By Alli Hayes
The weekend has come and gone. Four days of wild weather, tickle trunks cracked open (this year’s theme was GOLD) exploding all over your tent floor, so many friends and, of course, music.
Bass Coast Festival just endured its eighth run, known to many as a sort of mini-Shambhala organized entirely by women, in the Merritt Valley.
While the festival focuses on electronic music, there are lots of different global sounds vibrating on the dance floors through the many mixes that are reggae, dub, disco, dancehall and soul-inspired. They go all night and morning long.
Outside some of the best dance music around, there are lots of workshops, chill river time, yoga and shopping to be done. With my fishnet bodysuit and glitter pasties intact, I wandered the grounds on my own and with my squad, taking in all the sexiness that is this weekend of freedom.
Each one of the 5,000 people at Bass Coast makes it special, and yet I somehow managed to compile my top 10 babe moments of the festival. Not without difficulty, mind you.
#10: Mandai & Tank Gyal
Two Vancouver- based DJs killed it on day one! Slayin’ at the Slay Bay Stage, the duo lit it with reggae and dancehall jams. These women are a huge influence in our hometown (and part of the Lighta! crew), exploring everything from hip hop and reggae to RnB. Tank Gyal is the founder and resident DJ at the Waldorf’s weekly Ting, and both of the girls are Bass Coast loyals. You can find them among underground parties in Vancouver and other festivals such as Shambhala and The Field.
#9: Blondtron & Waspy!
Before my disco nap (what day is it?) I headed to the Main Stage to get twerkin. The crowd was wild: Waspy! on the drums, Blondtron on the table (literally), it was great to see these locals on the largest stage in their element.
#8: Nancy Dru of Subversive
At 5 a.m. Monday morning when I was heading back to the campsite (the last one standing from my squad), I passed the Brain only to hear the craziest techno I had heard all weekend. Just one more dance! The room was pitch black with soft red lights shading the crowd (a huge handful of my friends were raving to the grave in here). Nancy was f.i.r.e. It was nuts. Serious Vancouver pride here.
#7: Honey LaRochelle
This soul queen was pure fire on the Main Stage. The 8 p.m. show was just what I needed to get my second wind for the Saturday night: a blend of her own indie sound with hints of Joss Stone and Macy Gray (she sang back up for both of them) filled the open field. Her single “Hijack” was tight to see live.
#6: Esette (Isis Graham)
I was super lucky to have seen Graham doing all the cool things at Bass Coast. From the Groundwerk panel discussion on community growth and engagement in electronic music to her master set at Slay Bay, which was symbiotic to the house and techno soul. She is as well spoken as she is talented on deck, and outside of the festival is the founder of Calgary’s Substation Recordings as well as Girls on Deck, a female-focused collective in dance music.
#5: Reva Devito
I was super looking forward to seeing Reva again! She got me pumped up to be a lady. Hailing from Portland, the HW & W Recordings bae’s soulful sound is everything I aspire to be singing in the shower and on the dance floor. Her performance on the Main Stage was beautiful. Having collaborated with KAYTRANADA, she is one woman you should have on your radar.
#4: Octo Octa
A new sound to my ears! Octo Octa filled me with ravey house waves and synths. Her music is a pure inspiration: this trans artist has used music to express her inner anxieties and demons, which is absolutely relatable.
#3: Stacey Forrester (Sanctuary Tent)
I caught up with Forrester to talk about the use of the Sanctuary and the Harm Reduction Series that is a foundational component to Bass Coast:
Stacey, it’s very refreshing to participate in a music festival that takes pride in implementing a Harm Reduction Series. What inspired you to get involved with Bass Coast and can you share to our readers a little bit about what the Sanctuary Tent provides?
I was a regular ticket holder one year and then volunteered for first aid one year (this was when the event was held in Squamish). Both years I had messaged the ladies (who I now call friends, but at the time were just bad ass women I admired) wanting to work with the festival in a harm reduction capacity, but in hindsight, it wasn’t the right time, and they did not pursue the conversation further. My education and professional background is a mixed bag of nursing, gender studies and urban planning, and about five years ago I started making a conscious effort to have less of a gap between what I do for income, and what I do for enjoyment. When the festival made the move to Merritt, the organizers reached out to bring me onboard and help create a strong harm reduction component within a safe space during the festival. Making this space really is the intersection of all my interests – harm reduction, public health, and anti oppressive theory WITHIN a community lead art initiative and a female founded project – plus, you know music!
The sanctuary tent is open all festival long ( 24 /7 as soon as gates open right up until most ticket holders are off site) , and is staffed with volunteers with experience in “helping” professions – teaching, counselling, nursing, etc. We offer harm reduction supplies – safer consumption items, safer sex materials as well as a plethora of information and resources and support people. The space we create within the festival is a calming, non judgemental safe space for people to get some rest, regain their footing and get some respite from the (sometimes hectic and overwhelming) festival environment Our work actually starts in the weeks before the festival, putting volunteers through training and sharing resources on safety and the festival experience via the Bass Coast social media. This year we hung out with the car line up the night before gates – talking about strategies to stay safe once inside.
Read the rest of Loose Lips’ interview with Forrester here.
#2: The Librarian
One of the co-founders of Bass Coast, Andrea Graham, absolutely had the floor lit. Her set at the Main Stage was not to be missed, as her bass and dub sounds roared through the stage decor ribbons above our heads.
#1: KMLN (Kameleon)
I was about to leave Slay Bay to check out the other stages because it was the last night and I didn’t want to get stuck in one place too long, but then KMLN walked up to the deck and my jaw dropped. An edgy blonde (Canada’s Shawna Hoffman) and and a sultry Italian man (Christopher Tooker) smoked cigarettes and drank wine while they destroyed the dance floor with their ever-so-ethnic blends of deep house, techno and future bass. I got a hint of dancehall-inspired bells. Their artist name is appropriate, since the two of them simultaneously switched off mixing and playing the hooked up bells like they were the same person doing both. The set I almost walked away from quickly became my favourite performance of the whole festival. It was an unbelievable vibe, the crowd was beautiful, crazy. We were all so pumped and we danced our minds out. The late night set blew so many minds: we all felt alive again.
Alli is a wildcard. Faux fur is her wingman. She is constantly moved by art, cool parties, and independent film, and continues to create her own projects. She wishes her photographic memory did her Instagram more justice. Check out her blog at http://www.thewildcardwins.com.