lacks a lot of the stale ideas and cliches that hold back some parts of the world. They want to have a ggod time a now how to do it, if you play great music from a good place in your heart you will be warmly received. So my favorite part of the Costa Rican dance scene is the people… the outstanding natural beauty and wildlife is just a bonus!!!
Which of your records are you most proud of, and why?
That would be my next release coming out on Desert Hearts Records on February 8th. This will be my first real solo release and and I’ve been working really heard in the studio to get my tracks to a point that I’m 100% satisfied with, so I’m especially proud of this one! Of the releases I currently have out I would say that my last collaboration on DH with Memo Rex (someone that was really helped me take my production skills to the next level) is my favorite.
What’s in your crate right now that is knocking the dancefloor off its feet?
I try to switch up my selections from show to show and have just taken a little month long hiatus from DJing to focus on my productions. We have out big annual Christmas party in San Diego this weekend (December 22), so I’ll be breaking out a bunch of new stuff. A couple of my upcoming releases ‘It’s On’ and ‘Something Else’ have been getting a great reaction from the crowd, I’ve also been pretty stoked on Relief Records lately.
What are you looking forward to most about Ocaso festival?
Partying with my Costa Rican homies! Everyone down there has been so kind and welcoming to me and make me feel like family. Ocaso fest is extra magical and of course the country is blessed with outstanding natural beauty… so many reasons to be excited for this trip, but number on is the people.
Which artists do you recommend most from the lineup, aside from yourself?
I’m really excited about the line up for our event on Jan 3rd and have a few friends playing that I have got to jam out with for a while. My Desert Hearts partner in crime Mikey Lion always brings the heat and usually plays a lot of unreleased tracks from our label which is always a treat! Andreas Henneberg, Nathan Barato, Jon Lee, Nikita and the Lisbona Sisters would also be in my top picks.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself that audiences might not know.
When I started DJing in 1992 my focus on the ambient sounds of the time and I made a name for myself hosting the chill out rooms at local raves. 26 years later and I’m more known for playing tunes that get people on their feet, however the psychedelic and left field side of techno still has a huge influence on me and I always try and incorporate this sound into my sets. I also had a past career as a professional BMX ramp rider, but I think most people are aware of this. Oh yeah.. I also have three grandchildren!!!
MUCH LOVE TO YOU ALL.