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Review: Altered States of Africa LUNAR 2016

After hearing whispers about Altered States for a number of years, I finally vowed to experience the magic for myself at LUNAR 2015. After a very special weekend of fun in my all-time favourite venue, the Circle of Dreams, I decided that Altered States had lived up to its reputation as one of the smaller and more underground psychedelic gatherings, and that I would return – year after year. By the time that the next edition rolled around, I couldn’t have been more excited.

trance party Altered States
Photo by Manipulating Light

On the 11th of March 2016, I was on route to enjoy the festivities once more. We arrived just before the sound journey – an Altered States tradition which helps to set the tone for the event as well as encourage more intimacy and openness among party-goers.

daytime trance party Altered States psyked
Photo by SLouw

Earthtone was first to deliver his beautiful beats to our hungry ears. I loved the fact that the Headspace venue was being utilised as opposed to the Circle which is routinely used as the main dance-floor at Vortex Open Source. This slight change in setting brought with it a special ambiance that is unique to the Altered States event.

 

When I made my way back to the dance-floor, ScamAntrix was behind the decks dishing out her psychedelicious sounds. I couldn’t help but marvel the scene before me; as the sun began to dip in the sky, shadows cast on the purple-infused dance-floor.

Photo by Nova Brand
Photo by Nova Brand

Hips swayed and arms swung loosely as people enjoyed the vast space available to them. Dala was next up to lead us through the sunset. After an ear-enthralling two-hour set, it was time for Bruce – the master of night-time psy – to take the stage.

Photo by Manipulating Light
Photo by Manipulating Light

It was such a pleasure dancing beneath the stars as I watched the trippy projections and light show inside the DJ box. Bruce’s driving beats pulsated from my core and spread throughout my body like electricity. Before I knew it, it was time for the legendary Moog of Mushroom Mafia to take over. To this moment, when I shut my eyes I can still feel the vibrations of Moog’s hard-hitting bass lines rattle the earth beneath my feet. The music went from strength to strength with System Theory, who led us to the witching hour, and then Talking Decks.

As an avid fan of dark psy, I can attest to the fact that Altered States never disappoints when it comes to piecing together a killer night-time line-up. Though I will admit that I was fast asleep in the comfort of my tent when the first droplets of rain came down and Drifter took to the decks.

Altered States of Africa 2016
Photo by SLouw

I was roused from my sleep sometime during Kalahari Kris’s performance which was – as always – an absolute treat. I can agree with Kris when he says that high energy music makes for high energy people. That was indeed the case when the beats from Canadian guest, Nailik of Grasshopper Records, imploded through the speakers.

The party was heaving by the time that Absynth got up to play his set. During the course of the morning the dance-floor continued to fill out with freshly-faced troopers joining in for some Sunday fun. Silo followed shortly after to raise the energy with his signature sound. Regretfully, I was not able to catch his entire set but fortunately, it’s available for your listening pleasure below.

psytrance music dancing
Photo by Nova Brand

I am told that the music was concluded on the highest of high notes thanks to Prefix who is fast becoming one of Cape Town’s most loved DJs. I am sure I am not the only one who was still smiling by the time they arrived home after a spectacular weekend. Altered States prides itself in creating a space where party-goers can feel safe to express themselves, to meet new people and catch up with familiar faces.

When it comes to their events, it’s not only the music that can’t be faulted but the incredible vibe and sense of harmony that this event aims to promote. A huge thank you is due to the organisers for making us party-goers feel so completely at home, and for reminding us of the essence of true psychedelic trance music.

Photo by Nova Brand
Photo by Nova Brand

To the amazing beings I met and new friends that I made, I hope to see you at the next gathering – and the one after that. After all, LUNAR has become somewhat of a family reunion for our little psy scene – and it’s all thanks to your continued support. We are so lucky to reside inside the psytrance capital of Africa.

altered states review
Photo by Joffree Hyman

Exclusive interview with Nailik (Canada): I wake up and make music

NaiLiK is Kilian Johnson; a twenty-year old psytrance DJ and producer from Montreal, Canada. NaiLiK first discovered psytrance in 2010. Shortly after, he began to produce his own music with the guidance of a friend. By 2012, he was full immersed in production and regularly performing at local gigs.  His “big break” came in 2013 when international artist K.I.M put him in touch with the label manager of Grasshopper Records, DJ Hatta. NaiLiK joined the Grasshopper family in December 2013 and has continued to create and perfect releases for various labels ever since. With his cutting-edge style, characterised by atmospheric sounds and driving bass lines, NaiLiK’s powerful high-energy beats never fail to uplift the dance-floor. Catch his two-hour performance in South Africa at Altered States LUNAR 2016.

killian nailik dj psytrance

PSYKED:
Hi Kilian! For starters, tell us when you first fell in love with psytrance and what motivated you to get behind the decks?

NAILIK:
I first fell in love with psytrance after discovering the music through a friend; I was already into electronic music but lacking something with a bit more drive and energy. When I heard psytrance, I kind of said “this is it –this is what I’ve been looking for.” Then I began going to parties around Montreal; getting involved with the scene came with that. I got into DJing by impulsively buying gear one morning after I had gone out… I wanted to figure out what was going on behind the decks so I dove right into it and a bough a controller to play around with.

Sometime after that I realised the guys that I really appreciate were all making their own tunes, and that was the standard for real artists I was listening to. I wanted to get into production but I didn’t know how to go about it. Long story short: I met a guy who was making music – hip hop actually – and I asked him to guide me through the basics of production and he did. Once I got the basics down, I started to build a really basic studio and I went right for trance production. I continued with that and eventually studied audio in Montreal which helped a bit. I have just been practicing non-stop since I started, really!

PSYKED:
Who or what is your biggest source of inspiration right now?

NAILIK:
Luckily I was picked up by one of my favourite label so a number of my label mates and their sound is a huge inspiration to me. This includes guys like Spectra Sonics, Mirok from Grasshopper as well as many other super talented DJs like Brainiac, K.I.M and Tron. Also, when I go out to parties or listen to fresh music at home, I always find something that I can appreciate which drives me to try and keep getting killer with my music production… These days, there’s a lot of out-of-this-world production!

nailik psytrance dj montreal

PSYKED:
Let’s talk about your first EP – what can listeners expect to hear?

NAILIK:
My first EP will be four solo tracks I believe – so a small variety of my sound can be heard throughout the release. Tracks will range from about 142 to145 BPM with lots of energy and drive during the tracks. There is a lot of atmosphere and flowing leads on top of a heavy rolling kick bass. I’m excited to get this out there at last and hear what people think. It’s been a work in progress for many months now.

PSYKED:
Can you describe an average day in the life of NaiLiK?

NAILIK:
At the moment, I’m living here with my girlfriend. (I arrived before New Year’s). Really, an average day is quite easy and relaxed. I wake up and make music; I also freelance doing some audio work for advertisements and such, but it’s quite chilled and usually music-oriented which is super nice!

dj nailik psytrance music

PSYKED:
How does our local psy scene compare to that of Canada’s? 

NAILIK:
The scene here, of course, is massive and very much alive. In Canada, it’s quite small however in Montreal, Quebec, it’s fairly large – I’m grateful for that. In winter we have indoor parties that range from small to about 700 people at times. In the summer we have many festivals happening almost every weekend with about 1000 to 1500 people attending. We have one bi-annual festival which is world-renowned and top quality, namely Eclipse Festival. It’s taking place this year in July which I will be back for. All in all, it’s a bit different but it still shares many similarities as the trance scene does all around the world.

PSYKED:
If you could relive any one of your performances, which would it be and why?

NAILIK:
I don’t know if I could pick one to relive; I love playing all the time and presenting the latest of my music so I am more concerned with looking forward at what’s to come. I always enjoy each performance as much as I can in that moment.

dj nailik

PSYKED:
Is there anywhere in the world you still dream of playing at?

NAILIK:
I would definitely love to break my way into the European circuit and get over there for the festival season! I think that’s the main goal for a lot of producers because there is so much opportunity and so many parties with world class music happening so frequently there during the summertime. But I hope to play all over the world as I think most young artists do. My main focus is always to get better with production quality and the gigs will follow if all goes well; so the dream is to continue making music and just hope it takes me lots of cool places – I couldn’t ask for anything more.

PSYKED:
Do you have any words for up-and-coming producers and DJs who are trying to break into the scene?

NAILIK:
I would say that the main thing is put in the work, and never give up on getting to where you want to go. It’s a very long, tough road to become great at anything, and there are a lot of people who want the same thing. So the deciding factor for me is how much work you are going to put in and how hard you are on yourself. I think having an attitude doesn’t do you any good – always remember there is room to improve and don’t take criticism to heart. Make good connections and have fun with it, always; the opportunities will fall into place if you are persistent and maintain the right attitude!

dj nailik canada altered states

PSYKED:
Before we wrap things up, tell us what’s next on the agenda for NaiLiK?

NAILIK:
I have a lot of releases coming in the future and will keep on doing my thing. After my EP is released, I’ll work on a few vs. tracks with cool guys from around the globe and get working on the next EP at some point after that.

PSYKED:
Thanks for the chat! We’ll see you at Altered States – LUNAR.

Purchase tickets for Altered States online from Quicket before the 10th of March. Thereafter, tickets will only be available at the gate. For more information, visit the event page.

Altered states lunar psyked

 

 

Exclusive interview with SiLO: I fell in love attending my first outdoor party

Karl Douglas, better known as SiLO, fell in love with psytrance at the early age of sixteen. Although he never envisioned becoming a DJ, he has always been musically inclined. While his friends were enjoying the playground, SiLO was playing the piano; and at the age of fourteen, he decided to add guitar to his list of musical talents. But it wasn’t until he attended a Mushroom Mafia party that he first considered producing and playing psytrance. SiLO’s earliest influences include Cosma, BLT, Protoculture and some of the old Nano Records material. His melodic and driving beats tell entrancing stories that captivate the listener. Catch him at Altered States – LUNAR for a two-hour set on Sunday, the 12th of March, from 13:00 to 15:00.

 SiLO psytrance South Africa

PSYKED:
Hi Karl! First off, tell us what it is about psytrance music that appeals to you personally? What got you hooked into this genre, initially?

SILO:
I would say [it’s] originality of the psytrance dance-floor to any genre of music. The underground Scarborough, Chapman’s Peak parties in the early 2000s were the first trance parties I attended while growing up in Hout Bay, and I was immediately hooked. I loved how the music spread across the landscapes, echoing freely – there’s something about the way psytrance travels outside – and the whole concept of camping out for the weekend with your friends; making new mates and connections; having new experiences with no judgement, and just good’ol rad vibes. Psytrance is like no other genre; there is a culture behind it than runs deeper than anything I have experienced in music. I fell in love attending my first outdoor party. Continue reading Exclusive interview with SiLO: I fell in love attending my first outdoor party

Win double tickets for Altered States – LUNAR 2016

Embark on a psychedelic journey like no other at Altered States – LUNAR 2016. Nestled in the heart of a majestic forest clearing in the Circle of Dreams, Riviersonderend, this intimate gathering is one of the most revered events on the local psytrance calendar. This year’s instalment promises to deliver a high dose of dark psychedelic beats to enthral the minds, ears and bodies of psy-enthusiasts with a line-up featuring international headliner Nailik and your favourite local talent (see the full line-up below).

As part of Altered States tradition, we invite you to travel to the venue on Friday for a special Shanti night, before the festivities begin, to enjoy conscious movie screenings, a drum circle and stargazing. Other highlights include yoga and meditation sessions as well as an entrancing sound journey.

Altered states lunar psyked

Stand a chance to win two tickets for the event by following the instructions below.

Continue reading Win double tickets for Altered States – LUNAR 2016

Exclusive interview with Jonathan West: The inspiration is contagious

The first time I met Jonathan West was in March at Altered States. It was the grand premier of the Psychedelic Dream Temple. I’d never seen anything like it; a mobile art gallery showcasing the works of fifteen visionary artists including Aumega, Jacqui Van Staden, Liquid Faeries, Flowmotion, Sean Ravenhill, Rossi Toltech, Franny Erasmus, Brad Briscoe, Jake Grayham, Hakim Hasan, Raphael Araujo and Pixel Pusher.

After chatting to Jonathan for a short while, I began to understand that The Temple however was not just an art gallery but rather a platform to inspire and expose concealed creativity from the core.

Psyked in the City  Continue reading Exclusive interview with Jonathan West: The inspiration is contagious

Review: Altered States ~ Lunar

As I arrived at my long-time favourite venue, the “Circle of Dreams,” I was struck by the beauty of Riversonderend once more. Home of Vortex Trance Adventures, this sacred clearing is nestled in a forest roughly 170km out of Cape Town. I was elated upon hearing that Altered States managed to secure this dream-space for LUNAR after a last-minute complication (or rather, a blessing in disguise).

Photo by: Athena Christoforakis
Photo by: Athena Christoforakis

I made my way to the dance-floor for the much-anticipated Sound Journey and was transfixed by the amalgamating rhythm. A few decorative details were strung from the branches of trees in the background, adding to the already vibrant display. Some milled about in conversion, others marvelled the gallery of artwork within the ‘The Psychedelic Dream Temple.’

decor altered states psychedelic sun beautiful forest music festival
Photo by: Kelly Turner

I managed to capture a brief snippet of the Sound Journey on video, although I’ll confess that I was too engrossed by the magic to fumble about with technology; Altered States has a contagious aura of tranquillity about it. I sensed that even before Earthtone got behind the decks, and the beats began.

This level of intimacy and mutual understanding was more than refreshing. Creativity radiated from every carefully-painted piece of décor and party-goers were mindful of the environment around them. This was a special gathering, indeed. And I was mystified by the time Prefix guided us into the evening.

Kineticz followed, and then Killawatt, who delivered a set unlike anything I have heard before. The vibrations of his high-energy beats pulsated through the forest floor and then up, through my being. I admired the openness of the star-filled sky above, as well as the spaciousness of an un-crowded dance-floor (something that’s become exceedingly rare).

altered states lights night time trance party
Photo by: Athena Christoforakis

The party was heaving when Compact got into the DJ box. I stood at the centre of the floor, experiencing the energy mounting around me. Happy faces floated to and fro but all that existed was the music. Out of nowhere, large illuminated creatures emerged from the floor reaching higher and higher towards the heavens as part of an epic performance by The Psychedelic Theatre and I decided to watch in awe from the warmth of the bonfire.

DJ Drifter was up next, in place of Talking Decks. I found myself asking when the music would stop being so amazing so that I could get some rest. After much contemplation, I managed to pull myself away from the dance-floor, (though I still enjoyed the sensation of the music from the comfort of my tent).

johan absynth music festival girl party
Photo by: LGeary

The next day, I was woken by a friend, beckoning me to the dance-floor. Flexture was wrapping things up and I grabbed a cup of Marley coffee along the way. The tunes of the talented Bruce (a.k.a Solar Axis) started up in the distance. A woman who had been curled up in the chill area, stretched out from the oversized bean-bag she’d been sleeping on to reveal a dog cozied up beside her (“I don’t even know whose dog this is,” she told me).

The feeling of love and unity was ever-strong; I found myself being magnetised by Bruce’s early-morning set, reeling me in deeper and deeper. I closed my eyes, floating through the dance-floor once more, a grin on my face. If there’s one thing I love about Sundays, it’s a morning set from Bruce.

Photo by: Johan Absynth
Photo by: LGeary

Feeling my enthusiasm build, I found my energy-levels replenish. Soon after, Absynth took the reins and the crowd began to fill out more and more.  His banging beats echoed through the trees for two hours straight.

I could hardly contain my excitement when I noticed Flooting Grooves a.k.a Pearce van der Merwe preparing for his set (read our exclusive interview with him here). Every expectation I had was exceeded as he teleported us on a journey of sound, aided by a majestic flute.

flooting grooves altered states music festival psytrance trance south africa psyked
Photo by: Kelly Turner

Bernz seized the floor sometime after that and the party gained new momentum. His psychedelic sounds, composed of hard-driving basslines and uplifting undertones, once again, had me fixed to the spot. Then the sprinklers turned the ground to mud and I sunk my feet into the coolness of the earth, colours swirling around me and bubbles drifting across the scope.

dancing happy pstrance music festical altered states absynth psyked
Photo by: LGeary

It was a sad moment when I rallied my troops, knowing that it was time to head home. Unfortunately we were not able to stay for Satori’s closing set but I’ve been informed that she finished things off on a high note with some seriously killer tunes.

namaste forest decor altered states lunar psytrance party music festical peace happiness
Photo by: Kelly Turner

If there’s one thing I gleaned at this party, it’s that the principles of P.L.U.R and the original vision of psytrance is still present. These like-minded individuals who come together to celebrate the spirit of African psy are not just our friends, they’re our family.

Thank you to the Altered States crew and everyone who attended, this was the first of many! Until then, stay psyked…


Photo credit: Kelly Turner, LGeary and Athena Christoforakis

Win double tickets for Altered States – Lunar

Join us as we celebrate the moon and all her majesty at Altered States- LUNAR. Embark on a psychedelic adventure set on the lush green banks of the Berg River. With live art, yoga workshops, star gazing and the tribal “sound journey,” this gathering bids something special. And in remaining true to the authentic underground style that Altered States is known for, the line-up features Dala, Killawatt, Talking Decks, Bruce, Flooting Grooves, Bernz and Satori – among others.

altered states lunar

Psyked in the City is giving away 2 x tickets to the event. To enter, follow the instructions below.

Continue reading Win double tickets for Altered States – Lunar