Over a hundred artists are scheduled to perform at this year’s Tri Town Get Down Music Festival in Richland. Organizer Caleb Brown says that about a third of the artists are local, another third are from the greater region, and the rest are from across the country. 

The event is dedicated to including local and regional artists, musicians who have connections to Tri-Cities and elsewhere in the PNW. 

One such artist is Lauren Lofton, aka DJ priestess. 

Having moved to West Richland while still in elementary school, Lofton credits her Tri-Cities musical education as the baseline for her bass lines. 

She played a set at last year’s late-night festivities, and she’ll be back for multiple sets during this year’s festival. 

An image of the DJ priestess, Lauren Lofton.
Photo courtesy of Caleb Brown

Who is the DJ priestess? 

Lofton played instruments all through school at William Wiley Elementary, Enterprise Middle School, and Hanford High. 

She fell away from her musical side for some time after high school, but it didn’t last long. She moved to Spokane so she could go to massage school. It was around this time that Lofton found music festivals like Paradiso and the rave community.

Eventually, she also fell in with the DJ scene in Spokane. Some of them trained her in the craft, and Lofton thinks her established foundation in music helped her get the hang of it quickly. 

Her career changed after a weekend at Melting Man, a COVID-era makeshift replacement for Burning Man. Lofton did an informal set using the provided equipment, which got her noticed by the event hosts. They set up a GoFundMe for her to get her own equipment, raising $800 in one day. 

Since then, she’s been growing in popularity across the region, with a Saturday night residency at Night Owl in Spokane. She comes to the Tri-Cities for shows occasionally, as well as western Washington. priestess also recently performed at the Treefort Music Festival in Idaho. 

priestess on coming back to Tri-Cities 

While not her birthplace, Lofton did a lot of growing up here in the Tri-Cities, and she feels the connection to it each time she returns. The DJ said it’s one of those places you can always come back to. 

While things change each time she’s gone, the Tri-Cities remain the same. When she sees people she once knew, it’s evident that they’ve both changed and experienced different lives in the time since. It’s easier to recognize how much you’ve changed when the city reflects it back on you, which is how priestess often feels here. 

“It makes me realize how far I’ve come, which I am so grateful for,” Lofton said. 

It also makes her realize how far the community has come in the Tri-Cities. The EDM scene here has grown a lot since she was new to it, and she noted how much intentional effort has been put into community-based culture. The DJ says people in Spokane talk about just how evident the growth in the Tri-Cities has been recently. 

“Everybody has their thing, and it’s really cool to see that blossom over the years, even if I’m not the one watering that seed all the time,” Lofton said about the local dance music scene’s growth. “It’s just cool to see that it got planted.”

priestess on local music culture 

As a DJ, she’s dedicated to fostering community and growing the scene around her, not just herself. Lofton says this is the key to success in the music industry: making sacrifices for the culture and making a positive impact beyond the self to grow a genuine community. 

“People have to be willing to take a loss sometimes, out of respect for the culture,” Lofton said.

Through collaborative dedication in Spokane, in just two years the venue she works with has nearly tripled their DJ staff. This came from sacrifices, from dedicated efforts to create a better experience, and from a willingness to help everyone grow together. 

For her, it’s all rooted in a deep love for music. 

“I feel like music is my religion,” priestess said. “It sounds so cliche, but I feel like it is the one thing that speaks to me without words, without lyrics. It moves something inside of me that wasn’t movable until that time.”

She said this kind of connection to music is crucial, that with successful musicians, there’s always a deeper reason for being in the industry. 

“If you don’t have something … that’s motivating you, then you’ll never make it,” Lofton said. “If you’re only in it for the money, you’re going to be broke and mad.”

Lofton likens this to how music is referred to in the Bible as “a joyous noise”. Musicians who love it and want to share the love it brings them are the ones that last. She says she wants to joyously create and enjoy herself, particularly around others doing the same thing. 

priestess at Richland music festival 

Last summer, priestess spent the day checking out artists at the Uptown Get Down music festival. One of her favorite sets was by rapper Kid Lennon. 

Her set was at The Emerald of Siam, where she’s performed before. But Lofton said there was something different about performing there during the festival, like she was a part of something larger. She really appreciated the community-oriented atmosphere that night. 

“Just killer talent everywhere, pretty much,” Lofton said in an interview. “It makes me even more excited for this year because there’s going to be even more stages and even more talent.” 

With the growth of the festival in 2024, priestess will do a couple of sets at the Tri Town Get Down Music Festival in June, which she considers an opportunity to do things differently. One of her sets will be a back-to-back performance with ZOF, which will allow both DJs to explore how their sounds complement each other. Another set will be catered toward a family-friendly experience. 

Lofton wants her sets this year to showcase the growth she’s had since last year’s festival. On top of recent shows in Boise, the Tri-Cities, and Western Washington, she also has performed a drum and bass set at Burning Man. 

Tickets to the Tri Town Get Down music festival are available at tritowngetdown.com, with both single-day and three-day options. 

Karlee Van De Venter is a full-time reporter at the Tri-City Herald who contributes Arts and Entertainment coverage for Tumbleweird. Through a co-publication agreement, this content may also appear in the Herald.