Lightning In A Bottle Creators Talk Inclusivity, Creativity & Self-Expression Inside & Outside Music Festivals

LiB 2019

Photo: Michael Drummond


Lightning In A Bottle Creators Talk Inclusivity, Creativity & Self-Expression Inside & Outside Music Festivals

"I think all festival culture becomes mirrors and reflections of the greater culture," LiB Assistant Music Director Megan Perez-Carpenter said

GRAMMYs/Mar 19, 2020 - 03:52 am

Last week, several of the creators behind Do LaB's flagship event, the beloved Lightning In A Bottle music and arts festival, sat down to talk about the wisdom and care that brings their event to life. At the Soho Warehouse in Downtown Los Angeles, Isis Indriya (Compass Director), Megan Perez-Carpenter (Assistant Music Director), Shacole Hamlett (ArtClave Director) and Karla Hernandez (Interactive Programming) from the LiB team spoke to panel moderator Katie Bain (Director of Billboard Dance) for a deep-diving conversation about how the work behind the festival.

A few days after the panel, like most other spring and summer 2020 events, DoLaB announced that LiB would no longer be taking place on Memorial Day weekend because of the coronavirus pandemic. While further details are not yet available, one thing is for sure: the festival's sense of community will be more vital than ever once it can safely resume.

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In addition to its epic electronic-leaning musical offering (this year's lineup was set to include James Blake, KAYTRANADA, GRiZ, Empress Of, Doja Cat and many more), the five-day event typically features live and experiential art, yoga and dance classes, talks on sustainability and a massive marketplace filled with fierce local designer-crafted fashion.

Here's what we learned about what makes a meaningful and transformational festival:

Having A Diverse Lineup Is An Active Choice

"[Having a diverse lineup] is definitely something you have to choose to do," Perez-Carpenter stated, adding that the artist booking process has evolved for her team over the years to proactively highlight more diverse voices. She shared that many of the artists they receive inquiries about booking every year are primarily white men, so it has been important to shift things around and instead build the lineup around the new voices instead of trying to fit them into the spaces between the festival headline regulars.

She added that if you claim to be a conscious and inclusive event, you need to have diverse programming your attendees can relate to. In other words, if you want everyone at your event to feel welcome and valued, people that look like them, align with their values and actively promote diversity in their music, art or messaging is vital.

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The process Indriya's team implements to plan the Compass' stacked lineup of speakers and over 80 workshops and performances is pretty amazing and unique, as it's grounded in several modes of traditional wisdom. She explained that her team first meets with the indigenous people of the land, the Tejon tribe, following by meeting with the elder council on their team, as well as a Vedic astrologist. It is important to their team to include a diverse group of leaders to set the intentions for their socially-minded programming and ensure all the speakers they book are aligned with their overarching values and specific vision for that year.

Indriya noted the message of every presenter is really important to what they offer to the LiB community. She shared that, according to astrology, diversity is predicted in the stars right now. Additionally, the team is thrilled the Tejon people feel called to contribute their wisdom directly with festival-goers; this year their dance troupe will be offering a Pow Wow demonstration.

As the Compass team's process highlights, involving diverse voices in a meaningful way throughout the planning process is vital to authentic representation. Thus, it is important to have diversity reflected internally. As Perez-Carpenter underscored, the DoLaB brothers (co-founders Josh, Jesse and Dede Flemming) have put women in positions of power at the company.

What Happens At Festivals Can Shift Culture Forward

As Hamlett underscored, festivals push culture forward, so it's important to be aware of that and to expose people to new experiences. As she explains it, ArtClave was set up as an experiential art space because we often feel inspired at festivals but don't have an immediate outlet for it beyond dancing. With the art offerings at LiB, not only can attendees watch artists live painting throughout the week, they can participate in making their own art, with a variety of artist-led workshops and classes offered.

Perez-Carpenter echoed Hamlett's thoughts: "I think all festival culture becomes mirrors and reflections of the greater culture." Just imagining what kind of lasting inspiration and ideas could be sparked when we are able to harness our creative impulses in fun and accessible outlets is pretty rad.

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"Festival culture is a nice little network and we're all supporting each other," Indriya added, underscoring the close-knit relationships of the transformational music festival community, including those behind the scenes and the dancefloor regulars. When asked how LiB still feels underground after its impressive growth and impact in the larger music event world, she posed that it is "because we care about the details. That's why it's a spotlight on the culture itself."

The Compass has played a vital part in fostering a growing network of community organizers and activists and their collaboration with content partners (including WaterNow, Kiss The Ground and Amazon Watch) allow Do LaB and festivalgoers to support meaningful organizations. Relatedly, as Hamlett noted, they saw the importance of building an artists' camp for all the creatives providing art for the fest to further foster networking opportunities.

"It's up to us to represent our values," Perez-Carpenter added, to frequently check in and make sure our actions remain aligned with them. In 2014, when "tribal print" fashion was popular at Urban Outfitters and mock native headdresses were an unfortunate festival staple, LiB took a stand on cultural appropriation, sharing a message on their website explaining why headdresses would not be allowed outside of their cultural context at their event. As Idris noted, it was initially risky to take a strong stance on this while other festivals were not, but it paid off and helped moved the conversation around cultural appropriation and festival fashion-forward.

This message of cultural respect has become part of the LiB Ethos, summarized by six "guiding principles" including "Celebrate Life," "Create Community," "Actively Participate" and "Honor The Land." This positive messaging is not only succinctly explained on their website but also felt across all elements of the festival.

"That divine spark of inspiration is in our name and is so powerful. We want to live this beauty we create." – Isis Indriya

Fostering Attendee Participation & Creativity Is Essential

"That divine spark of inspiration is in our name and is so powerful," Indriya shared. "We want to live this beauty we create." Beyond the increasingly popular moniker of transformational festivals, she sees LiB as part of what she calls "initiatory festival culture," underscoring the value in actively creating new experiences for attendees to explore and experience for themselves.

Shifting the festival dynamic from a spectator sport to that of an interactive build-your-own-adventure playground is the name of the game at LiB, as evident by their programming beyond the music lineup. As Perez-Carpenter highlighted, they have a "dedication to creating curiosity" because most of us don't have much time and space to just wander in our daily lives, so they're all about creating spaces conducive to that.

And as Hernandez underscored, the people you connect with at the event are sometimes ones who remain in your life for a long time, and that sense of community felt by everyone whose been to the event is really something special.

Their focus on encouraging playfulness, curiosity and creativity is paired with a strong eye towards inspiring activism, as echoed in the work of The Compass. "How are giving the general attendee the tools for change? How can we move them towards activism?" These, Perez-Carpenter noted, are the questions we should always be asking themselves as organizers.

They've even become creative with the way music can be experienced at the fest, including two new additions in 2019. The Mixtape, which Perez-Carpenter describes as a '70s-style lounge stacked with tapes and boomboxes you can pop in to get the party going, became a new fan-favorite. Hernandez noted the Playa Rélampago as her personal safe space, a new home to salsa dancing lessons during the day and reggaetón parties at night. She loves that it offers a home for music typically not represented on the main stages, again, exposing attendees to something different.

Yoga is another important cornerstone of the festival. Right before the panel, on Soho's outdoor patio, Gianna De La Torre, co-curator of the yoga and movement programming, offered a lovely, grounding example of yoga at the fest, accompanied by soothing deep house beats from DJ Beau Robb. For LiBers ready to check out lots of music and party with their squad, a yoga or sound meditation class may be the only real moment of calm they find during the long weekend. Those experiences can be essential to reimagining how they engage with festivals or get them excited about bringing regular mindfulness practice into their daily lives.

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Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam

Photo: Kevin Mazur/


Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam's Mike McCready says "if you love music," record stores are the place to find it

GRAMMYs/Feb 13, 2019 - 04:05 am

Record Store Day 2019 will arrive on April 13 and this year's RSD Ambassadors are Pearl Jam. Past ambassadors include Dave Grohl, Metallica, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P), and 61st GRAMMY Awards winner for Best Rock Song St. Vincent.

McCready was also the 2018 recipient of MusiCares' Stevie Ray Vaughan Award

The band was formed in 1990 by McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Eddie Vedder, and they have played with drummer Matt Cameron since 2002. They have had five albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and four albums reach No. 2.

"Pearl Jam is honored to be Record Store Day's Ambassador for 2019. Independent record stores are hugely important to me," Pearl Jam's Mike McCready said in a statement publicizing the peak-vinyl event. "Support every independent record store that you can. They're really a good part of society. Know if you love music, this is the place to find it."

With a dozen GRAMMY nominations to date, Pearl Jam's sole win so far was at the 38th GRAMMY Awards for "Spin The Black Circle" for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Pearl Jam will be performing on March 3 in Tempe, Ariz. at the Innings festival, on June 15 in Florence, Italy at the Firenze Rocks Festival and at another festival in Barolo, Italy on June 17. On July 6 Pearl Jam will headline London's Wembley Stadium.

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Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show

Glenn Danzig

Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images


Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show

Dark punk legends to play first show with Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only since last year's Riot Fest reunion

GRAMMYs/Aug 22, 2017 - 05:28 am

There's big news today for punk-rock fans aware that the Misfits made much more than just T-shirts.

The massively influential punk band announced a special show touted as the "only 2017 performance in this world… or any world" and billed as "The Original Misfits" in Los Angeles at the Forum on Dec. 30.

This will be the first Misfits show featuring original singer Glenn Danzig and original bassist Jerry Only with long-time guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein since the band reunited for a pair of Riot Fest appearances in Chicago and Denver in 2016. Last year's Riot Fest gigs, which featured drummer Dave Lombardo, marked the first time in 33 years the original Misfits members played together.

"OK Los Angeles, you've waited almost 35 years for this, here's your chance to see the "Original Misfits" in this Exclusive L.A. only performance." said Glenn Danzig. "No Tour, No BS, just one night of dark metal-punk hardcore brutality that will go down in the history books. See you there."

Tickets for this "one night only" show go on sale Friday, August 25.

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Lady Gaga Steps In To Support Youth Impacted By Hurricanes

Lady Gaga

Photo: Anthony Harvey/Getty Images


Lady Gaga Steps In To Support Youth Impacted By Hurricanes

GRAMMY winner pledges support for those impacted by hurricanes this year through Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program

GRAMMYs/Oct 12, 2017 - 11:03 pm

On Oct. 10 Lady Gaga announced she is devoting her $1 million donation in support of those impacted by the recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico and the earthquakes in Mexico, to a specific cause — the mental and emotional well being of children and youth.

Gaga announced on her Born This Way Foundation website she will support Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program, which uses a variety of tools to help young people deal with trauma in the wake of natural disasters.

"Through a curriculum that includes cooperative play, discussion, art, meditation, and mindfulness practices, young people learn to recognize and understand their emotions and develop healthy coping skills," Gaga wrote. "Tens of thousands of youth have benefited from the program since it’s development in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Save the Children is working to bring it to hundreds of thousands more in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico."

The announcement came on World Mental Health Day, and the Fame Monster has invited all of us to step up and consider making a contribution to the Journey of Hope program to support to mental and emotional needs of children.

"Mental health is just as vital to our wellbeing as physical health. That’s true for each of us, everyday, but it’s especially important for those coping with disaster and recovering from trauma," wrote Lady Gaga. "We must do everything within our power to support the full, vibrant recovery of these communities, from meeting their immediate needs to helping them to rebuild sustainably."

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Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards


Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category

GRAMMYs/Nov 20, 2019 - 06:28 pm

The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.

Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville                                                                        

This star-studded compilation album from 11-time GRAMMY nominee J. Cole and his Dreamville Records imprint features appearances from some of the leading and fastest-rising artists in hip-hop today, including label artists EARTHGANG, J.I.D, and Ari Lennox, plus rappers T.I, DaBaby, and Young Nudy, among many others. Recorded in Atlanta across a 10-day recording session, Revenge of the Dreamers III is an ambitious project that saw more than 300 artists and producers contribute to the album, resulting in 142 recorded tracks. Of those recordings, 18 songs made the final album, which ultimately featured contributions from 34 artists and 27 producers.

Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.

Championships – Meek Mill

In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.

i am > i was – 21 Savage

Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.

IGOR – Tyler, The Creator

The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.

The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae

Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.