Q&A: JOHN WANDER FINDS U.R. ART FESTIVAL WITH FRIENDS IN MUSIC

In friends you find music and in music you find friends, but what’s discovered when live art, pop-up fashion, food, wellness, social responsibility, kid-friendly initiatives and experiential culture are also the headliners? U.R. ART Festival, a monthly daytime palpitation that unifies Angelenos at Bergamot Station, founded by John Wander (Roam Music), Rob Garza (Thievery Corporation) and Phillipp Jung (M.A.N.D.Y.). We understood and welcomed a higher level of veteran house, nu-disco and techno music at U.R. ART Festival’s launch event and simply have to bravo LA’s “leveling up” on the house music decks—sorry, Chicago—with plenty of daytime sunshine events front and center in our current music progression and offering so much more. The next installation drops on July 20th and from our collaborative nature to yours, we introduce you to U.R. ART Festival’s founding members, John Wander, who gets on the deeper side:

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LA CANVAS: What’s the deal with U.R. ART Festival?

JOHN WANDER: U.R. Art was founded by myself and very good friends Philipp Jung (M.A.N.D.Y) and Rob Garza (Thievery Corporation). The three of us were having lunch one day in San Francisco and decided it was time that we produced something together. We wanted to do and daytime event on the westside of Los Angeles that was aberration from the norm. We created a experience for us – sophisticated deeper house, techno, and nu disco music, top quality sound system, interactive experience for anyone that attends, live art, great food, kid friendly, wellness, eco-friendly, and socially responsible.

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LAC: What can one find at this musically-inclined fest?

JW: Its located at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica which is this funky setting of a nice outdoor space surrounded by art galleries. It’s sick! The first time I brought Philipp to the venue, he blurted out the words “you are art” and that was it — U.R. Art Music Festival was born. Everyone can start the event with a yoga session, dance all day, and paint on a canvas all in the same setting.

LAC: How did the launch event turn out? We were there but we want a behind-the-scenes producer perspective!

JW: Our experiment worked. 1200 people came out and we had to shut the door down for a while. The vibe and music were amazing and authentic. Everyone had so much fun! Philipp, Rob, and I were totally blown away at how many contributors in the Los Angeles community came together to get involved. Yes, we are founders. But we are really just the catalyst to what has now become a collective community event of some really generous and talented contributors.

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LAC: You had plenty of interactive curations and pop-ups. Who did you collaborate with? 

JW: Artists Ivo Vergara, Mario Arteaga of Venice, Fashion Curators Serpent and Stag, Phyllis and Meg (Club called Rhonda), Rita of Jules, Linzy Davidson, Yoga by Tunestep, Sustainability and Solar power by X Plus and Ecoboom, Funkworks, Eduardo Castillo of Pattern Bar, food by Bigcup, Greentruck, and The Grill Cheese Truck. We have a fantastic team  — Rob Grega, Daysha Taylor, Tony Bahn, Darren McGee, Steve Ramos! Promoters Rollingtuff, Dark Tones, MirrorMirror have stepped up big time to make this event go off. And now… LA CANVAS! It’s crazy how many people came to us and said they love the concept and how can they get involved. Its taking on a life of its own and we are really happy about this!

*Yep, we hopped on board. Find our latest Teamwork Issue at U.R. ART Festival’s July 20th event, and follow us on Instagram for a VIP ticket giveaway dropping Monday, July 14th!

ur_art_fest_la_canvas Co-founders Phillip Jung of M.A.N.D.Y. (left) – Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation (right). 

LAC: How long have you been spinning, and what’s your music style?

JW: Forever it seems. 15 years of deep, funk, soulful, driving, sometimes twisted & dirty, and makes you move!

LAC: Who and what can we look forward to in your next U.R. ART Festival installation? 

JW: Musically – Guillaume Coutu DuMont – DJs live and drums on his drum pads. Its an amazing show that will leave everyone dripping from dancing so much! We have had him before at my Roam Music parties and he one of the best. Asadiho and Solar are also our guests from London and San Francisco. These guys are two of my favorite djs on the planet. Then there are the local boys Eduardo Castillo and Sean Patrick. Its going to be an incredible day of music for sure! We have some new indy fashion designers that we are excited about as well and we have some more live art planned for everyone. The live art really worked well the last event and we are bring back even more.

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LAC: Are you planning to extend this collaborative for the Fall 2014 season?

JW: Now thats good idea.. thanks for that.

LAC:  We’re known to muse up some inspiring ideas! Speaking of, what was your favorite moment from your launch event?

JW: Seeing Phillipp arrive to U.R. Art and walking in with his suitcase and music case straight from the airport. He came from his label anniversary party in Berlin the night before, Moscow the night before that, and Ibiza Spain the night before that. How that for commitment. He’s relentless with passion for his music and craft and even more so with his friends and partners. He actually made it. That was the best moment for me. He showed up and played amazing. Also MightyKat dropping the Pezzner remix of About Love… gave me chills.

ur_art_fest_la_canvas DJ MightyKat on the decks. 

LAC: Your biggest music inspiration is:

JW: I’m still a hardcore fan of Broken Social Scene. I want to know who their inspiration is! For electronic music it would have to be Dyed Soundorom and the legend Michael Cook.

LAC: What are you listening to right now? JW: I’m actually listening to Cluborama by Shonky right now. I’m listening to music and getting ready for a dj gig at Eduardo’s Grand Park this Sunday in Downtown LA. 2000 people. I cant wait to DJ there. Really excited for this!

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LAC: Describe what music means to you in one word: 

JW: Emotion.

LAC: Quote to live by: 

JW: “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life” — Eckhart Tolle

Event photography by Night Moves Me | Like U.R. ART Music Festival on Facebook