Damian Lazarus: Countdown to Day Zero

Marcus Barnes

d lazarus nigh1 300x199 Damian Lazarus: Countdown to Day ZeroThere are numerous theories about what will transpire around the 21st December, just over a week from now. Some believe that armageddon will bring about an end to the world, while others simply believe it is a period that will bring about positive change to the world. This date has been given particular significance because it represents the transition from one world age to another, in the Mayan calendar.

There is a belief that our collective consciousness has a chance to be refreshed or reinvigorated, asserting positivity and opening a new chapter for us all. Whether or not this will actually happen is anyone’s guess, needless to say, if it does, there are many sceptics out there who will resist it.

To celebrate this event, Damian Lazarus – head of record label Crosstown Rebels – is organising a 24-hour festival, called Day Zero. Featuring appearances from a variety of electronic music acts, along with spiritual awareness classes, meetings with Mayan descendents, special ceremonies… and all taking place in an awe-inspiring site in Mexico. I caught up with Damian recently to talk about the Mayans and his forthcoming event.

I wanted to start by asking, what have you read about Mayan prophecies, have they had much of an effect on your life?

I haven’t gone too deep into it because everyone has their own perspective and understanding of it. My understanding is a very loose one – there was a group of people who were somehow able to foresee events in the future and the movement of the universe with their own eyes, prior to the technology that’s available to use today and still finds it difficult to predict these kind of events. Yet they’ve been proven time and time again to be spot on with their prophecies and understanding of how things, so it’s almost as if there was a higher level of consciousness available to them at that point. Just to think that they decreed and foresaw that this particularly date would be the end of this particular world cycle tells me that it’s worth paying attention to.

My personal belief system allows that to become something that’s quite nice to believe in, it almost gives us a second chance. I can only speak for myself, but I’ve done a lot of things in my life that I’m not particularly happy with, not that I regret them, but I think if I had the opportunity to do things again, I would do them differently. At this point in my life this event presents me with a great opportunity to take stock of where I’m at as a person and what my position in the world is and bringing some positivity into this next world cycle. So I figured it was a good time to celebrate that and I feel a great affinity with everyone around me, the artists making and playing the music, but more than that the people that come and party with us from all over the world, those who follow our music and keep the scene alive. I thought this was a great time to give something back and create something very unique for it.

I had a look at some of the pictures of the location, it’s breathtaking.

It’s never been open to the public before, it’s been created as a Mayan cultural centre – once you’re there in the middle of the site, it’s like stepping back 30,000 years and I like the idea of that. It gives us a really good opportunity to just do something we’ve never done before, which is what I think life should be about.

So, do you think that Day Zero marks a time of positive change and that, moving forward, there will (hopefully) be a lot more positivity in the world?

Absolutely, I think this is a great chance to open new lines of consciousness and for us, as a movement of people in this music and living through the things we’ve been experiencing… I mean, we’re not going to change the world, but we can start changing ourselves and start turning over new leaves. I don’t want to come across like I’m preaching by any stretch of the imagination, I’m just presenting an opportunity for people to check themselves. I think our music works well in parallel with this time.

DayZero 300x171 Damian Lazarus: Countdown to Day ZeroI’ve read that you’re going to have some Shamens on site during the festival, too. Can you tell me about their role?

We’ve invited a number of families from the original Mayan people. They’re known as the Peyote people, a lot of them live in and around Mexico and Guatemala. It’s very difficult to get hold of these people, obviously, they’re not completely up with new technology, but we have a good connection with a shamen healer in Tulum, he’s an official spokesperson for this tribe so we’ve combined forces with him and he’s invited seven or eight families to come along.

They’re going to help us take part in a number of rituals and ceremonies during the 24-hours; there’s an opening and closing ceremony and then there’ll be one at sunset and sunrise. They’re all going to be different and they’ll be joined by performers who we’ve brought in for the event. I don’t want to give too much away because I want people to enjoy what we’ve got in store for them. It’s going to be a very, very special thing and I’m positive we can pull it off.

What are your own personal beliefs in terms of terms of how the universe works?

I think there are signs presented to us at every moment, there are magical experiences available to us at any possible time, we just have to be ready and open to accept them. In this day and age of fast and furious technology it’s often difficult to think about these things and to be open to them – I think it’s necessary for me to take some time and reopen those channels and be open to experience what the universe is trying to tell me. I’m not a particularly spiritual person in the literal sense, I’m not chanting daily or anything but I like to think that, as I’m getting older, I’m getting in touch with other forces and thinking a lot more about the reasons why things happened and how to move in this environment we occupy.

You seem to have prophetic abilities yourself, i.e. you always pick up on new artists who seem to flourish.

I like to think I can spot good talent, I’m very lucky to be surrounded by people that have such talent. A lot of it is experience I’ve had working in this industry, but I like to think there’s an element of magic involved – a lot of the people I’ve come across, I’ve met them through some form of magical experience and it’s gone on to work itself out, because it was meant to be. It’s like starting a new relationship with someone and thinking, “This is the one” and you think about how you met and why this is happening.

I mean, can you answer the question why you met that particular person at that time in your life? Or when people have children – I know so many people that have had children at a time in their life when it was the most perfect or stable, but yet the relationships they’ve been built with their families have been incredible. Things work, sometimes you just have to let yourself go and let other forces work themselves out. Obviously you can’t do that with everyone, but sometimes you have to trust your instincts… this whole event, it’s a fucking massive undertaking and I’ve been so busy this year, it’s been difficult to hold down the running of this and everything else that’s been going on. But there’s been this niggling feeling in the back of my mind and in my heart, throughout the whole thing, that this is the thing to do. It’s not based on making a massive financial gain, it’s based on doing what I feel needs to be done and what should be done. With all the troubles we face every day with this event, my heart keeps saying, “Don’t worry it will work out, this is supposed to be”. Maybe it’s a risk, but I think that’s why we’re here – sometimes you just have to go with what you feel.

DayZero1 300x171 Damian Lazarus: Countdown to Day ZeroA lot of the people I know who are heading over for Day Zero are treating it like a pilgrimage.

I love that idea, the line-up alone is emblematic – I’m trying to fit the right music to the right moment. There’s an overall picture, all the artists have been asked to appear because they’re some of the most creative and spiritually aware people out there and while putting the set times together I’ve paid particular attention to mood and what the vibe is going to be like at that moment, who will fit into that spot and people who will create unique sets for this event.

Add to that the spiritual awareness workshops we have going on and there’s the chance to meet the Mayan families and find out what they’re about, what’s happening at this particular time and why the planets are aligning. This is a very spiritual place on earth to be and I’m trying to fill this space with the right people.

Why do you think ancient civilisations, like the Mayans and Egyptians, are still so relevant?

Their natural tools were so primitive, yet their imagination and ability to prophecise was so spot on – you can’t ignore it. Their understanding of the cosmos is a perpetual issue and it offers an alternative to science and religion, there aren’t many other opportunities out there (besides joining a weird cult) to latch onto something like that. When you start looking at the pyramids in Egypt or their modes of transport, who figured it all out? Where did the tools come from to make these things? How were they made to perfection without all the 3D video mapping we use these days to do these things? There was another time before us that was so ahead of our times now that is beyond most peoples’ capabilities to understand and that’s been proven in many places around the world. When you look at our lives now and the things that help us get from A to B, surely past civilisations are something far more interesting to think about. That’s why it’s very relevant, to me, it offers an alternative to tried and tested to things that we have in our lives.

Isn’t it funny how they were so advanced in certain areas, philosophies and ideologies, compared to now? You’d think modern-day civilisations would be even more advanced in that respect.

Yeah, why don’t we have tele-transportation? Surely if the Mayan civilisation hadn’t been wiped out we’d have that by now? [Laughs].

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  • zlatapraha

    Like a new age version of “Spinal Tap”. A mystic take on the shallow, banal tripe that Marcus’ interviewees always spout.

  • Jimmy D

    Agreed. On his website, Marchus boasts about being “the 10th most popular Indie blog”, or something (which is about as impressive as me saying that I’m the third best cricketer in my family). But if that is really so, it can only be because people tune in to see what tripe he’s going to come up with next. Noone actually posts anything here, except bemused punters who’ve taken a wrong turn.

    The world is full of no-marks like Marcus, of course. What is depressing is the fact that there is obviously no system of quality control in this section of the Independent’s site. The bosses obviously don’t give two hoots – they can’t even be bothered to correct his spelling mistakes.

  • DaLaconic

    yeah, it’s a bit of a mess. We all know that knowing how to be cool at big urban parties doesn’t make you any good at making tunes or writing or anything really…beyond acting cool at large parties. Mind you, even that is more spiritual than some

  • zlatapraha

    Thanks for posting. I’m going to drop a note to the editors – it’s so
    obvious that this area of their site is unpoliced, and that’s a real shame, given the quality of the rest of the site. Or maybe it’s just the equiivalent of giving graffiti “artists” a
    few walls to spray their “art” on so that they leave the rest of the
    city’s buildings alone.

    The “Independent Voices Editor” is Amol Rajan:

  • DaLaconic

    Marcus has also brought some good tunes to my attention recently too. Nothing from london though. A lot of very ordinary things happen there now. It’s a bland to the bone place full of conformists and backward looking nobodies. Business types mainly. European creativity lives elsewhere

  • roguetrader

    Your comments seem a little disrespectful towards the content of the interview in my opinion, regardless of your personal views of the interviewer please could you try and be a little less ignorant towards what could be some thought provoking content (if you allowed it to be). Thank you.

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