Exclusive interview with FLOOTING GROOVES

Born in Cape Town and based in Italy, FLOOTING GROOVES (a.k.a Pearce van der Merwe) has been creating music for over a decade. Influenced by a multitude of musical genres and instruments, his style ranges from chilled down-tempo beats to progressive psychedelic melodies. Following the release of his full-length debut album “Upsyde Downe” on Peak Records in 2007, FLOOTING GROOVES and his silver flute have continued to captivate audiences across the globe with groovy tribal sounds enhanced by computer FX. You can catch FLOOTING GROOVES live in action at Altered States of Africa – LUNAR 2015.

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These questions were compiled by Batia Efrat on behalf of
Psyked in the City.

Psyked:
Hi Pearce! Thanks for chatting to me today. To start off, tell me a little about your relationship with psytrance. You first discovered it in Amsterdam in 2000; when did you find out about the local scene in Cape Town?

Flooting Grooves:
Hi Batia, thanks for doing this interview, your interest is appreciated. I had known and heard about the trance scene in Cape Town for a while, but only actually got to a party in 2006. It was my first gig in Cape Town, I played a 3-hour set at Beartrap.

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Psyked:
Although you attended the APM School in Italy, you’ve mentioned that most of your musical education has come through hands-on, practical learning?

Flooting Grooves:
If we’re talking about my entire musical education, then I would say that both aspects (practical and theoretical) have played equal parts in my training. I grew up learning instruments like the violin, piano, choir singing, recorder, tuba and french horn, although none of these – except the recorder – I would say that I was very good at. Nonetheless, they all contributed to my background; and coupled with theory of music, harmony, solfeggio (reading and speaking music), it gave me a good education and understanding of music.

Very important too, however, was jamming with other musicians because that develops one’s musical ear which is really important for writing music. Ultimately though, as you mentioned in the question, the most valuable teacher is experience itself, so my learning curve has been steeper since I started producing music myself.

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Psyked:
You’ve had experience performing at festivals all over the world; how does the psytrance culture vary from place to place, or is it somewhat universal? How does the local scene compare?

Flooting Grooves:
There are parts that are universal and parts that are more particular to certain countries. For example, chai-drinking culture and tie dye clothes feature everywhere, but (for example) I don’t see much chill-out culture here in SA. In Europe and Brazil, there is always a dedicated space for chill-out or alternative, or even live music. And I must say, I’ve heard some of the most interesting music in those spaces.

Psyked:
How do you maintain a balance between the technological and the instrumental / organic aspects of your sound?

Flooting Grooves:
Well, I guess they are the elements that make up the sound and therefore, just as the instrumental sounds go through fx which make them often more “cyber” or trippy, so do the digital sounds go through a process to “humanise” them, making them more musical to the ear. In this way, both the digital and organic sounds form part of the same “world”.

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Psyked:
When it comes to the song-writing process, how important is improvisation and spontaneity? Have you ever struck a “creative block?” If so, how do you push through?

Flooting Grooves:
Improvisation and spontaneity are very important to me. Especially when working in a style like psytrance which is very repetitive, things can get boring quickly! Most of my flute parts – for example – start from improvisation and then some of them get developed into harmonies or riffs. Sure, sometimes I have moments where I don’t know how to go forward, but it’s never a major problem as I just focus on the aspects that need less creativity and then things seem to come together on their own.

Psyked:
In a society that’s driven by the mass-produced, do you think psytrance runs the risk of becoming overly commercialised? How do you ensure that your tunes stand out from the rest?

Flooting Grooves:
To tell the truth, that has already happened in some places like Brazil, Portugal and even SA, but fortunately there are enough promoters and artists focusing on the psychedelic aspect, keeping it “underground”. I mean that in a vibe-sense, not a numbers-sense. For example, the Boom Festival in Portugal has managed to keep a non-commercial vibe with no sponsors even though it is attended by 30 000 people.

To answer the second question, it’s quite simple: I make, and have always made music, that I myself find enjoyable. Then there are always some [other] people who enjoy it too. I know now that it’s a slower process to become known this way but on the other hand, the people following my music really like it and tend to like most things I do rather than just a quick hit – if you know what I mean. I believe this is because my music is “honest”, meaning I’m not trying to please anyone, so it comes across as genuine.

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Psyked:
Tell me about your participation in The Peaking Goddess Collective; what would you say is the key ingredient in this musical venture?

Flooting Grooves:
I would say the key ingredient is seeing a bunch of musicians having fun, playing instruments over psytrance. It’s the instrumental part that reaches people’s hearts and together with some phat driving beats, those two aspects seem to do the job pretty well.

Psyked:
You also have a side-project called Cosmosophy featuring Daniel Dymons. What’s on the horizon for this collaboration?

Flooting Grooves:
This project focuses more on the tribal and generally “trippy” aspects of psychedelic music without being strictly psytrance, so it has a lot of potential. Both Daniel and I have been focusing more on our solo projects in the last few years, but new material is on the cards and definitely a new album is in the near future.

Psyked:
Tell me a bit about your latest EP, “Groovity,” which is set to be released later this month.

Flooting Grooves:
This is my first strictly-psytrance album, made only with electronica, and I’m quite excited to get feedback. So far, the tracks on the dance-floor have received a good reaction, so I’m pretty positive about it. Subsystem Records is a very solid label with well-selected, strictly psychedelic sounds, so I feel at home bring it out with them.

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Psyked:
Last but not least, you’ll be coming home to Cape Town to perform at Altered States of AfricaLUNAR 2015; how exciting is this for you and what kind of performance can we expect from FLOOTING GROOVES this time round?

Flooting Grooves:
I’m psyked to come and play again at Altered States as I find it a very cool party, different from the rest with a nice “family vibe” as well as some more musical aspects of our culture such as the sound journey.  Also Earthtone consists of really good musicians and I look forward to their performance. Plus things like not having a bar actually make all the difference to the vibe, because even if people will bring their own booze, it makes us conscious of alcohol not being the focus or necessary to have a good time! What you can expect is… psychedelia, grooviness and flootiness. Looking forward to this!

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