In a day and age where festivals are few and far in between, it’s often a challenge to create a unique and original experience. Cue FORM Arcosanti, a three-day festival held in a small surreal city in Arizona, which amalgamates electronic performances from the likes of Skrillex, Four Tet, and Perfume Genius, with an immersive cultural series presented by NeueHouse, with work from Doug Aitken and Sanford Biggers, amongst others. Ahead of the festival, which will take place from May 13 – 15, 2016, NeueHouse Hollywood hosted a cultural preview, which included music and a short film screening. We sat down with three of the musicians who make up the lineup, Bonobo, Azul, and Dawn, where we talked about migrating to the moon, the presidential election, and hanging out with their heroes.
NeueJournal: How would you describe FORM as being different than other festivals?
Bonobo: This is my first time being here. I’ve heard from other people who have said it’s a very unique experience. Skrillex described it to me as feeling like you’re playing a party for your friends, which reminds me of a festival called ‘The Big Chill’ that we used to do back in the day. It was a very low key, very fun experience, and it sounds like this is going to be the same.
Azul: It’s different in so many ways. A lot of festivals are kind of impersonal and feel corporate, in a way, but at FORM it feels more communal. You get to know everybody’s name, and everybody’s there to be a part of the art – it’s a more inclusive experience, and it feels like something out of Star Wars.
Dawn: First of all, the whole setup is interesting. The tents they create to make hotels, and the architecture they use to make the structure surrounding it matches nature very well. I think they blend art with nature in a very cool way. I was telling my friend that if I were to do any music festival, FORM is the one I would want to do because it seems so different, and it creates a structure that is different from the Coachellas and the other festivals. It has its own personality.
NJ: What is the first song you listened to this morning?
Bonobo: Something from Nils Frahm and Ólafur Arnalds, from a solo piano record called ‘Trance Frendz.’
Azul: ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ by Led Zeppelin.
Dawn: Normally when I wind down or when I wake up I listen to Debussy’s ‘Claire De Lune.’ It’s been my favorite song since I was a child. My father was a classically trained musician and that was the first song he played for me on the piano. I actually covered it!
NJ: If it’s true that ‘you are what you eat,’ what are you?
Azul: A slob (laughs). A burrito – I’ve been eating a lot of those lately.
Dawn: Crawfish, but I’m vegan now, so I’d have to be Daiya cheese (vegan cheese). I keep telling people, if Daiya needs a commercial, I’m your girl (laughs).
NJ: You’re relocating to the moon. What do you take with you?
Bonobo: Beyond the practical things, I’d bring a zero-gravity piano and some space gloves.
Azul: Some crystals and some sage. Maybe it wouldn’t burn well, but I’d take it anyway.
Dawn: A good pair of moon walking shoes (laughs). Probably a really good moon suit. Is there oxygen available? I mean, that’s the logical question and the practical answer, but it would be a really cool suit, I’d attach some frillies and stuff.
NJ: What is usually the first thing you think about in the morning and at night?
Azul: In the morning I usually try to meditate, if I can. I try to have a clear mind. At night my head races for a couple of hours, before going to sleep. I think about design, stage things, and music.
Dawn: How do we figure out how to beat the system again, today? It’s like ‘Pinky and the Brain.’ In the morning I try to take over the world, and at night I realize that I didn’t do it that day, so I try to do it again the next day.
NJ: Using three words, how would you describe the current presidential race?
Bonobo: All day breakfast (laughs) – no that doesn’t make sense. All at war.
Dawn: A fucking joke.
NJ: If you could hang out with anyone for a week, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you do?
Bonobo: I would probably hang out with my dad circa 1972, which was three years before I happened, so I wouldn’t have to deal with myself in that situation (laughs). But those were his wild, hippie folk years, when he would buy a lot of records, so I would hang around while my dad bought records.
Azul: Probably Joni Mitchell. I would sit and watch her and talk to her.
Dawn: Stan Lee. He’s older now but he seems like he’s still 20; in every movie he’s done he always has a cameo. I like his sense of humor, so I’d love to know, in a world that’s so cynical, how does he still manage to stay a big ass kid? His house must be insane (laughs), but I’d really just like to pick his brain and see how he figured out how to stay himself while at the same time profit from it.
NJ: Who do you admire the most?
Azul: I admire a lot of people, but probably my dad. He’s passed, but he was an artist and an amazing and loving person.
Dawn: My parents, no question. I know that’s cliche, but they’re just fucking awesome. My dad has cancer, and the way he’s handling it is just pretty damn cool, and my mom is so great for dealing with him and all of the things that come with this process.
NJ: Desert or beach? Forest or jungle? Morning or night?
Azul: Beach, jungle, night.
Dawn: Beach, forest, dawn – in between.
NJ: You win a million dollars, but only have 24 hours to spend the money. What do you do?
Azul: I’d probably give away a lot of it to fund certain projects, like for homeless people to have psychiatric help. I would want to help someone out.
Dawn: Create the best software ever in the history of humanity (laughs). No, I’d figure out a way to give it to the world and make good use of it. I don’t think a million dollars would help everything, but if we could figure out how to clean this Earth that’s what I would use it for.
Photography: Shane McCauley for NeueJournal