Exclusive interview with Querox: it comes from the heart

Toby Liyah, better known as Querox, set forth on his musical journey in 2008. Since then, the Berlin born muso has sky-rocketed in the world of progressive trance with countless hits behind his name, including The Girls Stuff, Berlin Soundtrack, Keep Walking, Because Of You and The Last Kiss. Having performed at some of the most iconic festivals across the globe, he’s due to make his first ever appearance in South Africa at Sunflower Festival. Enjoy our exclusive interview with the man himself.

Querox_HALFMOON FESTIVAL_thailand_psytrance

PSYKED:
Hi Toby! Let’s start at the beginning: what genres lead you to become a progressive trance producer and DJ? Is it true that you come from a Punk background?

QUEROX:
Hey. First of all, it’s so nice to be here with you 🙂 Well *laughs* yes, this is true. You know those crazy times – the guitar on your back, dyed hair and very big shoes, eager to go to all the crazy Punk Rock Concerts in your country. I was the singer/songwriter and guitarist of my band called Vis; we played 100 % garage punk rock. I also had another band called Prypjat that was hardcore D-Beat. It was great.

One night, all of the sudden, I went to the wrong party, and they played this insane electronic music that they called psytrance. At that point I totally fell in love with it. Step by step, I got my own equipment together to start making my first mix. I kept mixing and training really hard for a quite few years, annoying all my neighbours, before I started to perform. The musical background that I had from before really helps me nowadays in production.

PSYKED:
Is there anyone who you would describe as a mentor in the industry?


QUEROX:

Personally speaking, two of my mentors – Phaxe and Vice – also happen to be my best friends. Back in the day, we grew together from nothing to where we are now, and they always have been helpful in my career – whether it´s creating a beautiful sound or just offering good life advice, they are my number ones. In terms of the music industry: definitely Neelix, Liquid Soul and Astrix who, for many years and still today, stay on top and bring something new to the table. I love their music.

querox_brasil_psytrance_festival

PSYKED
In 2009, you launched your own record label Prog On Syndicate. Tell me a bit more about the label; who do you currently represent?

QUEROX:
Actually, I started the label a bit earlier then my live music project; it was 2007 and I was just about to learn how to mix. It all started with not much; we called ourselves Psychedelic Syndicate which later did not really fit our music. So we decided to rename it Prog On in 2009, and it grew really well with many years of patience, hard work and amazing young artists. I started to build up a booking Agency inside that as well. Nowadays we have a big crew with many artists who work exclusively for us such as Tezla from Switzerland, Monod from Greece, Omiki from Israel, Dzp from Brazil, Synsoniq from Ireland and many more. We are also working with artists from around the globe like Berg, Ranji, Phaxe, Zyce, Vice, Morten Granau, Ghost Rider, Yahel, Class A, Klopfgeister and many others too.

PSYKED:
This year alone you’ve travelled to Australia, Brazil, Switzerland, Greece, Thailand, India, England, Denmark, Hungary, Mexico, Germany, Italy, Austria, Ireland and France. Where do you enjoy performing most: at home or somewhere else?

QUEROX:
Definitely Brazil which has started to feel like my home because I spend most of the year there. The production, the promotions, the full power party crowd, the locations, the sun; it’s a huge scene with a really open mind about music. My management and booking agency Season Bookings are like family to me 🙂 I am really in love with that scene. I also love performing in Koh Phangan in Thailand – especially at the Half Moon Festival for one of my really close friends.

Queorx_Brazil_psytrance

It’s such a massive festival and I have watched it grow over many years. Now it has become so huge. It has a completely different vibe, their own vibe. It’s been going for over ten years and a lot of hard work has been put into it which you can feel when you are there. Located in the middle of jungle on an island, surrounded by the beautiful pacific ocean, it feels so different but so good.

The party crowd in Thailand is extremely special; they come from all over the world, and it is interesting to see how the music affects so many people differently in the same place. Sometimes it is a challenge for the DJs but if they’ve got it, they’ve got it 🙂 I could share many nice stories about every country that I play in. People dance differently, scream and act differently, and like different styles all over. I love to see this and I love to be challenged with my music as well. Every country brings its own scene and own vibe to the parties. None of them are bad, they all are beautiful and different.



PSYKED:
Does the energy of a party differ drastically from place to place or is there something familiar to be found at every trance event?

QUEROX:
That really depends. When I change continent, for example – if I have to play at an indoor in Hamburg on Friday night and have to be in Brazil or Mexico to perform on a Sunday morning, of course it is totally different. You as a person also bring your own energy with you wherever you go. For me, each place has its own energy; if it is day, night, winter, summer, it always brings something different. The only familiar thing you are sure to find are the beautiful different people worldwide.

querox_roots_brazil_psytrance

PSYKED:

Have you heard any rumours or stories about the South African psy scene; if so, what were they?

QUEROX:
I heard that you guys like to party hard! I’ll have to see for myself; I can´t wait to be there with you rocking in South Africa.

PSYKED:
You’ve collaborated with a number of artists including Monod, Reality Test, Phaxe, Zyce and Aquafeel; Tell me a bit more about your side project.

QUEROX:
I have a bunch of collabs mostly with good friends of mine. I like to make music with friends; the dynamic between collaborators is super important, I believe. Right now, I am working on something new together with Morten Granau, Vice, Ranji and Ghost Rider. My other side project, Zane, features a good friend and artist from Greece called Monod. We created it a couple of years ago and nowadays we work on our album, which is going be very different to what we have done before – or  what other progressive trance sounds like. We don´t care so much about the genre that we work on, we care more about creativity and improvisation; it always needs be melodic in some way, we can’t produce music without emotions. That is what we found out over the years.

psytrance_australia_querox

My most recent project is called Toby Liyah. It’s a melodic techno and deep house project a la Berlin. My first EP is coming out soon; it’s super emotional melodic and features a great female singer from Berlin and London, and live saxophone recordings by my great music partner and saxophonist from Thailand, Soul Brothers. Together we are working on completing a new live set which will be ready to go next summer. This project connects Berlin techno and deep house with the feeling of this revolutionary city and the vibe of Thailand´s famous party Island Koh Phangan. It features local DJs and producers from Thailand who are extremely talented and really concentrates on the Asian market which is growing rapidly.


PSYKED:
Music is an incredible form of expression – what does your music communicate or bring to the world?

QUEROX:
Maybe music is just the only language that everybody can understand. My kind of music making has something personal to it. Sometimes I believe that I make better music when I am sad or melancholic. *laughs* It´s hard to explain. Every track of mine, as you can see from their titles, has something personal in the meaning; a memory, history or action in life. It comes from the heart; if it doesn’t then I am not able to finish the track. I like to evoke feelings; whether those happy or sad,  every listener can decide for himself. That´s why music is so magical, it affects every person on the planet differently. Nobody feels the same. It´s like a mirror which reflects people´s feelings, and you can take a look.

querox_psytrance_psyked in the city

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