Interview: SoundShaman ॐ ForwardEscape ॐ Texas
Tell me where you’re from, where you currently live.
I was born and raised in San Antonio, Tx. After a brief stint in College Station I made my way to Austin where I’ve been for most of the last six years. I’ve taken a few extended vacations from Austin. One to Asheville, NC, where I got engulfed in the magic of the psytrance community, and one to the west coast on the annual fall hippie migration to the Nevada dessert and norCal. Austin is where I always end up though, and it’s a great place to be. There’s so many things going on all the time that you’re always able to find something fun to do and there’s a great EDM/Burner community.
What kind of music & parties did you first go to?
Ha, oh man! Big raves for sure.. My first party was Meltdown in Dallas and I was blown away from the start. Most of my first parties were more mainstream raves in Dallas and Austin. That was all when I lived in College Station and I was into the more mainstream producers and genres like house and breaks. Dubstep wasn’t really on the scene yet, but I always had a thing for DnB and 2-step.. It wasn’t until I moved to Austin that I started going to more underground warehouse and house parties though. I kinda got sucked into the Austin EDM scene when I got here. There were so many fun parties that weren’t in downtown clubs and it’s a pretty close-knit community, really most of my friends here I’ve met through electronic music scene. Then one day I found psytrance and nothing has been the same ever since..
When you started djing, you played so many different things. As your style has progressed how would describe it?
Oh I’m still all over the place when I dj. I’ve really tried to build my collection to be able to play just about any vibe of music from chilled out to tripped out to danced out and my influences are across the board: dubstep, breaks, glitch, idm, dnb, psytrance, house.. I try to find music that combines elements of all those into something that can’t be described by a single genre, and instead look for what a track does to me when I listen to it. I guess that’s why it’s always been so hard for me to answer the ‘what do you play?’ question, it really depends on when and where I’m playing but ‘psychedelic bass music’ is usually a good blanket term.
I’ve definitely come a long way from some of the first SoundShaman sets. That was around 2 years ago, and I was playing a lot of Mimosa, Heyoka, Vibesquad, mostly the west-coast bass music pioneers, and it all had that ‘slow and low’ dubstep/glitchop vibe. Now I tend to go for music that’s more upbeat and cerebral and really works it’s way into you and takes control. It took me a while to get comfortable playing more complex music and utilizing the dj software I use (Traktor!). I like being able to shift the bpm’s around in a set rather than staying in one place the whole time. It really gives me a lot of freedom to read the crowd while I’m playing. If people are really into it, I can keep going with that vibe and if not, I can switch it to something totally different. Or sometimes everyone is really into it and I’ll switch to something totally different anyways =P I’ll do things like go from a heart-opening emotional track into the nastiest wall of sound you’ve ever heard into something so goofy you can’t help but laugh at. I guess that’s a good metaphor for my dj’ing philosophy: take it serious, push peoples limits, but don’t forget to make it fun!
As you’ve tour different festivals & events, what experienced really made you love what you do? Any challenges?
I think SoulRise was one of my stand-out dj experiences. I played a 3-hour set at sunrise that capped off an amazing weekend, so many of my friends dancing and vibin’ out.. It definitely gave me a feeling of ‘this is why I do it’. There’s been many other moments like that.. Any time everyone is really into the music and feelin it, it’s an awesome feeling to be up there in the dj booth when that’s going on.
I suppose the biggest difficulty has been getting myself into the dj booth at the right time and place. Early on I would always get stuck on the chill stages at weird times, and end up having more people dancing than the main stage, or end up playing an awesome set to 3 people.. It took a while to get given the better time slots, but honestly now that I’m getting booked to play more festivals, I enjoy the challenge of putting together a set to fit a certain time, regardless of when it is.
What are some producers that you encourage others to listen to?
I’ve been really digging all the stuff from Australia I’ve been finding. Merkaba/Kalya Scintilla, Goosebumpz, Blatwax, Meat Axe, Mr. Bill, Sun in Aquarius, Mindbuffer, Circuit Bent, Hypnagog.. Luke Mandala and Jpod out of Canada are pretty sick too. Street Ritual out of California has some great artists like Thriftworks, JOBOT, and Knowa Knowone.
As Re:Growth nears, what are you looking forward to?
I’m really excited about Old Growth! The venue looks prime, so many friends and amazing musicians on the lineup, and friends and family from all over the country will be there.. It’s gonna be a great time! I’m playing at 1:30pm Saturday afternoon, which is one of my favorite times at a festival so look forward to some vibey daytime grooves!
Do you have any shouts or thanks to give?
So many! Pretty much all my friends all over the country, many of whom unknowingly influenced my dj’ing in some way or another, for listening to my dj sets and supporting my efforts. My brotha from anotha motha and all-around homie for life Joshuasca, who has been a huge musical influence in my life since we met. DJ Nod, the only person to play dubstep at World Bridge, for showing me both Traktor, and what it means to play a vibe rather than a genre. Brian, Jessica, and the rest of the Atrium Obscurum crew for all the awesome work they’ve done for the psytrance scene in Texas, and for booking me to play their festivals! Lydia and the Synergy I.D.E. Crew from Austin, where I played my first gig as SoundShaman, for constantly pushing me to evolve musically. All my friends from Asheville and Atlanta, who invited me into their tribe with open arms and showed me how awesome the psytrance family was! And everyone in Austin who has been coming to my gigs and rockin out on the dance floor for the last 2 years.. And thanks to you Ally for doing this interview with me!