Neki Stranac fan over here! Found this mix with interview – in Dutch. Have it MOSTLY translated. Stream the mix while you read. BTW Generation Bass is one of my most favorite blogs.
Podcast #23: Neki Stranac
The Serbian dj/producer Milan Djuric comes from a musical nest. On his fifth starts he already with guitar, actually wants it from that time each instrument is playing. If he later with musical production comes in contact he is sold. Have Control over the whole band is much more fun than just one instrument.
Young Milan grows on with European folk music and that is still heard in his sets and productions; a variety of electronic music and influences from different cultures. And if he, as Neki Stranac not on the podium with a turntable is in progress, he is a Akai IMO USB controller. An electronic recorder.
And next to dj, producer and musician in the band ShazaLaKazoo, you’re also just blogger for Generation Bass.
What is that?
“That is a blog, and a label that is completely focused on something we Global Bass. So basically dance music with many influences from all over the world: Latino, Brazilian, African, Asian, Balkans, and so on. We mixing modern urban with old folklore, that often presents beautiful music. I have a diploma in cultural anthropology, so i think that different cultures are interesting.”
It Is not difficult to so many different genres to keep?
Look, ultimately, it is all club music but on different pace’s. Online is about what exactly are the different genres. But these styles continue to evolve, just as dance in general. Ultimately, it is just music to shake your booty at clubs and festivals. If you are a little open-minded and are just a party, what makes the than what genre is something?
At the plate in the podcast we should just extra careful?
At the last, that plate is special. It is a trapplaat i with MC Dragan Obloga made, which rapt in Vlach. That is a rare i’d like that but is spoken by 55,000 people. It seems to be a bit on Romanian and it is the only trapplaat in that language. In fact, there are only a piece or five hip-hop plates in that language. And he came from a Dutch labeltje, Downpitch!
We cannot avoid it. You have this podcast just from a disaster included yet?Parts of Serbia are under water.
Is it true, while I recognize that there were major floods in Bosnia and Serbia. Fortunately I live on a higher area in Belgrade, I am safe. But that people who live in the lower areas cannot say. The situation is terrible, one of the urban sprawl of Belgrade is completely under water, a few small villages simply do not exist. The rain is over, and the water level drops back, but the destruction that the leaves is huge. There are 55 deaths. And it is hot, so we must be careful of diseases. There are many animals drowned and the rotting carcasses are still on the street.
When and why did you start djing?
It’s actually kind of a long and strange story that I have for the most part kept to myself over the years due to how crazy it sounds. I have trouble at times believing the story myself and I’m living it. I’ll spare everyone the long and winding details though and just hit the main points.
The night before my 21st birthday which was Halloween 2001 I had an experience in which space and time were transcended and i experienced what felt like the totality of everything that ever was, is or will be all in one perfect moment. While in this state I had a vision of a future in which I was dj’ing electronic music for people to dance to with the intention of helping them to facilitate the same transcendental state I was experiencing in that moment. At the time I didn ‘t even like electronic music, had never been to a rave, but there was a realness and a quality to the vision that I could not ignore so from that moment on, I began taking steps to realize the dream. A few days later I went up to Guitar Center and told the sales person to give me everything I needed to make “techno music”, which is what I thought all electronic dance music was called and from that point on I’ve been working at it ever since.
For the first five years or so it was very much a solo journey. Turns out if you go around telling people you’ve seen the future and in it you are a dance music d.j, people will distance themselves from you in a hurry, but eventually I came across the Austin Psy scene and slowly worked my way into the community and eventually started djing. I hope one day in the near future to start performing my own compositions but until then I will continue to create mixes.
How did you end up playing psychedelic trance?
I started out studying and playing around with generic commercial trance and did so for a couple years but then one afernoon while taking a day-trip I stumbled across a winamp radio station playing psytrance and I knew instantly that this was the medium I had to pursue. In addition to connecting with it energetically I strongly resonated with what I perceived to be the idea’s and values of the global psytrance/goa culture at the time.
One of my favorite events you attended was AUM Festival in Arkansas, how has your role changed since that festival experience?
From my perspective not much as changed, I still have the same motivations today as I did back then which is learning a musical craft to help people transcend their restrictive realities through dance music. What has changed though is now I am more connected and involved with the scene in general. It’s a trip to think back to the AUM festival and how what was once a group of strangers in a van heading to Arkansas is now a close group of friends with whom l am grateful to be able to organize transformative gatherings with under the name Atrium Obscurum. After several years of pursuing the vision alone, it is nice to have a group of friends to manifest our collective visions with.
Your set times have varied from event to event, when has your favorite time slot to play?
That’s hard to say. It’s fun to play the time slots when it’s dark and people are full of energy and enthusiasm to dance but I often find myself in the position of transitioning from faster stuff down to the mid and down tempo ranges which normally happens on Sunday morning. I love being able to reintroduce elements of harmony and melody to a musical pallot that has been to some distant far-off Alien places and hopefully help people put the peices back together in a manner that is in tune with their heart consciousness. At least that is my intention anyways.
Currently, who are your favorite producers?
At the moment the artists who are represented by the Kinematic label are definitely at the top of the list. Terrafractyl, San and Tac, and Spacey Koala to name a few. When it comes to the more intense side of the spectrum Dylalien has been a long time favorite of mine. There is a quality and texture to his sound that is unlike anything else on this planet. When it comes to mid and down tempo music I have a deep appreciation for Dymons, Flooting Grooves, Ekoplex, and just about anything released by Ultimae and Peak Records. If you described psytrance to someone who had never heard it before, what would you tell them?
In my experience there are different forms that the music can take. Some of the music out there sounds very mechanical and noisey, created by ego consciousness and sounds like what one might imagine a mathematical equation would sound like. However, sprinkled here and there amongst the robotic trance there exists a form of psytrance that has the sound and feel of something that is alive and breathing and comes from the realm where energy creates form from the formless. All in all it is not really something that can be accurately described with verbal language. It is something that has to be experienced and even still it can not be described because like everything else that composes reality it is uniquely created by and for the observer having the experience.
You started ding in 1998, how did you start djing? What were your early influences?
My first experience with mixing records was when a good friend of mine got a set of turntables when we were in 11th grade. He had a random collection and we had no idea what we were doing but it was so much fun we were both instantly hooked. A few months later I got my first set of turntables, as my 17th birthday present, from my dad. I started going to a record store in Ft. Worth called Neurovox. It’s there that I got my first introduction to house music and learned how to beat match. The guy who owned it was named Kevin. He helped me figure out what was what on a few different levels. I’ve always been grateful to him for that. I wish I could remember his last name. Haha. But he was a really nice guy and an awesome dj as well.
I would have to say my biggest influence as far as djing goes is my best friend (other than my wife) and mentor, Craig Howell aka Craig Lee. I met Craig in ’99 when I’d been playing for about a year. As Forest Gump would say, “We were just like peas and carrots.” He’d already been playing 10 years at that point. So it was pretty awesome having him as my personal house music guru. I still look up to him and go to him for advice to this day. Thanks Craigly!
Now that you have been djing for 15 years, what are your current challenges?
I would say that my greatest personal challenge these days is keeping the spirit of the underground alive in an EDM wasteland. Ha ha. It’s much different from when I began djing and going to electronic music functions. Much more mainstream now. But I’ve also been pleased with how underground music and culture have continued to evolve in the age of DJ Paris Hilton.
It’s a pretty organic process. Just kind of happens naturally. I ask a lot of my friends and people that I come across that I think can really play and fit the vibe of the show. I’m always looking for quality guests. And am currently accepting submissions.
As far as deciding what to play. It’s pretty much the same thing. Just whatever I’m feeling at the time of the show. I try to stay current with track selections. But I don’t shy away from playing older stuff either. In my opinion great music is timeless.
Now that you have relocated to Little Rock, Arkansas from Dallas/Fort Worth – what are the changes that you notice when you dj?
Interesting question. Little Rock is a cool little town no doubt. It’s my home now. It was quite a system shock coming from Dallas though. I’ve been fortunate enough to be a big part of bringing underground house and techno here, where it wasn’t before. Along with my crew SoulCom, we’ve been amazed to watch our efforts develop into a nice little family type of scene.
As 2013 come to end, what are some release, events or even projects that you are working you are looking forward for 2014?
Well, let me tell you! Ha ha. I’m excited for 2014. I’ve got a few irons in the fire at the moment. Planning on throwing at least four real-deal holyfield parties here in Little Rock. We brought Brett Johnson, Demarkus and Chuck Love this year. So you know we’ve got some serious hotness lined up for 2014. I’m also in the process of working with John Walker, Josh Kynd and Craig Howell on pursuing our Horsemen project together through production and djing. We were also thinking of doing a quarterly party together in Dallas. So it should be a pretty busy year. Eek!
Is there a show from “In the Spirit w/Joe Holmes” that is your favorite or stands out?
The ONE Year anniversary show this past December is my favorite. It’s a two hour guest mix by my good friend John Walker. One of my biggest influences and one of the best djs I know. John did the guest mix on my very first show as well.
Do you have any shout outs or shameless plugs?
I wanna give shouts out to my beautiful wife Jessica and my spunky little daughter Jillian. And my whole ESP family Craig, Brain, C-Rod, Jenn-uh, Mookie, Kitty B, Ladd B., Scoe!, Mike J, Uchin, Rick and Amy, Carl Cue, Tony Jr., Ricky Simpson, Stephanie/David and clan, to my SoulCom crew Mason, Joel, Brad, Danny, Jacob, Bobby and James. and errbody else knows who they are.
Haha, yes I still remember our session it was big fun. We were sitting under my loft bed writing music and trying to answer the questions from the video guy. Actually it was more a joke then showing how we seriously worked together, but we used the breathing session as voice samples in our track later. The actual method depends on starting with a concrete idea, maybe a voice sample or a melody & I build the track around this central element. Sometimes it’s a groove which came to my mind or I start with a kick and bass line combination and add some random noise/ fm pattern. At a certain point there comes usually the whole picture of the track to my mind and its finished when it felt right to me.
Originally you played in dark metal band when you were a teenager, now your playing intense dark metal. What lead you to psytrance? You still go to metal shows now?
Yes and I hated every electronic music until 1996. It was a day, I chilled at my friend’s house and he was always into electronic music at this time, usually techno and house but somehow he had one double cd of the tantrance compilations. I immediately felt in love with this style of electronic music, so it happened coincidentally. Soon after my first contact I tried to find out where I can visit psytrance parties. It wasn’t easy at this time and visited several small psytrance events around Hannover. Later on I spend several years on the big psytrance gatherings in Northern Germany. In 1999, I started DJing, bought my first mixer and CDjs, later turntables as well. In 2005, I started to write my own music, which finally leads to my live act and the side project -z- (alpha & antagon). Since I´m living in Mamburg, since 2007, I´m again visiting some shows of dark/ extreme metal bands. My favorites are now “Der Weg einer Freiheit”, Dark Funeral or Anaal Nathrakh. Pretty crazy shit lol!
You’ve worked with an impressive list of trance producers, if any, who else would like to work with? Do you enjoy working with other artists or prefer a solo project?
When I started writing music it was always a dream to work with guys like Ocelot, Kindzdadza and Cosmo. Their music was definitely a big influence for my own sound. At the moment I have no concrete artist in mind but I´m always open for collaboration tracks. Working with other artists is usually very interesting and the result is often more interesting to listen to because you have to different styles which are melting together (if it´s well done). It´s challenging to make a nice mixture of both sounds without sounding like you are just cutting 2 different tracks together.
You & Alpha have a project called -Z-, what made you both come up with the idea for -Z-? What is unique about your project?
We where looking for a name with the letter Z, because both of our artist names start with an “A”. Sadly all of the names which came to our mind where already in use by somethin or someone, so in the end we decided to call the project -Z-. Then when our first EP was released we recognized that the letter alone is a pretty bad idea because it´s impossible to find it by internet search engines and we added both of our artist names in brackets hahaha…
What is unique about the project is first of all the live performance because we actually play several instruments live on stage (bass, drums, synths). Secondly we try to melt several pretty different styles of electronic music together such as Dark Wave, Dark Psy, EBM, Indsutrial and even classical influences.
project z alpha & antagon
What gear do you use while creating music vs performing?
for studio production, I usually use Cubase sometimes Ableton Live or Logic, together with a virus ti and loads of software processors. On stage, I always use Ableton Live because it´s much better for real time interventions and live mixing. My live set is usually a mixture between my own tracks (or parts of them), samples and some live played software synthesizers.
I just wanted to add this bad ass album cover for Cerberus (Kasatka – Antagon – Extraterrestrial) because I looked over the details for a good 20 minutes. It’s an Akrashik released this past April. You can purchase this at beatspace (>click here<).
One of my most favorite things about being a part of scene is watching people get involved with what they love and growing creatively then one day they but something out that makes me go: well it’s about muthafawing time. I still remember the James Kelley that I used to share dance floor space with as being one of the most visually colorful people EVER but right now his sound is dark and minimal and it’s a change that works out perfectly. Some underground party goers will remember that James Kelley has played pretty much every gene while his residency at a warehouse in the late night dancing district of Dallas, TX. Now he’s got his new album The Seven Year Detour out in August I’m glad he was able to take some time to talk about it.
What is your musical background before you started working on this album?
I began my exploration of electronic sound in the late 90’s, and spent the next 7 years or so hypnotized by my love for vinyl. During this time of experimenting with almost every source of music available to me, I always leaned toward the darker side of sound, finally finding my home with dark minimal techno. In early to mid 2010, I decided that producing my own music was the only way to go deeper into my own thoughts and express myself as an artist. After finally making material available to the public, I was immediately signed with Kontrol Records Rome, and was fortunate enough for my debut release “The Spell EP” to recieve enough support to land the #17 position on “Beatport’s Top Minimal 100” and then this follow up album “The Seven Year Detour EP” released on Mischkonsum Records of Stuttgart, Germany and peaked at the #7 spot.
It is awesome to hear someone that I used to share dance floor space have a dark album, The Seven Year Detour is minimal techno, what inspired this album during a time that it seems everyone AND THEIR mama is producing other now EDM gone commerical?
I’ve never personally been interested in what “everyone and their mama” was doing, if anything it’s a turn off to me. I generally prefer to do my own thing. Nothing against that, but dark minimal techno just seemed to better fit my thoughts as an artist. I’ll attempt a somewhat brief explaination of the inspiration behind the album, although my words may not paint the full picture that I intended. “Chosen Ones” was written to symbolize the lucky ones that “get it”. The ones that truly understand why we do what we do, why we push the sound, the vibe, the culture, and that are fortunate enough to experience it on a regular basis. “Buried Alive” is about those that allow societal pressures to provoke false needs and wants while putting too much interest in objects, material satisfaction and monetary gain. “Getaway Car” is the vehicle that allows you to escape the clutches of society and just be yourself again. Seven years ago, I let a lot of things get the best of me…and I’m just now getting back to feeling like myself again. It’s been quite a journey, and I’m really excited to see what the future holds.
Right now you are all over the United States, if you were to come back to Dallas where are some spots you’d love to play some of your dirty techno tracks?
That’s an easy question. I really don’t have a preference on the “spot”, but I defintely wouldn’t turn down a gig hosted by SoundsLike, Proton, or Rich Productions. Their events almost always guarantee elements that I enjoy. Professionally hosted, with an educated open minded attendance of people that like to get down. What more could you ask for? Maybe a dark dank warehouse 😉
Since your on the road currently, what artists are you rocking out to?
Honestly, I listen to a really ridiculous amount of music on a daily basis. Too many artists to name really. I usually do a lot of previewing tunes for gigs, but when I’m not doing that, I regularly tune in to Dark Material and Blank Code podcasts these days. Although, I’m currently listening to a couple of guys from Argentina named Toollbox that do a really good live pa in my opinion. There are so many amazing artists right now that it’s never hard to find something worth tuning into.
Blank CodePodcast 062
What is next for your production? Are there are producers you look forward to working with?
Well, my third album of this year “Time Machine” will be released on Moleskine Music of Medellin, Columbia sometime in October with a couple of MASSIVE remixes from London based producer Aedicule, and stateside heavyweight Soundmanipulator. You’re going to hear a bit of a different approach in the productions that are currently in the works, but they’ll still have the same vibe, and definitely contain heavy doses of darkness…
As of now I’m still enjoying the journey exploring the depths of myself as a producer and sharpening my own skills in the studio but, I am definitely looking forward to working with some other producers in the future. I do have plans for collabs with a couple of local artists and some of my personal favorite producers as well.
What upcoming events do you have coming up?
I’m on the bill for a couple of parties in Dallas happening the very near future. I’m warming up the main room at the Lizard Lounge with the dark bizz on Thursday September 20th for Prototype/Full Access’s party featuring Above and Beyond. I’ll be getting down at the much anticipated Rich Productions annual Halloween party this year which ALWAYS produces a HEAVY line up. I’m committed to do guest mixes for three podcasts that will be airing very soon as well.
“Time Machine” will be the next upcoming album – preview above. Be sure to follow James Kelley on Facebook & Soundcloud to keep posted.
Big thanks to all my friends that have supported me for the last decade! Much respect to all of the promoters that keep the underground alive by continuously pushing the sound. All of the labels that have believed in my music: Mischkonsum records (Stuttgart, Germany), Kontrol Records (Rome, Italy), Fanciful Label (Berlin), Waxtooth (USA), & Moleskine Music (Medellin, Columbia)… and to all the peeps that keep the dance floor heated!
I first started hearing you play UK Garage at Groovology every Sunday at Homebar (before it became the Green Elephant) what lead you to start producing dubstep before there was even a following for it in Dallas?
I had already been producing drum & bass as well as UKGarage/2step and releasing several tracks of both on vinyl. Mark J, Chrisko, and I were spinning the earliest dubstep tracks from Tempa, team Ammunition, and London within our UKGarage night, Groovology, pushing the beats forward. And that inspired me to produce my own Dubstep.
Groovology, the annual event Bubblin’ with Mark J, Chrisko, Tiny MC & Jason Mundo
Describe the evolution of Dub Assembly over the past 6 years?
Dub Assembly was born in 2006 from our Groovology UKGarage/2step event (the longest running in North America of its kind that was a weekly event from 2000-2005 and lives on now as an annual event) and allowed us the opportunity to keep pushing the bass forward with a full-on dubstep event instead of just mixing in the dubstep with the UKGarage/2step as we had done the previous 5 years. [click here for Memorial Day 2001 mix – thanks Por Vida for hosting this mix. – Ally] The Dub Assembly event occurs monthly and it quickly grew to incorporate the Dub Assembly record label. The record label has almost 30 releases now, many on digital and 7 or so on vinyl. As an artist I’ve been grateful to headline many events throughout the US and many events in Europe too. With the DA event we’ve continued to play big venues in the city including the Granada Theater, Trees, and our spirtual home since 2000 The Green Elephant (aka the Home Bar for those that know), performing many times as headliners and also incorporating guest headliners since we are fans of the music too. Dub Assembly is celebrating its 6 year Anniversary this Saturday at the Green Elephant with guest Cyberoptics (Play Me, Los Angeles). We’ve been growing strong for 6 years and will continue to grow for many years to come. I’m All In.
What new Dub Assembly releases are in store?
Haha! I can’t give away all the surprises yet but many good beats are
in the works !
Jason Mundo performing at Trees January 2011
What do you look for in dj when adding them to the Dub Assembly roster?
In adding, and keeping, to the roster I look for enthusiasm for the Dub Assembly event and label, honest effort toward promotion of the events, honest and serious contribution to the label, and good souls. I’m All In. Are you? If you are there is a place for you…whether you are in audio production, graphic arts, or promotion. Contact me
and be among like-minded souls.
Jason Mundo performing in London England
Finish this sentence: Dallas, TX Dubstep is _________.
You’ve been heard playing a variety of genres over your 10 years of djing. This summer you’ve played midtempo psyglitch & glitch hop. What current producers do you currently enjoy playing out?
For the last year or two I have been focused on playing psychedelic bass music like PsyGlitch and PsyStep. I have been playing a lot of material from Australian producers like Kalya Scintilla, Mr. Bill, Hypnagog, Barry Koota, and Sun Monx. I am also very inspired by a lot of stateside producers like Bird of Prey, Sixis, Desert Dwellers, Mr. Rogers, Heyoka, and Cheb I Sabbah.
I try and keep a balance between glitchy, world, and psychedelic vibes.
Is this a change from what you like to listen to in your non-djing time?
When I’m not DJing I like to listen to psytrance (Progressive Psy/Full On/Psybreaks) downtempo (Trip Hop/Lounge/Ambient/World) and bass music (Glitch Hop/Trap/DnB).
I heard your going to be playing trap music soon. What do you think of trap music, any tracks stand out to you?
I have only been playing trap for a few months now, it’s really just something I have been dabbling with for local gigs at clubs and bars. It’s a nice middle ground for me and a mainstream audience. It’s still bass music I love combining the tempo of dubstep (without the in your face shrill sounds) and some elements of rap (rolling hi hats and deep bass) that people can really groove to. As far as trap goes I would say some of the top producers right now are Flosstradamus/Diplo/Baauer/Drankenstein/UZ.
Even though it’s been a while for you, do you remember what made you start djing?
I got introduced to electronic music at a pretty early age, 13. I was already collecting a lot of electronic music on vinyl and cd. It seemed the next logical step to start DJing. I was obsessed with the culture and would collect anything that had to with electronic music, books, magazines, movies, flyers. After reading mixing tutorials on the internet and watching a local DJ (Jason Hatfield) mix in my bedroom, by age 16 I was pretty much hooked on DJing. From then on I would buy records at a local shop (The Volume) and hit up shops (Core/Spinmasters/Bills) every time I went to Dallas with family. Started doing house parties at 16 and playing out at local raves by 17.
Right now there is a lot of talk all over the dj world about dj not mixing live, what is your opinion on that type of performance?
It’s 2012 and the world is changing. Technology is changing too and if you don’t keep up it will leave you in the dust. A lot of what you are speaking of probably has to do with the fact most DJs are mixing on laptops now. For some reason people have lost respect for DJs when they make the switch to laptop DJing. It has made DJing accessible to the masses because almost everyone owns a laptop and can afford a cheap DJing program. This is good in some ways but horrible in other ways. It’s like owning a drum kit and saying you are a drummer or a rockstar, just because you own the equipment it doesn’t make you good. Also a lot of producers are DJing their tracks on programs where you can preset your mix or have it arranged ahead of time. This is great for producers who don’t specialize in DJing but want a way to showcase their music in a DJ setting. I have been using a laptop to mix on for the last 6 months and I love it. Do I use the Sync button? No I don’t, its not even very accurate and there are bpm readouts on every program and on cdjs so just quit being a lazy ass and manually adjust your beats like every one else.
Since you’ve played outdoor festivals this summer, how would you compare that to the atmosphere of a single night event? Any preference?
I love playing at festivals. I think it’s great having an entire weekend to pace yourself and be able to hear a wide spectrum of music throughout the event. Also being around artwork and being involved in activities like workshops and ceremonies is awesome. Plus having vendors and being outside and getting to camp out adds to the experience as well. It basically encompasses all of my favorite things into an entire weekend of fun, yes I love festivals I can’t express it enough. I would pick a festival over a club night hands down every time.
Excited about your planned tracks with Murcielago, a producer in Texas. Describe what we can except from this collaboration.
We haven’t sat down and worked on any tracks just yet. Both of us have just been tossing around some ideas on what we would like to do. We have had a few jam sessions with fellow Pinealien producer Psymatik and dabbled with different styles. Hopefully we will be working on some hybrid tracks that incorporate elements of PsyGlitch, DarkPsy, PsyStep, and Psybient.
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!
I noticed that music is a huge part of your life. Do you have any professional music training?
Music does drive most of my everyday engine, but I think most people I know share the same love for the feelings, memories and trips a good tune can bring you. I wonder if one day I’ll meet someone that says “I don’t like music.” Ha!
I had a few guitar lessons when I was about 10, but just for a year and then went on to playing with bands, different instruments and having fun with friends playing out. 5 years later I started getting curious about creating sounds adding synths and samples which was a whole different way of thinking about music, which lead me in a new direction to were I am musically today.
Are you from Azores Islands? What is this place like?
If you can make it there one day, even if for a day it will be a day well spent
I grew up in an Island called São Miguel, of about 140k people and it’s one of 9 islands that make the Azores.
The landscapes are amazing, beautiful lakes, camping and good reasons to be outside. Everything is closer, you can be in the city or go out to the woods in 20 minutes and it’s a nice place to get lost in. Nothing like a walk on a saturday afternoon, stopping by a cafe with some tables set outside, maybe on a beach, having an expresso and feeling grounded to earth. Many pirates have passed by there centuries ago, so if you’re lucky discovering tunnels and secrets in the islands, you might find a treasure.
What software and hardware do you currently have in your studio?
The sound-generator I mostly use is inside my head and I use as the main piece of gear, for ideas/sounds/effects and other stuff too. For triggering: fingers, sometimes forehead if I pass out on the keyboard exhausted. Ears for Recording samples that then go back to the sound-generator!
(controllers: apc40, mpkmini, novationx25,roland d-50| hardware: mac, ableton, mackie monitors, complete audio 6 interface, tascam dr-100 recorder, allen & heath one dx). In moving a few times I I had to part with some hard synths, but the quality of soft synths today is good enough that you can produce equal sounds and have lots of flexibility. With a midi controller connected and well mapped you are on your way to weird land!
You’ve traveled and played to audiences all around, what is your favorite gig to play?
I don’t know if I have a favorite gig since parties are really special for different reasons, but of course there are always a few that just in remembering them bring me a smile. I love sharing music wherever I have the opportunity to do it but for example Guatemala recently was a special place, the night and morning were beautiful in a place called lake Atitlan, music was good and people had great vibes, interesting and interested, open and friendly.
Electronic music is getting more and more diverse, as technology keeps getting better, as people keep having new creative ideas on how to make music and on what it will sound like. I think it’s always a beginning of something new for all genres including Psychedelic Trance. There are many things that keep me very connected this type of psychedelic trance music, one of them being the idea of a better future and from what I have seen, there are lots of good messages to learn from a gathering, a party or a festival, one of them being that we all exist together in this world, we all share the same air and with love we bring people together and together we share a dance-floor!
You’ve been a part of the Dallas electronic dance music scene for well over a decade. Tell me how you went from being on the dance floor to being a dj
Well, I’d have to say that I’ve been at least a bedroom DJ the entire time I’ve been a part of the EDM community in DFW. When I was 16 my parents bought me a set of decks and a mixer for Christmas. Imagine my excitement to hear that my dad was going to take me to Guitar Center and let me get whatever I wanted, he didn’t really know about equipment of that nature and wanted me to have the best. So I walked out of there with top of the line everything for the age we were living in. But I didn’t have any records! So a couple friends of mine who played Drum N Bass who had a pretty extensive collection of records (but had really crappy equipment) started using my house as a place to play… and party, and I got the luxury of storing, and being able to use their record collection. A while later one of them got pretty bad into drugs and sold off his share of the vinyls to me for 40 bucks and the other one went away to college, at that point I had a whole collection of vinyls. I still actually have them, It’s always nice to lisnten to them, it totally brings back memories. It wasn’t until 5 or so years later that I wound up at my first psytrance party and my musical tastes as well as equipment took a drastic change from the DNB and UKG that I was playing in my much younger days.
I’ve noticed that you’ve been playing more on the techno side of things. What are you planning with for your next set?
You noticed correctly! You are always so informed about the subtle nuances in electronic dance music! But seriously, a couple of years ago at the first river party in New Braunfels, TX I was a little lifted and I heard Sean Anderson playing his Pointbender project really late on Satuday night, the speakers were down low because the police had already been there and nobody was dancing except me and Dawn Soleil Psychedelique. I was hooked! The slow pulsating rhythm and the eerie psychedelic sounds layered in the most simplistic way just left me feeling speechless. So, I went home and started fevorously downloading as much Techno as I possibly could and started playing it. For this next upcoming set, I’ll be playing very similarly to what you’ve heard from me in the past (no country western this time…lol) but I have a lot of new material that I’ll be playing with. I was starting to feel stifled by the lack of new music so I went out and basically revamped and replaced my entire collection. It’s going to be very fun, groovy, psychedelic, and most importantly, booty shakin!
Serato, Traktor, Ableton and CDJ’s. What are your views on the new digital revolution?
Well, I think that the digital revolution is a great thing. I really enjoy the freedom it gives artists to really explore multiple facets of music all from a very convenient, easy to carry, package. Gone are the days of lugging pounds of vinyl, making sure there’s a wind deflector at outdoor parties so the wind doesn’t pick up the needle and stop the music, and making sure that vinyl stays in the shade so it doesn’t melt. As long as the artists that use it are using it to really explore new horizons and not to just be lazy, I think it’s great!
There are a slew of bedroom djs out in DFW who want to start playing out, what is advice you have for them?
My advice to new DJs that are just playing at their own homes is to practice, practice, and practice! Once you feel comfortable enough to allow other people to hear you, try and get some friends to let you play at a house party of theirs. It’ll break you in so that you aren’t scared to play in front of people and, if you are good, you might get a booking elsewhere. Burn events are good practice too. At those events, you’ll get practice playing on a sound system that is bigger, plus if you aren’t great nobody will boo or yell at you (radical self expression, right) unless you are playing psytrance at 8am when everyone is sleeping and/or hungover. And if you are good, more exposure, leading to bookings. It’s all a very organic process, at least it was for me.
Downtempo, drum & bass, moombahton, psytrance, techno. What do you listen to normally? Right now, what do you enjoy playing the most?
Out of everything that you listed, I am listening to a lot of downtempo, moombahton, and techno. I really love moombahton, like a lot. I played a moombah set the last time I played the Pubstep weekly here in Denton. The crowd went insane! Something about it, it’s slow enough for people to keep up with it yet high energy enough that it just hypes the room. Plus we’re in Tejas so, everyone loves anything that has that south of the border feel to it. Lately I’ve found myself listening to a lot of late 90’s Trip Hop. Which strikes me as odd but I’m finding so much of the roots of the music that is coming out today in that low-fi gritty sound that is Trip Hop. Sadly, the genre only lasted for a very short time and then fell apart. Plus it’s super fun to cut into Downtepo sets. As far as what I like playing most, it’s hard to choose. I like to play different things at different times for different reasons. I’m too indecisive to choose just one.
Let me know if you have any shouts & thanks to make!
Shout outs! I would love to thank first and foremost my loving partner for being so supportive of me for the last year of the wicked journey of life. I’d also love to thank all of the people that have touched me, inspired me, loved me, and pushed me to go beyond. I’d like to thank Ally Fiesta of HydroSupraLicked.com for interviewing me, and for being my friend for so many years. My good friend Jared for being there in the beginning of it all, Erin Lee for widening my views on music, and life; Lydia for teaching me that through darkness you find the light. I’d like to thank all of my family at Atrium Obscurum, Jessica, Brian, Melody, Keith, Willa, Sonty, Sarah, Juju, gosh the list just keeps on going and going! Thank all of you for putting up with me over the years, I know I haven’t been an easy one to deal with and for a while there I was a super hot mess. I’d like to lastly thank my blood family for always supporting me and being so wonderful and kind. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it hadn’t been for each and every person who has been a part of this existence. Thank all of you for co-creating reality with me. I love you all.