Phil Pirrone of Moon Block Party’s Desert Daze Festival: The TVD Interview

By DOMINIQUE MINIACI | There’s something really different going on in southern California. A community of artists collaborates and forms some of the best musical events in the country, including the Desert Daze Festival. They do it often, they’ve done it for years, and if you let them, they’ll implant the moon in you. Moon Block Party’s Desert Daze festival opens pineal glands on Saturday April 20th in Mecca, CA.

Have you heard of the Moon Block Party? I hadn’t, until I came to know its founder Phil Pirrone and the music from his inter-dimensional band JJUUJJUU last year. (Brooklyn’s a big borough, you can get lost in it.) So, I was over the moon to talk with Phil about Moon Block/Desert Daze, keeping shit real in the musical events scene, his amazing band JJUUJJUU and Beyond.

Greetings, Phil! Thanks for taking the time. Desert Daze is around the corner, your band JJUUJJUU’s first record just came out..what’s your sleep schedule like?

Sleep? Not sure I understand the question…

For anyone who hasn’t experienced a Moon Block Party event, how would you explain the overall vibe in one word?  

Different.

Indeed. A lot of music events as they grow become corporatized and soulless over time. Your Moon Block Parties have been going on for a few years now, how do you keep the whole thing honest?

Good people put it together. We keep each other honest. Plus, the people who come to Moon Block events are like us, they want something else. They inspire us to keep making it better each time.

I found it a bit interesting that Desert Daze is taking place again this year during the same weekend as the monster desert music fest, Coachella. Was there an intention behind that? 

None really… we were asked to do some “Coachella Parties” last year and we said fuck it, let’s do all 11 days (Thursday before the first weekend – Sunday of second weekend.) For this year, we just decided to keep it in April. That may or may not be the case next year…we’ll see.

This year the fest is one glorious day, a significantly shorter period of time than last year. What did you absorb from Desert Daze 2012 and did some of that lead to timeline refining?

DD2012 was bootcamp, an excursion, a complete experience and I can’t wait to do it again. And we sort of are doing it again. We wanted to do a camping festival at a ranch and Sunset Ranch is PERFECT. And doing that for 11 days at the same venue wasn’t exactly what we had in mind. We wanted to launch our very first tour and it worked out perfectly to start the tour at Desert Daze 2013 and head to Austin Psych Fest and back again.

We are planting the seeds for a full US/CAN festival tour to happen sometime in the next 5 years. So, in a sense, this year’s Desert Daze is even LONGER! Check out moonblockparty.org for our SW tour dates with Cosmonauts, JJUUJJUU, Blackfeet Braves, The Resonars, Ride into the Sun, and more.

DesertDaze

Tell us a little about the new location Sunset Ranch. How soon after visiting did you know it was the right space for DD 2013?

I knew the second I got there. Sunset Ranch is a beautiful desert oasis with miles of palm trees, lakes, lush foliage, and even grass! Not your typical desert scene. Mountain ranges surround the ranch and at sunset, you will understand where the name comes from.

Sounds incredible and the lineup is supremely awesome. Could you highlight a few lesser-known bands you’re personally stoked to present?

One of the most important things about Moon Block is that we strive to showcase our favorite unknown acts. As the festival grows we are fortunate enough to work with bands like Tinariwen, Warpaint, Chelsea Wolfe, etc and pair them with our favorite up and comers like Dahga Bloom, Blackfeet Braves, Lumerians, Matt Baldwin, and of course… ahem… JJUUJJUU.

I’m so thrilled to finally experience JJUUJJU, your killer band with Andrew Clinco. The bio reads, “JJUUJJUU is an astral union, an arcane ritual..a conversation” Elaborate on that.

We’re two guys talking to each other through vibrations and notes and rhythms. It’s very concentrated. We feed energy back and forth, it’s a direct line of communication and it’s powerful. Every time we play my soul glows and I float. I know that may sound lofty, but no joke, meeting and playing with Andrew has inspired me in ways that I can’t express in words. So, I tell him through the sickest of jams. And he responds with beats most eternal. And we are killer conversationalists, haha. Our recent tour of the SW was filled with laughs. Love that dude.

I dig, sometimes the best things can’t be expressed in words! What can we anticipate from the JJUUJJUU this year?

Desert Daze, Moon Block Tour of the SW, Austin Psych Fest, some more dates tentatively planned for the end of Summer/Fall (possibly in the UK) and hopefully a trip to NYC to visit our lovely label, Beyond Beyond is Beyond and play some shows. That, and a lot of recording. I have 22 more songs to share with Andrew. We just need to get in a room. And it’s tough sometimes. Moon Block keeps me busy and Andrew is constantly working with Incan Abraham, Marriages and his own project, Drab Majesty. So, between the 5 projects, you’ll probably hear a lot from us, both together and individually.

Can’t wait. So before I burgle more time from you, what’s your spirit animal’s favorite snack?

Whatever a lion eats when he’s in a hurry.

Tickets and more info on Desert Daze can be found here, and check out the new JJUUJJUU EP “FRST,” released on Beyond Beyond is Beyond Records.

Moon Block Party Facebook | JJUUJJUU

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