Magazine Feature

Coachella Beyond the Music: Sound Baths, Desert Art and Luxury Recording Studios

Day 1 of the 2014 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club on April 11, 2014 in Indio, Calif.
Matt Cowan/Getty Images for Coachella

Day 1 of the 2014 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club on April 11, 2014 in Indio, Calif. 

Coachella's star-studded, multi-day lineup is its raison d’etre, but there are plenty of other things to enjoy at the fest, like these art-filled escapes. Ranging from sound baths, cozy recording rooms, and scavenger hunts, there is plenty to do and see while in the desert. 

Chill in a geomagnetic sound bath

About an hour north of the Coachella Valley is the otherworldly Integratron, a dome-topped structure built in the 1950s by a UFO enthusiast who intended for it to house a time travel machine. The space’s location and design make it a geomagnetic and acoustic wonder -- and a favorite of acts like Moby and Arcade Fire, who have played there. The site’s primary attraction, however, is its sound baths (from $30 per person; $250-$900 for a private session), and visitors lucky enough to secure an appointment can enjoy an hour of recorded music and healing sounds.

Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Still unfinished in 1978 when it's creator George Van Tassel died, the Integratron sat unused until 1987. Van Tassel believed, when finished, it would rejuvenate human beings with the use of electromagnetic oscillations. 
Book a session at a rustic studio 

For artists, a quiet week between shows is a chance to record. Rocco Gardner of Hot Trash has capitalized on that with his year-old desert-chic retreat/studio Rancho V, a fave of Arctic MonkeysPeachesMK and other festival headliners. “There’s something about the environment that switches on people’s creativity,” says Gardner. The 40-acre space’s main house, two guest houses and three furnished Airstreams can be rented individually or together (from $700 per night) and its Skyline Studios is a fully equipped recording and rehearsal space.


Courtesy of Rancho V
Rocco Gardner of Hot Trash's retreat/studio Rancho V, in Pioneertown, Calif.

Go On a Masterpiece Scavenger Hunt

Desert X, the debut, high-end art festival that opened in February and runs through the end of April, is set throughout 45 miles of the Coachella Valley. The show includes 16 works from top-tier artists like Doug Aitken, Claudia Comte, Jennifer Bolande and Will Boone. “We have a nice art museum and a lot of collectors here, but there wasn’t a way to focus attention on visual arts,” says Desert X founder-president Susan Davis, who worked with curator Neville Wakefield on the collection. “As Neville has said, the desert is blank canvas. That gave a lot of freedom to the artists.” Desert X’s hub is conveniently located at the Ace Hotel.


Lance Gerber
Mirage by Aitken in the Coachella Valley

This article originally appeared in the April 15 issue of Billboard.