Mikey Lion Tells the Desert Hearts Origin Story

Gabrielle Reeder

2 min read

Mikey Lion Tells the Desert Hearts Origin Story

Mikey Lion catapulted into the dance music scene after stumbling upon Daft Punk’s Coachella set in 2006. Before he fell in love with dance music, he devoted his time to hardcore hip-hop. He even begged his parents for Technics 1200s, eager to convince them turntables were as much instruments as guitars or drums.

Once Mikey heard Daft Punk’s set, his musical passion shifted toward the likes of house and techno. Waving goodbye to hip-hop, he dove straight into the entrancement of dance music at age 17 and attended several West Coast festivals. Transformative gatherings like Lightning in a Bottle and Burning Man in particular served as a jumping board by giving him ideas for his own dance events.

Fast forward six years later, Mikey and his friends Lee Reynolds, Porkchop, Marbs, and Kristoff McKay founded Desert Hearts—a vision, movement, and festival that sprung to life ten years ago in November 2012. The initial Desert Hearts show saw 200 people amass together in the Mojave Desert to celebrate their lifelong passion for house, techno, and love. Although the introductory Desert Hearts function suffered technical difficulties, the spirit of house, techno, and love persevered.

“It came from this really pure-hearted notion of just wanting to make the world a better place, and wanting to build community,” Mikey said during his Gray Area Spotlight interview. “We wanted to show people how they could be a part of a community, how they could go back and create their own parties or own communities themselves. Really, I think that’s the stronghold foundation of our entire brand. Our entire community is about wanting to be a good person, wanting to make the world a better place.”

Desert Hearts Festival 2019 Aftermovie

The crew introduced the Deserts Hearts record label two years later, expanding on the success of their first few parties. Today, the brand has blossomed to include a beloved festival, record label, and epic parties all over the world. Their primary mission to spread love, joy, and hope through dance music remains at the forefront.

“I think it was just the mission that we were on,” says Mikey. “To spread as much love and positive energy. It sounds cheesy, especially now, being in it for this long, but it truly did come from that place.”

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