Cherry Kola Farms was founded in 2010 in Sonoma County, CA by brothers Asa and Sean Schaeffer. Known for cultivating small batch craft cannabis, Cherry Kola has established itself as an authority in the cannabis industry. Their namesake strain has won countless awards including the High Times Medical Cannabis Cup, The Breeders Cup, and the LA Cannabis Cup. In partnership with Xtractology, Cherry Kola offers a wide variety of different products from flower to waxes and distillate, each in a myriad of different flavors and strains. Beyond their strains, the Cherry Kola empire includes multiple production facilities, a flagship dispensary in West Hollywood and a newly formed artist partnership department. Cherry Kola Farms’ extensive experience and knack for innovation has positioned the brand to lead the cannabis industry and lifestyle into the mainstream.
The release of the “Mindset” strain is a pivotal moment for frontman Ken Vasoli. “My collaboration with Cherry Kola Farms is a complete dream turned reality.” He adds, “I’ve been a cannabis advocate for all of my adult life. Now I’ve been given this chance to tailor a strain of marijuana with experts of the craft. The combination of strains that we landed on (Headband x Pineapple OG x Banana Kush) were selected specifically for the benefits it would have on Mindset. Those strains are all carry euphoric, happy and creative effects. Those are the positive aspects of marijuana that I want to emphasize. I want the people who try this strain to have a positive mental experience and to feel comfortable in the creative side of their brain.”
Vacationer will kick off their North American tour in support of their third full-length Mindset this Friday at Union Transfer in Philadelphia. Mindset is built on delicate melodies and crystalline rhythms that seem to alter the very texture of the world around you. Ornately composed but breezy in energy, Vacationer’s warm-hearted dream-pop perfectly mirrors Vasoli’s intentions in making the album. “The objective was to write songs that remind me how my brain needs to operate for my own wellbeing and happiness,” Vasoli says. “That’s where the title comes from—the record’s filled with all these reminders that put me in a good mindset for the day.”
Despite its often-euphoric effect, Mindset began in frustration for Vasoli. After countless false starts on the follow-up to 2014’s Relief, the Philadelphia-based musician decided to completely upend his creative approach. While Vacationer’s previous albums came to life in close collaboration with fellow members Matthew Young and Grant Wheeler, Vasoli shifted his focus from songwriting to production and worked entirely on his own for months on end. During that time, he immersed himself in exploring the nuances of Ableton and analyzing the construction of beloved albums by artists like the Beach Boys, Barry White, and Curtis Mayfield.
With his love for making music reignited, Vasoli locked in his vision for Mindset upon penning a song called “Entrance”: a lush and luminous track that opens the album with swirling harp arpeggios and shimmering synth. On “Magnetism,” Vacationer maintains that dreamy mood and reveals the band’s newly embraced experimental sensibilities with its gently dizzying arrangement. Described by Vasoli as “a love record in every sense of the word,” Mindset also delivers a valentine to his dog Waldo with “Strawberry Blonde,” an uptempo serenade infused with sweetly guileless storytelling.
When it came time to sculpt Mindset’s elaborate yet unfussy soundscape, Vacationer paired up with producer Daniel Schlett (selected for his ambitious and masterful work on Ghostface Killah’s 36 Seasons). “I was talking to Daniel about that Ghostface record and how I couldn’t believe there were no samples on it, and he just looked me and said, ‘Oh—you wanna use the studio as an MPC,’” recalls Vasoli, referring to MPCs as “the classic stand-alone sampler and gold standard in beat-making.” Once they’d completed those recordings, Vasoli and Schlett assembled the album by merging elements of the live performances with the electronically crafted material from Vasoli’s home studio. “We dismantled everything, then chose what we wanted to use from different sessions,” says Vasoli. “We had a total blast sampling the players, sampling ourselves, and deciding what to leave raw.”
At the end of the years-long process of creating Mindset, Vasoli found himself more self-assured in his artistry. Not only key in shaping the album’s distinct and elegant sound, that sense of self-possession ultimately reflects the essence of Mindset. “A lot of this record is about experiencing things as they happen, and not giving into the pressure of anxiety and depression—especially since those things are so easy to creep up on you,” says Vasoli. “That was a big struggle for me to get out of in the early stages of this album, but then the music I was working on ended up being my solution. My hope is that it works the same way for anyone who hears it.”