How does one stay productive, positive and performing throughout a pandemic?
There isn’t a For Dummies ‘how-to’ available quite yet, but perhaps none are more fit to lead a master-class on the subject than all around boss-woman Vivie-ann Bakos, known professionally as BLOND:ISH. In a discussion with CULTR, the international touring act and businesswoman detailed how inspiration from Tony Robbins and the music community at-large has driven her to continue trailblazing.
BLOND:ISH is a full-time DJ, but also holds the professional titles of producer, promoter, record label head, and environmental activist. Bakos manages the brands Bye Bye Plastic (a global organization dedicated to removing single-use plastics from the music industry) and Abracadabra Festival, which hosted its 2nd virtual festival last month in addition to their weekly Saturday/Sunday ABRA programming. Whether virtual or physically present, the goal of BLOND:ISH is to serve and assist the community; to “oil to the machine,” as Bakos puts it.
“How can I be of service to my community right now?” said Bakos. “That’s the main question I asked [when the pandemic started] and that’s how all these opportunities came.” While she’s always possessed the know-how and motivation, her personal cause received further prodding by none other than Tony Robbins.
Robbins is globally renowned for his motivational speaking and worldwide philanthropic efforts, but shortly after the pandemic began, he turned his attention to the massively hurting music industry. With artists unable to perform gigs and workers abruptly put out of work, Robbins’ team reached out to BLOND:ISH about bringing value to the community and invited her to join an hour-long course with other industry leaders. “He puts energy in you and shows what question you need to ask yourself to open up those doors,” said Bakos, who credits Robbins and his team, as well as YouTube motivational speakers like Patrick Bet-David and Robert Kiyosaki, for helping her adapt and find opportunities in the constantly changing landscape of today.
BLOND:ISH promptly began performing weekly livestreams (called Human Nature) and re-invigorating her Abracadabra brand with her partner Liana Hillison, which serves as an entity for her pillars of “music, magic, self-love and sustainability.” While Abra has hosted physical events in Mexico, Mykonos and TomorrowLand, it made its digital debut with a virtual event this past June. Organizers followed that up with another event last month (Sept. 17-20) headlined by Diplo, Tycho, Snoop Dogg, and more for over 80-straight hours of curated music.
This provided the motivation and hope to continue working towards a physical event in Tulum this January, which Bakos says is still set to go for now. With the government deeming tourism in Tulum an economic necessity for residents to survive, Bakos plans to be on the forefront and cutting edge of how to do these events safely for long term fruition. Distanced spaces, sparse stages and rapid testing are all ideas going into the safety planning for this event.
“These measures could be potential solutions that at least minimize the risk,” said Bakos. “You can’t stop tourists coming to Tulum in January, so it’s just a matter of how to do it safely.”
While the ABRA team—spread out across LA, Australia, Canada and even Israel— is doing everything in their power to make it safe and open, even they know everything can change. The team plans on setting up a Twitch studio where they’ll have the ability to broadcast live with or without crowds, a “hybrid” production aspect Bakos believes will be the future of live events.
Regardless of the endeavor, the multi-present producer and professional will continue to remain a martyr based in the magic of one thing: music. “Music exists in this entire universe,” said Bakos. “It has so much power and music will always be at the heart of everything I do.”