Earlier this year, the Baja based All My Friends co-founder Argenis Garcia Sevilla was hit with a curveball when a new LA festival by Gary Richards took the All My Friends name — a name that took Sevilla years to build in Baja California. Although based in a different country, the original AMF started as a house party in Tijuana and turned into a full-fledged festival a few years after. Because Richards festival took the same name, it caused confusion with promotors and caused sponsors to drop out.
After the demise of Sevilla’s AMF festival due to these complications from Richard’s competing festival, Sevilla was left with a venue with no event. The legal dispute is currently still ongoing. Most recently, Sevilla sent an injunction to Richards’ festival to change their name due to a copyright violation. “They are forced to answer. If not, they can get into trouble,” Sevilla says. However, according to Sevilla, the matter is far from settled. Although he hopes to bring his original AMF festival back, it seems to be stuck in limbo for the time being.
Because of the legal dispute with Richards, Sevilla was not going to throw any festival. That is until Sevilla and longtime collaborator Isaac Safdeye came up with a new idea at Coachella. They still had a sick beachside venue left over from the AMF debacle, so why not use it? So they came up with Wakoia and a simple mission: to make a sick, unique and immersive beach party. For most people, Baja is not much further than Coachella or Splash House and it’s not in the hot, arid desert. So to them, the beachside venue was enough to sell itself.
From the ashes of the embattled, All My Friends Festival came Wakoia (a play on word based on the wachuma plant aka the psychedelic San Pedro plant.) Located south of Rosarito, Wakoia is taking place in an old estate turned hotel. The estate is on a sprawling beach and has a rustic allure only Baja California can deliver. Since this fest is in its infancy, they decided to keep it simple. Instead of the rock and indie bands that typically clogged the line-up for AMF, they decided to go with DJ’s instead. The world-class talent for the party includes Roman Flügel, Jacques Green, Honey Soundsystem, Bender and more.
“It’s about disconnecting yourself from the world in Baja and having a great time,” says Sevilla about Wakoia. And they sure do mean disconnect. They even created their own currency (Wakash) to facilitate transactions at the fest. “We want people to not have to worry about money,” says Sevilla. Since the fest is a bit in the middle of nowhere, they want the festival to accommodate everyone as much as possible. This way no one has to worry about exchange rates and so forth. One currency also helps create a sense of equality.
The ethos of AMF is still the core for this fest as well. For Wakoia, they chose bands like they did for AMF: have an eclectic line-up of local artists. They choose local producers and crews that have worked in the Baja scene. Like AMF, Wakoia is about being an inclusive event to showcase the art and talents of those who live there. “We want people to dance all day, see the beautiful sunset, and have a great time,” says Sevilla.
Like AMF, the founders also want Wakoia to show Baja culture through the food. So not only are you getting a taste of local music and beautiful beaches, but also savory fish tacos, fresh ceviche, and refreshing micheladas. “We want people to get a taste of what’s happening in the culinary world of Baja and Ensenada,” says Sevilla. “We want it to be as much Baja as possible.”
Since AMF is stuck in limbo for the moment, Sevilla has big hopes for this fest. If all goes well they hope to turn this into something big. Since they’ve done this before with AMF, it’s not hard to see the allure. “It feels like you’re on the edge of the world,” says Safdeye.
Check out the promo video for Wakoia below.
I like to stare at my computer. Occasionally I type words to pass the time. Those words are usually about music.