Robot Heart: A History of Burning Man’s Most Famous Collective

Robot Heart: A History of Burning Man’s Most Famous Collective

981
SHARE
Frank Fattori NJ

Frank Fattori of New Jersey discusses in the article below Robot Heart and their most famous collective, Burning Man. Here, Frank Fattori explains how this movement has grown in recent years, as well as future events and projects on the horizon.

Coachella. EDC. It’s no secret that events that combine music, self-expression, and art have grown in popularity within the last decade or so thanks to social media. However, Frank Fattori of New Jersey argues that there was one event that started it all: Burning Man. It initially began as an underground gathering for community and creativity with 35 attendees but has since evolved into a behemoth of an event, with nearly 80,000 people making their way to the Black Rock Desert in northwestern Nevada pre-pandemic. While there are several performances, installations, and music to check out, one community called Robot Heart has been at the forefront of Burning Man entertainment since 2008.

Frank Fattori Explains What Is Robot Heart Collective?

Frank Fattori of New Jersey explains that Burning Man attendees create communities, or camps, among themselves. According to the Burning Man Project, camps not only provide a place to eat and sleep, but are also places for “entertainment, art, and other creative interactive experiences.” Robot Heart Collective is one of the camps for music and sound experiences.

How Did Robot Heart Begin?

Frank Fattori discusses how Robot Heart describes itself as a “collective of doers and dreamers, artists and entrepreneurs” whose first language is music. They made their debut in 2008 when George “Geo” Mueller attended Burning Man with several friends, and they debuted their sound with their camp’s 1972 Bristol bus.

Fourteen years later, Robot Heart is one of the most sought-after camps to play at. Frank Fattori explains that a Robot Heart member who goes by the name “Taxi” summed it up perfectly by saying that Geo always appreciated and celebrated the beauty in imperfections of something that was weathered and worn. He continued by saying that Robot Heart “never sought to make this the shiniest or brightest art car.” The collective wanted to represent the “essence” of the artist and make the best music experience for attendees.

Frank Fattori says that they are doing something right because Robot Heart continues to be one of the most well-known and recognizable camps around. Diplo, Major Lazer, and Tycho are some of the names that have graced the Robot Heart stage. DJ Lee Burridge, who performed back in 2008 and continues to be part of the community, said that Robot Heart is one of the most highly regarded places to play. It raised the bar for art cars and lineups at Burning Man, he said.

A History of Robot Heart Collective Events

Music sets at Robot Heart are typically in the morning and begin as the sun begins to rise. Frank Fattori states that when the camp first made its debut, they had music blasting from an old Bristol bus and that aesthetic has remained throughout the years, save for a few upgrades here and there. Many musicians who have played the Robot Heart sound system describe it as an “instrument in its own right” and the bright LED heart that sits atop the speakers brings Burners from all over.

Other Robot Heart Projects

Frank Fattori says while Robot Heart got its start in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada for Burning Man, the collective hosts several other events throughout the world. Frank Fattori talks about how back in 2015, they hosted its first-ever Further Future Festival, which was a three-day extravaganza about a 45-minute drive east of Las Vegas.

It may seem like Burning Man, but the Further Future Festival was an exclusive, invite, or application-only gathering; this is quite different from the inclusivity that defines Burning Man and its attendees.

The most recent non-Burning Man event took place earlier in 2022 in New York City. Dubbed Fare Forward, the event took place in Central Park over two days and was a celebration of diversity and inclusiveness. It was a welcome reintroduction to the festival scene, especially since Burning Man went on hiatus when the pandemic struck.

What’s Next for Robot Heart?

Frank Fattori of New Jersey says that in 2021 Mueller passed away due to a cerebral aneurysm, sending shockwaves through the Robot Heart community. He was just 50 years old and was a husband and father to two young children. Burners celebrated his life and legacy with small gatherings and online events, but this year is likely to be more robust since Burning Man is coming back.

Frank Fattori says Robot Heart is likely to come back for the 2022 Burning Man and many attendees will want to honor Geo. Despite everything that has happened, Robot Heart will continue to bring music and love to the people. Robot Heart member “Johnny Nitelife,” said that fans of the collective are going to come because that’s what Geo would have done.

Learn more about Robot Heart Collective at robotheart.org or their Facebook page. Their music is available for listening to on their Soundcloud page.