The display of music and fashion at Lightning in a Bottle can only be described as otherworldly. The aural and aesthetic delights of your wildest dreams come true at this expansive festival put on by The Do Lab every year in Bradley, CA.
For some musicians, fashion sense and music is inextricably intertwined. I spoke to 10 different musicians to see how their music affected their personal style. Read below for their answers.
It’s not hard to understand why some people in the crowd were calling KMLN, pronounced (Kameleon), the “couple of the century.” This incredible duo unites Italian producer, multi-instrumentalist Christopher Tooker and Canadian dj/producer Shawna Hofmann. Their shape shifting deep,tribal house performance drew the crowd into an interdimensional trance Sunday at the Woogie stage. Just as you can hear the different countries they’ve been to in their music, you can see these places in how they choose to adorn their bodies.
“Our personal style is 100% natural and organic. It’s us. It’s who we are. Our music stems from all of that. Our fashion is definitely connected. This is some indigenous fabric from India (Shawna feels the fabric of Christopher's shirt). Representing the Gandhi revolution and holding space for unions there in Goa, our friend finds indigenous fabrics and prints and makes them into a style for us. I love handmade things and organic energy going into things. I have an endless collection of indigenous objects from around the world and the music goes hand in hand with that. I love craftiness and heart and soul and culture and life. It’s life force from around the world. It’s all the people that live on this planet, represented.” - Shawna, KMLN
“We are all one. So thanks to festivals like these, people get to understand this and experience that village life. We come together, we work together. A lot of the music we make is made from field recordings as we travel around the world. We’ve been to 14 countries the last 3 months. We were in Morocco in the Sahara desert looking for tribes to record music and whatever we gather in our travels, we bring back to the studio and integrate it into a modern style. That’s what KMLN is. We are all kameleons. We can all be everything and anything and nothing at the same time.” - Christopher, KMLN
At only 24 years old, Andrew Coulter (Soul Catalyst), swept people off their feet with his first live performance at the Pagoda stage. A soulful and melodic journey encompassing original beats, vocals and instrumentals.
“I like to keep my music very lush, in sound, and with a lot of melody. I guess that comes off in my fashion. I like a lot of color and flowiness. Anything that has a lot of movement and flows with me as I am walking. I also explore gender fluidity in my clothing. I like to wear a lot of women’s blazers and sweaters. I feel like those things have the hang and draping that men’s fashion doesn’t have yet. Overall I keep it lush and full of movement, just like with my music.” - Andrew, Soul Catalyst
Spunky, funky and always the most fun. You know the party’s started when DINK! (Chris Williams) is on the decks. He and Hylas opened the Music is For Lovers showcase at the Favela on Saturday.
“I try to make my music and style a cohesive unit. If people can understand the sound, then they understand my style of music too. It is a specific taste. It is a window into my personality. One Halloween, I was in New York and wore the now infamous wig to a party. Everyone kept saying “great costume.” I wasn’t even in much of a costume, I just had the wig on, a kind of David Lee Roth thing. I flew back back from New York to Desert Hearts
and I had it with me. I wore it and people really liked it. I loved their reactions so I just kept wearing. If I don’t wear it, people are constantly asking ‘where’s the wig?’” - Chris, DINK!
Founder of the ever-fabulous Sundown parties in San Diego, a Hylas DJ set is always a magical journey filled with curiosities and sexy tones.
“Music has influenced my life in such a big way that the ability to express myself in fashion was something that unfolded naturally. In music and in fashion, I love innovation and those that create something unique. Therefore, I try and buy handmade and designed threads. However, I have been a thrift store goer since the time I could drive, so vintage has a big place in my closet. There is also vintage music strewn throughout my library. In music and fashion, we always seem to go back to past generations to breathe new life into it. I have gained much inspiration from going to Burning Man over the years. It inspired me to always add my own unique touch. I would say my music and style reflect my personality which is vibrant and full of love. My style is what I like to call “Futuristic Bounty Hunter.” - Hylas
When “The Queen” is on stage, you know it. A resident of Camp Charlie Unicorns, diva Danielle has been in the game for over a decade. Her signature “booty house” can get any crowd dancing.
“Well this is the thing. Everybody calls me ‘The Queen’. I feel funny saying that but I feel like my style is about being very royal. That’s mostly about getting on stage and being badass because I started DJing at a time when there were no female DJs. Every time I got up on the decks, I couldn’t be just OK. I had to be the best. I have to get on the stage, rule the stage, and takeover. It’s done me well so far. I had to be the best and now I dress for the part.” - Danielle, "The Queen"
Known for representing “the dark side” of Desert Hearts
whenever he plays, Evan Casey throws down twisted, hypnotic, dark tech-house and techno beats. While he doesn't usually come out to play until past 2AM, his 2PM set at the Favela was drenched in his signature style despite the blazing sun. While he is the master of the dark, his personality couldn’t be further from that. Speaking with him is always a delight.
“I just love dark influenced music. I enjoy black clothes because they suit me. I don’t see people in black and go “they’re cool.” I actually like seeing color but I just love black. It feels good on me and I am a musician of the night. I have always felt that way, that’s why it feels at home to me.” - Evan
There was no place else to be when Marques threw down his signature heart opening deep house discourse at the Woogie stage 2PM on Friday. The vibe was impeccable, the music was lush and the people were...utterly spectacular.
“I have the same the same open-mindedness with my music as I do clothes. Whatever resonates with me. Yesterday I did some shopping and as soon as I walked in, that piece said ‘I’m yours.’ Same thing with the music. When I listen to music the same thing happens. It doesn’t happen with every track, but the ones that it happens for, those are the ones you collect.” - Marques
Commanding the Lightning stage with his signature “electro soul” music, Nombe delivered a feel good respite from the pounding trap and techno surrounding. Eclectic sounds blending the past and present created a lovely cacophony of aural delights.
“To me, my personal style (like my music) is a blend of a lot influences and I would say it’s its own thing. I don’t know what I’m doing to be honest and I’m not part of any movement (eg. skater, street fashion, high fashion…) It represents how I feel when I’m at home or out. For shows it really depends on the purpose of each show. Is it a festival? A headline show? Who’s going to be there? I love having those styling conversations with the band and our stylist Bukunmi Grace before shows and figuring out what they’re comfortable with. It’s important to look good on stage, but even more important to feel comfortable and have mobility.” - Noah, NoMBe
“I think about the artist I’m playing with first when considering a look and feel to have while performing. How I look next to the lead artist on stage and how that makes them feel is important to adding to the right stage setting. Also, the event I’m playing is a big factor when putting a look together. I want to give the stage what it needs and wants to see and feel when watching a performance. I love how fashion can create and add to the vibe of the music and moments on stage” - Zuri, bass player for NoMBe
With the voice of an angel and the looks to match, Jhene commanded the Lightning Stage in a stunning headdress, skeleton bodysuit and clear raincoat. Her style of music and fashion is unmistakably unique.
I first met Natalia Benson, (Ninth Child), at Lighting in a Bottle 3 years ago. She was hosting a tarot workshop and speaking with such eloquence to 15 girls in a boiling hot tee pee about the power that lies within and how to tap into it. She had an immense effect on me stepping into my power and I have watched her transform into an unstoppable force in anything she puts her mind to. Her ethereal basslines and incredible stage presence are not to be missed.
“To be honest...I wouldn’t say my music affects my personal style...both are expressions of me and are changing and evolving constantly.” - Natalia, Ninth Child
Wearing a funky black set and fabulous headdress, Lauren Lane commanded the stage like the Queen of Cool. Her classic deep house beats are heard round the world from Ibiza to Amsterdam.
Photo by Nicolas De Panam
“I really always wear what I like. My style came before my musical taste. I’ve always been a little outside the box and I love to be quirky with my style so I think my musical affinities came after my style.” - Lauren
Connect with Photographer Michael Drummond on Facebook, Instagram, his website.
Catch up with author Tessla Venus here: @tessla_venus, @glitterspies