The Coollab Project is not an event. It’s a community and a platform to showcase art, which is based on love, support, and respect. Artists are able to express themselves on a different platform, creating a culture that simultaneously celebrates individuality and community.
The Coollab Project was created about three years ago, when an artist from Georgia, named Alaze (@alaz4life), came to Downtown Santa Ana. When he couldn’t find a space where he felt encouraged by other artists, he created his own. It kind of happened by chance, the location and the connections. This lead him to the Fourth Street Market, where it is still held today. The Coollab Project was really intended to make an encouraging space for artists, resulting in collaborations and a tight-knit family. This was born in the surrounding presence of competition, often a negative force for artists. As a result, this gave people hope and allowed them to thrive.
The Coollab Project was really intended to make an encouraging space for artists, resulting in collaborations and a tight-knit family.
Before you even arrive to Fourth Street Market, you can hear music pouring into the streets. The Coollab Project is held on the patio of the Market, which is perfect because it’s an open space with plenty of room. With plenty of tables and string lights, it’s a very comfortable and warm environment to be in. Apollo Bebop, a local jazz and hip-hop fusion group, is the house band for The Coollab Project. They always start the night off, setting the tone for people to have a good time. Rocky, the host, gets the crowd pumped and excited to see all of the performers. As the night begins, Rocky sets the ground rules: to be supportive and respectful of one another. This is unique to The Coollab Project, proving that the intentions of each person should be positive and encouraging. Artist after artist is introduced with overwhelming support from Rocky and the audience. Mutual respect is the core for these gatherings. Singers, rappers, and musicians, all overflowing with talent, perform in one setting.
Rocky Angelini is the current host of the Coollab Project. To him, this is an important resource for artists because it is an opportunity for people to network and collaborate. It’s a place where his spirit can feel inspired, healed, and lifted. Rocky has a unique, personal relationship with music, describing it as therapeutic. According to Rocky, it’s a “spiritual experience where [he] can get filled up.” Being a naturally introspective individual, writing music allows him to release toxicity and negativity that builds up internally. Music is infinitely complex, and the pursual of knowledge will never be complete. It’s about that desire to always learn and improve in the knowledge and skill. Rocky uses The Coollab Project to explore this and to develop his own knowledge as a musician. Speaking with Rocky, it’s obvious that he has so much passion, love, and care for this community. It shows through the way he interacts with people and they way he approaches his own music.
Brian To Earth is part of the house band, Apollo Bebop. Every week, The Coollab Project provides a “platform to be [his] most authentic self.” He is a self-described loud, obnoxious, and confident person, so the stage allows him to be vulnerable and honest without feeling any judgement. It’s also a positive, competitive environment where he feels challenged and encouraged by other artists to push his creativity. Brian has seen so many artists who have grown and developed by coming and participating in The Coollab Project.
Ash has been coming to The Coollab Project since August of 2019. He has a deep love for music and wanted to be surrounded by like-minded people. He felt excluded by the world, but after being introduced to the community of The Coollab Project, he feels so included that it’s home to him. Everyone is there out of love, and it “gives you the confidence to express yourself.” It usually starts off with a jam session, being casual and having no pressure. Ash always feels welcomed here and it has grown to become a significant part of his life.
Touche is an artist that recently discovered The Coollab Project. He is a lo-fi rapper, singer, and producer that performed here for the first time in March. Being new to the community, he said “you can meet someone for the first time and feel immediately connected.” One of his goals as an artist is to become a successful lo-fi rapper, which is kind of a hidden genre. He was inspired by his best friend who passed away about three years ago. It was her dream to pursue music, and he has taken on that dream for himself. The Coollab Project is yet another platform for him to do so.
Due to the concern for public safety and health, The Coollab Project will be held virtually for all to view! Check out their Instagram page for more details on how to participate: https://www.instagram.com/thecoollabproject/
The Coollab Project has become one of the most important aspects of the community of Downtown Santa Ana. Encouraging artists to collaborate and support one another, it holds a special place in the hearts of many.
The Coollab Project is held every Thursday night from 7pm to 9pm on their Instagram page. Artists are encourage to participate and perform live!
Special thanks to:
Rocky Angelini @rockyangelini
Brian To Earth bgomz
Story by Breanna Policar
This is my story of Santa Ana from the beginning to the middle, and stretching into the future all the way towards the end.
Santa Ana is one of the oldest cities in Orange County, California. It is a city that treasures its unique culture and its sense of community. Although, I have spent my whole life in Santa Ana I still feel like there’s more to discover because this city has so much to offer.
I attended Santa Ana schools from K-12, continuing on to Santa Ana College, which gave me plenty of time to explore and experience what Santa Ana is all about. This made me think that I knew everything about Santa Ana, only to realize I had only scratched the surface. I was missing out on resources, activities, and so much more. Growing up, venturing out, and having more of those experiences has led me to discover these five things I wish I knew growing up in Santa Ana.
1. Santa Ana Public Library (SAPL), Teenspace
I admit, I was not the best student growing up. I was enrolled in one afterschool program, but other than that I did not go out looking for help. Little did I know, within walking distance, SAPL has a dedicated area just for teens. Located in the basement of the SAPL is a Teenspace. This space focuses on giving teens a safe space to hangout, do homework, but also providing them with workshops and activities that teach resiliency and life skills. If you ever make it down to the Teenspace you’ll be lucky enough to meet a welcoming staff and Cheryl Eberly, the Young Adult Principal Librarian, who has made the Teenspace a White House award winner.
2. Heritage Museum of Orange County
The Heritage Museum is a hidden gem in Santa Ana. Their mission is to preserve and promote the heritage and culture of Orange County. Located next to Centennial Park, the museum sits on federally protected wetlands that is used as a nature area. The museum holds public and school tours of their Victorian style home. They also host events for the community such as their stargazing night, Día de Los Muertos sugar skull painting event, and an Easter egg hunt. I know that growing up I would’ve loved to stroll through their nature area, collect funky rocks, and possibly catch a glimpse of their local coyote.
3. Downtown Santa Ana Art Walk
The Downtown Santa Ana Art Walk is an event that could very easily turn into a bonding Saturday night for the family. I say this because I’m pretty sure that’s what would’ve happened for me and my family, and there’s nothing I treasure more than those bonding moments. The Art walk takes place on the first Saturday of every month. The Art Walk is a space for community bridging where artists come to display their work, the public comes out to support and everybody gets to enjoy the FREE live entertainment. Attending the Art Walk would’ve been a huge change from my usual Saturday nights of playing video games. I see myself at the Art Walk now and think of all the moments I missed with my family, friends and community.
4. El Salvador Community Center
Community centers are a huge part of a neighborhood’s harmony. I had El Salvador Community Center in my own neighborhood, yet I can count the times I participated in their events, and those were because my parents didn’t want my siblings and I to stay home and watch TV all day. In retrospect, I wish I would’ve joined the gardening workshops, used the community pool, and participated in the family PRIDE projects. Now I understand the value that these centers bring, and I wish I had taken advantage of the opportunities they offer.
5. Old Orange County Courthouse Museum
The Old Orange County courthouse is the oldest courthouse in Southern California. The 30,000 sq. ft. building is full of Santa Ana and Orange County history. Many items are displayed in the Old Orange County Courthouse Museum that is nestled away under the stairs. Like many students, history was not always my favorite subject, but something in me always appreciated it. This small but mighty museum served to spark my interest in history.
Story by Abraham Gomez
New, dispatches and updates from Downtown Santa Ana