We are now less than a month out from gathering in the Tuscon desert for another all out edition of Gem & Jam. A unique experience in the American music landscape, the festival is an immersive artistic get away, with live painters and a full art gallery, gem sellers and enthusiasts, artists from a broad range of mediums, and of course good vibes.
But the main attraction has always been and will always be music. This year's lineup in anchored by DJs and jam bands, with psychedelic sounds pervading throughout.
To get you ready for the festival we thought we'd help you get to know a few artists playing on the bill. We talked to electronic acts MZG, Jimkata, Daily Bread, and Wreckno to get the low down on what to expect from their sets and the festival overall, as well as their recommendations for other acts on the bill you shouldn't miss.
Here's what they had to say.
Have you played Gem & Jam before? If so, do you have a memory from the festival? If not, what have you heard about the festival and its atmosphere?
MZG: We haven't played Gem & Jam before. 2022 will be our first year playing Gem & Jam and we've heard nothing but amazing things about its thriving community and diverse lineup.
Wreckno: I actually never have, but have heard so many amazing things from friends of mine through the years! I'm so stoked that my first time playing it will be my first experience!
Daily Bread: Yes! I was lucky enough to play it in 2020 - it was my last show before shutdown. One of the most vivid moments was arriving as the sun was setting. I don't make it out to the desert much so seeing the festival come to life at night after arriving and seeing the sunset was really cool.
Jimkata: The band has never played but I worked one of the late night stages the last time it happened. One thing that sticks out was a fan jumped on stage and ran about 7 laps around the DJ table before anyone really noticed. He was eventually escorted off stage but locked his hands on the staircase railing with 4 security guards patiently holding his legs up horizontally Superman style while the crowed went wild. Luckily it ended peacefully. He came back the next night looking for his top hat.
Do you have a go-to "first song" in your set? If so, what is it? If not, what is your process for choosing the first song of your set?
MZG: We do not have a go-to "first song" in our set. It is essential for us to understand the set time and audience before stepping out to perform. We usually do a little research on where we are playing as well to decide what song will be played first. Every tracklist is finalized the day of to make sure our idea of what will work is as fresh as possible.
Wreckno: My intro tracks change depending on my mood and what I'm tired of playing at the moment. My favorite thing to open with is this Super Future mashup of the instrumental of Crazy Town's 'Butterfly' and my vocals from 'Medusa' with GRiZ. You’ll definitely hear it at the fest in 2022!
Daily Bread: I don't really have a specific go-to intro song, I like to pick different songs based on the time of day or the energy level of the set. This past NYE in Detroit I had a good time opening up with a brand new track. Maybe I’ll do that at G&J.
Jimkata: We always do our best to mix it up depending on the crowd. Sometimes a soft start is appropriate and sometimes you really need to come out swinging. I think the key to a good opener is something everyone knows and can sing along to and we can really take our time getting into, the anticipation just builds. Songs like 'Sweet Glory' always set a tone that we mean business.
Is what you play in your set influenced by the environment you’re in (audience size/reaction, venue, previous DJs, etc) or do you stick to your plan?
MZG: There are always audibles (backup tracks) that need to be considered due to crowd size/reaction, etc. We have a lot of crates to increase our chances of hitting a mark with the crowd if the original tracklist set beforehand falls through. The idea though is to minimize playing audibles. We've done our job right if our foresight rings true on the first track played.
Wreckno: I am the type of person that NEEDS structure or a plan for a performance, especially when it comes to making sure I fit in all the tracks that I rap on. If I've been on the road for a hot second though, sometimes I'll just freestyle the track selection depending on my vibe that day. If I know gays are in the building I'll close with Charli XCX or Kim Petras sometimes haha.
Daily Bread: My sets are influenced by the environment, the people, the time of day - even the weather sometimes. I also enjoy playing unreleased songs, it's really fun to me.
Jimkata: Absolutely. You have to meet people where they're at (the time of day/night, the drugs they're on, who's before/after you etc). I feel that historically we've always either been the most electronic act at a rock/jam festival, or the most rock/jam act at an electronic festival. I’ve also been told "we use you guys to clear the air" by promoters. I always liked that haha.
Other than yourself, which other act playing Gem & Jam 2022 should people check out?
MZG: Daily Bread is a must see act in the scene currently. Rhett has been putting in the work and it shows during his performances.
Wreckno: MOTHERFUCKING NOTLÖ. That's my sister for life. We've got some new tunes in the works for 2022, so I'm sure you'll hear some of them in our sets.
Daily Bread: Based on artists I've seen before, you have to check out Tripp St., Opiuo, SunSquabi, STS9, Maddy O'Neal, MZG, & Goldfish. Sets that I'm excited to see for the first time are Wreckno, Liquid Stranger, and AmpLive.
Jimkata: We always love to reconnect with our boys in SunSquabi, we've done a lot of shows together over the years. If you haven't seen Lotus with Tim Palmieri yet you absolutely have to, his guitar playing is transcendental. Also Maddy O'Neal, she has the presence of a superhero on and off stage, one of my favorites to see in recent years.
What’s a piece of music gear or tech you couldn’t live without?
MZG: Our laptops because we'd be nowhere without them.
Wreckno: My microphone & Kaotica Eyeball isolator!
Daily Bread: I would feel incomplete without a record player in my workflow. I love to sample old vinyl records.
Jimkata: Ableton Live obviously with all the sampling and loops. On the drums side though, having a solid kick pedal and Hi hat stand is very underrated. I need to feel like I can dance up there to really connect.
How much of your own material do you play in your set?
MZG: It depends on the length of the set. It's typically a healthy 60/40 to 70/30 original to non original if the set is 60-75 minutes. Once it goes past 90 minutes that ratio turns to 50/50 to 30/70 because we simply don't have enough material written at this time to satisfy 90-120 minute original sets. We try to steer away from all original DJ sets. Tastemaking is just as important to us as original composition.
Wreckno: It definitely varies from set to set but I'd say I probably try to play 45-50% of my own music with my own vocals and the rest will be tracks I'm obsessed with and mashups to hype people up.
Daily Bread: I play mostly all original arrangements and remixes that I've edited and arranged.
Jimkata: 100%. We've done covers over the years, and we love to take them on, but we've found that it's easier for us to develop original material than to learn other artists songs. Different sides of the brain I guess!
Do you have a favorite mineral by any chance?
MZG: Lemurain Quartz. We aren't deep into the crystal game but we enjoy the legend of the Lemurian Quartz. The legend goes, Lemurians programmed these crystals to teach their messages of oneness and healing. When you connect with a Lemurian crystal, you are opening yourself to raise your vibration and receive divine information and downloads from the universe. Downloading divine information from the universe is a wild concept.
Wreckno: I'm a rose quartz girlie. Lemme attract all that love into my universe!
Daily Bread: My favorite minerals are quartz crystals, fav is amethyst. I really like lavender and purple colors. I also like citrine because I've been given a lot of it. I kinda have a collection now I guess.
Jimkata: I've always loved Watermelon Tourmaline. The gateway to the inner self!
Gem & Jam 2022 takes place February 4-6 in Tucson, Arizona. Find more info on our Gem & Jam 2022 guide and book your Gem & Jam 2022 tickets, packages, and accommodations here.