This Sunday, the music and art collective known as Desert Hearts are bringing their City Hearts Festival to downtown Los Angeles. What exactly is City Hearts? It's a day of House, Techno and art. However, it doesn't stop here. No, this is actually just the tip of the goodness iceberg that Desert Hearts is bringing with them.
City Hearts is more than just music. It's more than just art. It's a time for hearts to come together and share the love they have for one another with those around them. It's for this reason that Desert Hearts will be donating 25 percent of ticket sales from the festival to the Los Angeles Mission homeless shelter. In addition, later on in January, the Desert Hearts community will gather again in Los Angeles to pack and distribute backpacks with socks, toothbrushes and toothpaste for the homeless and others in need.
What's even better about this is that all will be welcome to join in and lend a heart as well as a helping hand.
Mikey Lion, founder and one of the visionary DJs of Desert Hearts, talked to AXS more about the festival and the passion behind Helping Hearts.
AXS: What is the charter or mission of Helping Hearts and what do you want to see it become in the near and distant future?
ML: Helping Hearts is essentially the charitable arm of our Desert Hearts community. Our ultimate goal is to create a lasting social impact outside of our dance community that trickles into the fabric of society. We've been preaching love and positive energy for 5 years and now it's time to take that message to the streets. We're starting locally in Los Angeles but ultimately we'd love to expand this across the country and worldwide.
The entire purpose of our Desert Hearts Festival, record label and community is to spread as much love and positive energy in the world as humanly possible. Over the past 5 years, our community has cultivated a cultural movement that strives for love and acceptance of all mankind. For our 5 Year Anniversary, we really thought about how we can create positive social change outside our dance community. We decided that a good starting point would be to donate 25% of our profits to the homeless in DTLA.
AXS: Why now and why in Los Angeles?
Mikey Lion: I moved to downtown Los Angeles a little over a year ago from San Diego and it shocked me to see how bad the homeless situation is here. One moment in particular sticks out in my mind. My fiance and I had just become engaged and we were walking down Spring St. when a homeless man approached us and asked if he could recite some poetry to us. We told him about our engagement and he said he had a poem about love that he'd love to recite for us.
I remember it being one of the most eloquent, beautiful pieces of poetry I'd ever heard. It blew my mind how brilliant this man was yet he was living in poverty on Skid Row. It was such an eye-opening experience and I wanted to do something about it.
AXS: How can people become more involved with Helping Hearts?
ML: [We will have a] day of service [...] in January on an undetermined date. Our plan is to take 25% of the profits from our City Hearts Festival and use them to create bulk backpacks full of essentials like socks, underwear, soap, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc... We're encouraging everyone to bring donations to the festival as well. Our goal is to create a couple of thousand of these bags and have a day where we invite our community to help distribute them to the homeless throughout the city. We know it's not a solution to the problem but we think it's a good start.
AXS: How do you see the music of Desert Hearts bringing together the people in the DTLA area? In many ways, music drives the people, but it also creates an ethos for a community. What is it you are hoping to create in this one-day event that the people can take home with them to the DTLA area?
ML: The entire purpose of all the festivals we throw is to create as much love and positive energy as possible. Our Desert Hearts Festival, a 4 day campout held on an Indian Reservation outside San Diego, is at the forefront of vibe-driven, community-influenced culture. There is only one stage that plays music for 80 hours non-stop to ensure everyone is on the same wavelength. It's become a beacon of light in the alternative community that attracts people to its ethos of love and acceptance.
The only issue is that it has pretty much hit capacity for how big we want to scale it. So that's where City Hearts Festival comes into play. We wanted to provide an outlet to our community with a new festival that’s much more accessible in downtown Los Angeles. LA is one of the cultural capitals of the world, so we thought it made sense to be the perfect place to spread our message of love to as many people as possible. Our goal is to create a slice of our Desert Hearts Festival and hold it smack in the middle of urban DTLA. As City Hearts Festival grows over the years we aim to expand it to multiple days across multiple venues. I can't tell you how many times I've been told Desert Hearts has changed someone's life. If City Hearts follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, we're creating something with the capacity to change the world.
AXS: Is the Helping Hearts initiative in the downtown Los Angeles area a test case? Will there be an expansion of Helping Hearts and if so, how can people get involved in their own cities to bring Helping Hearts to them?
ML: Yes, the Helping Hearts initiative in DTLA is definitely a test case, but we know it's just the start of something big. Our Desert Hearts community has so much energy that's just waiting to be activated and we feel it's our responsibility to harness that energy and channel it towards a positive impact everywhere we go. As our City Hearts Festival picks up steam our goal is to take Helping Hearts to other cities around the country.
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