Vortex Trance Adventures has been going strong for the past 21 years and is still considered to be a special kind of gathering – one which leaves an imprint on the psyche and heart – by both the fans who attend it and the performing artists who return year after year. Located in the enchanted Circle of Dreams, a forest clearing at the “endless river” of Riviersonderend, Vortex invites party-goers to embark on a five-day-long psychedelic journey at Open Source 2015.
Skarab or rather Phill Waugh, one of the scene’s most prominent DJs and a founding member of The Village, recalls attending his first large scale Vortex event in the early 2000s at Theewaterskloof. “The goose bumps from the rumble of the rig warming up will stay with me forever,” he says. Although he’s always been inspired and excited by music, he had no intention of pursuing it until he got involved with his mates and started The Village in 2006. “Once that happened it became clear to me that a journey into sound was awaiting and so I began.”
What initially attracted him to psytrance was the flow, rhythm and power he found in the beats he loved. To date he’s had many inspirational people guide him along his musical journey including his friends Carl and Will, co-founders of The Village as well as top dogs in the industry like Regan, Colin and Grant.
Skarab is due to make his first ever performance at the Circle of Dreams this December. His full-on energetic style always attracts massive crowds so we have high hopes of what to expect. When he’s not jamming on the dance floor, you can find him connecting with new people, reconnecting with old friends and sharing the gees.
“I love the diversity, commitment, versatility, venues, and the wide array of musical talent on offer from our local boys and girls,” he says. “Remember, the jols aren’t going anywhere so be safe, be conscious, be mindful of your fellow party goers, the beautiful venue you are privileged to spend the weekend at and most importantly, respect the culture that stands today, as created many, many years ago! In this way, we will all get to enjoy it for many, many years to come.”
Kalahari Kris, a true psy veteran, will also be performing at Vortex Open Source this year. After being introduced to psytrance at Rustler’s Valley in 1997, he began throwing parties on his farm in the Kalahari where he first started performing sets – sometimes for as long as 18 hours at a time!
Kris recalls playing at Vortex for the first time three years ago as one of his most beloved memories. “What I love most about the Cape Town psytrance culture is the way it’s grown and how the scene has retained most of the beautiful people who started partying there in the beginning,” he says. “I’d like newcomers to enjoy themselves and rather be festival survivors than festival casualties.”
Johan Absynth, another highlight on the Vortex line-up with over a decade of experience, welcomes newcomers with open arms. Having discovered psychedelic trance culture back in 2001, he was inspired to become involved through the music and the amazing people that he met within the scene “I love the positive energy that resonates from our beautiful community,” he says. When he’s not performing, you can find Absynth frequenting the back of the dance floor chilling, dancing or connecting with like-minded individuals.
Also due to make a return performance this year is Karl Douglas or rather, SiLo. He’s been producing psytrance for more than ten years and, although he never envisioned being a DJ, has always been musically inclined. As a kid, SiLo would spend his time playing piano in the dining room of his boarding house while the other children played outside. “I was really into grunge, punk and metal,” he says. “I would hang out with my friends at my parent’s house when they weren’t around and blasted the music as loud as I could to make sure the neighbours and those passing by could hear it. I kind of got a kick out of it.”
After attending his first psytrance parties at the Scarborough grassy patch, he started to have thoughts about making his own music. “The thing about parties back then is that they were more underground and they reminded me of the scene I was already a part of,” he says referring to metal and grunge. “I was also introduced to psychedelics; it all went hand in hand. The music itself was very captivating and the stomp dance was the best way for me as a teenager to release.” SiLo’s biggest influences at the time were Cosma, BLT and Protoculture as well as the early Nano Records material.
What SiLo loves most about our local psytrance culture is the amount of effort that the promoters put into each festival trying to make them unique and better every year. “Production and management is something I always look at when attending a festival,” he says. He fondly remembers Let There Be Light V3 in December 2011, describing it as the best Vortex party he’s ever experienced.
“I wasn’t playing but wow; the Sunday was absolutely amazing,” he shares. “I had the best group of friends with me and the vibe on the dance floor of the Circle of Dreams had an energy that I hadn’t felt before until then . . . Seeing Artifakt, E-jekt, Zen Mechanics and Ital perform was an absolute treat and a memory I will always cherish.”
When asked if he had any words of guidance for those attending Vortex for the first time, he responded, “We’re all in this together and our scene is growing at an exponentially fast pace. If everyone just plays their part correctly, we could possibly have the best scene in the world. Have respect and love for everyone around you and the energy will be something else.”
Speaking of first times, Plusminus is an anticipated new arrival to the Vortex stage. Dave, who is described by Mike as “the teacher”, was first introduced to the scene by his brother though it wasn’t until he attended his first outdoor that he gained full appreciation of the culture. “It was more than the music,” he recalls. “It was a community of people of the same mind who were always down to have a good time!”
Dave says that for him, the DJ thing spawned from a love of music and a need to get as deep into the scene as possible. “Mike and I just happened to have similar interests and the same taste of music. We bought some equipment and practiced daily for ages from the comfort of our homes in front of a massive, but imaginary, crowd. From there, we started playing house parties in high school, mainly to people who didn’t appreciate the doof, and that got the ball rolling.”
Now, eleven years later Mike and Dave still love every second of it. Much like Dave, Mike discovered the solace of psytrance through his brother and, upon hearing GMS’s version of Star Wars around the early 2000s, his mind was blown. His journey into psytrance stemmed from a need to hear the music that they craved being played as loud as possible around like-minded people.
“I only wanted to become a DJ when I met David and realised we both loved the exact same sound and style of music. Drunk as fuck. Happy as Larry. Eyes closed and losing our minds to whatever psy doof we thought was rad around 2003.” He says that thanks goes to his dumbass brother and Dave for showing him the beauty of Void – Master Blaster and a bottle of Wellingtons brandy after school.
After rocking the bedroom vibe for about two years, the duo became resident DJs at Gandalfs every Sunday. After a long stint of Djing in the dark and being paid in alcohol, Plusminus joined the Organik family and became residents at the infamous Wednesday psy nights at Roots.
Both members of Plusminus agree that it’s almost impossible to pinpoint their most memorable Vortex moment because they’ve been to so many events over the years. “At the best of times we aren’t on our best behaviour so it’s difficult to decide,” they admit. “One of the best moments would probably be witnessing DJ Bim’s last set in South Africa and getting a chance to speak to him for a while after his performance. That, and spending a ridiculous amount of time discussing different ways on how to get into a half-filled wheely bin.”
Although the scene is constantly changing, Plusminus recognises that there is still a sense of like -mindedness present albeit at the back of the dance floor rather than front left. “Every year the new crop of young ‘uns roll in. [We were all like that once upon a time.] With this happening, the scene and sound changes too – like most things in life . . . Enjoy the tunes, respect the scene and always make sure your drink is cold! Oh, and stay away from Mike – he’s bad news.”
Vortex invites you to create timeless memories and celebrate 21 years of psytrance at Open Source 2015; whoever you are, wherever you come from, whatever your vocation, no matter your ideology, there is room for all conscious beings to unite in the Circle of Dreams. Come and experience the magic of dance, music, culture and expression for yourself. Words, quite simply, do not do justice.
Visit the event page here.
Stand a chance to win tickets here.