Lee Reynolds: Desert Hearts 5 Nights that Changed My Life
“When I DJ, I want people to feel ecstatic, in a zone, at the moment, like the only thing that matters is the dance. I don’t want to play the music that people can dance to. I want to play the music that makes people dance. It needs to sound like aliens are about to land on the dance floor.”
Lee ‘Papa’ Reynolds migrated stateside to pursue his BMX bike riding dreams as rave culture was making its first waves in the UK. Considered one of the West Coast’s finest DJs he earned his chops DJ-ing at some of the scene’s dustier institutions likeMoontribe, Moonshake and LiB before he began his path to the Desert Hearts movement.
In 2012, an encounter with a plucky bunch of San Diegans barely out of their teens was the calling Lee Reynolds had spent his whole life working towards.
Alongside Mikey Lion, Deep Jesus, Marbs, and Porkchop, Reynolds co-founded Desert Hearts starting out as a 200-person party in the lush forest of Los Coyotes Indian Reservation.
Now in its 7th year with attendance numbers hitting 5,000 plus. Also, with many more thousands supporting the Desert Hearts brand by going to their “City Hearts” events across the U.S. He has fans adorning clothes and merchandise with the heart-shaped “DH” logo, which Reynolds designed himself.
Now Desert Hearts are making their UK Debut at Egg London on Friday 15th July. Ahead of that party, Lee shares his ‘5 Nights That Change My Life’.
1. The Cure ‘Disintegration Tour’ San Diego Sports Arena, 1989
I’d already been a huge fan of The Cure for a while. I’d been putting everything I had into my BMX career for the previous five or six years. This was my first time seeing them live.
The influence they’ve had on me musically and emotionally is hard to put in words, I’m as big of a fan now as ever!
I’ve seen them a few times recently, including their 40 year anniversary in Hyde Park, and I’m extremely excited for their new album.
2. Depeche Mode ‘Violator Tour’ Wembley Arena, 1990
Living in the US for a couple of years was great. A gnarly BMX injury sent me home to the UK for a year to mend. Luckily for me, a friend bought me a ticket to this show to cheer me up.
I had my first psychedelic trip there and gained a deeper love and appreciation for electronic music that night, became a massive Depeche Mode fan, and have seen them numerous times since. They’ve really stood the test of time for me, and I’ll often drop a DM song in my sets.
3. Wicked Soundsystem ‘Warehouse Party’ San Francisco, 1992
Raving in Southern California at the time of this show. I was really pleasantly surprised by the maturity of the scene in San Francisco. My good friend Mark Quark (West Coast DJ legend) and I, went with all the Wicked guys (Garth, Jeno, Mark E & Thomas) and they crushed it.
Walking out of that dark warehouse into the morning sun and realising things would never be the same for me.
I started DJ-ing shortly after this experience.
4. Burning Man ‘Black Rock City’ 2001
Even though the music wasn’t in any way comparable to what it is now, I did find some pockets of salvation at Burning Man 2001! Mostly, it was a huge eye-opener as far as seeing that many people coming together in a fairly uninviting landscape to have fun and celebrate life. Respectful debauchery!
I learned a lot from this event that I still carry with me, and have in some ways applied to events that I’ve thrown over the years. I didn’t go again until 2013, needless to say, and was shocked at how crazy it had become!
5. Desert Hearts ‘Mojave Desert’ 2012
Our first DH party! We’d been DJ-ing at various Southern California desert parties but were often disappointed with the flow of the music.
Myself, Mikey, Marbs and Porky have always been drawn toward the more tech and house sides of dance music, so we decided to throw a renegade desert party with our ideal line up.
The odds were against us with the weather and other factors but we still managed to get a couple of hundred people out there that would end up becoming the core of our DH family. Word got out that the vibe was special and rest is history (although we still have much more to come).