On the road from Los Angeles to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California, Raphael Saadiq lounged on the couch of his tour bus. And despite only having a couple hours of sleep from the previous night's show in San Francisco, there was no sign of wear on the R&B crooner.
"Life on the road is fun, man — it's like a vacation," Saadiq told MTV News. "You know, I do it all — I'm an artist, I produce, [and] do a lot of other things — so really touring for me is a like a vacation. So, I need it to feel like a vacation, so I try to keep the peace out here and just have as little stress as possible."
The vibe on the bus was just that — laid-back and stress-free. Saadiq passed the time with his bandmates, drawing inspiration from the 1972 music documentary "Wattstax." The performance style and music from that film are also similar to what Saadiq captures onstage. And while some artists today plan hits-only set lists for music festivals, Saadiq has a different philosophy.
"I think people are ready right now to hear unreleased songs, new material — it's right up festival alley to play new songs," Saadiq said. "And we'll play songs that they do know from The Way I See It and we'll also play songs from Stone Rollin', which comes out May 10."
With a new album on the horizon and an extensive back catalog, Saadiq had the tough decision of choosing which songs from his normal two-hour show to fit into his much shorter Coachella set. Later on the bus ride, we found him in the back of the bus, hammering out the set list with his tour manager.
"I'm chopping down the set to a 45-minute show, so I'm trying to pick the most — the songs that I think will impact in 45 minutes," Saadiq revealed.
It doesn't take long — some songs are out altogether while others are combined. And after that's decided, it's back to another documentary — this time on Bob Marley and the Wailers.
As the film reached its end, we found ourselves pulling up to the gates of Coachella, where we part ways with Saadiq. Before saying goodbye, he clued us in on one final component of his pre-show routine: sweat.
"You never go on the stage dry, you gotta be ready," Saadiq shared. "You don't wanna start getting loose on the stage — you wanna be loose before you get on the stage."
Judging by the scorching heat in Indio that day, Saadiq had no trouble working up a sweat before his 11 p.m. show.
Were you at Coachella this year? Tell us about your favorite performances in the comments below!