Image credit: Galen Oakes Photography

How Daft Punk's Coachella Performance Inspired Mikey Lion to Pursue Dance Music

Nov 29, 2022

Gabrielle Reeder

3 min read

World-renowned DJ, producer, and cofounder of the Desert Hearts music movement Mikey Lion ventured into his DJ career at only 13 years old. He fell in love with hip-hop in the early 2000s and started laying down beats, picking up scratching as one of his favorite DJing techniques.

His parents noticed his growing musical interest and asked which instrument they could gift him. The 13-year-old hip-hop hound suggested Technics 1200s, much to their dismay. A few months after their initial disapproval, however, Mikey bought his own set of Technics 1200s and won over not only his parents but also his friends.

Even though the humble beginnings of his career started during his early teenage years, Mikey discovered his true passion for dance music in his later adolescence. “When I was 17, I went to my first Coachella,” he said during his Gray Area Spotlight interview. “My first festival. I didn't have any idea what I was getting into. That was the very first time that I took my very first ecstasy.”

It was there that Mikey solidified a turning point in his career and life path. “The very first time I ever heard dance music was at the debut of the Daft Punk pyramid,” he recalls with a contented grin. “In that moment, I was just like, ‘Fuck hip-hop. This is what I want to do with my life from now on.’”

The substance was by no means solely responsible for this revelation; Coachella 2006 is infamous for a spectacular dance music set only the likes of Daft Punk could pull off. “It was something else. It was one of those times when you could just see audio waves flying. I was in pure ecstasy for sure,” Mikey shared.

Mikey continued to DJ on his Technics 1200s, but instead of hip-hop beats, he aligned his tracks to trancier, dancier rhythms. In 2009, he began making music as well. Today Mikey is a producer, DJ, and one-fifth of the legendary coalition known as Desert Hearts, a movement dedicated to creating a community through house, techno, and love.

If Mikey didn’t witness Daft Punk’s legendary, evolutionary Coachella set, would he have remained a hip-hop DJ, would he have been influenced by another dance music trailblazer? It’s anyone’s guess, but one thing’s for sure: He’s made a lasting mark on the music world.

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