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What is so special about Coachella? My weekend 2 experience!!

I started paying attention to Coachella Festival following the entire buzz that came with it, when Beyoncé headlined it in 2018. I then added it to my list of must-attend music festivals in addition to iHeartRadio Music Festival.  Well this year, I got the chance to attend South by Southwest (SXSW) and Coachella for the first […]

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I started paying attention to Coachella Festival following the entire buzz that came with it, when Beyoncé headlined it in 2018. I then added it to my list of must-attend music festivals in addition to iHeartRadio Music Festival.  Well this year, I got the chance to attend South by Southwest (SXSW) and Coachella for the first time. 

Ameyaw Debrah at Coachella 2019
Moving around the impressive Empire Polo Club, venue for Coachella 2019

Unlike SXSW, which I received accreditation in good time to allow me plan my trip to the US around it, my Coachella accreditation came just few days to the event, in fact just when I was about leaving Austin, Texas for SXSW. So the planning for Coachella was a bit haphazard, which perhaps made my experience far too eventful than I would like it! Read my troubled journey to Coachella here.

Anyway, I was fortunate to get accredited to attend the 20thedition of Coachella, and here are my highlights from the event.

The Venue

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (commonly called Coachella or the Coachella Festival) is an annual music and arts festival held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, in the heart of the Colorado Desert.

The Empire Polo Club is a 78-acre polo club, which leases out its polo grounds for the festival. The venue is so huge that festivalgoers walk for several miles before getting into the main entrance to the festival grounds. When accounting for land used for parking and camping, the event covers a footprint of over 600 acres!

Across the grounds, several stages continuously host live music. The main stages are the Coachella Stage, Outdoor Theatre, Gobi Tent, Mojave Tent, and Sahara Tent; in addition to the smaller Yuma stage and Sonora stage. Each stage was unique in appearance and suited for the lineup of artists on it. The big stages had elaborate settings to create various visual aesthetic attributes needed to project the individuality of the artists; and make festivalgoers enjoy their performances even better.

It took me a while to figure out the various stages and to find my way around the venue, due to the sheer size of it and the crazy activities and moving around that kept it busy around the clock. In fact I missed Idris Elba’s disc jockeying set because I went to the Do LaB stage, thinking it was rather the Yuma stage. The Do LaB experience has become a space for interaction, music discovery, and participation whereas attendees of Coachella maintain more insular groups with friends engaging with each other and with the music directly.

They bring a breath of fresh air to Coachella, almost building its own festival within a festival

In addition to hosting live music, Coachella is a showcase for visual arts, including installation art and sculpture. Many of the pieces are interactive, providing a visual treat for attendees.  People moved from on stage to the next to catch performances from their artists of choice. In between that, they would move around for food, drinks and on-site activation from sponsors among others. 

The acoustics in the festival grounds was just perfect, and although there were at least 7 stages hosting performances from live music to DJ sets, the sound from one stage never interfered with another. 

The Music 

Coachella is known for its diverse lineup of artists from around the world. It features musical artists from many genres of music, including rock, pop, indie, hip-hop, and electronic dance music, and now afrobeats. Coachella showcases popular and established musical artists as well as emerging artists and reunited groups. 

Coachella in its 20thyear was spread across two weekends to allow thousands of music lovers experience it. So the lineup for Friday to Sunday for weekend one was repeated for weekend two.

I attended weekend two. I arrived on Friday evening and so couldn’t experience the festival that day, since I didn’t have my pass. So I missed out on seeing Childish Gambino, Janelle Monae, Jaden Smith, and Solange…I really wanted to see these acts. 

I got my pass on Saturday morning and by noon; I was set to experience Coachella. Although I missed a few artists I had wanted to see, between Saturday and Sunday I got the chance to see a lot of the performers I wanted to see. 

I always imagined that rappers would be limited in their stagecraft but the likes of Wiz Khalifa, Pusha T, Juice Wvrld and Kid Cudi proved me wrong. They were exciting to watch, bringing along the crowd with their performances. Each set was different, and the use of imageries on set spiced up the excitement. Kid Cudi brought on his set Kanye West and although Kanye didn’ perform any of his own songs, seeing him was just exciting, though I cannot say same for his offbeat dance moves.  Organizers of the festival were forced to abandon plans for Kanye West to headline this year, as they could not accommodate his request to build a giant dome for his performance in the middle of the festival grounds. West was instead allowed to hold a special “Sunday Service” performance on Easter, at the venue’s campgrounds.  I was so tired from Saturday’s event that I couldn’t attend the ‘’Sunday Service”.

Kid Cudi was not the only one to bring along surprise guests to his set. I noticed that a lot of the fun and excitement about Coachella is that in addition to the main lineup, there are guest appearances. ASAP Rocky, Ty Dolla $ign, John Mayer were some of the guests I got to see perform on different sets. 

German-Russian producer/DJ, Zedd known for some of the biggest hits in the dance-pop scene, blessed fans with live renditions of top 10 hits “The Middle” and “Stay” featuring Maren Morris and Alessia Cara respectively. 

Although I have not listened to American rock band, Weezer in a long time, since I first heard them on MTV Europe in the early 2000’s, seeing them on stage was a good ride on the music memory lane. They look older, and I struggled to remember how they looked back in the day! 

One of my favorite highlights from the festival was seeing 21-year old Khalid perform on stage. His unique brand of R&B drew several sing-along moments. As for me, I couldn’t help but vibe and sway along.

The headliner for this year, Ariana Grande was a delight to watch. I know just about 5 of her major hit songs, but she was exciting to watch throughout.  The crowd singing along while Ariana and her dancers rocked each performance, was simply worth the long hours standing to see her.

She performed for some one hour and thirty minutes and didn’t look tired at any point.  Ariana also brought her surprise guest, Justin Bieber, who ended his two-year hiatus from the public stage. He also got the crowd excited when he announced that his new album is coming soon!

Although my personal Coachella mission was to experience music from these top acts, I also explored a few of the emerging musicians that’s I didn’t know. I watched the set of Four Tet, Maggie Rogers, Jambinai on Staurday and was really impressed .  On Sunday I circled out mostly the shows on the Coachella Main stage because I was very tired from the stress of travelling and the wandering about on Saturday. I forget to check out the set of YG, Playboi Carti and Gucci Gang, which took place on the Sahara Stage. Next time I know how to plan well and get the most out of the shows. 

I also noticed how big Reggaeton is amongst the Latin community generally, and the joy with which they received their acts such as J Balvin and Bad Bunny. J Balvin gave Coachella-goers a full sampling of reggaeton during his appearance, showing that the world-conquering Latin genre has a place in the playlists of the hipsters who attended Coachella.

Africa To The World

Although there wasn’t a deliberate African showcase at Coachella as there was at SXSW, Mr Eazi and Burna Boy represented us well on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

Since I missed Mr Eazi at SXSW, I made it a point to catch his set at Coachella. And it was impressive. From his well-crafted Lagos to London danfo bus on stage, to the energetic band and dancers that performed with him, Mr Eazi proved his worth on all angles. He gave the crowd a variety of sounds including reggae, but the afrobeats rhythm was unmissable throughout his set; it reverberated around the Coachella stage. The audience made up of some Africans (mostly Nigerians) and a lot of other nationals danced and even sang along to his songs.  

It was simply refreshing to see how he fit into the festival perfectly, representing Africa in his music and speeches on stage. He performed ‘I Surrender’ to my delight and that of the crowd and continued with songs like ‘Miss You Bad’, ‘Open & Close’, ‘Pour Me Water’,  ‘Skin Tight’, and ‘She Loves Me’.  He also did a special remix of ‘Leg Over’.

I was late to Burna Boy’s set, so I only saw him perform two songs. The vibe was a little different from Mr Eazi’s, I saw more excitement and diversity during the latter’s performance. But all the same, Burna Boy’s confidence and energy proved he is not only of the ‘giants of Africa ‘ but a global artist worth his salt. 

One thing I would have loved to see was Mr Eazi and Burna Boy inviting some guest artists from the continent onto their sets as well, just like the top acts did.  I only saw Mr Eazi inviting Haitian DJ and Producer, Michael Brun on stage to join him perform ‘Akwaaba’. 

Anyway, maybe the next time I go to Coachella, it would be to see Ghanaian artists perform. 

Coachella Is Expensive

So being my first Coachella, I kept an eye out on many things. One this is for sure, attending the festival isn’t cheap! From hotel/motel prices to cab prices going up, the city of Indio comes alive economically with Coachella. Thankfully, I didn’t have to buy festival tickets. Tickets for Weekend 2 were selling from $350 to $429 after it was declared sold out!

I never paid anything less than $12 for any trip on Uber, regardless of how short it was. I never bought any food under $14 dollars, and all I was even eating was sandwiches, chips and fried chicken. Even the drinks were expensive. Thankfully water, one of the most essential things to have under the scorching sun of the Colorado Desert was $2, and there was a refill center for those who wanted tap water.  I sometimes went to the press tent, where the media had free water, drinks and some snacks to nibble on. 

What made was particularly annoying for me, when I bought an item with a card, was the immediate page that came up on the tablet demanding for tip, as you make payments. So even though I hate giving these forced tips, I ended up doing so. In fact one food vendor screamed ‘we have a tipper’ which came with cheers and clapping for me when I did. (If only they knew what was running through my mind). Needless to say, I went to an ATM to withdraw cash for later transactions, and no I didn’t leave any tips when I paid cash!

I loved the way the food and drink vendors were set up beautifully at vantage points throughout the festival grounds. What I didn’t see was an African vendor. It sure would have been nice to eat some African food while there; maybe some ‘waakye’.The closest thing to African food there was Jamaican food. 

The best food I had at the festival was on Saturday night when I was leaving the grounds.  I was doing the never-ending walk to the exit of the festival grounds. Hungry, and tired, I saw a hot dog vendor along the route. I stopped and ordered one, and it was the best hot dog I’ve ever had, at $5. 

On Sunday, I was inspired to try another hot dog but this time at the festival grounds. I was put off by the fact that it was $10. I’m sure it wouldn’t even taste as good as the one from the street vendor, the previous night.

Coachella Is Best Enjoyed In A Group

Being the boring and antisocial person that I am, I felt that I would have enjoyed Coachella better if I were there with friends or family. In fact I noticed that most people came in groups or made friends there. So they would smoke, drink and have fun in groups. In fact a few times, someone would randomly say to me “Come and join the fun”, or ask, “Are you having fun?”

On the final day I made some friends when I was heading to the Ariana Grande set. They had seen me quietly vibing to Khalid’s performances. I guess they saw that I was a loner and wanted me to end the festival not on a loner note. They were good company; after all, the ringleader of the group was only attending his fourth consecutive Coachella. 

We talked about music, the festival, our highlights and more as we waited for Ariana Grande to start her set.  After the show we parted ways and I went to my motel, yes doing the never-ending walk again, this time in a very thick crowd.  And sadly I couldn’t spot my favorite hotdog vendor!

The Coachella Parties

Official and unofficial Coachella parties are quite an attraction on their own. The included parties from small gatherings at private residences, to full-flung mini festivals, complete with live music lineups, carnival rides, parking shuttles and event staff. After parties begin when Coachella ends each night, and continue late into the next morning.

The wide range of parties during the weekend included pool parties, VIP Gifting Suites, brand events, underground music events, private parties, record label showcases and more.

The best Coachella parties of course, are not open to the public, but are invite-only events. A-List celebrities, big influencers and many of the musicians that perform at Coachella attend such events.  I was invited to a few of them and although I RSVP’d on most, I was only able to attend The Soulection Brunch hosted at the adidas Sport Club. Held at the poolside of the magnificent Zenyara Estate, we were treated to DJ sets by Esta and Sango with a nice spread including cocktails, mimosas, avocado toast bar, croissants, and fried chicken & waffle bites. 

Conclusion

So there you have it, my fun and expensive experience of Coachella.  Hopefully I have learnt enough to make my future experiences better. And hopefully if I should do it again, there would be at least a Ghanaian on the lineup. Which Ghanaian artists do you think would be great for such a festival?  

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Comfort Arthur shares more details inside the making of her animated Malaria film, “The Underestimated Villain”

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British-born Ghanaian animator, graphic designer, visual artist and editor, Comfort Arthur, has shared her inspiration behind her new body of work, “The Underestimated Villain” an animated film seeking to provide information on Malaria. (more…)

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Gospel singer QueenLet share how her SOKAAT music genre is making impact on lives

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Rising gospel artist, QueenLet, is gradually making waves on both local and international music scenes with her Soaking and Atmospheric (SOKAAT) music genre. (more…)

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How American tour operator, Rashad McCorey found a creative solution to tourism during COVID-19

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INTERVIEW: From Ghana to Italy and back, Shadowboy Myzic recounts his almost decade-long journey, new single ft. Kelvyn Boy and more

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The Ghanaian-Italian Afrobeat star may not be one you’ve heard enough of, but with his new single ‘Better’ out now, the floodgates are officially open. He’s keen on bridging the gap between Europe and African music; particularly through Afrobeat and his latest release featuring Kelyvn Boy is the plug.
Join us, as Shadowboy Myzic expounds on his enigmatic name and self, all down to a fiery Italian freestyle.
Enjoy.

Thanks for making time for us Shadowboy Myzic. It’s always a joy to host a new face. We can’t help but ask, why Shadowboy Myzic? What’s the story behind such an enigmatic name?
The name Shadowboy Myzic is spiritual blessing from my lovely mother. She used to call me (sunsum) when I was a child simply because my mother is very known in the city of Palermo and a market woman. She owns African shops and restaurants in Palermo. In my childhood, I was the personal assistant to my mother, whenever she goes out of the shop, I assist her until she returns. During that period, being a child growing I need time to play with my friends so as soon as I see my mother returns, I have to vanish to join my friends to play and the old woman will look for me everywhere but will not find me then she will be like you are indeed (sunsum) because you can vanish in a twinkle of an eye. From there I got ‘’sunsum’’ attached to my name.

Looking for a stage name, I felt ‘’sunsum’’ was a blessing from my mother because our shadows follow us everywhere. That’s where I got Shadowboy and Myzic simply means in our own interpretation, (my music). That’s where Shadowboy Myzic was generated.

You featured Kelyvn Boy on your new single, ‘Better’ and some fans may be wondering; “Who’s this new guy?” Mind telling us about yourself and Myzic Empire?
Daniel Kyei is my name, I was born in Ghana and raised in Palermo, Italy. I started writing music at the age of 9 but I got my first opportunity to record at the age of 18 – my first mixtape which then gave me the energy to do more and also set up a record label called Myzic Empire Records. Thanks to my first mixtape that I launched in 2012, I got some attention from my community Palermo where I got lots of compliments but no one was ready to give me a big push so I continued slowly with my friend, Kwamzizy who was the only one who supported me in when I needed to shoot videos for my mixtapes back then. In our little ways we managed to get noticed by some people in our city where we grew up but it wasn’t enough to get to the big platforms.

Despite these difficulties, I continued to push my music 24/7 through the DJ nights and shows I use to play in Palermo. Thank God in 2017 my manager, Mr. Kenneth decided to take me, my music and Myzic Empire to another level. The same year 2017 I released my first single recorded in a professional studio with a music video which revived everything. The single was titled ‘Higher’.

In 2018, I launched an EP titled ‘’Genesis’’. With that EP, the whole Team Myzic Empire and myself went on tour in Ghana for some works and radio tour. In Ghana we managed to connect to some artists and people in the industry where we did some jobs and many other things. In 2019 on our return to Italy, though, we stopped releasing due to studies and some other things, I always continued to work hard for my music and on many other projects that soon the world will witness.

In 2020, I released some freestyles whiles planning on releasing my new projects, all of a sudden Coronavirus shut the world down. The pandemic got me paused, but at the same time got me work harder on many other projects at home. During the pandemic, I was at home with a Ghanaian producer called, Almighty Streetbeatz whom was in my city at that time we worked and created a lot of good music for the world.
This is a little about me and Myzic Empire.

9 years is a long time to be doing music. Any experiences or advice you’d like to share?
Absolutely, yes 9 years is a long time, but as I said in my previous answer the main reason was because, I did not have enough support at that time and I think everything has it’s time and God was still preparing me for the world. My little advice to all my fellow young artist is, do look down on yourself, give you your talent a chance to work though you, be humble and respectful.

Is there any other artist in the diaspora you’re keen on working with soon apart from Kelyvn Boy?

Yes, I would like to collaborate with all the possible artists with whom I can. I’m opened and ready to work with any artist so we can explore the Afro music in Italy, Europe and the globe.

How receptive have Italians been of your music and Afrobeat in general? Enlighten us.

Doing Afro songs in Italy was very difficult back then. The majority of the population of Italians was ignorant about our culture, the rhythm of the Afro songs sounded very wired to their hearing because of the language barrier. Now thank God things are changing, new things are being learnt and the Italians are ready to accept the Afro music in so many ways, that’s why my team and I thought of strategizing the ways of productions by mixing multiple tongues to also make it favorable for everyone to understand my communications with them through my music.

I can gladly say I’m welcomed everywhere I go in Italy especially in my city (Palermo) where this adventure of mine started. The new generation have accepted and embrace Afro music, thanks to our hard work now you can hear Afro music playing in Italian clubs, parties, restaurants, bars, shopping malls etc. I’m so grateful for this day.

We doubt learning Italian was a walk in the park, especially coming from an Anglophone and Asante background. Gist us.

Hehehe :). Oh, frankly speaking, Italian language one of the most beautiful, sexiest and jovial languages I’ve ever known on earth, though it’s difficult to learn, I love and I’m very proud of myself that I can speak, read and write this language. The importance is knowing how to eat and dress Italian will bring your back from the park into an Italian classroom, hahahahahahaa.

Now, the moment everyone’s been waiting for. Mind free styling in Italian for us?

Sputo fuoco come un drago Sono cercato come un ladro Non mi prendi fossi mato Nella moto vado vrom
Con gli amici vroom vroom

Sono il nero siciliano
Suona strano, molto strano Sono il nero siciliano (huh)

Ho visto la morte lo visto sul ponte
Mi ha reso forte c’è scritto sulla fronte

Divina commedia e stato come Dante Non parlo tanto tu sai chi hai di fronte

Haha. That’s a mouthful. Any big plans before 2021 ends? What moves are you making and how can fans keep tabs you?

Yes, I have many projects in progress. I am working on some projects which will be released soon. This one with Kelvyn Boy is one of the first but after that we will fly with lots of other works. Though I still have a long way to go, this does not disempower me because my mind is made up to do good music and my new projects are something new in Italy, Africa and it will be new in the whole universe soon so I invite all my fans and everyone to supporter and fasten their belts, we are about to start.

Listen to Shadowboy Myzic’s new single ‘Better’ featuring Kelvyn Boy here: https://afrisounds.lnk.to/ShadowBetter and watch the video below.

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INTERVIEW: Dove Nicol opens up on her adventure so far, debut single and more

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Dove Nicol, a new and probably the most exciting artist to grace the Ghanaian music scene is confident in winning fans over with her debut single ‘Calm Down’. She’s dedicated to becoming one of Ghana’s most streamed artists and with a voice as authentic as hers, the songbird is all set.

Dove Nicol’s rise from Sierra Leone to Ghana is a unique adventure worthwhile and in this exclusive interview, we take time to explore her very lively character as she updates us on the adventure so far and her debut single, among other gists.

 

Hello Dove and welcome. It’s great to have you around. Like every music fan out there, I’m quite curious. Who is Dove Nicol? Blow our mind.

Dove Nicol is a creative, a pioneer who believes in the power of the African sound, music, culture, heritage and its influence in the world stage. I believe Africa is on the rise and we are living in the era of the African creative industries global domination and worldwide takeover and as a creative blessed by God with the talent of music, I am merely just playing my own part in the fulfillment of this reality.

You’re finally out with your debut single ‘Calm Down’, mind sharing the story behind it?

‘Calm Down’ is a song about love and relationships. The idea behind it places focus on the internal struggles we go through as lovers. It places focus on two sides of a spectrum. On the one hand, you hear the willingness of both partners wanting to love each other and be loved. And on the other, the anxiety and uneasiness that comes with the feelings of mistrust and insecurities that they have both experienced from past relationships which overshadows their ability to fully love and fall in love with each other. The chorus then comes in to serve as a stress reliever telling both parties to calm down, just be at peace and fall into love with each other. The song generally gives a soothing peaceful feeling to the ear.

It seems you were destined to have a career in music growing up. How is it going and what has your greatest challenge since taking it head on been?

Yes, I do believe I was meant for music and it has been the source of my livelihood since I was a child. If I’m been honest, I have received several challenges along the way to getting here. The biggest challenge I believe is getting others to believe in your dreams as much as you do. I can see the vision of where I want to go and who I can become but because I do not have the resources or avenue to get people to see that possibility, it’s hard and sometimes almost impossible to get others to believe in that dream too.

Alot of people only want to be a part of your success, when you have achieved it but are not willing to help you get there. The journey can really be a great struggle for a lot of aspiring artists who have the talent for it but no external backing to let their voices be heard. For me, I was only able to defeat this challenge through perseverance, the Grace of God and my belief in myself to continue going-on no matter the odds.

Are there any Ghanaian artists you admire and hope to work with sometime soon?

There are a lot of Ghanaian artists out there that have really helped shape the future of Ghanaian music and their relentlessness and tireless efforts have paved the way for emerging artists like me to go after our goals. People like Efya, Sarkodie, Shatta Wale, Stonebwoy, Kofi Antwi, Bibie Brew, Wiyalaa, Kwesi Arthur, King Promise and many many more talented souls I will definitely see myself working with during the course of my journey in the industry.

Beyond the world of music, where else does your passion lie?

Beyond music I have always aspired to become a philanthropist and a humanitarian. I want to create charitable organizations and help children that are less privileged to achieve a better future. Africa has the largest youth population and majority of them are multi-talented in areas they themselves are not even aware of. If only we had more institutions that can cater to the needs of less privileged children and our youths growing up, our economy will flourish immensely.

What is a day in your life is like?

A day in the life of Dove is typical – wakeup, pray, shower, eat and eat a lot, do my daily routines, some reading, attend to any business calls or meetings I may have during the course of the day and make time to speak with family before the end of the day. Oh, and go to the gym at least 4 times a week to keep fit.

There’s still a lot of ground to cover in 2021. What are your plans? Should fans expect more?

Yes, definitely. Expect a lot from Dove in 2021 but expect a lot more from Dove in 2022. I want my supporters to know that I’m ready and prepared. ‘Calm Down’ was just the ice breaker. I have a ton of creative content ready to flood the market. It’s just a matter of timing. But in due time they shall receive all that I have to offer and will get to know more and more about me as my story unfolds.

I can’t wait to meet the world and for the world to meet Dove. It’s going to be a productive year definitely.

 

Dove Nicol’s ‘Calm Down’ is available on all digital streaming platforms globally here: https://lnk.to/dovenicol-calmdown/

 

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Onyeka Nwelue captures E.T Mensah’s pioneering role in highlife music in controversial biopic, ‘Other Side of History’

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Nigerian author and filmmaker, Onyeka Nwelue continues production for his upcoming biopic, ‘Other Side of History’, after wrapping up with additional scenes shot in Ghana. (more…)

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