Main Image: Courtesy of Vlad's Facebook Page
Our journalist and I headed to Suwannee River Park's cabin area after making our way out of the forest following a torrential downpour which had shut the park down for a short time. We made it to Vlad's cabin escorted by a police golf cart, the vehicle set to deter the party people pouring from the building. We walked inside to find his wife and friends eating dank vegan food and decided to conduct the interview the Suwannee way - on a golf cart surrounded by nature. During, Vlad (real name Vlad Kulishevskiy) spoke of his connection to Rachel Morningstar, a 23-year-old Florida State University graduate who was murdered while acting as a police informant in a botched drug sting in 2008. He said that she would do anything to help a friend or band in need, his words contributing to what was a nice memory set to forever be associated with Purple Hatter's Ball.
What earned you the title of Vlad The Inhaler?
Really, Vlad the Inhaler is just a play on words. My actual name is Vladimir; I was often called Vlad Dracula back in my day. Later on, once I needed a moniker for my medicinal+deejay lifestyle, 'Vlad the Inhaler' just flowed into existence with ease. I was born for this non-threatening Vladimir vibe. I guess it's divine, right?
People have photoshopped a picture of an inhaler onto Vlad the Impaler (see below). What is your impression of this, and how do you feel about the fact that there is a children's book entitled Vlad The Inhaler?
I thought it was awesome, of course, and I had it as my profile pic for a while. I know it has nothing to do with me but it helped me with promo. There's a few memes out there with the Vlad the Impala theme that people have tagged me in over the years and which keep popping up in my feed over and over again. There's Vlad the Impala for example, that thing was a tattoo on my social media pages for a while. As far as the novel (reading the blurb): Yo, what the fuck? It's about an asthmatic vampire in the land of the dank forest. That sounds like a terrible plotline, but I respect the effort. Who am I to judge? There's a beer out there named Vlad the Inhaler, and I think it's also the name of a band out in the Northwest. We keep it gutter, no cease and desists.
How is it being in the Suwannee wilderness, and how does it compare or differ to being in the city of Jacksonville?
I've been on this tangent many times before, and the magic of nature's canopy is reconfirmed every single time I'm here at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park. Being here unwinds you; it slows your life down and makes every moment meditative. I think it's that, combined with the flow we catch from the music that makes it feel all so 'floaty.' I love Duval County too, and being in the heart of my city - pushing music forwards. I take pride in the progress we are creating. No doubt though, the woods are where the soul is able to relax and detach from stress.
Jacksonville is pushing downtown revitalization. What do you wish to see Jacksonville like culturally in say five years from now?
VK: The progress is visible, and with Shad Khan's big visions, there are some big promises being made to the people of Jacksonville. Observing the work of many of my friends and peers over the years, I'm sure there are enough eager musicians, artists, investors, creatives and visionaries to hold down the sprawl of entertainment establishments. My only hope is that we don't water down the menu. I know that there are always going to be places that appeal to the masses, it's a dollars game, but we must support and incubate venues that push the boundaries and bring various options from all sides of the coin. Likewise with the cities artwork. We have a city council member here who was offended by a photo exhibit at MOCA, where there was an artistic photo of a woman bearing her breast. It can be all so Puritan here at times, and I love disrupting that.
Do you have any new projects, events or happenings in the works at the moment?
I'm working on a weekly show at my favorite venue in the city - 1904 Music Hall - which should be starting up real soon. I stay pretty active in Duval, so I should pop up on the radar from time to time. I'm also starting to plan the silent disco lineup for this year's Hulaween - which is going to be very fire.
What was your connection with Rachel Morningstar and how did she embrace the music scene of Purple Hatter's Ball?
I was introduced to Rachel through my friend Trey Hebron, at a few get-togethers in Tallahassee when I was there to visit him, and only had a few brief encounters with her. However, Rachel knew many of my close friends and they're people who have become close friends with me since. I felt and, still, feel the impact that this situation has caused to many people I know and, through them, I feel like I have gotten to know Rachel. I am honored that I am part of this cause, in any form. Rachel was tied to the jam music community; the Spirit of the Suwannee vibe is her vibe.
What do you wish to tell the people of Purple Hatter's Ball?
Don't forget the message behind this gathering. The family vibe we all feel comes from just that, from Rachel's family - Mama Margie & Mike and Irv. Rachel was put in a position of fear, and feared seeking out her family in the scariest time in her life; that should never happen. We must be able to seek family. Rachel's Law is working to do just that for people in her situation in the future, and will need your continued support. And, lastly, take care of each other, take care of the park, and be the type of Suwannee ambassador you wish to see in the world.
To learn more about Rachel Morningstar Hoffman click here.