Festival All-Star: DJ DragonflyArticle by: Mia Quagliarello|@miaq
Thu May 12, 2016 | 00:00 AM
"What happens on the dancefloor is that unique, singular magic moment where you're writing your physical poetry across that horizontal canvas."—DJ Dragonfly
Just let that sink in for a minute. It's beautiful, huh? That's because Martin Andrew, aka DJ Dragonfly , exists at the mystical crossroads of music, social psychology and community. He doesn't see his job as a DJ and festival curator as merely picking the right music at the right time (though it is most certainly that, too). Dragonfly thinks of himself as your servant; a most humble usher to the true you, the person who finally stuffs that inner voice and just moves and feels and is.
“In my world, where there is no right way or wrong way to dance, it’s that incredible place of limitless expression, where you are truly being your most authentic self,” the California-based DJ explains. “And there are very few places in life where we get to witness each other, and be witnessed by each other, in our authenticity.”
Dragonfly invests in the cathartic power of the dance floor through sets that are never the same—and, of course, with the kind of bass you feel in your bones. He’ll prepare for a gig, but he’ll never plan one, exactly, preferring instead to create a dialogue with the crowd. Genres and styles are less important than the setting, the people, their energy, and even things like frequency relief and tempo fatigue. In other words, dude is thinking about your experience. Like, really thinking.
“What I do is really presented with a spirit of ‘I celebrate you, I celebrate life, I celebrate this brief flash of time that we’re here on the planet and let’s just get out of our way and have an amazing time.’ Dance is a great reminder that when you do get out of your own way, you succeed,” he says.
The British-born, West Coast-raised DJ has become an important presence in the West Coast’s “Music and Movement Culture,” which he’s shaped over the decades by playing at, consulting on, and curating such festivals and events as Enchanted Forest, Beloved Festival, Symbiosis Gathering, Envision Festival, Earthdance and, for 13 years, the Groove Garden party in West Marin. He was the first person to book and break artists like Opiuo, Phaeleh, Beats Antique, Rising Appalachia, Kalya Scintilla, Kaminanda, Gladkill and Alex Grey on to the West Coast festivals circuit. You might say the transformational music scene wouldn’t be the same without him, except he eschews the term as marketing speak (“You can’t define or promise what’s going to be spiritual or transformational for anybody”).
Now, after serving his community for so long and bringing much joy to the dance floor, it’s time for Dragonfly to be on the receiving end of the caring and love. In February, he was diagnosed with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma—Stage 3 cancer. He’s been open about his journey, which now includes chemo and radiation as well as alternative therapies, via beautifully written posts on Facebook , and there is a GoFundMe page created by a friend to help cover the exorbitant costs of his treatment. The courage involved in being so open about his journey back towards health has turned him into a leader for others facing the same struggles. Dragonfly has been “profoundly grateful” for the support so far, but the medical bills are daunting. (If you’d like to support him, the campaign is still accepting donations .)
As his body fights to stay healthy, his mind fights to stay positive. When asked what advice he would give to others facing cancer, Dragonfly says: “Don’t buy into the diagnosis. And that applies to everything: how people label you, whatever your situation is—don’t buy into the diagnosis.”
You can bet Dragonfly’s finding his most authentic self on this one.