EDM All Day

A candid conversation between Mikey Lion & Doc Martin ahead of Desert Hearts Festival

Join us as these two influential figures in the dance music community offer a glimpse into their lives and the shared ethos that fuels their artistry ahead of the Desert Hearts Festival, set from July 4th to the 8th at Playa Ponderosa, Arizona.

Photo credit: Juliana Bernstein

Doc Martin, a pioneering West Coast DJ, started spinning house records in San Francisco in 1986. He quickly gained a dedicated following for his eclectic taste and mixing skills. After performing at clubs like Flammable Liquid, he moved to Los Angeles and became a resident at the Metropolis. By the mid-’90s, he held multiple residencies in New York and regularly performed in London.

Mikey Lion is revitalizing house music in a scene that has lost touch with its roots. His label, Desert Hearts Records, has toured globally and hosted annual Desert Hearts Festivals in Southern California for over a decade. His commitment to spreading love and positive energy through music drives his diverse career.

In this engaging conversation, Mikey Lion and Doc Martin delve into their early experiences with house music, their personal rituals for winding down, and the driving forces behind their music careers.

Doc Martin reflects on his pioneering days in California’s house music scene, his journey from underground parties to global stages, and how he became a revered figure in both the U.S. and Europe. Mikey Lion shares his passion for spreading love and positive energy through his performances, discusses his approach to balancing a multifaceted career, and explains the importance of health and family in maintaining his hectic lifestyle.

Mikey Lion: Sunshine Jones said you were the first person ever to play house music in California. Do you think that’s true, and how did you catch on so fast?

Doc Martin: It’s hard to say if I was the first. I wasn’t aware of anyone else really pushing house music. I used to fly to New York every 3 months to buy records. I would go to the clubs and vibe out on all the new sounds. This was before the internet, so you really had to be there. I was made aware of Marques Wyatt a few years later. They would refer to us as their West Coast ambassadors. I remember Sunshine was really bummed when I switched to house music. The music engulfed me, and I was hooked for life!

Doc Martin: You must be the ultimate juggler – DJing/Music Label/Festival/Touring. What is your wind-down regime like?

Mikey Lion: Winding down for me involves putting my phone on Airplane mode and hanging with my family. I’ve also been on the health train like crazy so making sure to sleep well, work out, and eat healthy has been vital to being able to juggle everything.

Doc Martin: It’s been a wild ride for both of us, that’s for sure. What drives you and your music? How do you get hyped for a show?

Mikey Lion: Since the beginning of my DJ career I’ve known my goal as an artist is to spread love and positive energy through my music. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth, and the more I tap into pushing that energy out into the world, the more results I get in my career and the more fulfilled I feel spiritually. Before every gig, I take a few minutes to myself to breathe deep and channel all the energy in the universe to flow through me and send healing vibes to the dance floor. I used to think this was egotistical to think I had that kind of ability but the more I’ve leaned into it the better.

“For me, it’s always been about the music and the sense of community that comes together around that” – Doc Martin

Mikey Lion: What was your first impression of Desert Hearts when you played for us?

Doc Martin: The first time I got asked to play Desert Hearts was at an underground party in Los Angeles. You and Tim asked if I’d be into playing the festival. I’ve heard from a few friends that it was a great party, with a sense of community. When I got there, it felt like home immediately. The energy, vibe, and crowd were something that I hadn’t experienced in a long while. What impressed me the most was that the festival was driven by local DJs. This helped to develop a sound unique to Desert Hearts. Since then we’ve done a good number of shows across the US together. It’s always a great vibe!

Mikey Lion: Do you have an all-time favorite set that you’ve played? Do you have an all-time favorite performance you’ve witnessed?

Doc Martin: There are too many favorites to choose from. There have been many times where there has been a super connection. From the early shows in California (San Francisco/Los Angeles/San Diego) to Ibiza/Japan/Fabric/DH/Circoloco/New York, UK and beyond! Also, being Deee-Lite’s Tour DJ was an incredible vibe!

I’ve witnessed life-changing sets from Andrew Weatherall, Ricardo Villalobos, Craig Richards, and so many others. Their sets go far beyond banging it out and almost reach into your soul! There are so many great DJs out there!

Doc Martin: You’ve played giant festivals, outdoor parties, warehouses, and every other type of venue. What kind of environment do you enjoy playing the most and why?

Mikey Lion: I’m biased as a festival producer, but I really love playing at big independent festivals where you can tell they’ve put their heart and soul into creating them. The crowds are also so much better at these kinds of festivals because the culture is so pure.

Mikey Lion: Every career has high points and low points. What’s the secret to longevity in your career? How do you push through the low points?

Doc Martin: I think you have to just keep pushing, even when you are at a low point. For me, it’s always been about the music and the sense of community that comes together around that. That’s what keeps me going! I have people who have been there since the beginning to people who may have just heard of me. It’s always been about making people feel better than they did when they came in. If you can do this, “Mission Accomplished.”

“I really love playing at big independent festivals where you can tell they’ve put their heart and soul into creating them” – Mikey Lion

Doc Martin: How did the Snoop Dog Project come about?

Mikey Lion: Destructo and I struck up a friendship over the phone when I reached out to him for advice on what we should do when we had to cancel last year’s camping festival. He gave me so much insight into what he’d do if he was in my position and it was really cool as we’d never connected before. He had just done his release with Snoop Dogg and he reached out to me to see if I wanted to give it a crack. I was like WTF obviously I’m gonna do an official remix for Snoop Dogg! Pretty psyched how it all turned out!

Mikey Lion: See you on the 4th.

Doc Martin:  See you soon!

Desert Hearts Festival is set for July 4th-8th at Playa Ponderosa, Arizona. Grab your tickets here.

Follow Mikey Lion: Spotify | Soundcloud | Instagram | Facebook
Follow Doc Martin: Spotify | Soundcloud | Instagram | Facebook

EDM All Day is an online music platform created in 2015 that primarily covers electronic dance music and everything that revolves around its industry.


Due to the growing number of readers, we are looking for passionate bloggers and writers who would like to take part in EDM All Day’s great mission, and offer the latest coverage on the electronic dance music industry.


If you think you are ambitious and motivated to write for us on a voluntary basis, drop us a line at [email protected] as well as some samples of your writing and we’ll get back to you within 48h.