Written by: Moe Angelo
10 December 2020
Multiple music festival communities and families around the country have been in deep mourning since Tuesday, at the news of the loss of M-Dub Designs creator, Matt Warren. Being a constant beacon of light, color and positivity was not only the staple property of all of Matt’s different forms of art, but it was more importantly the primary characteristic of his personality. An immense outpouring of love and art has exploded on social media in tribute to the multi-faceted artist, filling festival family feeds around the country with a surge of color.
I first met Matt at Orange Blossom Jamboree 2013, where I was covering the event with my internet radio station, iHateRadio. “OBJ” creator Russ Bowers owned some awesome pirate radio gear, and I was taking the Have You Herd Radio stream and broadcasting it on FM throughout the Sertoma Youth Ranch park. In passing, I was drawn to Matt’s vending tent when I recognized the tie dye that, like, everyone at the festival was wearing.
I’ve been heavily attending music festivals around the country since about 2007 or so, but I honestly don’t wear much tie dye – what some might think is somewhat of a uniform for the industry. It has to be really good for me to wear it, and though I didn’t get my first M-Dub shirt until The Werkout 2015, in Thornville, Ohio (pretty much halfway between both of our hometowns), I proudly wore it (and wore it out) across the country for years to come.
I had the true pleasure of collaborating with Matt a few times over the years, by projection mapping his tapestries in different settings at festivals. Our first collaboration was a part of the Because of the Lotus installation at The Werkout 2015, where Matt’s Dragonfly tapestry was displayed next to the “Mural of Light,” greatly welcomed by the campers whose EZ-up tent was used to display it. Over the years we collaborated again at Orange Blossom Jamboree, and both The Great Outdoors Jam and Little Econ Love Fest where the tie dye projection collaboration adorned the festivals’ stages, and at times, some of the performers.
Our relationship grew over the years, as did the both of us as artists, with his legendary “Hank Drums” creating smiles and collectors around the country. His giant kaleidoscopes made from up-cycled helium tanks helped lay the foundations of installation art at festivals like AURA, Purple Hatter’s Ball, and others at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park (now made most famous by its flagship festival Hulaween, and the massive, art-focused feature, Spirit Lake).
I’ll never forget how truly enamored Matt was with Because of the Lotus’ Neurofeedback-powered art installations, and how quickly he took to it with ease. In the last half of the below video, you can see Matt controlling our projection-mapped paintings with his mind while wearing a wireless EEG headset.
In the most recent years, Matt was trying really hard to make it down to St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands for VI Jam Fest, a festival I helped create in 2019. But honestly, he has been with us on the island from the very start of it all, as his tie dye art was used as a text material in our very first poster and logo.
Last night, I tried to give Matt the best island send-off I could think of, and projected his art onto the historic Sugar Mill ruins that grace the property at Estate Susannaberg (“Neptune’s Lookout”), the home of VI Jam Fest, The Windmill Bar, and Camp St. John.
Rest in peace and power my brother. You are so deeply missed and loved by so many. I will ensure that your art will always continue to bring smiles.
str34m is a non-profit, viewer-supported community initiative of Llacuna, inc. (a registered 501(c)3 non-profit). Your donation is fully tax-deductible, and goes to support the growth of independent media for people, not profit. Have Amazon Prime? You can donate your free monthly Twitch subscription to str34m at no cost to you!