The LA native duo produce electronic melody and groove paired with a poignant raw grit clearly their own. It would be a close relation to compare the collective sounds of Figs Vision with the infectious pop of Fun and the attitude of the Talking Heads. The ‘mystic pop’ group started in early 2013 when founders and childhood friends Jordan Spoliansky and Gunner Sixx decided to expand their passion for music. After their EP titled, ‘Darling’ gained a lot of online praise, they eventually released their full length album called “Mother”.
April 18, 2015
590 S Santa Fe Avenue, Downtown Los Angeles
Produced by cARTel: Collaborative Arts LA
Were were graced with some great coverage by Harriet Kaplan the day of the event as well as the series of pre-show interviews that we ran last month (story and link to interviews here). Check back for more artist photo galleries in the coming week.
A thriving and diverse community of creativity and diversity that is vibrant, alive and exciting was on display at BROKECHELLA 2015 Saturday April 18th held in the Downtown Arts District of 590 Santa Fe Springs Blvd.
According to Negin Singh, Executive Producer and Artistic Director of BROKECHELLA and: cARTel Collaborative Arts LA, the event had a total 4,500 attendees.
The attendees ran the gamut from young artsy types, hippies, some yuppies in between, and wild and free-spirited individuals expressing themselves as outrageously in their choice of dress (some costumes) as the “melting pot” environment they participated in mirroring the DIY aesthetic of the festival itself.
Department 4 was an integral part of BROKECHELLA. Chris Willmott of Department 4 spoke with www.theheartla.com about their involvement with the other companies that represented the music and comedy stages.
“We got involved the first time this year to help cARTel, Brownies and Lemonade and Shifty Rhythms to produce media content for the festival for the independent arts and music scene here in L.A.,” Willmont explained. “We were really excited about producing the teaser trailer, video and lineup drop video. We also provide recaps of all the shows that are going on and the great food and vendors that have come. There has been a lot of preparation. All of our volunteers have put in hundreds of hours of work. One way or another, we have been aware of BROKECHELLA since day one. Some of our company members and co-founders have have worked with before cARTel and in past years. This was the first year we decided we were going to go full on and get all involved and bring all of our resources to the festival.
“We set up an interactive room where you can experience all of the stages at once. There remote control cameras where you can browse each stage and look at the crowd. We’re recording all the stages and performances and vendors and doing small interviews and such. We capturing a really thriving arts culture here. It’s a great place for independent artists and musicians to come to showcase.
“For BROKECHELLA, there are so many moving parts, it’s unbelievable how well organized it’s been. We thank all the other partners and producers. Five years in, they got this down to a well-oiled machine. We are expecting the largest turnout ever. We’ve got some great sponsors. It was a serious challenge but it ran as smoothly as it could have.”
The industrial, concrete background of the event was the setting for BROKECHELLA. It featured a parking lot with connecting warehouses with the nearby Sixth Street bridge in the background. The festival sprung to life with four stages of music from acoustic, alternative, post-punk, EDM, R&B, rap and soul acts (more than 50 performers participated) to comedic stand-up done in eight and fifteen segments. There were so many good sets of music across genre spectrum. Figs Vision worked up the crowd as their devoted, vocal fans sang in unison with band and was a big favorite at the outdoor stage. Moon Honey gave an electrifying performance with a rockstar quality to it. Dutch Party got the audience up and dancing to every catchy song they performed.
As good as the shows were, occasional technical difficulties got in the way of a proper, balanced mixes during certain sets. The keyboards often weren’t heard and under-amplified. Sometimes the vocals were muddled. The lack of seats was a problem especially outside. Concertgoers had to sit on the concrete for hours at a time to watch music which can be very uncomfortable. However, inside some of the warehouse areas, there some metal fold-up chairs and graffiti-splattered couches to rest on.
The comedians faced their own challenges in telling jokes and/stories to the audiences competing with the music coming from different directions that sometimes drowned out their routines.
Those issues aside, the festival was fun and entertaining. Art Alley, was another component of BROKECHELLA, consisted of eight galleries of artists’ paintings, photography, and installations, along with a series of brand new installations. The art was scattered throughout the almost 12,000 foot space of the event.
Skool Boiz’ mobile ink-printing station was available where festival goers can collaborate and print their creations on site. Duan Kellum of Skool Boiz discussed how his business got off the ground and his various sources of inspiration.
It’s a consciousness apparel company,” Kellum explained. “We have a line of t-shirts. They all have something to do with social, environmental or economic issues . I also do political and social art. I have posters. Today, we’re at BROKECHELLA and doing some live printing. We are printing three different designs. Everything is originally made. We have a “Make Music With Your Mouth,” “Your Fear is Killing Me” and BROKECHELLA” designs. The “Your Fear Is Killing Me” is one I did probably about two months ago. It was in response to the police killing of an armed civilian. The harassment of Muslims. People who appear to be Muslims. The attack of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth. It’s just a shirt that – “Your Fear is Killing Me – and it’s not that the communities are doing anything, it’s the fear of the general public, that is causing them to react. Unfortunately, people are being killed by it.
“This is my first year here. I actually applied to be an artist to show my artwork. A representative contacted me and she saw my website and she asked me to do some live printing. That is why I’m doing live printing rather than showing art. I’ve been doing the t-shirts since 2003. My first t-shirt was a play on George Orwell’s 1984: War is Peace and Freedom is Strength. I was on Hollywood Boulevard hawking those t-shirts before the start of the Iraq war. I always had these ideas and designs. I got to the point I started to printing my own stuff and it snowballed from there.”
Frank Rozany, cARTel mainstay, is back with a larger and more expansive installation than ever before, featuring over 800 pieces of art, in a fully immersive literal head to toe walk through a space of artwork, even under your feet.
This is my second BROKECHELLA,” Rozany said. “This is my third event with cARTel. My installation is sort of a Dada. It is an art movement that happened at the end of WWI which was anti-art. It makes fun of art. Mine is neo-Dada where I take all my art and put it on the ground and have people walk on it. Because these days, it’s hard for people to get upset with art. The impressionists and cubists were upset. Nowadays, you can do anything and nobody gets upset. Except if you put art on the ground, and have people walk on it, it blows their mind. They don’t want to do it and it gives them a new perspective where it’s fun. Besides the fact that everything on the ground at one time were my good pieces of art. I’ve been making art for 47 years. Now these pieces have graduated to being the walk on the art. I’m selling them for $100 or less – the really big ones. 3’X5′ to little ones that are 1’X1′. They are one of a kind except the ones that are part of a series. They are a lot of fun. A lot of young people come to this event and are totally into a new idea of art. I’ve done it for 15 years and it keeps getting bigger and more complex.”
Feli Fresh is a visual artist from L.A. and she explained she loves to paint live. This year, at BROKECHELLA, she painted 18’X16′ mural. Her art is music inspired.
“Since we’re in L.A., I’m going to do a music city with a boom box,” Fresh said. “I’ll get off what is around me while I paint. There are three types of music going on. I vibe off the energy, the people and feedback. I sketched the images and it’s the layout of what I’m doing today. I’m going to freestyle the rest. Two years, I exhibited here. I did an 8′ monolith. It was a lot fun. To see the company grow, and the festival to be as big as it is now, it’s so inspiring. There’s more acts and stages now. The location changed. That lets me know the audience grown. There are more eclectic types of people and everyone has a passion for music and art. Everybody here is to have fun and because they love what they do. That’s important for a festival like this.”
For the art novice, BROKECHELLA provided The Crayola Color Alive lounge that was described “as an amazing experience for attendees to express themselves.”
Keeping with the eclectic nature of BROKECHELLA and introducing something new, and definitely interactive is lady arm wresting. Amanda McCraven, a member of CLAW U.S. (The Collective of Lady Arm Wrestlers) explained how the organization identifies with what the festival represents.
“Our very first match we ever did cARTel wrestled,” McCraven said. “They were part of the wrestling team. We have have always had a connection to cARTel. We are very much of a fringe, queer, edgy, punk kind of aesthetic. The minute I walked into BROKECHELLA, I knew fit in because of the graffiti and industrial nature of it. The priority on arts and color and theatricality. We are very much part of this community: DIY art making. We are very much a DIY organization. We are very grassroots. We are part of CLAW U.S. (The Collective of Lady Arm Wrestlers). There are leagues all over the world now. It’s about the community you are in. We are very attracted to BROKECHELLA for the support of local art. Making things affordable is really important. We only charge $5 at the door. We want to create a place of community and celebration. We will get astonishment and joy and laughter. We will get new people because we are always at The Bootleg Theater. If you identify as a female, you can wrestle. You don’t have to be strong. We give trophies to the winners.”
“We are an post-apocalyptic, Afro-futuristic, anarchist, LGBT-friendly feminists artists collective,” goSemi and Uhura explained. “We have a radio podcast. It’s called #SnatchPower and the link to our podcast is http://radiotitans.com/shows/snatch-power/ on Thursday’s from 930 p.m.-1030 p.m.
“BROKECHELLA has legit artists, goSemi and Uhura explained.” “Seeing my homies perform is really tight. This year, we came here to see Flako Siete, Noa James, Dean Risko and Tiffany Gouche. BROKECHELLA not whack and mainstream. It’s not societal. It’s real artists. You can see one artist here and other artist there. You can hop around and see so many artists you didn’t know existed. It’s all for the price of one show.”
Support of pets and their owners is another important facet/component that BROKECHELLA takes to heart and is serious about. If dogs were allowed to roam around the festival with their owners at the festival, there is a good reason why.
“Puppychella is an initiative put on by us that allows for people to bring their dogs from 3PM-7PM– it’s just a way for us to keep the festival accessible for all those people who can’t find a pet sitter for the day,” said Negin Singh, Executive Producer and Artistic Director of BROKECHELLA and cARTel Collaborative Arts LA.
“So many of our team are animal lovers and volunteer at rescue facilities, so it’s just something we’re passionate about,” Singh explained. “This year it was brought to us by Healthy Spot, who had a booth with treats and resting zones for the pups, as well as Dog Vacay who was a vendor at the event.”
Healthy Spot owner Mark Boonnark explained how this company was formed, developed and has grown in the last seven years since it began. Boonnark also explained how it tapped into a marketplace void and filled a need missing among pets and their owners.
“I started the business in 2008,” Boonnark said. “The first store opened in Santa Monica in 2008. We now have six stores and one in Orange County. We opened three gradually, but then last year, we were wrapping up our team. We doubled our store count over the last year, we really feel we are a lifestyle brand not a typical retail store that sells you stuff. We are intimately involved in the community. Having a pet now is a lifestyle. You come to even a music festival with your pets so that is why we chose to be here.
“I started it with my college friend from Berkeley. We started it with a focus on health and nutrition. There were big pet recalls on 2003 and 2007. Being pet owners ourselves, we came to find out there is already a lot of great products on the market, but there was a lack of education and awareness. So what we sought to do with Healthy Spot was bring up the customer service that was lost in the modern day and bring education and awareness to what people were putting in their pets bowls.
“It’s our first year here at BROKECHELLA and we were approached because of our involvement in the community. In terms of branding and marketing, we are trendier and off brand in that sense. These days you go everywhere with your pet. It’s an innovative spot to be in and celebrate music, art and love for your pets. It’s all blended together. You don’t just leave your dog at home.”
Though music and art were some of biggest features of BROKECHELLA, truck food vendors were on hand serving and selling festival attendees Greek food and hamburgers and fries and pudding and everything in between. Other vendors sold alternative drinks, jam, jewelry, headphones and adult entertainment products to name a few.
Elvis James, a representative from Brain Toniq, described the product’s characteristics and features.
“This is the first time Brain Toniq is here,” James said. “The product has been out for a while. A year or so. The company wanted to go with some grassroots marketing to get the mental clarity supplement Brain Toniq into people’s hands. We also have the Trim Toniq which is a dieter’s supplement. The Brain Toniq is designed for mental focus and concentrating and memory learning. It gives you a sustained alertness throughout the day. There is no caffeine. It’s not an energy drink so you’re not going to get a weird buzz.”
Mia X, a representative of Laura Ann’s Jams, spoke about the owner combining her different passions to start a line of homemade jams.
“Laura started out as a drummer,” Mia X explained. “She toured and had a lot of fun doing that. She got into making jams and loved doing it. So she mixed the two together: music and creativity. The jam is creative just like the music is. Laura is the GM of El Cid. She is a mixologist as well. She mixes a lot of the drinks with the jams. They all can be used for more than one thing. It’s like branching out. We can use them for dips and drinks. We put them in lemonade. We are working on making Popsicles. They put her jams in doughnuts and pastries at Auntie Ems in Eagle Rock. She had grilled cheese sandwiches made with her jam.
“We love artist events. We have done a lot of events that mix art and music. It’s about being creative expressing yourself in a different way.”
Marianne Quan and Abie Sayarot are the owners of Hulma Los Angeles. Quan and Sayarot think their jewelry line make appeal to an artsy crowd. All the jewelry is 14k gold filled and sterling silver. It’s quality jewelry that is affordable for everyone, Quan and Sayarot said. The company is currently working on its website and they have an Etsy store.
“We go around the world giving hearing aids to kids and adults with hearing impairments and third world countries,” said Brad Larson, a representative for the company. “We have been to six or seven countries. We have helped 17,000 people. We are only two years old and had our two-year anniversary last week. We have just continued to grow. Our demographic has been teens to mid 20s and 30s males, the colors are very dark and appeal to the males and we have females that are interested, too.”
Elizabeth Nortdenholt of Pure Romance is in the business of throwing fun parties for women. Nortdenholt said one of the people organizing BROKECHELLA reached out to her. “They asked if we want to do a booth and it seemed like a great fit for us. Because it’s for a large audience and everyone likes to have fun. We can reach out to more women we wouldn’t have met otherwise. We have bath, beauty and relationship products. We have body wash, shaving cream, perfume, lubricants for foreplay and toys. We have the whole relationship gamut. We have message products. They are great, whether you are single or been in a relationship for 20 years, we have something for everyone.”
The same could be said about BROKECHELLA as an established, evolving event and its growing appeal to audiences looking for unique experience involving music, the arts and entertainment.
“Overall, we were so proud of the event as whole and really feel that it was the exact encapsulation of everything we had worked for in the last five years,” explained Negin Singh, Executive of BROKECHELLA and: cARTel “It is truly bizarre in the most wonderful way to see such an eclectic and forward-thinking audience show up and support the festival. I truly believe that empowering our community in this way reminds all of us why we choose to live in LA.”
BROKECHELLA ARTS & MUSIC FESTIVAL 2015
Saturday, April 18, 2015
590 S Santa Fe Avenue, Downtown Los Angeles
tHeARTofla kicked off the week leading upto Brokechella with a great series of interviews by Harriet Kaplan. Learn more about some of the amazing artist who performed at the 5th Annual Festival.
BROKECHELLA Press Conference – Monday April 6, 2015 – The Bootleg Theater in Silverlake. Press conference participants discussed the changes and challenges of running this festival. Read the details about producing the festival here.
Gunner Sixx and Jordan Spoliansky found a band name and musical inspiration in the form of a mystic/homeless man name Fig Darling they met as teens while they were dirt biking riding in the mountains. At the time, Sixx and Spoliansky were just dabbling in music though Fig always encouraged them to start a band. Two years ago, after Fig’s death, the indie rock band finally took the steps to fulfill “Fig’s Vision” and in honor of him, took the songs they wrote and recorded them in the studio. Since then, they have released one EP “Darling” and an LP “Mother” with the support and help of crowd source funding. From there, Figs Vision developed a following playing clubs around L.A.
“We have given out our EP and built an extended family of people that have wanted to help us out and build something bigger,” Sixx explained. We make music that inspires people to love themselves – the good and parts of themselves.”
Their bond has become even stronger changing the dynamic of the friendship and brotherhood into a unified force and becoming one.
Figs Vision describe their sound as soul, electronic music and with a dash of hip.
“What genres are we in? We have heard different things from different people. The Talking Heads. The Cure. The Knife. We say we don’t know. It’s hard from our perspective. Influence wise there is Gil Scott-Heron, Curtis Mayfield and The Apex Twins.”
Figs Vision are excited about playing BROKECHELLA for the first time and were already familiar with the festival. Performing there will give the band an opportunity to experiment with the visual presentation and try new things.
“It would be awesome to share our vision on such a perfect platform and know this is something we have been praying for so long and we are going to play a show we have never done before, the music we have played before, but it will be a new style of show that we have pushed to develop it further,” Spoliansky explained.
“We’ve gone through a lot of changes and have had different band members. At one point, we were up to six members. Now we are working with three other people. This show is the furthest progression of our live performance. We are always growing and making ourselves hopefully better. This will be a great place to debut our most developed selves performance wise. I think it’s great that BROKE brings people to appreciate the entire spectrum of creativity: comedy to visual art to music. Being a part of all that is an honor.”
Check out the band: