Symbiosis Gathering Changed My Life

This is a story of DF5K.

2007 Fall Seattle DMB Symbiosis Halloween 037It was nearly two years ago now that I moved back to the States from New Zealand. Summer in Seattle was swelling to the crusty-hot days of August and I had a shit job doing shit bartending work at a shit hotel downtown, working long into the night scrubbing bar mats and serving drunk tourists. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing with myself whatsoever. None.

I had never listened to electronic music before in my life.

new zealand is freaking epicWell okay that is not entirely true; I had stumbled upon the dub and reggae scene in New Zealand, and high on rotation in my iPod were Katchafire, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Pitch Black and Salmonella Dub as well as anyone who had remixed them. Guys in the Auckland record stores were always happy to school an interested American girl on their island music.

I had also spent many happy nights out on the town with my flatmate Ian, dancing for hours in Auckland’s happenin’ Viaduct area, and had walked home more than once from these “Heels Only” clubs with bleeding feet. Before in my life I had glided past a thousand dance clubs drooling out lame house music onto the streets, but for some reason, I started going in towards the beats and shaking what my momma gave me for the first time ever.

116I left Auckland, and months of traveling around New Zealand led me to discover pockets of counterculture dotted all over the two islands. Tiny camp towns like Marahau, barely even a freckle on the map, are nestled next to insane national parks and were populated by a swirling mix of artsy locals, hikers who were about to tramp the mountains or who had just returned from a month in the bush, world travelers, hippies, neohippies, surfers from Santa Cruz, stoners, seekers, searchers, and freaks like me.

These havens were full of people whose life was centered around sharing art and creating a sustainable and beautiful life, such a stark contrast to most Americans I knew whose only goals seemed to revolve around bigger cars, bigger houses, and more more more.

But soon enough I was back in the US of A and fairly floating through space and time with no plans and no idea whatsoever. I wondered where the beautiful spirits congregated on this continent, and if I would find them.

2007 Fall Seattle DMB Symbiosis Halloween 033And then a friend invited me to this music and art festival in the woods of Northern California called Symbiosis. It would be a very long day’s drive from Seattle with him and his girlfriend and we would stay for three nights at  place called Angel’s Camp. The festival was focused on sustainability and would be a pack-in, pack-out affair. Did I want to go?

Hell yes I did. I had the slight problem of a jobby-job, but I have never been one to let a bullshit job get in the way of my life. So, I faked pneumonia. I went to the hospital (to be fair I did have a cough) and when the doctor said he could write me a note to get off work for two days, I said, “well, how about until next Tuesday?” The doctor agreed and I was off work for a very long weekend, bound for my first true outdoor party experience.

I think you guys know how this story goes.

2007 Fall Seattle DMB Symbiosis Halloween 046Arriving early to the isolated location, my friends and I set up our tents in between the two stages, and what happened for the next four days in that remote wooded spot changed my life forever, as I now write to you deep in the thick of what will be my life’s work, writing for and promoting the music that I love and the artists who make it. It was not just the music I experienced that shook my spirit and lit my soul on fire, but the thick saturation of artistic expression and the community around it. It was a haven for freaks like me; I had finally found a home in this life, and it was beautiful.

When I look back at the lineup for Symbiosis 2007, it blows my mind: Shpongle, Flying Lotus, Ott, Bluetech, Glitch Mob, BLVD, Souleye, Ana Sia, Zilla, Lazer Sword, Audiovoid, Danny Corn, Hallucinogen in Dub, Chris de Luca, Mala, Bassnectar and dozens and dozens more. These artists were my first toe-dip into the world of EDM, and I think you can see why I turned out the way I did.

2007 Fall Seattle DMB Symbiosis Halloween 045I can’t remember if it was the first or second day, but around about five in the morning one night these four guys were up on the second stage, just tearing up the dance floor. They were slamming sound down with such force I thought my neck might break; I had never before experienced any type of music, electronic or otherwise, that was so fresh and unique and unlike anything else out there. I was not hearing this music, I was living it: I was breathless and losing clothes by the minute and probably had a long string of drool dripping off my lower lip.

I turned to a new friend next to me on the dance floor and asked, “What do you call this music? With the really heavy, fucked-up bass?”

You call it GLITCH,” was the reply. And a fiend was born.

2007 Fall Seattle DMB Symbiosis Halloween 035

Since that night I have seen the Glitch Mob dozens of times and have devoted my life to sharing not just glitch hop and its bass-slutty cousins, but the whole music and art and community experience that has meant so much to me in this life, which I think I can say, a DJ saved.

I returned to Seattle with an insatiable hunger for the beats and began going out six nights a week to electronic music shows, meeting new friends with open arms at every turn. While I might possibly have found another road to the electronic arts that I now so adore, I did not. Symbiosis opened my eyes and set me on my current life path of promoting and writing for musicians and artists. I am eternally grateful for the past, and forever stoked for the future.

2007 Fall Seattle DMB Symbiosis Halloween 036Now, after a year’s respite, Symbiosis Gathering is back for 2009, this time at Camp Mather on the doorstep to Yosemite from September 17-21 and with a lineup that will slap you across the face, pour fireworks into your soul and call you a cheesemaker. Check the whole lineup here; I am most looking forward to hearing Caspa, Amon Tobin, Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, the Glitch Mob, Shpongle, Flying Lotus, Hallucinogen, Mala, N-Type, an-ten-nae, Mimosa, Of Porcelain, Vibesquad, Heyoka, Kether, Lazer Sword, Lipp Service, Souleye, Welder, Random Rab, Babylon System, Jupit3r, Mozaic, Mr. Rogers, R/D, Treavor Moontribe, Sleepyhead, Sexytime, Nikola Baytala, Noah Pred and about eight zillion more.

2007 Fall Seattle DMB Symbiosis Halloween 042I will no doubt discover several new favorites, and I am more excited about this outdoor festival than any other this year. Not to be rash, but I have heard several people talk about how much more fun Symbiosis is than Burning Man. Whoa. That is almost party blasphemy, right?

Whether you are just hearing about Symbiosis Gathering or have been waiting with baited breath for this year’s installment, one thing is certain: the music will blow your mind, stamped and approved by DF5K.

And it just might change your life.

13 Responses to “Symbiosis Gathering Changed My Life”


  2. sextronica Says:

    Definitely planning on making the trip this year. I’ve heard great things.

    Oh, and if you’re a fan of Symbiosis’ Line up, you should definitely check out the Decibel Festival this year as well:
    Caspa (UK) : Alter Ego (DE) : Mad Professor (UK) : The Wighnomy Brothers (DE) : Daedelus (US) : Benga (UK) : Robert Hood (US) : Mala (UK) : Mary Anne Hobbs (UK) : Reagenz (DE / US) : N-Type (UK) : Brodinski (FR) : Move D (DE) : Alex Under (ES) : Boxcutter (UK) : Frank Bretschneider (DE) : Martyn (US) : Tim Exile (UK) : Mountains (US) : Deepchord presents: Echospace (US) : Spacetime Continuum (US) : Voodeux (US) : Megasoid (CA) : Holger Zilske aka Smash TV (DE) : Benoit Pioulard (US) : Pinch (UK) : Sub Swara (US) : [a]pendics.shuffle (US) : Ana Sia (US) : Bruno Pronsato (DE / US) : KiloWatts (US) : Nosaj Thing (US) : Mikael Stavöstrand (SE) : an-ten-nae (US) : Dilo (AR) : Mike Slott (UK) : Hookerz & Blow (US) : Cascabel Gentz (US / AR) : Mark Henning (DE) : Sawako (JP) : Spektre (UK) : Dave Aju (US) : EPROM (US) : DJG (US) : Goldmund (US) : Christopher Willits (US) : Mozaic (US) : MC Rod Azlan (UK) : MC Juakali (US) : Lusine (US) : Kim Cascone (US) : Kotchy (US) : Tanner Ross (US) : William Fowler Collins (US) : Pezzner (US) : Dov (US) : Michael Manahan (US) : Jerry Abstract (US) : Heyoka (US) : Insideout (DE) : Qzen (US) : Mimosa (US) : Danny Corn (US) :

    • Wow! Beautiful! That really hit home. I’m not gonna lie, i deff got a lil teary eyed reading this blog. Everything within the EDM scene has just been such an amazing experience, and life changing for me. I’m so glad you can put into words some of the emotions and thoughts that I have about this scene. And its so amazing to hear that it hits you the same way. Thanks for doing what you do. You inspire me, thank you. Peace, love, light, and WHOMP!!!

  3. That’s a great read and thank you so much for sharing. I can’t wait for this years gathering as well, and just wanted to share with you that since you also like the outdoor festivals and parties, Boom Festival in Portugal is an absolute must. Peace.

  4. Hi : Thanks so much for the very sweet blog. I share your sentiments entirely. I LOVE Symbiosis and will be travelling alone from Seattle after my girlfriend and my other friend from Santa Cruz told me that can’t make it this year. ACK

    Would love to meet you at the venue and share some dance and spirit.


  5. the GLITCH mob SUCKSS!! listen to real music..maybe some psy trance…really thing…trance takes you wayyyy farther than GLITCH, yuck, that music is so stagnant..i hope theyre not at symbiosis this year

  6. Symbiosis invokes so many emotions within me. A community unlike any other. Thank for you writing with such honesty, beauty and depth. The festival changed my life as well. I hope you don’t might a long blog entery.

    I frist discovered Symbiosis in 2006 just after burning man. I have gone to every SG since then. A student of mine – I teach yoga in SF managed “InTicketing” in Marin Co. They print most of the festival tickets in the bay area including Burning man. I mentioned Symbiosis to my student after class but I really couldn’t afford to go. Burning man exhausted my funds for that month. She said, be my guest at the festival just work the gate Saturday night. I agreed. So I loaded up my honda civic with boyfriend by my side and we took off on Thursday morning. I had no idea what to expect. I was still floating on clouds from Burning man which for me was one of the best in the five years that I attended. I wanted more!

    Set up was easy. Great people around us, we felt at home upon arrival. The drive up the hill was a bit hairy. The swift we agreed to for our free tickets was 2am-10am on Sunday morning. It sucked really, it through us off completey. Luckily our table and chairs was on the road next to the main stage so we were able to hear the music. I was blown away that even at 3am we were selling tickets. Folks pouring in as the sun came up. Some even straight from the love parade made the trip. Dj’s on guest the list, vips, tripped out kids they all wanated to be a part of it. The energy was out of this world. It was then 5am. I knew Hallucinogen was playing a sunrise set so I wanted to to experience that dark side of Simon Postford. There I was, in the center of the universe feeling so connected to the earth, the sky and music. I felt love, my heart was open. I noticed this rather tall thin man dancing near me. He glanced at me a few times and we began a dialog. It took us only a few minutes to realize that we knew each other but we didn’t know from where. Then it hit us, we met only briefly three years prior when I loaded up my car with several people around 5am. We left one party to attend another at the loft space of Dj Laird. I remembered him because he gave me 10 bucks for gas or whatever. It was all very sweet. Since then, our friendship has deepend. He is one of our dearest freinds in SF.

    I could on but I will end it here. I breathe in this event and only hope that 2010 will bless us with another Symbiosis Gathering.

    Namaste` much love.

    Lorna Reed

    by the way 2006 was steller in the desert, best burn in my 7 years of attending. But I do perfer Symbiosis festival much, much more.

  7. Completely agree!!!! Life changing experience . Something that even hard core metal and punker’s ( all of whom I encouraged to go with me ) said they were completely overwhelmed by the amount of higher consciousness amongst so many people ! That even tho they were iffy at first about a bunch of dj’s and “techno” they would give it a shot . Heck it is in Yosemite after all . well lets just say they were transformed into a new and better people because of the pure equal luv that was being shared between everyone there! 2010 ?? lets manifest it !


    • FYI: Although I’m sure Symbiosis Gathering will go down this year, it will definitely not go down in Yosemite unless some serious strings are pulled. According to a SF news article, Phil Ginsburg of the San Francisco Recreational and Parks department banished Symbiosis from their grounds due to 23 drug related arrests that happened last year.

      Here is a link to the news article:

      This is a huge bummer because that location is the most beautiful place that I have ever been to and I’ve been to many many places. You can literally grab the stars there and each breath of the clean fresh air at camp mather probably adds a month to your life.


      • dancefever5000 Says:

        Yeah, I have heard for a while now that the location was DONE. Just goes to show- this life is short and uncertain and you have to live for the day and not put parties and other important things off until tomorrow or next year!

        Too bad, that place was very very very special. How lucky that we were able to be there and dance, even for just one weekend!

  8. Great festival report!

    Here’s links to my video montages from 2007 and 2009 (hopefully links work on your blog comments, otherwise just search jdsvids01 on youtube browse and my ‘festivals’ playlist to find them).



    Cool blog!

  9. loved this piece. Felt the exact same way when I went to Bonnaroo for the first time in 2012. Growing up in Austin, I thought I had a good grasp on the music scene. And then I went to Bonnaroo. Definitely a life changing experience!

  10. I am sure that you are not leaving the festival the same as you came in. I really wish I could go there to try all these new and unique experiences…

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