It’s been a little over a week since bassheads descended onto Playa del Carmen, Mexico for DejaVoom, the lucid Bassnectar-curated festival that emulated a dream sequence in itself. How Bassnectar and his team of sound and lighting gurus managed to accomplish such a feat is still quite the mystery. But as the days and weeks pass, and attendees are still bringing their joy, smiles, and immense gratitude into the default world, the experience feels like a lot waking up from a dream. The event was, for all intents and purposes, exactly like experiencing déjà vu.
While the event was very much centered around the music and sound, which fans can relive through these videos, there were endless activities to take advantage of. From the daytime resort activities that included morning yoga, an on-site waterpark, zip lining through the jungle, and snorkeling at sea on a catamaran rides. With additional off-site excursions that included climbing the steps of the Chican Itza Mayan temple, exploring underground water caverns, or visiting the picturesque town of Tulum, there just wasn’t enough time to experience everything. Match that with the endless all-inclusive dining options and the daytime pool parties— which featured a Dirtybird Players takeover, Keerian Bopeerian, Beats Antique, Ooah and Boreta’s 29 Palms, and a pirate ship bass party takeover—and the three days of music created a mirage resembling every electronic music lover’s paradise.
But it was the supreme life lessons that Bassnectar’s legion of loyal followers took home with them that was the most gratifying of all. Any basshead can attest to the fact that we follow Bassnectar across the country (and now the world) not solely because of the music. Sure, hearing a rare track, unreleased music, or a brand new live edit being played out for the first time is exhilarating, to say the least. Yet, what keeps the Bassnectar fanbase coming back hundreds of times over is the loving family reunion atmosphere, the soul connection with our fellow humans, the values that float around in the air like magic, and the ethical principles of our community.
Upon packing up the hotel rooms, eating our last buffet brunch, and departing the Barcelo Maya Resort in drones, every attendee boarded the airport shuttles with a few life-changing epiphanies from Bassnectar’s first international festival. As media professionals attending DejaVoom, here are five specific ones which we feel capture the full power of the experience and what it means to be a basshead.
Epiphany #1: Life is but a dream, just one continuous loop.
For the few who attended DejaVoom, many spoke daily of just how vivid their dreams had been over the three, four, or five days of their vacation. Walking around the resort, one could easily observe how everyone was entranced in a dreamlike daze. Passing people with happy, half-mast eyes, making direct eye contact with glittering pupils, seeing complete strangers and meeting them right where they were, one begins to truly appreciate how the eyes are the window to the soul.
But here is where the real treat was: Hearing fellow bassheads speak so specifically and eloquently about what was going on within their subconscious, and watching them work through these visions in their waking lives.
It ultimately speaks to a certain level of consciousness that we enter into at Bassnectar events. It’s harder to go to bed, it’s even harder to wake up. While at Deja, I vividly remember going lucid every single morning to mentally prepare myself for the day’s activities. Of course, I would slowly fall back into another two-hour REM cycle—a much-needed one too. But, in that in-between space between sleeping and waking, I was able to manipulate my actions in the dream world as well as reflect on the upcoming events of the real day.
Deja attendees were so locked into the dream world that we became more sensitively attuned to the things our subconscious was telling us. What to do, what not to do. It was a surefire symptom of Bassnectar’s hypnotic, mind-altering sets. We then begin to learn to harness this power in waking life. This is where self-awareness is attained, and it is also the key to unlocking higher levels of consciousness. Behind the door is the realization that life (and death) is just like experiencing one long, continuous, ongoing dream.
If life was a dream, then dying must be the moment when you woke up. It was so simple it must be true. You died, the dream was over, you woke up. That’s what people meant when they talked about going to heaven. It was like waking up.” ―
When we view life as but a dream, we can begin to access the physical world, and those key life events in it, as cyclical. Like long periods of depression or quick surges of happiness, every feeling is temporary, every event is leading to something else. Like waking up to conquer the day, or going to bed to recharge our physical vessels, everything happens in a circular pattern. Much like attending four seasonal Bassnectar events every year just so you can recharge yourself, every experience is fleeting, here and gone in the blink of an eye. It’s what you choose to take home with you, and how you consciously project that out onto the world, that holds deeper meaning for your life.
Upon returning home from DejaVoom, many attendees came home to see the buds on the trees in their backyards begin to spring to life, reminding us that the dead of winter was soon to pass. At home, a deep appreciation for the circularity of life still lingers. Specifically, how life’s ebbs and flows resemble the waves crashing on the Mexican shorelines.
Epiphany #2: Manifest your dreams into reality with intention.
There’s a personal story here I’d like to share about how DejaVoom taught me about active, conscious manifestation. It was a lesson I had learned many times before, but not quite like on this level. On the first night of the music, I lost my backpack hammocking on the beach late night. Everything was inside. My money, my phone, and my wallet with passport and identification. While my first thoughts were panic and devastation, I reminded myself that these were useless emotions that didn’t serve me or my ability to find it. I decided, instead, to just let it go.
Once we truly let things go is when they have a way of coming back to us.”
I repeated the quote in my head over and over again, countless times a day. I made the decision to not let it worry me or ruin my happy, kid-like enjoyment. Everyone I came across, I told them the same story, even complete strangers. Every response was similar to mine, faces of horrifying panic, questions about what I was going to do. My response was always the same: “Some beautiful basshead probably found it and it’s sitting in lost and found.”
But make no mistake, the doubts and the worry came back more often than I liked. I replayed horrific hypothetical events in my head. I questioned myself: Would I be stuck in Mexico for weeks at the Mexican consulate? Would I just have to live and work at the resort? In these moments of panic, I took time to myself, reaffirming that these were just negative thoughts that my own self-doubt was trying to manifest into existence. I meditated and sat with these feelings, and then I released them.
On the very next morning, around 7am, I had a vivid dream wherein I was talking to two Mexican girls, both of whom were bassheads. In the dream, I was crying tears of joy because my backpack had been found and turned in. I shouted, “See, this is why this family is so beautiful!” The dream was entirely surreal and so empowering that I forced myself to wake up immediately.
I began getting ready while my entire room was deep in dreamland and set out on my search to the nearest hotel lobby. No luck. The woman at the counter said to try the next lobby. Nothing. Onto the next lobby. The language barrier didn’t help either as I tried to describe the look and contents of my belongings. And so on and so on, until at the fourth counter, my bag had been returned with all of its contents inside.
It was in these moments that I had, quite literally, made my dream come to fruition. It also speaks to the power of our subconscious on our reality. When you fill your mind with negative thoughts—“I lost it forever,” “I’m not good enough,” “No one loves me”—you are reaffirming those things for your life. Why? Because, on some deep level, you believe them to be true. When you actively create positive affirmations and form a habit of repeating them every day—“I am capable,” “Love starts with myself,” “My career goals are practical and attainable”—you will absolutely manifest those thoughts into actions.
Thoughts become things: Think it. Say it. Be it.”
When we become conscious of our thoughts and aware of our emotions, whether they be positive or negative, we are empowered to either change or reinforce them. There’s an old adage that teaches visualization techniques for active manifestation: “Thoughts become things.” When one sees the thought play out in their mind’s eye, and then begins to say it out loud, both to themselves and others, that thought will become apart of their reality. Not because of some mystical voodoo power, but because you are human and powerful. These are the basic laws of physics, according to Einstein: For every action, there an equal and opposite reaction.
When we say it out loud, the thought becomes real to both ourselves and those in the world around us. Then we subconsciously begin creating accountability measures for our words using our actions. It’s where the saying “Do what you say you’re going to do” comes from. We are human and we want to be true to our word. After all, it’s been evolutionarily hardwired into us from centuries of learning and passing down ethics.
Through our actions, we start taking realistic steps to make our dreams become a reality. We begin setting short term and long term goals. We begin picking up that poi or hula hoop and start practicing every day. We ask that person on a date. We start that business that everyone said would fail or apply for that dream job that someone told us we weren’t qualified for. And sometimes we fail, but we either choose to see failure as a necessary road bump on the path to success—much like a lobby assistant who says, “no, we don’t have your backpack”—or we see failure as the end of the road.
It all begins with thoughts, words, and actions. All you have to ask yourself is: What is my intention? What is my end game? How do I intend to get there?
Epiphany #3: Infinite gratitude is the best way to live.
One major theme at DejaVoom, if not the most prominent one of the entire week, was gratitude. At every turn, people’s faces were lit up with gratefulness. At every corner, there were bassheads muttering to one other how thankful they were to be there or how great it was to finally meet. It was as if every person was a shining beacon for gratitude.
Nevermind that Bassnectar (aka Lorin Ashton) preached gratitude to the crowd at the end of each nightly set. Ashton reminded attendees to be grateful for the trip and to remember to thank for the resort staff. He also reiterated how impressed he was at the sheer gratitude he saw in everyone’s faces over the weekend.
Without a doubt, gratitude is a conceptual practice that Ashton picked up during his early days growing up on a hippie commune as well as through his Burning Man experiences. Gratitude is also a spiritual practice to connect with one’s higher self. It’s the simple act of being thankful for what one has, no matter how small or large.
However, it’s easy to exude gratitude in the utopian world of festivals, or at an all-inclusive resort where everything is handed to you. The tough part is extending gratitude into the default world, where we are constantly beaten down by outside forces—from work pressures to relationship stresses to everyday struggles like making ends meet. It’s easy to lose our renewed lease on life, of counting our blessings and reflecting on what we have to be grateful for.
One common behavior that has lingered from DejaVoom, however, has been the continual gratitude every attendee has exuded back home. Even in the troll-infested space of the online world, happiness has outshined negativity in the Bassnectar community. Compliments have been showered with such persistence that praise has drowned out the constant complaining. Much like watering your garden, you can’t expect your gratitude to grow if you aren’t nurturing it. You can’t enjoy the fruits of your labor if your garden isn’t being tended to. Gratitude, in this sense, is a discipline, like any other worthwhile practice.
When one shifts their thinking to a global level, it’s much easier to be grateful. When you consider that if you make $50,000 a year or more, you are among the richest 1% of the world. When you consider that 80% of the world lives on less than $10 a day, which amounts to $3,650 annually, you are forcing yourself to realize that you hold almost 50 percent of the world’s wealth in your hands. When you consider that your ten dollar tip at the Barcelo Resort bar amounted to 191 pesos, helping someone’s family eat and live, suddenly there’s much more to be grateful for.
The simple fact is that its a privilege to take part in such a lavish event, especially in a country stricken by poverty and corruption. It’s a privilege that was worked hard for and ought to be enjoyed, yes; but it’s certainly not one any of us are entitled to. When we start to view our privileges with gratitude, we can begin talking about them more comfortably, more consciously, and less defensively.
Love is at the root of gratitude. When we stop looking outwards at what we don’t have, we’re training ourselves into gratitude. When we turn inwards to appreciate what we do have, no matter how small or large—an affirming compliment or positive interaction, being able to hear our favorite Bassnectar song as we danced in waves, or a quick moment of appreciation for the awesomeness of life—we can start living less entitled and more gratitude. Gratitude is what DejaVoom was about. Gratitude is what being a basshead is all about.
Epiphany #4: See the bigger picture. Life is creation.
On multiple occasions throughout the weekend, there were bassheads speaking about how inspiring DejaVoom was for their life. One basshead remarked, “I just want to work hard to attend all these events and spread the love forever,” as he lounged in his hammock by the lagoon-style pool. While it was amazing to overhear how Bassnectar inspires his flock to set goals and work toward achieving them, Bassnectar events aren’t the only thing. They are merely the beginning of something greater.
I remember sitting at that moment with a bit of cynicism and a bit of nostalgia. It was a very conflicting emotion. Here I was, half-humored as I was catapulted back to a memory of myself saying the exact same thing. I was half-jaded because I told myself this event was the end of the line for me. But I was mostly inspired because the comment skyrocketed me into seeing the bigger picture. Not immediately in that moment, but the comment stuck with me, and I’ve sat with it, reflected on it, and written it out.
Bassnectar doesn’t want us to be passive consumers of his pop-up bass music world, I thought. He doesn’t want us to come to a hedonistic party to be blasted by the bass, and then return home to our lives of conspicuous consumption. Bassnectar wants us to use his music to think for ourselves and question the world around us. He wants us to question how institutions are constructed to hold us back or empower us. More than anything else, he wants us to use his events as a source of inspiration for creation. You could feel it all around you.
Journey to the center of the resort grounds, where artists were live painting by the pool, where bassheads were selling their DejaVoom-inspired t-shirts, glass, jewelry, and artwork on the sands of the Gulf Coast. DejaVoom was filled with so much life-giving creativity that it brought about an important epiphany inside me. This was one powerful realization that I haven’t had up to this point in life: Creation is the central purpose of life.
What separates humans from most other species on earth is conscious creation. Creation is what drives us seek knowledge. The drive to create is what grants us the power to alter and change our world for the better. It’s also the same power that instills humans with the most potential for corrupting and harming our world. In either case, we are conscious creators.
Then we go through years and years of socialization, where we’re taught to passively listen in school, rather than think for ourselves. We’re taught to work in large industries and become successful business people in order to fuel capitalism, rather than question the system’s greed. We’re brainwashed to passively consume, rather than create things for ourselves and become producers of our own goods and services. And somewhere along the way, we’ve managed to convince ourselves we aren’t creators or entrepreneurs capable of building our own empires. So we give up on our dreams, we tell ourselves we aren’t able, and in the process, we learn to live in someone else’s world, thereby contributing to our very own oppression. It’s all by design.
Just look at the lights and sound at any given Bassnectar event, coming together in all their majestically complex inter-workings, and take it all in. Look at the words Ashton has chosen to project across the screen, which are consciously trying to tell you something if you just listen. This is what Lorin Ashton has created through years of hard work and conscious creation. When we come to these events, we’re all active participants, potential detractors, and intelligent subjects of his messages. Messages of love. Messages of kindness and gratitude. Messages about the world.
So no, we don’t just work hard to see Bassnectar and then go home. He’s inspiring us to create something bigger together, and he’s invited us into his world that he built from the ground up. It’s a political and social protest movement. It’s an ethical and spiritual movement. He’s giving the tools to participate in the creation of the Bassnectar universe, along the knowledge to go out and create our own worlds.
Epiphany #5: Dirtybird is every basshead’s guilty pleasure.
The wonderful thing about DejaVoom was that it wasn’t a festival purely centered on bass music, at least not in the strict sense. There was something for everyone, especially lovers of Claude VonStroke’s spacey, synthy brand of funk-infused bass house. The final moment of realization came during one of the weekend’s most anticipated events—the Dirtybird pool party. For all intents and purposes, the epiphany is cute on its surface: Dirtybird music is a playground for wooks.
On a deeper level, the pool party led to the somewhat already obvious epiphany that all genres have the same goal: bringing people together. Sure, it’s easy for bassheads to get hung up on lower frequencies and glitched-out beak beat tempos. Just as it’s convenient for house heads to easily right off Bassnectar. But these are false lines we draw in the sand to differentiate each other within the same flock. Dirtybird music embodies all the same bassy elements as Bassnectar’s music, just with different tempos. In fact, on more than one occasion, there were instances of bassheads touting that they’d be at Dirtybird Campout come this fall.
There was also the random occasion when every attendee at the Dirtybird pool party looked to stage right to see a flag that read: DIRTYBIRD > BASSNECTAR. The flag was as hilariously petty as it was well-intentioned. Yet, bassheads across the internet at home, sensitive though they may be, took to the message boards to condemn the flag. “How disrespectful to bring that flag to a Bassnectar event,” they shouted. But had they been there to meet and talk with the attendees flying the flag, they’d have known that the flag’s message was meant as a troll. Therein lays the very lesson: Resisting the urge to troll is an important one that every young basshead needs to learn. It also sends the message to the Bassnectar community: “Hey, maybe Dirtybird kids aren’t that different from us.”
It is our natural human instinct to create difference in order to establish our own identities. But it is in music where we experience a moment of sameness, where we shed our differences from our skins like water droplets, leaving us stripped, naked, and bare. We are no longer male or female, straight or gay, Dirtybirds or bassheads. In some extreme cases, we are no longer even human. These are the luckiest moments of happenstance. We begin existing as pure energy, not as physical matter but as waveforms. It is here where we experience spiritual ascension, entering into our astral bodies, pure and honest. And it’s scary, sometimes, to fully shed the ego, to be stripped down to our parts, to feel like we’ve fully lost our sense of self.
That is the power of music, no matter the genre. Music is a medium which allows us to escape our physical bodies, where we become trapped by our material identities, where we’re held down by our responsibility to be this or that—“Be a strong, stoic man,” “be a responsible mother,” “be a heady basshead”—we are so focused on trying to be something that we’re expected to be, something that we’ve come to expect ourselves to be, that we forget to just be.
All photos courtesy of DejaVoom/Facebook.