Flipping through pictures of Coachella co-founder Paul Tollett‘s epic trip around the world for his “Coachella Curated” video series, the vibrant photographs from some of music’s most far-flung outposts all share one visual similarity — Tollet’s black baseball cap.
The Goldenvoice president has a signature style built around a black-on-black Dodgers hat that appears in nearly every picture that’s ever been taken of him, including new images from Russia, South Korea and Western Africa. Since November, Tollett and a small production team have been traveling the globe and filming short features on some of the international artists playing Coachella, which begins its second weekend on Friday and will stream on YouTube as part of a first-ever curated live stream of performances.
Starting Friday, YouTube will stream performances from the festival on a single YouTube channel (last weekend was streamed over three channels) with host Jason Bentley from KCRW as part of Goldenvoice’s first-year experiment with an artist-focused broadcast format that will feel more like a Summer Games broadcast than a live festival stream. Inspired by the athletes’ profiles and hometown video segments that air during Olympics, “Coachella Curated” follows Tollett across six continents as he visits the hometowns of international artists playing this year’s festival.
“There’ve been a lot of artists we’ve had over the year that have really great stories,” he says, adding that they tend to get lost in media coverage and Instagram posts of SoCal’s largest cultural event. “Most people just see a name on the poster and don’t know what incredible lengths people will go for music.”
Filmed over a four-month stretch from November to April, “Coachella Curated” follows Tollett to Moscow, Russia, to discuss the beautifully complicated life of Nina Kraviz, an electronic artist and techno icon that’s making her third appearance at the festival.
“She has an amazing story being born in Siberia, moving to Moscow to become a dentist, promoter and DJ and working on the teeth of Russian cosmonauts,” says Tollett. Kraviz performed on the Great Wall of China in 2018 and closed out last weekend’s Rhonda Queen of the Desert event, Coachella’s homage to the popular Los Angeles-based queer dance party.
In Seoul, South Korea, Tollett chased a tip from his two 20-something nieces (one lives in the South Korean capital, the other attends UCLA) about the all-female K-pop group BLACKPINK. The series later catches Tollett trekking across the Australian outback to Perth to visit the home base of Kevin Parker, frontman for headliner Tame Impala. Billboard also saw a preview of one of the mini-documentaries filmed on the Caribbean nation of Trinidad for calypso music icon Calypso Rose, who has written more than 800 tracks and is the first woman to win Trinidad’s prestigious “Road March” competition with her song “Gimme More Tempo.”
Created with Goldenvoice orginal content director Raymond Roker and longtime Coachella producer and director Michael Abbott, the 4-to-5-minute videos in the series have a high-end, understated aesthetic that highlights the power of the live performance and the artists that create the festival’s iconic art installations. “Coachella Curated” also brought Tollett to the West Africa nation of Burkina Faso where he met with artist and architect Francis Kéré, who at Coachella debuted his piece “Sarbalé ke,” a collection of 12 colorful triangular towers based on the baobab trees that provide shaded social spaces for residents in his home village of Gando.
“I have thought about Burkina Faso every single day since I’ve been there,” Tollett says. “It took me two days to realize all of the buildings were created without nails or screws. They’re put together so cleverly — there is no steel and they rely on joinery. Women wake up each morning and go find water, walking with it on top of their heads for miles,” while others tend to goats, rabbits and small animals for subsistence, he adds. “It’s as real as it gets over there.”
The series is Tollett’s first foray into the personalized, storytelling format. The longtime L.A. promoter said much of the “Coachella Curated” was filmed before he had formalized a plan for how to bring the narratives together.
“It’s a linear show and we have to get in and out of each story fairly quickly,” but viewers will be able to “click through and get a little more deep dive” into the artist stories and watch performances.
“One of the themes is work ethic,” Tollett says. “That comes from just years and years of really concentrating on what they do to a point where they can debut at Coachella. That’s trues for all these bands — it takes so much behind the scenes to get to that moment.”
“Coachella Curated” airs throughout the weekend on YouTube, starting Friday at 5 p.m. PST at youtube.com/coachella.