words by Christina Hernandez
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.
One thing Desert Hearts excels at is highlighting immensely talented local acts on its wistful stage. Our next two performers joining together for a joint interview are hidden gems who both call Los Angeles their home.
Heavily active members of the LA party sphere have probably heard of the distinguishable Doc Martin.He’s primarily known for its impeccable deep house curation and the intimate, good-natured vibes he fosters at each gig. He is also one part of Sublevel Live, alongside the vocalist Lilllia. Having been around since the dawn of raving, more or less, Martin knows how to command a crowd at any time of day, and consistently finds himself on the rosters of many transformational festivals.
Lubelski comes from the new generation of talent bursting out of his Southern Californian locale, and has made a name for himself as a part of the extended Desert Hearts family. His pyschedelic-inspired house & techno, splashed with a bit of obscurity, ensures his crowds are always moving and kept on their toes. He’s managed to grow a large network and solid reputation despite only a relatively short tenure producing behind his Lubelski alias.
Find out what happens when we pair old and new generations together for a discussion about their mutual industry.
Lubelski to Doc Martin:
Let’s go from easy to hard. What is your go to airline? This is one I’m still trying to figuring out. Also, what’s the farthest from home you’ve ever played?
I was flying United and I almost had 3 Million Miles with them. The last couple of years, Delta has been great as far as Service, Meals, Movies, and Comfort!!! As far as International Flights go I use a variety of Airlines…. Probably the longest flight was to Bali from LA.
What does an ideal gig look like to you? What’s the location? What’s the crowd like? This can be in the form of one of your favorite sets you’ve played or maybe one that’s in your head.
I think a great gig consists of an open, dancing crowd! Music being curated the right way, not just a bunch of names thrown together. I do prefer a good artsy crowd, that is open to great music. I also love long sets where I can play different types of music through the night and take the crowd on the full ride. Notable shows that instantly stand out are gigs at Cityfox, Circoloco, Desert Hearts,Oregon Eclipse Fabric UK, Sublevel, Deep LA, Subtract LA, Art of Sound, and most recently The Do Lab at Coachella.
Do you have a ritual for when you play or when you write music? If so, what is it?
When picking music to play I have a very particular ear. I’m looking for more of a vibe, than just a style of music. I listen to tons of tracks, and still play at home all the time. When making music, I will spend hours on just making a sound. Sometimes songs take a while to come together. I believe the most important thing is to stay extremely passionate about what you do.
You’ve been an absolute legend in the scene since the early 90s. What is one thing you miss about the early rave days that you don’t see around in today’s scene?
Things were a lot different in the beginning. The scene was a lot smaller. I was truly blessed, to be one of the first DJ’s to play in different cities around the country. Saying that, I’m having the time of my life right now. I’ve met so many cool people, while being on the road lately. It’s been a completely positive experience! I think it’s important to have fun, and always love what you do.
Has there been one definitive song for you that has stood the test of time that you still find yourself playing in sets every so often?
What an Impossible question to answer. I’m always looking for classics that maybe weren’t huge at the time. There are so many remixes that bring classics in to the now.
Doc Martin to Lubelski:
What’s the story behind the Lubelski name? asking for a friend :)
It’s kind of a long story but I’ll give you the short version. I used to go by another name that was derivation of my first name. Unfortunately it was taken by a Puerto Rican rapper that wanted more than anything in the world to be Latino superstar Pitbull. So in deciding a new name for myself, I wanted to go with something that sort of defined the origins of my last name. Lubell is a derivative of Lubelsky, where my family comes from in Poland!
Please give us a little background on your musical Influences that have helped you develop as an artist.
I’ve been playing instruments since I was just a kid. Always thought I’d end up in a band as a guitarist, but after years of trying to make it work with bandmates, I wanted to just do it all myself. As far as musical influences go, I’ve always been super inspired by guys like Moby, Fatboy Slim, and Led Zeppelin. They’ve always been artists that have tried to push the boundaries on what people considered to be good music and really defined generations of sound.
With so much music coming out on so many great labels. What is your favorite piece of gear and why?
There really is so much good music coming out. It always baffles me how people come up with some of the ideas for electronic music that they do. I've got to say my favorite piece of gear is my Doepfer Modular Rack. It’s the one piece of gear that I feel plays me, rather than I play it. It feels like I have to hold a conversation with it, if you know what I mean. It’s got its own character and is a bit haphazard at times, so it’s always refreshing to get lost in it and let the sounds kind of take me on journey.
How do you see the scene through your eyes?
Oof. This is a tough one. Without stepping on anyone’s toes, I feel like the scene is constantly at a tipping point. I feel because the scene is so saturated, it’s hard to say which direction it will go. Sounds, rhythms, and styles are all being overplayed and people are looking for the freshest thing. Artists like Four Tet, Jamie XX, Frits Wentink, and Danny Daze, I think, all have the right idea because they are focused on a forward thinking sound rather than whatever’s hot and just crowd pleasing, although I will say I still love party tech!
What are some of your favorite DTLA places/hangouts/Restaurants?
I love hanging out in Los Angeles Historic Park in Chinatown. It’s just outside of DTLA and a great place to look at the skyline and enjoy a sandwich ahaha
So many amazing restaurants in Downtown, it’s crazy…but to name a few – Tacos and Mezcal at Las Perlas, Sandwiches at Eat, Drink, Americano in the Arts District, Sushi at Enya in Lil Tokyo, and Mexican food at Bar Áma in the Old Banking District.
Who are you looking forward to hearing at Desert Hearts?
Sublevel Live, of course!!! Also Serge Devant, Damian Lazarus [4 Hr Set], SHADED, and my dude, RYBO.