Music
Tune in and turn up

For most musicians touring is an equal parts exciting and grueling necessity of their career. DJs in particular spend months and months on the road, sometime supporting artists, and sometimes playing global venues as a headliner. Last week, while a flood of music enthusiasts descended on Austin, Texas, for SXSW, another group of dance, techno and house music lovers headed to the sunny island of Saint Martin for the second year of SXM Festival.

The festival, founded by Montreal-based DJ Julian Prince, whose family runs the Mercure Hotel on the island, is part of a larger vision to encourage millennial tourism, and provide a curated destination experience that caters to the growing popularity of destination festivals. And while it’s only four days of fun for guests, for the DJs keeping the festival vibes going, it’s only another stop in a long line of appearances spread out all over the world.

While at SXM we caught up with five of the headlining acts to find out just how they prepared for ups and downs of months-long travel stints to far-flung destinations.

Thugfucker

Einar Snorri

What’s a travel experience you were unprepared for…

It was actually during a brief stint while we were both working for National Geographic magazine. We were helping our friend who was shooting and writing a story about Narwhals. We made friends with some of the locals and ended up at an after party in an abandoned fishing factory until late the next day. As we were about to do our walk of shame through the village we both realized we had no sunglasses. Since then we always have at least two pairs with us at all times.

What do you never go on the road without?

Our crystals, noise canceling headphones and Papier d’Arménie

What’s the one outfit you could wear all tour?

We’d probably grab something from the darker side of our closet. We’d love to wear our matching, tight, all-white synchronized dance troupe outfits but they’d be pretty gray by the end of the tour. Believe us. We tried.

What’s on your current travel playlist?

Sigurros – “Fjogur Piano,” The Cinematic Orchestra – “To Build a Home,” Ride – “Vapor Trail,” Spiritualized – “I Think I’m In Love,” Ishq – “Aphrodite,” Orb – “Fluffy Little Clouds,” DJ Shadow – “Building Steam With a Giant Grain of Salt,” Cars – “Drive,” Francois Hardy – “Le Premier Bonheur Du Jour,” and America – “The Last Unicorn.”

What’s the key to the nomadic lifestyle?

Always remember to call your mom.

What’s the most forgotten but important carry-on item?

A Rubik’s cube. We always forget to bring one and always wish we had one with us. It’s so fun.

How do you pack for cross-climate travel?

Kaftans in half of the bag and the other half filled with wool sweaters, long underwear and socks that Holmar’s grandma knitted for us. She uses Icelandic wool harvested from his mom’s sheep farm in the Westfjords. Let’s just say we are never cold wearing her gear…

What’s the most you’ve spent at the airport on something you forgot to pack?

We keep forgetting our travel video projector. We have about six now. We can’t go on a long trip without them and they each run about 300 to 400 dollars at least. It’s becoming quite the collection…

John Acquaviva

What’s a travel experience you were unprepared for…

I’ve been doing this a long time so I like to think that I’ve learned a lot about prep, especially when it comes to IDs. Forgetting passports, missing flights and then gigs is not good at all – terrible beginner stories.

What do you never go on the road without?

All my gear, simplified – all my music is on my laptop and that’s always backed up on a USB. For me, my sports clothing too. I usually play racquet sports so I’ve got to have that. It’s all very functional and pragmatic.

What’s the one outfit you could wear all tour?

That’s a great question and I’ll give you a real, honest answer: I got in this phase during a mega tour, but I literally wear simple black shirts. I also admit, I do wear dirty shirts to clubs. Some people are obsessed with smell but in clubs forget it, too many smokers. So that’s my dirty little secret for you.

What’s on your current travel playlist?

Personally I listen to down-tempo music. I try and keep up with new and old tunes and constantly reconnect with music.

What’s the most forgotten but important carry-on item?

A bottle opener – one you can travel with. The other night we had to borrow one!

How do you pack for cross-climate travel?

Dirty, honest answer: If you’re in a cold climate long sleeves, hats, gloves and scarves always. If you do more than two cities hope you find some time to do laundry or you will wear dirty clothes, unfortunately. The worst thing for me is checking in luggage, I always carry on.

What’s the most you’ve spent at the airport on something you forgot to pack?

I can’t remember. Most hotels have everything you need now, luckily enough! I’m pretty good and quite an anal packer now so I haven’t had to buy my way out of trouble for a long time.

Soul Clap

Bill Kennedy

What’s a travel experience you were unprepared for…

A couple months back Charlie managed to walk onto the WRONG airplane. We were departing from Mexico back to the US and there were two gates sharing one desk in Cancun. Both flights were leaving at the same time so when they scanned his ticket he followed the crowd from the other flight onto the wrong plane.

When he got to “his” seat there was someone else sitting there. He showed his ticket to the flight attendant and they didn’t notice he was on the wrong flight so they just issued him a new seat. We were headed to Orlando that day, and as the door closed and the flight crew got on the intercom to announce, “we’re now headed to JFK” Charlie jumped up in a panic and managed to get them to re-extend the gate so he could get off the plane.

What do you never go on the road without?

Earbuds, noise cancelling headphones, pre-loaded podcasts, baby wipes, eye drops, a neck pillow, water bottles, lotion, the Road Warrior Alpha Power Adapter, and a record bag full of vinyls.

What’s the one outfit you could wear all tour?

We’d probably say a velour track suit, but one that’s actually cut like a slick suit. You could get the comfort of dressing like a slob or a gambling addict or a rap superstar, but come across looking like you’ve got real taste. Plus, it’ll really throw everyone else off when you get upgraded to business class.

What’s on your current travel playlist?

Charlie: Lately I’ve been streaming Howard Stern heavily and downloading tons of podcasts like 2 Dope Queens, Star Talk With Neil Degrasse Tyson, and The Duncan Trussle Family Hour.

Eli: I’m into the Bill Simmons podcast for sports and This American Life for learning. I’m also always looking for new music on Spotify and listening to playlists on there. Right now I’m into new albums from Syd, Matt Martians, Chris McClenney and Slow Hands.

What’s the key to the nomadic lifestyle?

Wow, thats a really good question. Perhaps the key is to be grounded in yourself and at home. Maybe the key is also the friends and family you’ve made along the way that keep you sane. Most of all, laughter is the key to being on the road. If you can’t have fun and laugh then what’s the point of a global party lifestyle?

What’s the most forgotten but important carry-on item?

Charlie: For a long flight? DEODORANT!

How do you pack for cross-climate travel?

Eli: The key is to be really organized so you can fit as much as possible into your suitcase.

What’s the most you’ve spent at the airport on something you forgot to pack?

It’s rare, but sometimes suitcases do go missing. At that moment it can be a scramble and it might be a necessity to spend that techno cash on things you’d otherwise never purchase at the airport.

Jade

Jade

What’s a travel experience you were unprepared for…

I was recently playing in Chicago and definitely wished I packed a warmer jacket or at least some gloves. I could barely feel my face or legs.

What do you never go on the road without?

I can’t travel anywhere without my memory foam pillow, I would be doomed without it.

What’s the one outfit you could wear all tour?

The simpler the better so  it would probably be a pair of black ripped jeans with a black hoody and my Nikes.

What’s on your current travel playlist?

I like to give my ears a good break from house music when I’m traveling. I’ve recently been introduced to Glass Animals by a good friend and can’t get enough. The new Tribe Called Quest album and some Thievery Corporation is also a must.

What’s the key to the nomadic lifestyle?

You’ve got to know that anything can happen on tour. It’s hard not being stressed all the time, to be honest. There are so many things you have to constantly factor in, but at the end of the day it comes down to just being aware of your surroundings and taking everything for what it is.

What’s the most forgotten but important carry-on item?

Hands down my phone charger.

How do you pack for cross-climate travel?

I’m not the best packer to be honest. I do have a pretty warm winter jacket and winter boots. Everything else is the same as always – jeans and t-shirts with the odd black sweater or five.

What’s the most you’ve spent at the airport on something you forgot to pack?

One time I forgot to bring my pillow and phone charger, both are crucial. Clearly these two items are so over-priced at the airport. Luckily there wasn’t huge damage to my bank account but it was definitely a frustrating moment.

Amir Javasoul

Amir Javasoul

What’s a travel experience you were unprepared for…

On a recent trip to Florida I booked a one-way flight with plans of booking my return at a later date. It proved to be a big mistake as there was an airport incident that caused a major backlog of flights. I couldn’t get home…I’m never leaving my house again without booking my full trip.

What do you never go on the road without?

Besides the obvious essentials (passport and a hygiene kit), my headphones, laptop, iPhone and chargers.

What’s the one outfit you could wear all tour?

A dear friend of mine recently gifted me a Jean-Michel Basquiat sweater. It’s currently my favorite clothing item because he’s my favorite modern artist. I really try not to over-wear it, but I easily could wear it all the time.

What’s on your current travel playlist?

Alessio Viggiano mixes, Moby’s ambient music album and a few mainstream tracks like stuff from the Weeknd’s new album. I also have a good amount of classical music.

What’s the key to the nomadic lifestyle?

Get a good amount of sleep on planes, trains, etc. Drink less alcohol and more water – that’s what’s been working for me so far.

What’s the most forgotten but important carry-on item?

A small travel pillow. I almost always forget to pack one and it makes a world of difference when you’ve only got two to three hours to nap.

How do you pack for cross-climate travel

Luckily, cold weather doesn’t affect me much. That’s why you’ll always find a lot of t-shirts in my carry-on, and maybe a sweater or two.

What’s the most you’ve spent at the airport on something you forgot to pack?

I’ve spent over $100 on phone and laptop chargers. They don’t come cheap!

To see what went down at SXSW check out Travis Scott’s dedicated pop up here.

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