San Diego's Lovelife parties have been astonishing us with their vibrant and fun themes, great musical programming, and photos of extremely happy partygoers having a swell time. Lovelife was started two years ago by Jon Dadon of the music website "Music is 4 Lovers" and Jimbo James of outLIFE. Since their first event, the two of them have been growing their family of "Lovers" from all around California who gather to have a spanking good time to the tune of some of our favorite electronic music artists. As their two year anniversary party approaches on Friday, August 23rd, we decided to catch up with one of their founders, Jimbo James, as they prepare for this week's 'Sexmas in July' extravaganza with Tone of Arc, to hear how the magic came together and what are their secrets to harboring all that love!
Lovelife is a collaboration between Jon Dadon of Music is 4 Lovers and Jimbo James of outLIFE. How did the two of you meet? I was promoting a weekly Thursday night party in which I was booking local DJs to play alongside live percussion. I booked Jon through a mutual friend, David Afterlife, to play a Thursday night back in April 2011. I had never heard him DJ before booking him to play. I instantly loved his style and taste of music. He put out a mixtape called "There's an Elephant in the Room" [below] and I swear I listened to it at least 100+ times. I remember listening to it while driving and texting him, "This is the best shit I've ever heard!" I even had the crazy idea to make some kind of video to go along with the mix; like an hour long music video. To me, there's a story behind the tracks one can follow if you listen to all the lyrics to each song. It's a love story!
We see Jon Dadon and Jimbo James head Lovelife, but who else makes up your team? On the back end of Lovelife we also have Laura Begley working with us. She's a hard worker and super pro-active. If we were Voltron, Jon would be the head (brain), I'd be the torso (heart) and Laura would be the arms and legs. She keeps us moving. We also have our graphic artist, Pablo Stanley, and our photographer/cinematographer, Jeff Corrigan. These two guys are workaholics and the most creative peeps I know. On the front end of Lovelife, our team runs deep as fuck! We have a solid core of devoted Lovers that unconditionally spreads the word about Lovelife and everything we stand for and believe in. We also have an awesome crew of resident DJs which include: Sand, Mikey Lion, Deep Jesus, Marbs, Porkchop, Kevin Anderson, Elong and Ledher 10. These guys are definitely always on the up and up as far as music goes, and truly are amazing people inside and out! Everyone involved with Lovelife, whether working on the back end or out in front, plays a pivotal role in the overall success of our Family.
San Diego has never been known as a traditionally strong city for electronic music. From the looks of your parties it seems that that is changing. What do you think beyond the success of your own parties is an indication of that? For the most part, especially in this day and age with the Internet and social media, music is trendy, as are most things in human culture. Music also runs in cycles. When we started Lovelife two years ago we were on the forefront of this resurgence of deep house in the US. It is getting more and more popular as EDM is dying off. People are becoming more aware and as underground artists, labels and promoters make more money, the popularity of this music and the events encompassing them increases. Every aspect of the industry fuels one another, so growth is massive. To me, it's a matter of what one does with the responsibility of having widespread attention. You can either exploit it and burn it out until the next trend comes along to make a buck; or you can embrace it, savor and create something special that brings people together on a spiritual and emotional level. I strive for the latter. Money comes and goes, I suppose people do too, but memories and feelings do not.
Lovelife was supposed to only be a one time event. What led you keep the ball rolling and were there any difficult setbacks along the way? We didn't really know what to expect. We had an idea, but that's all it was at the time. Jon knew what music was good and I knew how to hype that shit up! I think once we saw all these people coming out of the woodwork we were like, "Whoa!" Why stop?" It's also a lot of fun. We started out with the biggest setback of them all! We originally had Wolf + Lamb and Soul Clap booked for our very first party, but the day before the party at like 4 pm, we got a call from their agent saying all planes were grounded on the East coast because of Hurricane Irene. What a bitch Irene was! Fuck, what were we to do?! Luckily for us Greg and Holmar aka Thugfucker were coming to the party just to kick it on their way to Burning Man, so we asked them to play. Sammy from PillowTalk was in LA, so he hopped on a train as well to play a DJ set and do some live vocals. If you look at our first flyer it says "Thugfucker and PillowTalk to the rescue!" Because of that we've kind of made it a tradition to have Thugfucker play our anniversary party. They played our one year anniversary last summer and we've booked them to play part-one of our two-part two year anniversary party next month.
We love the themes you guys come up with for each party. You’re known for your theme parties with past events like Jungle of Love, Hot Stuff, Alice in Wonderland, and the upcoming Sexmas in July. Tell us, who is the mastermind behind them? What's your trick to getting everyone involved? The themes came about when we threw a gold chain party with Danny Daze, which was our fifth party. The next party after that we kept the ball rolling with a Capes & Chains party with Damian Lazarus. Now that we've been running for 2 years some of these themes become an annual occasion like 'Sexmas in July,' 'Lovers Masquerade Ball,' pirate pool party, black party, white party and Jungle of Love. The themes give each party a fresh marketing angle and also help boost the buzz. Who doesn't like to get dressed up weird? Well, everyone that comes to our parties do. Dressing in costume automatically lowers people's inhibitions, therefore creating a light judge-free zone, which is a necessary ingredient for a good vibe. When people feel tense at a party, I think a lot has to do with this feeling of being looked at and judged by others. That's why people get all done up before going out; they want to feel good about themselves and have a good time. If you're in a costume though you already have that fun I-don't-give-a-fuck attitude. People go crazy when they're in costume and they take LOTS of photos, which subsequently go right onto Instagram and Facebook. That makes the party more viral. Plain and simple... the shit is fun! Why do you think Halloween is so awesome?!
Let's talk art. Your event flyers are always very well designed, you have great party recap videos, and lots of fun photos from events. Was this a planned strategy or did you just happen to pick up great designers and photographers along the way? I'm a creative person. Every party I have a vision of what it should look like. The artwork is very important to actualize the vision. Typically I'll give Pablo details about the party and a description of what I see in my head. He always comes back with something that is spot on and exceeds my expectations. Same goes with our videos. Each video I can see it in my head. Jeff and I will get together before the party and I'll describe what I see the video looking like and the feeling it should give viewers. That way he has it in his mind while he is at the party filming. When it comes to editing, we choose a perfect song and then Jeff goes to town. It's always a very exciting moment when he gives us a rough draft. The challenge is to always be doing something different and unique. To answer your question, yes, this was a planned strategy. We know talent when we see it.
You've developed a community of party-goers that are more than just friends, they're part of the Lovelife family. What do you think it is about Lovelife parties that makes people bond together? We set out from the very beginning to grow Lovelife organically. Naturally that will attract like-minded people together, which is exactly what is happening. I've always said that I'd love to have 1,000 people at a party all connected by one degree of separation at the most. Imagine the vibe of that party. The more parties we throw the closer people get to one another. The Family vibe isn't by accident. Our peeps feel like Lovelife is theirs and it is. It gives them a sense of ownership and builds loyalty. The key to our success isn't the DJs we book, the music, the themes, the sound system or the party; it's the people and it always will be. I love them all.
Social networking is a big part of how you guys stay connected, do any of you have formal training in its effective use or was this all self taught through trial and error? Definitely trial and error. I'm always very conscious on what works and what doesn't. Not just with our marketing and promotion, but in others' as well. I recently graduated from San Diego State and took a few marketing courses in which I retained some concepts. Mainly because I was practicing these methods in real life concurrently. Everything on our Facebook page and Instagram is a reflection of our personality. Staying true to our identity, being consistent and interacting with people all strike an emotional connection with our followers. That is very important.
It’s been two years since your first event with Thugfucker and Pillowtalk at Analog Bar. Now we’re fast approaching August 23rd when you’ll be celebrating your two-year anniversary with Art Department. While it’s probably difficult to single out your favorite moments along the way, give it a shot and share some memories with our readers. This is my favorite moment:
This Saturday Tone of Arc will help you ring in 'Sexmas in July on the 27th. Who’s going to play Santa Claus and how does he like to get down? Mr. & Mrs. Claus are riding down from the North Pole of California to spank us all!
Looking forward what’s next for Lovelife, do you see yourselves expanding beyond the confines of the brand’s birth city of San Diego? Expanding beyond San Diego has been our vision since the start. We've thrown a few parties in Tijuana and we did one in Austin during SXSW. We definitely want to take Lovelife around the world! There are a lot of Lovers out there waiting for us.