by: James Rockefeller Gray
Confetti explosions, glowing sparkling nights, bouncing beach balls, burning sage, glitter, BASE, Kandi, ATL HOE!, Dancing Fairies, MORE BASE, glam, Funk, good vibes, FUCK THE RAIN, southern hospitality= IMAGINE MUSIC FESTIVAL.
The Imagine Music Festival stretched out their hospitality and welcomed us to take part of what has been one of most insightful and freeing experiences of my life. “Iris Presents” produced a welcoming, organized, outrageous, kick ass festival. Not even the motherfucking rain could shut this party down! Fresh off from recovering from a Rave, I arrived at the festival located in the heart of downtown Atlanta. If the night before had any indication of how the weekend was going to go, I knew I would have to buckle up for the ride.
Spread out like a giant hippie playground of utopia, Imagine had three separate parts that were close in vicinity, with different themes. 15,000 people attended the festival, which is very impressive considering it’s only in its first year. North Carolina was highly represented with the EDM and promotional company THE CAROLINA COMMITTEE also there. The food was good at the festival. I would’ve loved to see more of a variety, but I had a giant turkey leg, pizza, and a chicken po’boy.
Let’s start by talking about the stars of the festival that Cody Chesneau (co-anchor) and I ran into. ADVENTURE CLUB, SKY BLU, WICK IT, MK ULTRA, and PROTOHYPE. After we talk about that, I will get into the performances, people, and the whole festival.
Adventure Club was one of the most buzzed names of the festival. They are a Canadian based duo (Christian Srigley and Leighton James), that takes every bit and inch in their music and performance HARD AS FUCK!! It was Sunday night, and our interview was scheduled at 7:30pm, I was already running a bit late, but I heard that nothing was happening at the scheduled times. Which is not unusual for a large production like Imagine. RUSKO was on stage when we arrived back stage for the interview. But we weren’t the only ones waiting for an interview there was a line of reporters that have been waiting for as long as two hours. Since we were all on a tight schedule, I settled just to take a picture. The other reporters left, as we stayed behind. Christian Srigley pops out of his trailer, with his road manager Shaggy.
“Hey Christian, these guys just want a picture.” Shaggy said, “Yeah we will just settle for the picture,” I told Christian. Christian smiled, he was full of energy and just had a very humble vibe about him “Nah guys let’s do the interview after the set, or you could interview me, Leighton is just getting prepared for the set, tryna get things together,” he said.
“Nah that’s fine man, we will wait until the set is over to get both of you.”
“Ok.” He smiled and walked off.
In hindsight I should’ve gotten the interview with Christian, what was I thinking? Lesson learned. I saw him chillin with MK ULTRA, so we went to take a few pictures with him. I was very surprised at how funny Christian is, he didn’t mind making different poses and expressions for the camera. Thirty minutes later Christian and Leighton were on stage and they ROCKED IT! They had girls that were dressed like sexy cats on stage dancing with them, and the die-hard AC fans were wearing their ADVENTURE CLUB hats from the cartoon called Adventure Time.
SKY BLU from LMFAO
SKY BLU and ADVENTURE CLUB had the best management teams to communicate with, they were both very ready and willing to do interviews. I was upstairs in the venue ‘Masquerade,’ when I received a phone call from Sky Blu’s PR. “James, we are here. Where should we meet”? he asked.
Cody and I had been waiting for this interview all weekend, other media peers didn’t believe we actually had an interview with the star, because they witnessed us a day before, get our times mixed up for the interview. We thought that we were doing it that Saturday not on the Sunday. I had rushed down stairs to enter the media room, ATL local celebrity DJ PLOYD was on the Turn Tables. Sky Blu was downstairs ready to go for the interview. I had already did my research on him and was aware that he’s music industry royalty being that he’s the grandson to Barry Gordy (Founder of Motown Records). Sky came decked out with his gold chain around his neck, and white wife beater, and sunglasses on his face.
“Sky, James Rockefeller Gray.” I said as I sat down on the chair. We only had fifteen minutes to interview him, he had to perform in 30 minutes.
At first I couldn’t get a good read on his vibe. “So you’re the president of Party huh? You been partying?” I said.
“Hell yeah, I party all the time, right now is a party.”
Great, I thought to myself because I just drank five beers, so I’m buzzed and he’s buzzed. This interview is going to be a party. Later after the interview I went to go see him perform, it was hot! But he had the crowd jumping. He performs with a LIVE band, a DJ, and he has his hype men on stage. Sky puts on a really great show with a mixture of rap, jazz, hip hop, and dubstep.
See my interview here.
My friends are very big fans of PROTOHYPE. I’ve heard his music before, but I never seen his face, and I’m very new to the EDM scene. Cody and I were standing backstage waiting for our ADVENTURE CLUB interview. PROTOHYPE and ADVENTURE CLUB were sharing a green room which was a trailer. I saw a guy dressed in all black with a dope chain around his neck looking through the window of the trailer.
“Hey buddy, would you mind telling me if that’s Adventure Club’s trailer or Protohype’s?” I asked.
“Well I’m PROTOHYPE”, he said. My heart dropped, I could do was to continue to apologize because I didn’t know who he was. He told me not to worry about it, but then he gave me a pissed look like, “Can I get a picture for the paper?”
“Yeah, sure,” he said, and then he walked away to go back on stage.
‘Okay,’ I thought that was kinda weird, five minutes later he walks up to us.
“I’m sorry, Rusko just played one of my songs and I wanted to show some love.”
We took his picture and posed with our two fingers, at first our fingers were touching, he slowly pulled his fingers away from my mine. “Fucking great,” I thought. It wasn’t enough that I didn’t recognize him, but now he’s going to think that I was hitting on him. I wanted to ask him some questions, but I just choked because of the embarrassment. PROTOHYPE’s performance was pretty damn stellar, again I want to send out an apology and reschedule an interview.
WICK IT The Instigator
Hailing from Tennessee, WICK IT was the festival’s artist to watch out for. WICK IT is clearly on his way to superstardom, with his humble presence and the ability to play a mix of songs that everyone will be able to rage to. His flight was late Atlanta and we almost didn’t get to see him. Cody Chesneau was excited to sit down with him. It was 3:00 pm Saturday, and there was no sign of WICK IT, the festival media department told us that our interview time had ran out, and they needed the space for someone else. Cody was immediately disappointed. We packed our stuff and then upstairs and then went upstairs. Cody had raised my excitement about meeting WICK IT, so his disappointment was becoming a buzz kill. I walked downstairs to get some positive energy, through the main entrance I could see a tall man, with a beard, and huge presence. It was WICK IT. I tapped him on the shoulder.
“What’s going on man?” he said,
“Would you mind sitting down with Cody for an interview? We have been trying to interview you,” I said.
“Are you guys with Clarion Content?” he said smiling.
“We can do that right now, let’s get it done,“ he said.
We got to sit down with him and Cody did the interview.
WICK IT the Instigator is from Nashville. He worked in a warehouse until his agent, the man he has worked with for three years, got him a years’ worth of gigs, so he quit his job to tour. His family has been supportive
His Pre- game ritual – getting a drink and feeling out a crowd
His favorite song to play is his “Walk the Line Remix” with Johnny Cash.
His favorite moment of DJing – is when the crowd is acting crazier than he is.
His favorite spots to DJ are Nashville, Atlanta, and the west coast, loves that west coast – “People get weird there.”
He creates some of his songs on the road, but he mostly just starts them there, then works on them in the studio
His studio just got upgraded and he is going to be releasing his new EP in the next month or two. He has a lot of surprises coming including some house, electro, and hip hop. But this will be his first EP with all originals, so he is very excited about it
When asked what songs he likes to remix, he said that some songs have that magic, “Have the juice!” He loves classics and remixing them. It makes the crowd go wild.
WICK IT ‘s set was closed down early because in the middle of it the rain came pouring down. But that didn’t stop the fans from still going hard and raging, it only increased the energy of the audience. I made a point to go see him and stayed in the rain. People were shouting.
“WE DON’T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT THE MOTHER FUCKING RAIN!” He‘s a very good performer. He really gets into it with the crowd. He jumps, yells and rages out! Since it rained he decided to continue his set at the after party. He went on right after BUKU, and I didn’t think I had any more energy, but when he performed, my vibe shot through the roof.
MK ULTRA is the rising star of the group. This was a huge weekend for her to get her name and music out. I ran into her a few times. The first time I saw her I walked into the Masquerade Venue, and my friend recognized her, “She’s hot a fuck! Wait that’s MK ULTRA! Duuuuuuudddddeee!” he exclaimed.
I could tell he was clearly excited. About an hour later she was on the main stage doing her set. I was curious if she was actually a good DJ, a lot of women who are DJs use their sex appeal, over their actual talent to create huge fanbases for themselves. The festival was buzzing over MK ULTRA, and her performance did not disappoint. This woman throws down hard as FUCK! And she also raps. After meeting her several times throughout the festival, I really learned that she’s super friendly and just an overall genuine person. If anyone deserves success, it’s her.
See our interview with MK ULTRA here.
The visuals at the festival, were spectacular, during the INFECTED MUSHROOM set lasers and images of mushrooms were coming from the stage. Visual images were even floating around. At night time people were holding glow sticks, and dancing around. BEATS ANTIQUE was amazing, they played at the same time as 7 Lions. 7 Lions played on the main stage, and the Beats Antique played on the second main stage.
7 Lions was hard dub-step and very loud. His performance was a visual spectacle. I was very impressed at how we couldn’t hear music from the other stages, it felt like we were completely in a another room. The festivals’ show programmers also did a great job with programing the different stages to fit everyone’s energy level. For example Freddie Le Grand was playing on the main stage, while Emancipator Ensemble was on the second stage. In the middle of jumping like crazy sweating hard with Freddie Le Grand, I needed to catch my breath so I went to the second stage to see Emancipator Ensemble. The atmosphere between the audience and the music was incredibly opposite. Emancipator Ensemble was very low chill and trippy while Freddie Le Grand was hyper energy. It was perfect.
The people who came to the festival were all ready to party, there were no fights, just smiles and good energy. There was hardly any drama at all at the entire weekend. The staff and police officers were very very, cool, you had to go to the extreme to get in trouble at this festival, they all looked out for the festival goers.
Other highlight performances were. ..ATaliens, BUKU, RJD2, RUSKO and DESTROID
There is no doubt in my mind that as this festival gets older it will eventually become one of largest festivals in the country. I’m glad that I was able to experience in its beginning stages, because if that was the just the beginning I can only IMAGINE what next year will be like.
James Rockefeller Gray is a promoter, writer, and native of Durham, NC. He’s an alumni of the North Carolina School of the Arts, and has also studied acting at S.U.N.Y. Purchase College. A socialite and local celebrant in his own way, James Rockefeller Gray plays a major role in the Bull City’s night life and music scene. His recent work includes bringing Reality TV star and Bounce Music legend, Big Freedia to Durham, both for PRIDE 2012 at MOTORCO and at THE PINHOOK in November 2013. James has also helped promote interest in and awareness of the local BURLESQUE community by creating, and promoting a series of BURLESQUE DANCE PARTIES with DJ SHAHZAD and MISS BLISS.
Follow James Rockefeller Gray on Facebook here.