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Festival Spotlight: Day Zero – Year One



The Ancient Mayans are the only known civilization in history to have focused all their efforts on building farms that functioned all year round. In addition, while most other pre-biblical, non-personified ancient religions focussed on attempting to explain why the seasons happened, Mayan religion involved kicking human heads down stairs until the sun came out again. So they could continue farming, all year round.

In context then, the fact that South America begins its festival season (and by extension, the world’s festival season) in January, whilst most of us are still reeling from deep hangovers and deeper overdrafts, comes as no surprise. Whilst Data Transmission suspects that promoters are probably keen on distancing themselves from acts of human sacrifice, Day Zero festival, this weekend, opts to go straight to source by holding the event on the ancient temple grounds at Playa Del Carmen.

Overseen by the high Magus of melodic tech house, Damian Lazarus – whose globe trotting imprint Crosstown Rebels celebrated their tenth anniversary with a tour in 2013 as well as a stonking 3-piece forthcoming compilation album, Day Zero festival began in 2012 when cosmic Mayan spirits allegedly contacted Lazarus on a beach at Playa Del Carmen and prompted him to celebrate an event at the traditional religious site. Whilst reporting that the gods “left it pretty open” as to the format, style, type of music and yes/no on disembowelment of attendees at the event, the decision to go with a electronic music festival to celebrate the beginning of a new millenium on the Mayan calendar was so successful it became an annual event.

So what can be expected from a festival comprising cutting edge music with one of the oldest inhabited sites on earth? “We’re true to the spiritual soul of the site” reports Lazarus, noting that emerging Mexican electronica artist Metrika will play the opening ceremony, whilst astronomers and local elders will also be on hand to interpret cosmological reactions. For those intent on looking stage-ward rather than skyward, a line up comprising favourites from last year including TEED and Simian Mobile Disco as well as debuts including Crosstown rising star Francesco Lombardo playing her first ever live festival set & Grammy-nominated Thievery Corporation will grace the prehistoric, three-temple site. Diversity would appear to be the name of the game here – surmised perfectly in 2013 with Lazarus (himself owner of the Lazpod radio show- an online affair famous for its far reaching influence) closing the Mayan-tinged event with the appropriately ancient Phil Collins “Feel it in the air tonight”

Meanwhile, throwbacks to times past aside, Day Zero will retain at its edge a forward looking perspective: “Day Zero is the beginning of a very big 2014. My own second album will be out this year, as will the albums of a number of Crosstown artists. We intended this to be a one off, but as soon as we saw the magic and success of it, we realised we had to make it an annual event. This year we’ve expanded that further, with a new stage area, new lights and FX throughout.”

For a man whose approach to label signings, DJs and events is “If there’s emotion there, I’m interested” few can be surprised at the near mythical status of the event. “You had me at New Mexico!” was legendary producer Tiga’s response on being booked to play this year, whilst it’s near-hidden location and lack of obtuse press coverage only adds to its mystique. At any rate, if the Mayan spirits of the dead ever opt to put together a cosmic press trip, you can guarantee DT would happily sacrifice a few interns to be there. 

Day Zero Festival is held a Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, on the 11th January


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