This Band is All About Positivity, Chill Vibes and Staying True to Their Name
Written By: Ian Hays
Photographed By: Nathan Whelan Cali Conscious
There are plenty of bands solely focused on trying to make it big. Often, that tunnel vision pushes everything else to the side. When fame is the only goal, an “it’s all about me” mindset tends to develop. Cali Conscious is not one of those bands.
The Orange County locals play what they call “barefoot beach reggae.” The music is breezy and always accompanied by a positive message. The band officially took shape around 2010 when founder, Justin Ratowsky, met singer/multi-instrumentalist Diogba “Dig” Gbye. Gbye came to the states from Liberia and the two instantly hit it off over their mutual love for classic reggae artists like Bob Marley and newer staples like Iration. As the years went on, more members came on board to flesh out harmonies and add in varying instrumentation like the trumpet and keys.
Cali Conscious are regulars at Dana Wharf’s Live Music Harbor Cruise every summer, and they also play at spots like Marine Room Tavern in Laguna Beach and Pacific City in Huntington Beach. This summer, they are playing a set of nine shows at Descanso Beach Club on Catalina Island, bringing their vibes to the high seas.
For Cali Conscious, playing music is only one piece of the puzzle as the band practices what they preach. Their music focuses not only on curating a positive sonic vibe, but also lyrically bringing socially conscious messages to the world—and they have the track record to prove it. From 2012 to 2014, they organized and hosted a monthly beach cleanup in Huntington Beach. Then in 2013, the band collected $5,000 from their tips and donated it to the construction of a clean water well in Ethiopia. Using music as the root to link local and global activism, Cali Conscious has taken what it means to be in a band to a new level.
Health Conscious: For the release of their first album, High Times, the band created a digital download card with vegetable seeds embedded in it.
Monster Mash: Back in high school Ratowsky played in a garage-punk band. Their first gig was a Halloween party and they played in full costume.
Do the Hula: You can also catch Cali Conscious at the LOCALE Magazine Red, White & Luau issue release party at Newport Dunes on July 3.