Exclusive interview with K-Jos: Psytrance is the glue that keeps it all together

In light of the Vortex Phoenix Festival of Fire which is just around the corner, we chatted to a handful of S.A’s homegrown psytrance pros including K-Jos (aka Jos Veldhuizen). Here’s what went down in our exclusive interview.

Psyked in the City

*These questions were compiled by Brandon Menzies.

Psyked:
What influenced you into becoming a psytrance DJ?

K-Jos:
When I was in high school I used to be into goth and death metal. I despised just about all electronic music back then. Some of my friends started listening to drum & bass and house, no matter how much I tried to discourage them from doing so. Eventually I decided to join them to a party just so that I can criticize them afterwards. It turned out to be very different to what I expected and I had a lot of fun; and so the clubbing began. After a few years of clubbing I wanted to get more involved and in 1997 I bought a pair of turntables from money that I initially saved for a car.

After getting the turntables I bought a collection of drum & bass vinyls from a friend and started collecting House on the side, until one of my friends made a suggestion of becoming a psytrance DJ. That must have stuck because shortly thereafter I started collecting psytrance on the side. In a short period of time the “side collection” of psytrance took over and I decided to put the House aside. I fell in love with music, the people and the parties; my love of psy hasn’t stopped growing since then.

K-Jos3

Psyked:
Which festivals did you start attending before you got into the DJing scene?

K-Jos:
In 1995 a friend and I went to our first “rave”. It was an indoor Vortex at Indi Cart Speedway – a go-cart racing track somewhere in Cape Town. Back then, I could not even tell the difference between trance and house; it was “rave” to me. The décor was mind blowing and we had a great party. Thereafter I went to many “raves”, especially the Synergy parties at River Lodge, where they had many different kinds of dance floors. We always ended up on the ‘second main floor’, which I eventually found out was the trance floor.

Psyked:
Tell me a bit about your first gig; did you receive the reaction you were looking for from the crowd?

K-Jos:
The scene was a lot smaller then with far less places to play, so it took me quite a while to be booked for my first gig. There were some smaller parties before, but my first real gig was at the original Getafix in 2000. I used to go there regularly beforehand and that club really had something special to it. The wooden dancefloor, the music and the vibe of the crowd was always awesome. Apart from that, I was nervous as hell and my only focus was not to screw up my mixing. Luckily, it all turned out well and the reaction of the crowd was more than I could have expected.

My first big outdoor gig was Alien Safari’s event in April 2002 featuring Damage, Rinkadink and Hydrophonic live. I attended as many outdoor events as I could at that stage, and always hoped to play at one someday, but it felt impossible. I remember having vivid dreams about playing at an outdoor party long before it actually happened. When it did, it was literally a dream come true.

 K-jos4

Psyked:
Do you have an idol that you looked up to? If so, what caught your attention about their music and how did it influence your style?

K-Jos:
I have had many idols over the years but one that is worth mentioning is Logic Bomb. I admire their ability to release a variety of styles, ranging from daytime and progressive to more night orientated tunes; they always stick to their signature sound which is proper psychedelic – melodic without being cheesy.

Logic Bomb’s first album “Headware” completely blew my mind. Seeing them live for the first time at an Alien Safari at the Rabbit Hole was a memorable moment for me. I haven’t heard anything from them in ages however, and I’m not sure if they’re still around but they definitely influenced my style of DJing.

Psyked:
Which record label first assigned you and how did they approach you?

I was first assigned by Afrogalactic Records (Alien Safari). Back in those days I recorded over a hundred different demos on TDK tapes and handed them out all over the place. I received very positive feedback, but few results. A good friend of mine introduced me to the organisers of Alien Safari and I made a demo especially for them. It was hard work, but that got me in and after playing at two of their outdoor events and one indoor, they asked me whether I would be interested in playing for the label. Obviously the answer was yes!

 K-Jos2

Psyked:
What emotions were channeling through your body and mind when you performed at Vortex for the first time with hundreds of people eagerly waiting for you to shake the earth?

K-Jos:
The first time was very intense. It was a make it or break it slot. I knew I had to perform or else they probably won’t book me again, so of course I was anxious. When your hands are shaking, your only focus is not to mess up the mixes and you just hope that the crowd enjoys your track selection.

It was only during the second half of my set that I actually began to enjoy the performance and connect with the crowd. No matter how well you prepare, there is always that fear of the dance-floor clearing when you go on. That same fear is there today still, but most of the time, to a lesser extent and I’m much more comfortable behind the DJ box.

Psyked:
Tell us about your blooper moment on stage? 🙂

K-Jos:
Besides the obvious things that happen to every DJ some time or another, like ejecting the wrong CD or time running out because you cannot see the dial properly in the sunlight and so on, I remember a New Year’s party when they had all the DJs playing one track each at the end.

When it seemed that no other DJs wanted to play anymore, me and a fellow DJ carried on because it was so much fun and the crowd seemed far from retiring (as always!). The organisers told us “one more”, but we decided to push it rather than face the mob of the crowd and just carried on.

I put on a daytime blaster guaranteed to rock the crowd and was dancing like crazy on stage, but for some reason everybody on the floor hardly moved. It did not make sense! Only after someone in the crowd told me, I realized that the monitors on stage were still booming, but the main rig has been switched off and I was the only one really experiencing the music and jumping around on stage. That taught me to listen to the organisers and the sound crew and not to play longer than I should, however tempting it might be.

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Psyked:
Vortex has been a base for many promising upcoming DJs. How has Vortex influenced your career?

K-Jos:
Ever since I started going to Vortex events I always looked up to the person behind the DJ box and dreamed of one day being on that side of the party. Apart from handing out demos in the past, I’ve never been great at promoting myself. Playing for a big name like Vortex has really helped with that part of my DJ career. Many people have contacted and booked me who I doubt would have otherwise. I started going to trance parties because of Vortex, and years later, I play for them. It really feels good to be able to give something back to the roots of my trance journey.

Psyked:
Do you have a specific Vortex party that absolutely blew your mind, whether you were on stage or in the crowd yourself?  

K-Jos:
Easter Vortex with the Brazilians when The First Stone, Burn in Noise, 2012, Nevermind, Thatha and Spiros Wom played. For three days it rained almost non-stop. On the first day I left my clothes on the side of my tent. It got wet and I had to wear the same clothes the entire party, but that did not bother me at all. The music was brilliant, the crowd’s vibes were amazing and I danced in the rain like I used to in the good old days.

I experienced a brief zen-like feeling where it was just me and the music – living in the moment, just being. Nothing of the past or future mattered. It was brief though, and the minute I realised it and started to think about it, it sadly disappeared. I don’t care if I sound like a hippie, it was amazing!

Psyked:
Having played at many Vortex festivals since then, what are your feelings about the upcoming Phoenix event?

K-Jos:
I always try not to have expectations, but last year was truly epic and one of my highlights of the season so I am very excited for this year’s Phoenix festival. Many people are so scared of the cold, but last year was one of the driest Vortexes ever. There was no rain at all. (Watch K-Jos at Vortex Phoenix Festival 2014 here).

The organisers will also do what they can to keep us warm and there will be proper coverage and bonfires. With this year’s line up, the dance-floor will be heated no matter what. Who knows what the weather will do, just remember that chance favours the prepared mind; so pack in your warm clothes and blankets and a good time is guaranteed!

Psyked in the city

Psyked:
In your eyes, what message does Vortex send to the public?

K-Jos:
If you go to have a great party, you can get that. If you aim for a deeper experience, you can get that too. Vortex creates the environment for all kinds of journeys. What you make of it is up to you. I personally have met most of my closest and best friends, including my wife, at these parties – people I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise. There’s a real feeling of family and I feel honoured to be part of the trance community. Nowhere else would you find such beautiful people or have such awesome conversations and experience the craziest humour. It’s about more than just the music; psytrance is the “glue” that keeps it all together.

Lastly being an inspirational artist over the years, how long do you expect to carry on gracing the Vortex family with your cheeky tunes?

K-Jos:
For as long as they will have me! I cannot see myself not enjoying trance. My wife also started DJing recently. She has real potential and we have done a couple of K-Jos & Order back to back sets at parties; they received a very positive response. It’s a bit early to tell, but our newborn son also seems to take a liking to trance. Who knows what the future holds, but as long as good music is available, I will buy it. As long as I get booked, I will play it. Worst case scenario I’ll just go back to being a bedroom DJ, but one thing’s for sure – the love won’t die.

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