Photo: Nicole Mangiola

On October 19 and 20, 2019, something really special happened in Los Angeles. Genevieve Medow-Jenkins and her team brought together 200 people for their Sonic Sleepover, called Secular Sabbath. The event was a 12-hour affair that took place in the Mystic Dharma Buddhist Temple and was meticulously curated with cutting-edge ambient and experimental music, plant-based food and drink, and other surprises that included reiki readings, tea ceremonies, and facials for those who chose to fully indulge. 

Having been curious enough to attend a few sound baths in the past, we have been consistently disappointed with the locations and especially the typical predictable plodding music being played. But Secular Sabbath was different, and it was the unexpected music programming that lured us there in the first place. Most of the artists chosen to play the event were not the typical ones that you would expect to see playing at an all-night chill-out, including Rhye, Daedelus, Madame Gandhi, DNTEL, Joel Shearer, Illangelo, and Ooah.

These were artists who broke out of their usual music genres to put together some of the best ambient and experimental music we have heard in a long time. The sets played throughout the night and into the morning, blending trippy ambient, moody, and deep experimental, plus some subtle but hypnotic percussive sounds and some beautiful vocals. What we heard was a collective effort by the group talented and diverse artists, dormant of egos, who came together to produce their very best downtempo music experience that left us with a feeling of what community, collaboration and doing a cool project with friends really meant. The line up included Rhye, Daedelus, Madame Gandhi, DNTEL, Joel Shearer, Illangelo, Ooah, and several other artists. 

Photo: Alex Free

From our perspective, the standout performances came from Daedelus, Madame Gandhi, and Joel Shearer. Unfortunately, we had to leave the event two hours early to catch a plane to London, but we heard the sunrise closing dual performance from Rhye and Illangelo was another magical moment of the experience.

Photo: Alex Free

Other well-curated elements at Secular Sabbath were the vibrant psychedelic visuals by Jen Stark that were displayed on the ceiling, visible for all who were in horizontal positions for hours at a time. We appreciated Medow-Jenkins’ decision to limit the number of attendees to create the right amount of space and energy for everyone to enjoy the experience and not feel too cluttered and crowded.

There were a few minor things we noticed that may further improve the next sonic sleepover. The room was generously equipped with comfortable beds, some high and some low. In a few locations of the room, the high beds were blocking the view of the beds on the floor and it was difficult to see the music performers, and this may have left a few people feeling visually disconnected from the music performers. The experience is meant to be a sound experience so this really is not an issue and should be understood as a personal preference from us. Parking around the venue was a challenge so we suggest you arrive early to the next event.  

Photo: Nicole Mangiola

In a recent Instagram post we read from Medow-Jenkins, she talks about her dream of having one big sleepover with her friends as her inspiration for creating Secular Sabbath. There is no doubt she accomplished this. But intended or not, Medow-Jenkins and her team also created an innovative music and artistic platform allowing its participating musicians to feel totally comfortable to deviate from their norm and create something new and different.

XLR8R is looking forward to the next Secular Sabbath. If you happen to be in Mexico City on November 4, Secular Sabbath happens again. More information can be found here: Secular Sabbath Mexico City.