Long nights dedicated to the sound. Computers, keyboards and looper pedals all to put on the one-man show that was Robot Nature. After The Bolt disbanded, former frontman DPAK continued the show, blending drum, EDM and guitar beats at venues in Southern California. Solo nights on stage turned into a longing for bandmates. “[as a solo artist] you don’t necessarily get the live chemistry and feel of people on-stage interacting - the sound of an actual drum or the actual bass - like live. It’s just different,” says DPAK, “there’s something more feel-based about playing [music] together as a group versus just having a guy with a laptop and a dj playing, which ya know, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

During one of his solo performances DPAK’s meditative thoughts were realized by a visit from an old friend, Sydney Alston, who invited him to work with End Of Ever, a band which lost its lead singer.

So the ex-End Of Ever mates (keyboardist Richard Parizer, bassist Michael Sklena and drummer Jesse Shadis) met up for a chat turned jam session. Playing together, waves of sound banded the foursome together. They soon recognized this was the start of something great. “We [the musicians in End of Ever] wanted to look for new things, entertain new things. DPAK already had the idea,” explains Parizer. It was the man of music’s vision which ultimately empowered the group to welcome DPAK to the squad.


Imagining The Sound

 Where there's agreement, there's synergy. Photo by  Monique Rivera .

Where there's agreement, there's synergy. Photo by Monique Rivera.

“Technology is where Earth is heading right now with AI - artificial intelligence - virtual reality, cryptocurrency, you name it. There’s a lot of things that are coming up and I think if the music can be just ahead of that curve and be a certain sound that [is the] sound of the future - that’s kind of what we’re going for visionary wise,” DPAK says.

These blended elements ultimately comprise the origin of the name Robot Nature, which DPAK explains as, “that balance between technology and nature.” Do you get it? A technological robot infused with human nature. “The music expresses that, because you have organic elements...but you also have electronic sounds, violin with acoustic so the balance of that acoustic and electronic element forms the sound Robot Nature.”

Being a multicultural group - East Indian, Italian, Filipino, Israeli - the mates are just as blended as their vision. “We’re all different ethnicities when it comes down to it, but we all have different backgrounds, different views on life and we all have, most importantly, different record collections,” notes drummer, Jesse Shadis. “It’s good to have everybody coming from a different walk of life. It actually helps, because it creates its own new flavor, it creates its own new sound for the band,” he says.


 Jesse Shadis maintaining the pulse during the band's performance at  "Black Arts."  Photo by  Monique Rivera .

Jesse Shadis maintaining the pulse during the band's performance at "Black Arts." Photo by Monique Rivera.

With the excitement of starting a new band and everyone bringing their creative influence to the recording room the band went through some growing pains. “I mean there’s a lot to do...we gotta play live shows…when you’re playing live shows sometimes it’s hard to get the momentum of recording,” which, according to DPAK, can spring up feelings of redundancy.

“I think that part of being musicians - in our world - we’re playing the same songs a lot, over and over again and so maybe there’s a little bit of like, from the musician perspective, they might think, ‘Oh, these songs are getting old, but the thing is like it’s always new for the audience every time,” says DPAK.

An L.A.-based ensemble, Robot Nature spent the past year building a fan base in SoCal. Their performance at the Oakland First Fridays “Black Arts" Street Festival on February 2nd was the first time Robot Nature played the Bay Area.

“‘It’s refreshing to go to Oakland to have a whole new crowd that’s never heard us before. It wasn’t like the same L.A. fans coming to see the show again. It was all new people so it kind of had that freshness to it.”

Looking down, DPAK saw people dancing, singing along and smiling. “You can just tell that everyone had a really open energy about them...and people were really intently listening. They weren’t like bored, looking at their cell phones. I think sometimes in Los Angeles people always got somewhere to go to or [in] a place like New York,” he says. “Then you go to Oakland and everyone’s kinda there to be there. They were there to enjoy,” he continues. With so much fresh energy and love from the crowd, DPAK was reminded of how Robot Nature’s music impacts people.

At the end of the day, the mates of Robot Nature do what they do for the people. “The more you give, the more you get. If we can inspire, like, being in a place of service - being in a place of like, ‘How can we share? How can we improve the space around us? How can we improve other people’s lives?’ I think if everyone has that kind of mentality - that kind of consciousness - we can make the world a better place. That’s why music is such a good thing. It’s a universal language.” With the band touring in the next year, going as far as Bulgaria, they will surely make global connections and have people getting down to music worldwide. You can listen to their song, “Do You Wanna Be a Star”, on their website here and you can catch their next performance at Oakland First Fridays “Art Of Creation” Street Festival April 6th, 2018.



Through her eyes, Blooma Berry (vocalist and manager of Phat Luv Band), sees her band mate and long-term partner, Phil Rapier, as a “big ol’ humanitarian,” a “wanderlust man with a huge, huge heart.” Standing six foot, seven inches, Phil (founder/bassist) walks humbly. As any humble human would, he is always looking for new ways to grow. It was about 2011 when he picked up a bass guitar and began learning to play it on the corner of Franklin and 14th Street in Oakland, California. A passerby approached Phil and began showing him a different way to play. Overtime, Phil attracted other musicians and curious minds as he played on the street. Soon enough conversations between strangers became jam sessions between friends. Bore out of this was the concept of Phat Luv Band, a reflection of Phil’s huge heart, reaching out to all types of people. After several months, Phil had an ensemble. “They were a wild bunch,” says Blooma about the ragtag squad of bandmates who made up Phat Luv Band in the early stages. Many of the musicians who initially joined the band suffered drug and alcohol addictions. They were often targeted by societal harsheties and judgements that deemed them no better than their alcoholic misdeeds and drug kicks. Still, Phil saw the best in them. According to Blooma, “they were so musically and creatively evolved that they could not find their place in society.” Within Phat Luv they found a purpose.

The “Re-membering” of Phil + Blooma


Purpose made another mark when Blooma met Phil at a gathering in 2015. A live band was playing Zimbabwean music and “we became lost and found in the heart and drum beat of our ancestors,” says the songstress. It was like a “re-membering of our souls.” After meeting, Blooma started “sangin’” with Phil at his corner spot on West Grand. Shortly afterward, they began organizing weekly rehearsals. “We became physically and musically banded.” Before the two were ever romantically-involved, laughter and authenticity mingled them together. Their love is so unmistakable, “people have stopped to take a picture of us on the street.” Wow. She goes on to say, “real love is multifaceted. We’re imperfect, as well.”

Phil and Blooma were making music together for about a year, ebbing and flowing with the come-and-go of new band members. At this time, they regularly played on West Grand, where they’d rock the street corner for hours. One day they received a noise complaint, which inadvertently messed with the band’s confidence. “It stopped the flow,” says Blooma. There were no residents in the neighborhood. What gives? What the band didn’t know was a small complex of apartments resided above the restaurant they performed nearby. Blooma wished they could make amends for peace and for the pursuit music. However, a few weeks later the band was approached by Oakland First Fridays to perform in the festival. “We were so freakin’ juiced!”

Feelings of Phat Luv


The first times playing at the Oakland First Fridays street festival made the members tense, but they soon faced a reality: either tense up or relax. So, “we stayed Phat Luv. We stayed free,” Blooma recalls. ”We’re not perfect people. We’re not perfect musicians. We’re still very comfortable with being just that. If we have to stop and start over again, we have to stop and start over again. We are being very human in our performance. When you find that place of relaxation and let it be.”

“We had an epiphanic moment. We were down the street,” when someone from Oakland First Fridays invited the band to the main street. “We unplugged all our stuff and we brought it all to the front. [Then] something changed. The energy was heightened to a height we couldn’t even dream about. It was the same thing that took place on the street, but not as many people. [With more people] there’s more of an energy exchange. It’s that’s rhetorical. Us to them. Them to us. We left there so phat,” says Blooma.

To this day the energy and love felt from performing at every event continues to amaze Blooma, but the day following every First Friday she physically cannot move. The songstress has received diagnosis of serious diseases, including ones affecting her cervix and lower back. “At First Fridays, it’s a challenge for me just to stand.” During performances she alternates between sitting and standing. With the spark of adrenaline she sneaks in some hip shakes. Through it all, Blooma enjoys looking at her audience, because it makes all the pain worthwhile. She watches the white-haired, older generation grooving alongside babies in strollers and wheelchair-riding individuals. “The happiness on everyone’s faces - that’s why I look so forward to First Fridays.”

Fresh Vision

From the time of their first performance at the street festival, Phat Luv Band has come a long way. They appeared in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle and they rehearse weekly at Soundwave Studios. “We’re far more organized now.” There are band members who come and go, but Phil and Blooma have found some solid mates (vocalist Lexi Braun, drummer/percussionist Juan Carlos Miller, bassist Byron Brown, lead guitarist/ The Funkanauts Captain Jason Collins, vocalist/drummer/stage designer Dwight "DW" Wilson).

And still, Phat Luv strives to do more. Captain Philip is seeking permanent string and horn players to fulfill his vision of a street orchestra. Blooma’s disclaimer to anyone considering playing with Phat Luv, “they have to do it for love.” In the meantime, the band is still fattening the atmosphere with love at every live show, including their performance on 24th Street and Telegraph Ave. this December 1st at Oakland First Fridays “Light’s On” Street Festival.