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by DJ Fizzi Pop

Tucked away in the lush green mountains of the Quincy forest, resided a full weekend of bass and experimental electronic music at the transformative Emissions Festival. Taking over the campground of Belden Town, festival goers from all over came to gather and dance to some exceptional sets, rain or shine (but mostly rain).

Emissions Festival is put on by camp Question Mark, a group that is active in the Burning Man community. Their goal of this festival was visioned to bring together a collaboration of visual art and progressive music to spark attendee’s inner creative mindset. The stages where decked out with complex architectural design, the sound was amplified by PK sound systems that brought thousands of watts of sound, and the vendors were all small individual business with handmade, high-quality material. You could find anything from fur-lined kimonos to color-changing tapestries to your next favorite crystal. 

The setting of Belden Town is one that is truly unique in the way it is set up. Having an annual population of ~22, the area becomes a camping wonderland for every event that is held there. Set up right next to a beautiful river, the old-timey feel of the campgrounds includes a general store, showers, and even a fully-equipped bar (with their famous ‘Belden Tree Smacker’ drink to keep you going in the long nights). The organization, scenic landscape and cleanliness of the campground made it all the much easier to enjoy the other festivities.

Despite the presence of rain all three days, the music is what kept the spirit alive all three days. To start the festival off right, the Frequency staged featured progressive bass music from electronic stars Sketchy Ppl, Shigeto, and Charlesthefirst. The rain really started pouring at the beginning of the femme electronic rockstar The Librarian’s set, but her future-wave like set brought magic to the night combined with the gloominess of the Belden showers. 

Saturday really kicked off the energy of the weekend. With music going on literally all hours of the night, there were sets for the night owls, the early risers, and everyone in between. I started my day with the Lab Group beach takeover featuring Charlesthefirst, Potions, and Supertask. As young rising stars in the electronic scene, it is inspiring to hear complexities in their beats as well as keeping a hip-hop vibe that keeps the audience dancing. The beach stage was decorated with a giant question mark, as well as colorful tarps shading the crowd. Following was Zipse, a Santa Cruz local who combines elements of funk, deep dubstep, and hip-hop. Saturday had quite a bit of other young inspiring artists gracing the stage, featuring Womp Rat, Jalaya, and Cambot who are all gracing the scene with unique, new twists on electronica and deep dub. My personal favorite headlines closed out the night, with a non-stop guarantee of good music coming from Zeke Beats, 12th Planet’s 2 hour throwback set, Minnesota, Ultrasloth, and Huxley Anne waking the morning with the 5am experimental set. It is truly something spiritual to hear transformative types of music while watching raindrops sprinkle through the laser lights. 

Sunday was my personal favorite day, with the sun shining during most of the hours. The beach stage was packed with music since 6am, featuring multiples of back-to-back takeovers.  Phuture Collective brought the heavy bass music with music from Adiidas, Ediket, and Loj, as well as some others. The Sleeveless Beach Party was a fun mix of old-school Bay Area throwback tunes and some funky electronica, courteous of Stylust Beats, Kowta, and 2Leon. The Smasheltooth and Friends takeover was a real treat for everyone attending, with the female DJ legend Smasheltooth bringing out fellow femme producers Beatkitty and Brittanyfromealier to spin and mix original productions, wow-ing the crowd with their skills. In the evening (in which the earth graced us with a dry night for once), I was able to catch Yheti, a pioneer in the experimental electronic scene. He featured tracks from his new EP, as well as some crowd favorites. Moodygood and TVBOO brought the heavy-hitting, energetic sounds to bring up the energy at 2am. My favorite set of the evening was by UK-hailing Caspa. The old-school dubstep artist mixed effortlessly while playing equal amounts of old and new, which settled nicely for the variety of age in the crowd. 

Overall, I give Emissions Festival an 8.5/10. The music selection was quality, the environment was blissful, however the shuttle transportation from the parking lot to the festival grounds was a bit disorganized. I will be returning next year, with more ponchos to pack just in case! I give a hand to Camp Question Mark for creating a gathering that is dedicated to supporting young, up and coming artists while also still shedding light on electronica veterans. Seeing sides of both gives me hope in the future of electronic music.

DJ Fizzi Pop’s show Soundwave Sanctuary airs only on KZSC Santa Cruz 88.1 FM.

You can check out other interviews and festival coverage by DJ Fizzi Pop here: https://www.kzsc.org/?s=dj+fizzi+pop

Emissions Festival Website: http://emissionsfestival.com/