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Written by Lauren Jones

Dirtwire – Steppegrass | The Pinecone Series – Episode 1

Perched high above the forest floor lies an other-worldly glass, steel and wood structure, one that has now become a Mecca of sorts for musicians and makers of all kinds. Reflecting the magical stillness of the redwoods, as well as the power of Mother Earth, playing in The Pinecone is an experience unlike any other, the structure reverberating with each note. California-based trio, Dirtwire, got to experience it first-hand, marking the debut of The Pinecone Series, a collaboration between Come To Life, Third Eye Pinecones & 02 Treehouse in celebration of the one language that truly connects us all: music.

During time off from life on the road last November, Evan Fraser, David Satori and Mark Reveley played a sunset show amid the wavering and wise forest. There, they debuted an unreleased song; a song so new, in fact, that b-roll captured the band still ironing out the last details before making their way up the steep steps of The Pinecone. 

Describing Dirtwire’s music is not the simplest of tasks. They call it “future revival, swamptronica, spaghetti-step or electro-twang” – and all of those could easily fit the bill. Unique is one word to describe this but would never do it justice. The band formed in 2006 and their first album was a result of edits created during a psilocybin-induced jam. They borrow from musical traditions from throughout the world, playing often unrecognizable instruments such as the guitarjo, electric space fiddle, kamale ngoni, whamola and Siberian ghostcatcher mouthbow as an homage to their life-changing travels. 

Come To Life (CTL): How did the opportunity to play in The Pinecone come about?

David Sartori (DS): It was a very synchronistic moment. I was living up at the land that The Pinecone is on and went and saw it. I thought it was amazing and heard that there was a man also living on the land doing some kind of series. Brian, [the co-organizer of The Pinecone Series,] reached out because he was a fan of Dirtwire and asked if we would do a show. 

CTL: What’s it like playing in The Pinecone?

DS: It was a very beautiful setting. The place is mystical at golden hour with the sun coming through the pine needles and shadows everywhere. It’s surreal because it sways with each movement you make and it [also] feels like you’ve entered a portal to another dimension, like you’ve climbed into the forest’s pineal glands, the glands in our brains that release DMT. The whole thing is suspended in the air and has a really steep staircase that makes it intense to climb with gear. 

CTL: As musicians, how do you stay positive amid the unsteady world we live in today with climate change and destructive forest fires?

Mark Reveley (MR): I think we all have our own perspectives on things, but personally I think we are in a massive change event. For me, It’s beyond a positive or negative personal philosophy. I feel it’s important to recognize [that] what’s happening is so massive and so large-scale that I don’t think any of us can conceive of what’s happening. Forest fires are really visible evidence in our backyard of how quickly things are changing. I’d love to see a WWII-type shift into economic output with a focus on renewable energy. [In terms of music], it’s one of the great contributions humanity has to make to some spiritual ethos out there. Merging with music is making the jump into inhabiting other forms, like our very own message in a bottle.

CTL: What is the creative’s role in society and how does it lead to forming a unified global community?

DS: The artist plays the role of a reflector. We’re reflecting what’s going on in the collective consciousness. It’s a place for people to tap into the emotional center or our being and it’s a universal language. Art is the language that traverses all culture. You don’t need to know the language to understand their message, so I feel like that’s a very crucial point as we become more of a global community to have art become the forefront of our dialogue. It’s crucial to celebrate and support it. I do hope that America becomes more of a place where it’s actually supported. In Europe, they celebrate creativity in a different way. 

MR: In adding to David’s answer, I’d also say that there’s a lot of negative contextual things in terms of what creativity is through social media. There’s a real celebration of what you can receive through being an artist, but not enough focus into the day-to-day spiritual path people can choose to follow that is in-line with giving. There’s an understanding in this world, for better or worse, that everything is quantifiable. If you put something in, you have to have a certain number of hits, impressions or listens that can get tied in with being a creative. We try to include different people, lot of instruments and play music with people that remind us that being creative is this form of spiritual therapy. The spiritual rewards far outweigh the social reinforcement that you may get from art. 

CTL: As a musician, how do you focus on self-care?

DS:  I’m happiest when I’m creating music. It’s where I find my center. I love performing it as well, but it’s giving birth to that creative process that’s super crucial. But, I also feel that keeping on top of my health, like taking herbs and getting into alternative medicine, has been helpful the past few years. [Dirtwire] drinks a lot of mate and we’re drinking what Guayaki gave us right now. I’ve also been experimenting with ashwagandha, Holy basil, maca, turmeric and omegas. I take mushrooms like lion’s mane and cordyceps, and even black mountain ants. They have so much protein that gives me this [great] energy. I think there’s a massive shift happening where so much amazing natural medicine is taking hold and giving the finger to the big pharmaceutical companies.