But, how did it happen? Where did the dusty DJ from the Netherlands come from? Why the fuck was he at our camp? We'll let him explain for himself...
It's hard not to make a mention of the melting pot of individuals that Burning Man is made up of --- the beauty in never knowing who you might run into. That smorgasbord of awesomeness is very much alive in our dusty little family, too. Us piles come from all walks of life, from every background, and each one of us has a story. So how did a child born in Singapore to a Navy family end up in San Diego and part of our little camp? Better yet, how did that kid find himself slaying the decks with a distinctive style that one could only classify as Dink? In honor of the release of Dink's set from Pile Palace at Burning Man 2017, we dove in headfirst to capture his tale. Press play on the mix and get into it.
So, how did this all happen? Where'd you come from? How'd you get here?
Well, actually, I was born in Singapore. My dad was a fighter pilot in the Navy. He and my mom traveled around the world together for 15 years before having me, and they just happened to be in Singapore at that time. We all ended up back in America a few years later, where I went from living in Maryland for a bit to Houston, Texas, where I really grew up. After high school, I went on to University of Colorado. It was there that I started going to shows, like at Red Rocks, and really introduced myself to the music scene. Seeing shows where there was a cohesive vibe, where everybody was really into the artist, really inspired me. At that point, I knew I wanted to curate a setting, from the people to the music. After getting my undergrad in architecture, I came to California for my masters and have been here ever since.
What was your introduction to Pile Palace?
I was living in San Diego. I had never been to Burning Man, but I was always fascinated by it. I decided to do my masters thesis on portable architecture, and on a lunchbreak one day, I was at East Village Tavern reading up about Burning Man and this kind of architecture. Alice [Pile babe] happened to be bartending and she noticed a picture of the playa in the book I was reading, made a mention of her theme camp's very first meeting that night [Ego Trip], and told me to come. I did, and a few months later I was riding out to the burn with Alice, Porkchop, and Cookie. That year on the playa was also the year the seeds of Desert Hearts and Pile Palace were planted. But, yeah, it all started with reading a Burning Man book one day at a bar haha.
Musically, what's your background?
In middle school, I was in percussion and really loved being in the drum line. That was my first real introduction to beats and rhythms. At the same time, I always found myself gravitating towards music with heavy riffs and mean sounds. As I grew older and was experimenting with new sounds and discovering music, it naturally evolved into dance music. I saw Sacha and Digweed at a music festival a few weeks into college and it changed everything. I went home, sold all of my video games, and bought a copy of ableton.
How would you classify your current style?
I would consider what I play house and tech house, in the most basic sense. But I've always been a fan of variety and try to incorporate other genres as well. I love to have a wide range. I like to stay up to date on the new shit. And I always love mixing breaks into my sets to change up the rhythm.
What's Dink working on next?
I'm really focusing on production right now, and also my parties. I'm working on releasing an EP this year, hopefully relatively soon. I also want to put out some singles with a few different labels. We'll see how it goes.
What does it mean to be a Pile?
Well there's definitely a laziness aspect to it haha. But I feel like being a pile is a privilege. It's all about busting your ass, putting in hard work, and earning that laziness. It's an honor to be a Pile. It's ironic.
Do you Burn? Keep a journal. Or try to. Or don't at all and attempt to recollect your experience after, then put it down on paper. Trust us, you'll be happy you did. But we totally understand if that's just not in your vocabulary. We are Piles, after all, and some of the best moments are destined to live in the dust forever.
Even if your Burn turned hazy, there will always be little reminders around us: That trinket hidden in the pocket of that one jacket you work on Tuesday, the dust that lines the pocket of your extravagant hat you still haven't worn since Burn night, or maybe it's that one track that you haven't heard since that beautiful sunrise you caught Deep Playa, bringing back all the feels. For many of us, it's those moments spent in our dusty little home, listening to the ones we love, dancing about, and participating in all sorts of fun and debauchery that make Pile Palace like nowhere else on the planet.
Our very own Mikey Lion just dropped his live recording from our ripping Tuesday party and we're sure it will bring you back to that wonderful day on the Playa. Press play and attempt to read your way through Mikey's personal Burn journal while you're at it. Chances are you'll be up and dancing before the second bass line drops into the mix.
I’m finally back on the grid after 2 of the most unbelievable weeks of my life. My 6th Burning Man proved to be my favorite one yet, even though a lot of my personal growth actually happened during my week post-burn. This is going to be long as fuck, but I wanted to chronicle the past two weeks so I don’t ever forget what happened. Here we go!
Hollyyyy shit we kicked off Burning Man with the ultimate all day Dude Cruise. I feel like Mondays are always some of my best days on the playa because excitement is at an all-time high and I usually don’t have any responsibilities. With about 10 of my best homies on bikes, we all got piss drunk and adopted the shittiest New Jersey Jabroni accents imaginable and went on a shit talking warpath lead by Spederico Falconi. I challenged one of my best friends Mike Iwata to a Bike Jousting tournament and he straight up A Knight’s Tale’d my ass into oblivion. This lead to arguably my favorite scar on my body. One of the best days of my life!
As most of you know, I camp with and curate the lineup for Pile Palace, which consists of the most unbelievable group of people I know who I like to think of as the heart and soul of the Desert Hearts movement. These are the people that inspire me most in life and I love the with every fiber in my body. Our Tuesday kickoff party is always a mack-daddy of a party and I think it was probably my favorite Pile Palace party to date. It was just a hedonistic wonderland in there with vibes thicker than Lil Kim’s backside. I got to play a super housey set amongst legends like Robert Babicz & Lee Foss while some of my favorite up-and-comers like wAFF, Sacha Robotti, m.O.N.R.O.E., and my brother Porkchop, absolutely destroyed the place. Once our party ended, about 300 people from our party followed Porky and I on bikes as we road out to Robot Heart to throw a tech house beatdown for our debut b2b on the bus. It was really exciting to play music while the bus was in motion while roughly 1000 burners followed us on bikes into Deep Playa. Hell of a day!
Wednesday was what we in camp call a “LAY-DAY!” Pretty much our entire camp had partied themselves into submission for 15 hours the day before so we were feeling extra pile. The entire day was spent bullshitting and cracking jokes around camp until it was time to head to my friends Liz and Anael's wedding. It was so beautiful as hundreds of friends turned up. I have so much love and respect for these two and can't wait for them to own the next chapter of their life! After the wedding I went on to host my night on the Kalliope Art Car at Camp Walter. After epic sets by Mason, Justin Campbell, & Tara Brooks, I ended up playing b2b2b with wAFF & Porky for 4+ hours. I think this was my favorite set on The Playa this year as we were just completely locked into the groove for hours. Be on the lookout for this set soon as I can’t wait to share with you guys.
We hosted another Pile Palace party with a much more musically whimsical vibe set by acts like Atish, Thugfucker b2b Nico Stojan, YokoO, Oona Dahl, & more. Despite the more relaxed and sonically beautiful vibe, this was my day to work the Pile Palace Bar and I was about to raise all hell as my trog-ass transexual alter-ego, Mikaela. I was trading hidden talents for cocktails. No talent? No cocktail! To me, the ultra sarcastic, snarky culture on the Playa is part of what makes Burning Man so great. Running Desert Hearts the rest of the year I dedicate my time to spreading love and positive energy as far and wide as possible. But at the Burn, I just want play pranks on my fellow burners. If you had the misfortune of coming across full-blown Mikaela on Thursday, I would love to hear about your experience because I was on a sick one! To my buddy Chris, I apologize again for kicking you out of camp for wearing a DH shirt! Mikaela is a mean bitch!
So before the Man Burns on Saturday, our camp hosts the Piley Awards which is pretty much an Oscars style awards ceremony where our entire camp votes for winners of categories such as M.V.P. (Most Valuable Pile), Piley Cyrus (Biggest Camp Slut), The AA Award (Drunkest Pile), Rookie of the Year, Steeziest Pile… you get the idea. It’s honestly my favorite part of the burn as all 60+ camp members are present with the chance to share their funniest stories and memories from the week. If you have a camp at Burning Man, I can’t recommend doing your own version of an awards ceremony enough. It’s a great way to gather your entire camp before venturing out to the man burn, and probably the best way to create a continuous camp culture. After the man burn we all went back to the palace for one final rager that lasted till sunrise. Epic, epic day!
IT’S A LAY-DAY! You can just put an X through the whole day. I even slept through the Temple Burn for the first time in my life. Killin' it fersure!
OK I know this post is getting unbelievably long, but my Post-Burn Decompression was the most beautiful transition back to normal life I’ve ever had and I’ll never miss an opportunity like this again. Instead of driving home after spending a night in Reno like I normally do, I decided to completely disengage from real life for an extra week and spend it with some of my best friends and girlfriend in Tahoe. Completely ignoring social media, emails, and any outside responsibilities, I was able to properly reflect on my burn and plan out exactly what I want to do with my life for the next year. I usually leave Burning Man incredibly low on energy and no matter how good my burn was, I used to leave with a bad taste in my mouth telling myself I probably don’t need to go next year. That will never happen again. I’ve learned the importance of a proper decompression in nature and I’m already making plans for decompressing in Yosemite next year. I’ve never felt better and I can’t recommend this enough.
Thank you for taking the time to read this if you’ve made it this far. I wanted to write this for myself just as much as I wanted to write it for you so I’ll remember it forever. This was hands down the best burn yet and I want to thank all my beautiful Pile Palace camp leads for running the show 365 days a year, all my camp mates for stepping up and crushing it, The Jabroni / Speddy Crew for cracking me the fuck up all week, my angel of a mother Annie for absolutely dominating her second burn with us, Robot Heart, Camp Walter, Distrikt, & Big Imagination for hosting me behind the decks, my wonderful friend Carolyn for hosting us in Tahoe, Grant Pa & Kinsey for being our ultimate Post-Burn Roll Dogs, and finally my beautiful girlfriend Cookie for continuing to be the best soul mate anyone could ever ask for. We did it babe!
It's been over two months since our journey back to Black Rock City, and boy, oh boy, do we miss those dusty days. Every year, we bring on artists to play our parties that we feel will find a home at Pile Palace. These are people we want to groove with, to complement our little oasis on the Playa, and fit the vibe we're going for. One of those people in 2016 was Belgium's Sacha Robotti. For a first-year Burner, Sacha rocked the place like he'd been doing it for years. His energetic sound resonated with our Tuesday party as we guzzled down Whiskey Dick and Porkchata by the tenfold and the day turned to night. We raged. He raged. And now, you can thank the Playa gods we've got the recordings to relive some of your favorite moments on the dance floor. To usher in our first release from Burning Man 2016, Sacha's set from Tuesday at Pile Palace, we sat down with the man himself to talk about popping his Playa cherry, and, well, the rest is history.
Follow our SoundCloud page for the latest dusty recordings and tracks/mixes from your favorite Pilés.
Burning Man virgin, no more! So, let’s get down to it--did the Playa provide?
Oh yes it did! On countless occasions. For instance, we were craving ramen, and a noodle place literally popped out of the dust haha.
Yes! Aside from that, what were your favorite moments from the entire experience?
I went there early for the build of the camp I stayed at, Camp Charlie, who took me under their wing for my first Burn. Seeing the Playa grow and all the structures being constructed physically from scratch was an amazing experience! I have an education as an architect, so I appreciated this aspect a lot. I also loved exploring, especially at night, with my friends and my love. There were so many sights and sounds on this raw piece of land, and the desert showed its nature in full effect – cold by night, hot by day, dusty as hell... it was magical. We cycled around everywhere, climbed on some strange art cars, witnessed beautiful sunrises and sunsets, listened to a lot of music… it was a spiritual journey of sorts. The whole experience definitely had an impact on me. I love how everyone participated and how weird things got. This made the place so special.
You played a number of sets on the Playa, including your Tuesday night smasher at Pile Palace What was that like? How was it rolling up to Pile Palace for the first time?
I had so much fun playing at the Pile! It was unreal! Even though all the sets that I played were particular and different, the best set I played was probably at Pile Palace in terms of the feedback from the people who came to smile and dance. I liked the intimacy of the party and the many pillows you could chill on. The system sounded really good, too. And the people were lovely.
Any favorite moments while you were playing? Any tracks that you were crawling out of your skin to drop on that dance floor?
I love the fact that my good friends' mum came 'round to party with us at the Pile Palace. She got drunk on Whiskey for the first time. Many of my Cali friends who I met this year were there too, spreading good vibes and partying hard. It was great!
In terms of track selection, I played some jams that I hadn't heard or played for years – like Holden's remix of Nathan Fake “The Sky was Pink”, Samim “Heater”, my edit of Caribou “Can't Do Without You”, Justin's remix of Radiohead “Nude”, and I mixed those tracks with newer jams that I like dancing to. I wanted my set to be positive and uplifting without any pressure to play any particular “hip” elitist electronic dance music style. Tuesday night at Pile Palace wasn't the time and place for that sound, I feel.
How did our little dusty palace compare to some of the other Burning Man camps?
Every camp at the Burn has a particular vibe of its own. For me, Pile Palace had this kind of Arabic nomad appearance that you would see in the Sahara, providing shelter and intimacy rather than being extroverted.
Did you get a chance to try any of our famed cocktails: Porkchata, Phil’s Fruit Basket, or Whiskey Dick?
I definitely had a lot of Whiskey haha.
In your words, what does it mean to be a Pile?
It's a vibe that I recognize from DJing and partying in Berlin where I lived for the last 16 years, in particular the old Bar 25 / Kater, Sisyphos, Fusion Festival, and illegal outdoor parties in summer. The Pile wasn't a “new” experience for me. It felt rather like I had found something miles away from how I grew up as a DJ in Berlin. So I guess, to be at the Pile Palace meant to me finding “a home away from home”!?
Has the whole experience affected your life?
The two main things that I took with me from Burning Man to the default world: I stopped smoking cigarettes and I went on the first crazy adventure with my lover that bound us together!
Yes! Final thoughts about returning to Pile Palace?
Yes, please. I'd like to come back next year!
What's up Piles? If you couldn't tell, we just started this pretty little website you're looking at. The goal? To host all things Pile Palace. While our camp hits the Playa for one week a year, that doesn't mean we aren't up to something the rest of the 51 weeks. This is the place where you'll be able to see what we're up to, listen to live sets from Pile Palace on the Playa, read interviews with our beloved guests, and find out where you'll be able to fill up your mug with Porkchata next (Mmmm!). In kicking off the new site, we wanted to bring you something special --Patrice Baumel's set from Desert Hearts Spring 2016, along with an interview with Patrice about his time at PP at Burning Man 2015. We can't wait for his return to our beloved camp, but in the meantime, we'll make due with his words and sounds as they continue to send shivers down our spines.
We hope you enjoy! - PP
What was it like rolling up and playing at Pile Palace?
It was on a Tuesday night, my second night ever at Burning Man. I was still in that shock & awe phase of total sensory overload, especially at night when the playa is a different beast altogether. But from the moment I arrived at the Palace I was taken in like family. Mikey, Lee and Deep Jesus made me feel super welcome, fixed drinks, set me up behind the decks.
How does it compare to other Burning Man camps?
There is a shortage of camps that have tasteful dance music at night and provide a comfortable shelter against the elements at the same time. Pile Palace fills that gap in the market. I love that you can get horizontal and trip out with a bunch of smiley people and dance whenever you feel like it without having to change venue.
What does it mean to be a Pile?
It means being part of an amazing collection of positive and creative human beings. It means having each other’s backs when needed and watching out for each other. The group comes first. For me that was one of the most important lessons of Burning Man. I felt my ego wither away and become part of something bigger and stronger. That night at the Palace taught me more in that respect than any other place at Burning Man.
Thoughts about the Pile Palace community?
Just a bunch of beautiful people, inside and out. Amazing outfits wherever I looked, eye candy galore. You could sense that it's a very tight-knit community, the way people made sure the camp was in order at all times and moop was taken care of immediately. I could feel how much everybody loved spending time with each other. It was one big pile of warmth and happiness. It's an awesome camp with a strong identity.
And how has it affected you life?
Most notably it connected me to the Desert Hearts crew and brought me back to that festival. That alone is an unbelievable gift – I spent some of the happiest hours of my life with you guys. It showed me some of the best that California has to offer to the world. I want to introduce that same creative and socially super-progressive mindeset back in Europe. We need more participation at our parties and social gatherings and move away from the consumer mindset that plagues so many parties back home. Participation is empowerment, and that is the key to positive change.
Thoughts about returning to Pile?
I will jump at the first opportunity I can get. It is much tougher for us Europeans to do Burning Man every year – a week costs the equivalent of 2 major holidays in other parts of the world. With a heavy heart I will probably skip this year but most definitely be back with you guys in 2017 and continue to strengthen the beautiful bond we have built. Pile for life!