Manxie Performs at Coachella

At the end of April, Alex Taggart (AKA Beijing Junglist), played not only once but twice at one of the most legendary and popular music festivals in the world – Coachella!

The Manx born and bred artist explained he got the gig back in 2020 through making a friend who regularly attended his pop-up DJ events. Unaware to Alex, this guy turned out to be the person who books the Coachella acts. However, the festival was postponed in 2020 and again in 2021. Fast forward two years and Alex is preparing the most important set of his career. “All I did was take my craft seriously, get out there and take part in the community. And literally through totally organic friendships that’s how it happened.”

Surprise Set 

As soon as Alex arrived at the festival, he was hit with a huge shock. Originally, he was scheduled to play a set on the Saturday night at The Dome (one of the stages) but was left stunned when he found out he would also be playing on the Sunday on the second biggest stage (The Sahara Tent). “Seeing my name on the poster for the second biggest stage at the highest grossing festival in the world – there was a moment where I felt like I was about to throw up.”

But he was hit with the reality that he didn’t feel prepared. His performance at The Dome would start at 1am when all the main stages have finished, and everyone pours into the camp area. He explained at this point “the crowd is lit. The crowd is ready to party”. But at 12:45pm on a Sunday, The Sahara Tent would be scattered with hungover ravers and so he would need another set tailored to that sort of crowd. 

However, plans for preparations were quickly stunted after Alex’s phone was stolen on the first day. He ended up spending the Saturday at the nearest Apple Store buying a new phone. This would not dampen his spirits. 

The Dome

That night Beijing Junglist entered The Dome – “I felt a level of extreme excitement that I hadn’t felt in a long time.” His drum and bass/dubstep/UK grime set was performed as a silent disco alongside another DJ. The silent disco entails the crowd wearing headphones that have two stations and you pick the DJ you want to listen to. Alex did reveal that it was refreshing not having his phone with him – “I could just be a bit more present and be in the moment which was a lot more fun.” He introduced himself as Harry Styles and his wit had instantly won over the crowd. “It was surreal.”

The Sahara Tent

The next day, on less than three hours sleep, preparations began. He was left speechless after arriving on the stage for the sound check. “I actually burst out laughing at how big the stage was.” Now Coachella royalty, he got the real celebrity treatment and was given a trailer next to other big artists. These were some of his favourite performers such as Vince Staples, Denzel Curry and Duck Sauce. The likes of Megan Thee Stallion and G-Eazy were also casually hanging around. 

At 12:45pm on Sunday 24th April, Beijing Junglist began his second set at Coachella. Although he anticipated a tame crowd, as soon as he started playing, the energy began building. Quickly he decided to mix it up. “I just switched up to something a bit heavier that I would usually play peak time at The Dome and people were just going for it!” 

Towards the end of the set, he let the crowd in on his power of manifestation: “I’ve been visualising this moment for two years. You are all a part of this moment that’s been in my imagination and so I need you to make this even better than my imagination.”  And as the track dropped the crowd went berserk. Alex said: “It was the biggest adrenaline rush I have ever had.”

After his set, Alex soaked up performances from Dave, Fred Again, Scream and Doja Cat. At the end of the night he ceased the opportunity to have a moment and reflect with his friends: “We did this, guys. We’ve all played at Coachella now.” 

Goals

Immediately after his last track had dropped an influx of messages began to appear. He even had someone trying to book him for a gig that night. Beijing Junglist has more festivals and gigs lined up that aren’t yet public. “I’m not one who sets goal’s, but I want to do Coachella again next year.” The dream is to play on the Dolab stage which is known for having the best vibe. They host the Lightning in a Bottle festival and that event was the main reason that Alex wanted to live in LA.

A Manxie Abroad

Before moving to LA, Alex lived in Beijing for ten years. After five years he got involved in the business side of the music industry. Now head of international at a company called Outdustry; here he deals with helping local Chinese and Indian artists making albums and building a name for themselves. They also help popular British and American artists make a presence in China or India. For example, Outdustry works with Dua Lipa in creating a fan base in China and connect her with famous Chinese artists. 

In Beijing, he began to take DJing more seriously. Back then he was known as Clir, which is a shortened version of our very own Manannán mac Lir. He explained he felt a connection to Manannán but later decided to change his name as many Chinese fans found it difficult to pronounce Clir and ended up calling him Claire. Also, it’s one letter away from being a quite unfortunate name… After saying goodbye to Clir, Beijing Junglist was born. 

In 2017, he visited Los Angeles for work and during the trip attended a few festivals. Instantly, Alex felt an undeniable pull to the city. “I thought this place really suits my energy and within six months I had moved here.” He explained it’s an incredibly relaxed culture and everyone is generally really positive, very approachable and friendly. “Life here tends to be pretty laid back and it has a big focus on fun. There is so much going on like festivals, pop-up events, sports especially post pandemic. I love it and since I’ve moved here, I never regretted it for a second.”

LA has a huge music scene and so Beijing Junglist is constantly performing – anything from dubstep, drum and bass, grime and UK garage. Himself and a few friends also hold their own warehouse pop-up event at different venues around LA. The crew is called Jetlag LA and aim to create an event every six weeks. 

Inspirations

Alex developed a deep love of music from an early age on the island. One of his earliest influences was taking a trip to Switched on Records. The 14 to 18 aged club nights at The Venue also cemented his passion. He has a memory of Ultrabeat coming over from Liverpool and their song “Pretty Green Eyes” has always stuck with him.

Local Manx bands also played a part. Two bands in particular called Back Door Slam and Jacoba. Jacoba’s performance at The Battle of the Bands at The Corner House is something that Alex will never forget: “Their performance blew me away and I knew music was going to be a big part of my life.” 

Now at 33 years old, he listens to an incredibly broad spectrum of music such as Dave and Jamie xx but still has the deepest appreciation for the whole of the drum and bass world and culture. 

Gigs on Island

Although Back Door Slam and Jacoba no longer perform, Alex has big praise for popular Manx bands such as Buncha Skankers, BAAD ACID! and Voodoo Bandits. While visiting and staying at his home in Ballasalla, he always supports Manx bands and is partial to a night at The British. 

As well as an admiration for Manx bands, he is also thrilled by the growing drum and bass and techno scene. The likes of Volume and Tronik events have given Manx people an exposure to different kinds of music. 

“I am really excited to see what’s going on in the Isle of Man. You’ve got so many people doing amazing things there. I’m definitely looking to play in the Isle of Man at some point – that would be the dream!” Let’s get him booked for Bushy’s 2023!