Alongside Soulestial Records’ debut release ‘Siento’ by Spirits and Soundwaves featuring Josh Kwon, we present our sophomore mix with Soulestial Carnival, Josh Kwon’s sunrise set during the annual Capriquarius Ball in downtown LA. thatDROP peels back the onion of a man that gives us “the gift of maximum uplift”, the Soulestial Carnival resident and future physician on the road to his debut performance at Lightning in a Bottle, Josh Kwon.
In thatDROP’s recent interview Josh shares a little more about this set for the Capriquarius Ball that kept us dancing past 7am with the rush he manufactured behind the decks, “The Capriquarius Ball is a really special annual party that is near and dear to my heart because it’s our biggest family party right at the beginning of the year where we celebrate a big chunk of our Soulestial family core, 15+ of our closest friends who happen to be Capricorns & Aquari[-ans?]. It was kind of a perfect party with an amazing vibe, small and intimate but with all the right people having the best time jamming to DJs pumping out the sweetest tunes all night on a precisely treated ChinoSound Funktion-One system.”
Josh continues, “when it was my turn to play, I plugged in my drive and positioned my headphones on my forehead as I always do and looked up to see the beautiful people on the dancing floor staring back so lovingly back at me and already beginning to cheer my name to welcome me onboard the collective VIBE that had been building all night long in the room.
Moments like these make me feel the MOST alive and remind me how incredibly lucky I am to be able to do what I do–and for the people I do it for– who now stood right before me expecting some good music to reach the next level.
What followed was what I can only describe as a hypnotic moment of deep connection & communal bliss. I have a hard time remembering most of the tracks I played that night but was really happy and satisfied by how the set had gone by the time I stepped down 2 hours later, around 7:30 am. Living that underground life, haha!”
Big congratulations! Lightning in a Bottle is easily one of the top ten most significant music festivals in the US, how do you feel going into the weekend? Any moto, mantra or sentiment for the set?
Thank you. I really appreciate it. I feel incredibly blessed for the opportunity and am not taking it lightly. I have been preparing diligently since February and am so excited to share some really spectacular music with all the supporters of the Junkyard stage at LIB.
Special shoutout to Patricio who curates the Junkyard stage and the DoLaB, I appreciate you both from the bottom of my heart for continuing to provide a wonderful stage for California’s local talent which I truly believe is on par with those found in any music scene around the world.
What are you doing to prepare for the set and festival? Besides the necessities, are you bringing any particular favorite festival item(s)?
I love to cook. My other thing is Food and I believe there are parallels between making delicious food and performing great DJ sets. Find the best ingredients and combine them in a creative way, using good technique and, most importantly, love in your heart, and then go out and share it with others for their enjoyment and satisfaction– it’s pretty simple.
Anyway, my gift to give at festivals is food and I am making A LOT of it to share at LIB. Any hungry LIB attendee who comes to my camp during mealtimes will be gifted a hot plate of food to enjoy. BYOP.
What have been some of your favorite sunrise sets?
My favorite sunrise sets are generally composed of a dreamy, awe-inspiring, emotionally impactful assortment of House that reflects the genre’s diverse musical influences (Classical, Folk, Jazz, Blues, R&B, Latin, Afro-Caribbean, and Disco & Funk), while showcasing a high degree of creativity, sophistication, and electronic production prowess that can be both heard and felt through the soundwaves.
In the morning, I love to hear music with the soothing sounds of nature, clever samples, warm airy soundscapes/auditory textures, mellow groovy basslines, unique percussion elements, and most importantly, a perfect harmonic balance between “real” instruments (voice, pianos, strings, bells, horns) and the hypnotic tones of masterfully designed electronic synths, which in turn, evoke deep emotions in all all of us – including joy, sadness, empathy, and connectedness.
The sunrise slot is really unique and special because, unlike all the others, it is the only one where the focus is NOT on Dancing. Instead, it’s on having intimate conversations and deeper connections with others or having some much needed self-reflection. It’s a perfect way to reset your intentions for the new day with lots of self-love & gratitude after a long night of high energy partying.
I believe a proper sunrise set carefully balances the desires of the disparate energies that exist on festival grounds in the early morning after an all-night rager. It should be both: lovingly guide the dancefloor-weary back to their tents for some much sleep while simultaneously celebrating the new day for early risers (and those unable to find sleep), by starting the morning off with a whimsical and heart-felt spiritual journey via beautiful music.
One of my all-time favorites is Kora’s sunrise set aboard Maxa Xaman at Burning Man 2018.
What are some artists, tracks or labels that make up the set you shared with us?
It seems I went all over the world that night and through a bunch of different subgenres and BPMs to do this mix. I can’t possibly list everyone, bu those whose names I can remember off the top of my head are:
Alberth, Dowden, Los Cabra, Tomy Wahl, Patrice Baumel, Dee Montero, Shai T, Stavroz, Deep Aztec, Toto Chiavetta, Enamour, Tebra, Montezuma, Paride Saraceni, Armen Miran, Felix Raphael, Cafe De Anatolia, Hrag Mikkel, Pambouk, Hot Tuneik, Latteo & D’Aria, Roy Rosenfield, & Sebastien Leger, and more incredible music makers from all around the globe.
Can you share some ways music can be healing? Are there any particular songs or sounds that really, maybe even physically, help the mind and body?
Damn, I’m not sure you want to get me started on this one… because this is why I do what I do. Music has a transcendent property that connects us all to the feeling of something greater than ourselves. Within our modern social paradigm, we continuously feel detached from one another as we go through our mundane yet desperate lives, through which we collect and store a whole host of negative feelings within ourselves which in turn stagnate our minds & bodies. This potent emotional factor is what we call Stress.
Stress can manifest in many aspects of our lives, but for most of us, it often crosses over from the mental realm and into the physical by showing up as pain and dis-ease of the body. Therefore, the proper management and wholesome release of your stress can positively affect your health, spirituality, and overall quality of life.
The limbic system, involved in processing emotions and controlling memory lights up when our ears perceive music, which activates the nucleus accumbens, the “pleasure center of the brain”– flooding our bodies with neurotransmitters that we need to process both positive & negative experiences as well encounter them throughout our lives.
In this way, good music and deep human connection which it helps create– lowers the body’s cortisol production, and in doing so, lowers stress, elevated heart rates, and blood pressure.
It eases anxiety, improves mood, and stimulates a positive cognitive/emotional response that reduces the effects of pain which in turn affects our natural healing processes. I can go on and on at length on this topic, but I truly believe that we as humans are all inherently aware of this truth–music heals, period.
Can you share a little about how you are stepping into music production?
Yes, I am working on music with my Soulestial brother and production partner Alejandro Luna aka Spirits + Soundwaves. We just released our first collaboration “Siento.” We are working mainly on Organic & Progressive House music which I’m hoping to be able to share more with you all soon. I am also currently involved in projects with a few other DJ producer friends in SoCal which will be coming out in the near future.
What was your first impression or event of electronic music?
My first electronic music event ever was Monster Massive in 2007. Like many LA natives growing up in that time, Massives were my introduction to electronic music culture. They were fun but I never felt like I truly belonged and the feeling of being lost in the massive sea of people where no one was really connecting with anyone they didn’t come to the event with got old for me pretty fast.
I raved at so many of these types of parties for about 4-5 years before discovering the vibrant conscious Los Angeles Burning Man Community and the various dance music undergrounds that were born out of it.
That was where I truly found a home and the desire and courage to become a DJ within it.
You have played Having played at Avalon, The Union, Spin San Diego, Sutra, Mansion Costa Mesa, and has appeared on festival lineups including Leyenda Eterna, Love Long Beach, Teleport Art Car Festival, Off the Grid Festival, and The Gathering. Please share about your very first set. Then when did you initially cross paths with the Soulestial Carnival?
My first set ever was at a big house party up in Malibu back in 2013 for a group of amazing Burners who eventually became dear friends of mine and really made a significant impact on my life’s trajectory. I was a beginner with no semblance of good taste in music or proper DJing technique, but they graciously told me that they enjoyed everything I played and showered me with encouragement which affirmed my deep desire to continue pursuing this craft as far as I could possibly go with it.
I deeply connected with my beloved Soulestial family for the first time in March 2018 at a truly one-of-kind intimate music festival in Canyon De Guadalupe, Baja California, Mexico called Leyenda Eterna aka “Fuente”.
It was after the second [and best] Sunrise Set of my life that I was approached by Soulestial leaders– Joe Giuliano, Frank Serna (Outfits & Oddities), and Alejandro Luna who came to warmly congratulate me on my set and invite me to hang out and get to know the crew. A beautiful family-like friendship soon developed and continued to grow strong despite the Covid pandemic that kept us all from enjoying the dance floor connection that we all craved for so long during those difficult times.
In July 2021, with the world slowly emerging from entropy, Soulestial reached out to me and asked me to join their family, encouraging me to leave behind my long-stagnated “lone wolf” artist existence to be a part of something much bigger than myself. I was more than happy to do so and the rest is history, my friends.
What car or thing would you want to find in a junkyard?
I dunno, Monster Trucks and Space Shuttle parts.
Can you share more about The Gathering and the Leyenda Eterna that you played at? If you can recall, who were some of the headlining artists on the lineup? Who helps put those festivals on?
The Gathering festival in Santa Clarita is the most relaxing, family-vibe campout event that I attend every year. This year will be the 10th anniversary and I’m feeling extremely fortunate to be asked to come back to play music there once again.
The amazing humans who organize it are Todd “Chino” Anisman (ChinoSound) & Travis “Fatfinger” Lea and their dedicated team at Project Alma.
They always book a diverse range of sound and draw literally the best people to their party year after year. The incredible Danley Soundlabs System which Chino treats himself to perfection is art unto itself and a major highlight of this event.
I already spoke a little bit about Leyenda a few moments ago. This event has unfortunately taken a brief hiatus due to Covid and massive natural weather damage of the desert oasis property where it was held during a recent hurricane. However, its impact will be felt for a long time as the people who attended in the past and have had their lives changed, number in the thousands. The event was originally organized by Cade “Saynt” Bourne & Josh Blue and eventually came into the stewardship of Arturo “Turo” Everitt & Dru Johnson and their indomitable team. This event was literally heaven on earth and where I played some of my best sets ever.
Whats one of the more darker tracks and one of the most brightest tracks you know?
My style can be described as a close juxtaposition of light and dark because I love both types of music equally. I want my sets to have a proper narrative and tell a good story and you can’t have a truly good story without embracing both aspects of life. Life isn’t all light and it isn’t all dark either.
My greatest musical inspiration is classical composer Beethoven who masterfully accomplished this in all of his greatest works.
Josh Kwon @ Darkside [Dark Progressive Techno Set]
What is one discipline you have that keeps you balanced?
There are a number of things I am doing in terms of self-care to balance the different aspects of my life as I progress through my DJ career while studying hard to become a healthcare provider.
The two major areas I’d like to share with you now are:
- Developing and maintaining solid & fulfilling interpersonal relationships with friends & family.
- Qi Gong – my Qi/Internal Energetics Cultivation practice gleaned from ancient Daoist & Buddhist practices which involve moving, standing, sitting meditations, breath-work, and Taiqi Chuan.
What course have you found most interesting during your studies of Traditional Chinese Medicine? What course or part has been the most difficult?
ALL OF IT! Every subject matter that I have been exposed to through my studies in Traditional East Asian Medicine (my own name for it) has been mind-blowingly informative and useful to me in so many profound ways.
By being both scientific and seemingly composed of pure magic simultaneously, I am having the time of my life studying the ancient wonders and incredible modern applications of this brilliant medicine and I am so grateful for the opportunity to do so.
Everyday, I feel like I’m studying at the premier research university and at Hogwarts at the very same time. By far, the comprehensive study of a myriad of Herbal Formulas is the most challenging aspect of the curriculum, but it’s also my favorite.
As for what’s next… Josh shared his excitement to head to Apple Valley, California when summer officially hits, “Soulestial & Soulnova are coming together for a very special event in June.”