Tag Archives: photography

Review: Vortex Phoenix Festival of Fire 2015

“It’s winter,” they said. “It’ll be cold,” they said. “We’ll wait for summer,” they said. But they were wrong. If you were at the Vortex Phoenix Festival of Fire, you’ll know I mean it when I say that it’s a gathering unlike any other. So intimate and entrancing that it’s almost impossible to forget. That’s why on Saturday the 27th of June, I was on route to Riversonderend once again, ready to kick up the dust and brush off those winter blues.

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I arrived as the sun was setting; waves of tranquillity passed through me upon entering the sacred space – the Circle of Dreams, my favourite venue of all time. I watched as the scene shifted from day to night. The lights slowly set aglow. I thought about the Shaman’s ceremony which had happened the night before and regretted missing it. Unfortunately, the nine to five can’t always be avoided. But none of that mattered right then.

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Sad Paradise had just closed shop and Headroom’s captivating beats imploded through the forest. There’s no doubt that Vortex had stepped up its game since last year, providing ample heaters and fires to keep us warm and snug. Not to mention the stupendous décor. By the time DJ Mark took the reins, it was all systems go. Continue reading Review: Vortex Phoenix Festival of Fire 2015

Review: Love & Light 2014

Love & Light is an event characterised by uplifting daytime beats, beautiful surroundings and happy people. This year’s instalment was held at the Mountain Shadows Guest House in Paarl; setting expectations high with a line-up featuring live performances by Astrix, Liquid Soul, Ticon and Critical Choice.

Photo: Stu Shapiro Photography.
Photo: Stu Shapiro Photography.

Continue reading Review: Love & Light 2014

Review: Earthdance Cape Town 2014 (Sunday)

The great thing about hitting a trance party on Sunday is the fact that you get to climb into your bed after all is said and done; but that never makes it any easier to get up at six in the morning. After dragging my lazy self out of bed at the crack of dawn, we were on route to Nekkies. A few hours later, arm-bands and all, we had arrived at our destination.

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I wasted no time in heading to the Sky Temple; the party was in full swing as Zezia finished up his set. But what struck me was the décor. It’s no secret that Artescape is famed for their mind-altering displays but this was something else entirely. Was it a psychedelic Taj Mahal or simply the best stage set-up I had ever seen? I don’t know; one thing’s for sure, Earthdance continues to amaze me, year after year. Continue reading Review: Earthdance Cape Town 2014 (Sunday)

Review: Origin Festival 2014 (Saturday – Sunday)

It’s 9.00 on Saturday morning and after much anticipation, we are on route to Origin Festival. It’s my first time so I can’t contain my excitement. I ask, “are we there yet?” about twenty times.  When we finally arrive at the beautiful Elandskloof in Helderstroom, I’m greeted by an awesome shaded camping spot, the lush forest and a little dam to enjoy later.

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Aumega origin elandskloof helderstoom venue

Photo: Aumega Photography.
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We hurriedly pitch our tent, eager to hit the dancefloor. When we enter the jungle-like Beats Stage, Travisto is in the DJ box pumping his melodies. The vibe is infectious; Djs throw lilos into the crowd and everyone is smiling. Then the beat drops and I feel like I’ve finally come home.

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I’m chilling next to the dam with the other party-goers merrily soaking up the sun. Before I know it, the Spanish muso, Elrow‘s on stage for a special session featuring Toni Varga and De La Swing. I’m on the dance-floor jamming beneath the trees; and I’m in love with the festival already.

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Photo: Aumega Photography.

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We head for the Origin Floor, but I’m lured into the Chill Zone. I have a chance to admire Artescape‘s handywork. The décor is unbelievably beautiful (possibly the best I’ve seen all year) and the mountains are a magical backdrop.

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Photo: Aumega Photography.

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Psychedelic paradise calls out to me. I reach the dancefloor just as Bayawaka starts up the music, followed by Ryanosaurus and Renegade. Static Flow takes charge as the sun is setting and I’m in my happy place for sure. The Commercial Hippies ravage the dancefloor at 21.30, playing their killer Lark remix. The crowd’s sent into overdrive.

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Regan is up next. And although I’m loving the vibe, I decide to make a mission towards the Beats Stage again to watch Secret Cinema in action. I marvel at the LED light projections in the oak treas. The visuals are amazing. I bid a silent thank you to The ExtraDimensional Space Agency.

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aumega artescape dancefloor origin at night
Photo: Aumega Photography.

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Mid-night draws near and it’s time for Brazilian Digoa to rock the Origin Floor. He’s incredible in the Dj box and his killer set has people talking throughout the event.

All of a sudden, it’s two in the morning and things are getting quite dark. So I take a stroll to see what kind of storm Spekta is cooking up. Moments pass before Pete Bones gets behind the decks and elevates things to a whole new dimension. I’m blown away by his smooth techno style. The atmosphere is friendly and ecstatic, and stompers are responding well to his tracks. But I’m feeling tired, so I jam until my feet give in and decide it’s time for some shut-eye.

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aumega origin party at night
Photo: Aumega Photography.

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I awake the next morning as Dala is finishing up. I hear his majestic tunes in the distance and shun myself for not being on the dancefloor. I grab breakfast on the way, fresh and ready for a Sunday session with Groove Addict.

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It’s a great morning workout, stomping in the sunshine. I almost lose track of time. But when 10.30 eventually rolls around, the excitement is indescribable as LOUD gets onto stage. The dynamic duo is greeted by the cheers of their die-hard fans. LOUD blasts beat after beat. And I am compelled as they play their new Afrika 101 track. I’m certain that this is bliss.

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Soon it’s Headroom‘s turn and HOT DAYUM, his beats are banging! Broken Toy doesn’t disappoint either. He gets behind the decks. spinning his epic Commercial Hippies “Dr. Rocket” remix for the first time, causing chaos on the dancefloor. Just when I think it can’t get any better, LOUD returns to end the party off on the highest of notes.

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I’m enjoying the experience so much, I don’t want it to end. When I finally do head home on Sunday evening, one thought resonates in my mind: “Origin, you know how to party!” Huge thanks to the organisers and everyone who made it happen.
See you all on the other side…

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aumega stompers happy origin
Photo: Aumega Photography.

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Get psyked: Origin Festival 2014

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There is only one week to go until Origin Festival returns. So get yourself ready for a weekend full of psychedelic music, art and culture. Only 125 km from Cape Town, the lush green Elanskloof venue is home to fresh mountain streams and a magnificent forest open to explore. If a backdrop of towering mountains entices you, Origin is a journey you should embark upon.

 
aumega origin
Photo: Aumega Photography.

 
Party-goers can expect only the best selection of psychedelic music, incredible international acts and outstanding production. The ExtraDimensional Space Agency has come all the way from the UK to create an LED show unlike anything Cape Town has seen before. Origin admits that this is their biggest lighting installation yet. This is great news for the night-owls among us.

 
at night origin aumegaPhoto: Aumega Photography.

 
But the sunshine-loving stompers need not fret; Artescape will once again be bringing the festival to life in the Psychadelic Temple with top-class décor to aid an incredibly sensory experience on the dancefloor. And if the eye-candy Artescape created at Rezonance is any indication, we can expect nothing short of perfection.

 
jamming origin aumegaPhoto: Aumega Photography.

 
However important the visual elements are, the music remains the main attraction. Back-to-back acts from top-class Djs on not one, but two dancefloors ensures that there’s something for everyone, no matter what your taste is.

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On the Origin Floor, you can expect only the best psychedelic trance from groundbreaking international acts such as LOUD from Israel, Groove Addict from India, Ryanosaurus from Australia and DJ Digoa from Brazil. But let’s not forget our beloved locals Headroom, Broken Toy, The Commercial Hippies, Sad Paradise and Portal (to name a few) who will be bringing their beautiful beats into the mix.

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origin chillPhoto: Aumega Photography.

 
If you prefer something more laid-back, Origin’s Beats Stage is the place to be. Situated amongst the trees and right alongside the river and pool, it is there you can enjoy everything from funky techno to tech house to psybass and chillstep. Prepare your ears for the melodies of Secret Cinema from the Netherlands, and enjoy a special Origin session featuring Elrow from Spain in conjunction with Marc MayaToni Varga and De La Swing. One thing you can be sure of are the captivating tunes that will serenade the crowd all the way through.

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And to lure creative and contemplative souls, the Visionary Art Gallery will be open to marvel. Featuring acclaimed artists from South Africa and beyond, this is a fine opportunity to take a gander at authentic artistic talent, mid-party. The works of Aumega, Ed Babb, Oliver Barnett, Andriod Jones and Amanda Sage will be exhibited at the gallery.

There are only a few more days to go and quite frankly, we can’t wait.
Click here to buy your ticket online to avoid missing out.

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The DJ low-down.

Just to tantalise your taste-buds, here is the inside-scoop on one of the headlining acts for Origin 2014: LOUD.

Who are the brains behind such banging beats, you ask? Meet Israeli-born Kobi Toledano and Eitan Reiter. Together they’ve been producing original electronic music since 2006, blending old school elements with cutting-edge, new sounds. These guys don’t just adhere to formulas, they pave their musical way with originality and enthusiasm.

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Having collaborated with the likes of Union Jack, Hallucinogen, Son Kite, Astrix, Perfect Stranger, Shulman, Prometheus, Ace Ventura, Domestic and Shulman, LOUD has earned the respect of many lading musicians and producers.
When it comes to their beats, they share one simple philosophy: Play it LOUD!

Catch them live in the flesh at Origin this weekend. Find the lineup here.

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The following video is am 8-minute long documentary compiled by LOUD featuring a range of festivals they performed at during their summer tour in 2012, including Boom Festival and Ozora Festival.

 

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Listen to more on Soundcloud: LOUD.

 

See you at Origin!

 

 

Review: Rezonance NYE.

Rezonance is easily one of the most anticipated events on the psytrance calendar. With years of experience behind their name, the Rezonance family has gained huge momentum and continues to attract thousands of loyal party-goers from all over South Africa to celebrate the New Year.

Following the previous theme of Transformation, the festival focused itself on rebirth. With a very relevant call-to-action for the New Year: dream of a world where anything is possible. “I am because we are” was the resonating mantra and its essence trickled down to every element of production.

viwe rezonance stage

Photo: Viwe Santana Hewu.

Rezonance decided to switch things up this year, kick-starting the party on New Years Eve. When I arrived at Contermanskloof in Durbanville, I was in for a big surprise! The out-of-this-universe decor had plenty of jaws dropping in delight. Artescape really went above and beyond to create the type of high-end production that could give Ozora festival a run for its money. We have a sneaky suspicion that the Rezonance pics will be taking over Facebook feeds for the next few weeks.

Rezonance ticked all the boxes, from groovy swing at Misfits Meadow to dirty dubstep at the Delta stage to full-on, psychedelic tunes at the main stage. And when you weren’t feeling the magic anymore, the Chill Temple was a perfect hangout for tired souls (or should I say soles).

chill temple guy with glasses rezonance

Photo: That Guy With Glasses.

The dam was also a Godsend in 34 degrees heat! During the day-time it remained occupied by happy people and inflatable lilos. Let’s not forget the random boat spotted floating about.

Of course, it was the Prizm stage that was the main attraction. When I set foot onto the dancefloor, I was sucked in by proggy beats from the likes of Portal, Humerous and Matron. Then Bernz, Take and Contra took over, leading us into the New Year.

I could literally feel the spirits lifting as the clock struck twelve. Frozen Ghost was the first of many killer DJs to rock 2014. I don’t think anyone expected things to get that messy, that mud was really something! If you were clean the next morning, you clearly did it wrong.

guy with glasses rez dj mark

Photo: That Guy With Glasses.

For those who couldn’t keep up with the 180 BPM tracks from the German Bombax or the banging basslines of Hysteria and Paralocks, the Misfits Meadow was an ideal spot to lay-back and enjoy the vibe. It was there that Hektek Elektrek and Wulfsohn kept the crowd jamming merrily into the early hours of morning.

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At some point, I dragged myself off to my tent for some much-needed sleep (not that I got any). I knew I had gotten more than I paid for, in terms of sound, because I could hear all three dancefloors bass resonating through our campsite at any given time.

guy with glasses decor rezonance

Photo: That Guy With Glasses.

I returned to the Prizm stage for Tune Raider’s must-jam morning set feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. As the sun got cooking, the beats got groovier with Headroom behind the decks, followed by Sad Paradise and my personal favourite, Mr Suit (the Israeli prog hero).

In the evening, I was blown away by Rosa Ventura.
Then equally gobsmacked by 
Deliriant’s midnight set. 

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rezonance festival dancefloor night

Photo: Aumega Photography

Time was flying by. When I awoke the next morning, I heard Talisman in the distance, delivering some delicious beats for breakfast. Although the sun was already baking, it didn’t dull any spirits. On the dancefloor, nobody was prepared to let a single track go to waste. I was more than grateful for the over-head sprinklers, as I was beginning to feel a little crispy.

guy with glasses happy guy stomper rezonance

Photo: That Guy With Glasses.

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Other highlights included Sonic Species, England’s psychedelic King and the always-amazing Broken ToyGandalf Grey rounded things off beautifully with a mix of one of my favourite tracks “WTF by D-Addiction.” 

Rezonance made no room for bad vibes, or shoes for that matter. I returned home with dirty feet, a happy heart and the tunes still ringing in my ears. A big thank-you to the organisers and party-goers for exceeding all my expectations. Best New Years ever!

guy with glasses muddy rezonance feet

Photo: That Guy With Glasses.

Review: Vortex Open Source

Editor’s note: This review covers Saturday – Monday.

We waited all year and finally it was time to enter the Circle of Dreams. Those who have attended any of the Vortex Open Souce parties know that it’s not “just another festival.”

magic by ty

Photo: Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Every year, Vortex draws people from all over the world to unite in a five-day celebration of music, spirit and culture. And if you ever dreamed of getting lost in an enchanted forest, that’s covered too.

daytime jam by ty

Photo: Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Riversonderend was, once again, the venue of choice. And when we arrived (after a long, squished but TOTALLY WORTH IT drive) to set foot in the woods, I was reminded why. What beauty!

It was as if the forest carried on forever. Not the easiest place to find your tent in the dark, though. Many a stray stomper wandered the forest in seek of refuge after a long day’s stomp. Often making friends along the way.

open source by ty

Photo: Tyrannosaurus Rex.

When we headed to the dancefloor, I took a second to appreciate the décor – HOLY SHIT. Pardon my French but it must be said. The Vortex crew really outdid themselves this year.

I love how organic lines and elements were used to create an other-wordly experience. The circular stage, for example, that encapsulated the DJ box made me feel as if I was staring into a majestic porthole. And boy, things came alive at night!

decor by gary

Photo: Gareth L-Olivier.

The evening started off with a booming bang! as Connecto took the stage, followed by Dave Mac. Oh, Mr Mac how the crowd loves you! Everyone went insane when Dave played his Side Form- Depeche mode remix.

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The vibe experienced on that dancefloor can only be described as electric. And when Kieron Grieve (AKA: Rubix Qube) got behind the decks, things got downright messy. If there’s one thing we know about Rubix it’s that he never disappoints.

night dancers by gary

Photo: Gareth L-Olivier. 

Another highlight of the event had to be the awesome projection of Nelson Mandela’s face that appeared behind the DJ box. What a great tribute to one of South African’s most heroic leaders.

nelson mandela vortex by wayne

Photo: Wayne’s Picz.

It was very difficult to leave the dancefloor, but I needed some rest for Sunday-funday.  Eventually, I dragged myself to my tent and managed to get a good night’s sleep.

I awoke bright and early for a delicious breakfast made up entirely of psychadelic goodness. Tim Duster brought the morning in, followed by Koxbox and the all-mighty Skragg.

dancefloor ty

Photo: Tyrannosaurus Rex.

I could barely contain myself when Earthling finally got onto the stage. His exuberant beats kept the party raging for three hours straight. And what an insane three hours it was! Time flies when you’re having fun, and judging from the grins that surrounded me time was racing for everybody.

stomper by ty

Photo: Tyrannosaurus Rex.

We were all feeling a little sun-kissed when the small overhead sprinklers turned on, creating a beautiful layer of mist to cool down the crowd.

shower by ty

Photo: Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Then Adam Metcalfe, the one and only Headroom, took over and sent everyone into overdrive.
This was all followed by a quick but much-needed swim in the river. Along its banks, people lazed happily, talking intimately with one another, laughing and embracing the magic.

headroom vortex by ty

Photo: Tyrannosaurus Rex.

At 6pm we returned to the dancefloor where Dean Fuel was winding the party up again with his Feedback set (really quite groovy).

After the sun went down, it was time for a little girl power. Rosa Ventura fired things up before the Russian Yana Kramich AKA: Z-Cat took over and kept the beats banging until the early hours of the morning.

z cat by ty

Photo: Tyrannosaurus Rex.

When the sun rised on Monday, it was clear that everyone was more withered than the days before. But the psychedelic/prog beats that were in store was a better kick than any cup of coffee. Not that I didn’t have one.

pretty girl wayne

Photo: Wayne’s Picz.

When I returned to the dancefloor, the energy was as upbeat as ever. I headed to the front just as local, psytrance virtuoso, Bruce, got behind the decks.

Waio and Creator were the last DJs on the line up. And though the “end” was nearing, it didn’t feel that way at all. The crowd went on stomping right until the final track finished.

hands by ty

Photo: Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Everyone had such a hard time wrapping things up that some of the crew got onto stage, joining in on the fun. Needless to say, things ended off on a high note. And nobody will forget hearing the most insane remix of Elanor Rigby by the Beatles.

“Ah, look at all the lonely people!”

vortex family by wayne

Photo: Wayne’s Picz.

This event reminded me of what Cape Town’s trance family is all about: love, acceptance and unity.

Big thank you’s go to Grant and his Vortex crew, the DJs and everyone else who made this event so spectacular. And let’s not forget, my amazing group of friends!

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Check out more photo’s of Vortex:

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*Special thanks to Nicci Esterhuizen, who recently joined the Psyked in the City team.

Review: #PlayFestival

After weeks of anticipation, it was finally time to set off for my first ever Equinox Experience outdoor event. At five o’ clock on Saturday we arrived at the Goedgedacht farm in Malmesbury.

I was greeted by many happy faces, mirroring the warmth of the weather. What can I say? Mother Nature had blessed us and rightly so (last weekend was a totally different story!).

happy stomper by dreamer
Photo: Dreamer Photography.

There was plenty explore; the little river that enticed heated stompers on Sunday morning, and the fairy-tale bridge that crossed it, not to mention the lush riverbanks that ran alongside the dance floors. There was magnificence at every turn, and the attention to detail from the organisers’ side exceeded my expectations in every way.

river fun by marc
Photo: Marc Berman Photography.

The “play” theme was really brought to life through elements of the decor such as the video-game-inspired stage and the life-sized cut outs of Pacman. And with a multi-coloured ball pit (the kind we all dreamed of having as kids) and a jumping castle, it was impossible not to release one’s inner child.

ball pit by gareth olivier
Photo: Gareth Olivier.

Equinox really took it up a notch in terms of providing a solid outdoor experience with card machines at the bar, bean bag chill areas, a skate board ramp, water slide and free entrance to all stompers who were celebrating their birthday.

waterslide by gareth olivier
Photo: Gareth Olivier. 

I tried my very best to resist the dancefloor until night fall in an attempt to save my energy but I simply could not. The music was just too good to stay away. At seven, I began stomping to Phixius and I didn’t stop until my legs gave in around four in the morning.With one great DJ after the next, I was in psytrance heaven. 

dancing by marc
Photo: Marc Berman Photography.

In terms of eye-candy, the organisers went all out and it really paid off when the sun set. The visuals, light show and projections during the night time were out of this world.You didn’t need to be on any kind of drugs to be completely gobsmacked by it all. I was teleported from an outdoor festival to a mystical land inside an Xbox game.

light show by adhdh
Photo: ADHD Photography.

The highlight of my evening was Deadbeat FM, the product of the notorious Deliriant (Shane Renew). With his grimy tech-house sound that verges on minimal but is brought to life by dirty bass lines, heavy drums and percussion, Shane kept the dancefloor pumping right through.

d floor at night by marc berman
Photo: Marc Berman Photography.

And where Deadbeat FM stopped, EMP’s alter-ego, Contra, took over. Once he got into the DJ box to deliver an awesomely uplifting progressive tune, I was reminded of how talented and versatile Vaughan de Villie really is.

Listen to Contra’s EP Science Friction.

contra by marc berman
Photo: Marc Berman Photography.

Right now, I am loving the more bouncy and fun beats that are coming from DJs who are well-known for playing harder and darker styles of trance. Vaughn wasn’t the only DJ bringing a progressive project to the floor. James Copland, aka Broken Toy, was on the scene to deliver the symphonic sound of Sad Paradise

happy stomper by ray
Photo: Rachel Doyle Photography.

But there’s always a place for full-on psychedelic, and The Commercial Hippies were there to take control of it. When they played their killer “Lark” remix as well as P.H Fat- Dinosaur blood, the dancefloor went mad.

I was pleasantly surprised by how friendly and uplifting the energy was. What an inclusive vibe. It was extremely refreshing -something I had been missing – to go to a party and speak to people, making new friends and to continuously be greeted with smiles. Not once did I encounter anyone who was having a less-than-incredible time.

stomper by marc
Photo: Marc Berman Photography.

On Sunday morning, I woke up nice and early, bought myself a mini pizza for breakfast (trance parties are all about being healthy that way) and headed to the front of the dancefloor just as Static Flow was finishing up his set. When Dapanji entered the DJ box, the crowed went insane. This is what we had all been waiting for. I was extremely stoked to be there, right in the front as he opened, and to feel the intensity coming from eager stompers. And I was even more stoked when he played one of my favourite tracks.

dapanji by marc
Photo: Marc Berman Photography.

Besides, not getting a chance to see Aviation play, there’s really nothing negative I could say about this event. What a beautiful party! From the venue to the people to the music, I am left in awe. And, like many others, I wish that I could close my eyes and return to the beautiful land beneath the trees.

d floor by ray chill
Photo: Rachel Doyle Photography.

When I did finally convince myself to head home, I left with a sense of bliss inside of me, the good energy and the uplifting tunes still radiating throughout my being. There’s no doubt that this was one the best festivals I have ever attended. Why can’t next year’s Equinox Outdoor just be tomorrow?

bridge by ray chill
Photo: Rachel Doyle Photography.

Special thanks to Claire Robertson for hooking me up with complimentary tickets for myself and the Psyked in the City giveaway, and to the Equinox Experience crew and everyone else who helped to make this event the massive success that it was.

Here are the links to all the photographers who captured the event on camera.

If you have any links to albums that I have neglected to mention, please do drop me a line.

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Click HERE for the next Equinox Experience event.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Sway from Beartrap (Part 2)

Read PART 1: Exclusive Interview with Sway.

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Psyked: Which DJs inspire you and do you have a favourite track right now?

Sway: Right now my favourite internationals are Dapanji, I will always have a soft spot for Dapanji. They actually defined the type of sound that I play now. Lyle Jensen (AKA: Archive from MMD records) gave me the Dapanji track. He said to me, “you have to listen to this!” And I was like, “who the hell is Dapanji?” The track was called show time. I played it and thought, “OMG this is the shit.” And from that single track, my sound has moved towards electro and techno, which I really love now. But because I also love electro, I’m really enjoying  Blastoyz. I heard them live in Joburg.  It was an amazing set, even a sing-along set which I think is important at the right time during a party. We all drive to work in our cars or drive to varsity or whatever, and we listen and sing to 5FM and other stations. So to say you can’t have vocals in psytrance, the music you love, doesn’t make sense to me. I grew up singing to music. White Noise has been one of my absolute champions for as long as I can remember. Itay Eliya (White Noise) is actually doing some really super things right now, he’s so versatile. I think he has even done a few movie/film scores, but I stand to be corrected. His music is just super epic. I also love UltravoiceVibe Tribe and Orca is still one of my favourite full-on artists. Last but not least, Azax Syndrom. That dude blew me away when he played here! I really can’t name just one or two.

Forever and a day, I will look up to Bruce.  He is my yard stick because I know I’ll probably never be as good as he is, so I’m forced to keep pushing myself. Another DJ I look up to is Dave Mac. He really pumped the progressive for years. He kept saying, “it’s coming, it’s coming” and we kept saying, “don’t be stupid.” But somehow he knew it was.

One of the up and coming guys I have the utmost respect for is DJ Drang3D (aka Sirajuddin Kadri) because he also pushes and pushes the limit. I become inspired by DJs who are passionate about the scene. There are so many DJs out there who are riding their wave. I am looking for those guys who are making their wave. Those are the people that I want to play at our parties; DJs who love the scene and don’t only love being in the DJ box.

Psyked: As a DJ you guys put in an incredible amount of work, what is the most challenging aspect of your job? And have you ever made a really bad stuff up on a set? If so, how do you handle it?

Sway: When I played at The Side Show one Friday night for a Young N Underrated event, I was so nervous because I realized I was playing after Hyphen (he’s not a psy trance DJ). I nearly vomited #truereveal I was so nervous! I had an idea for a starting set which I should have practiced before but didn’t. It was such a f*ck up. Abby Chapel came out the office through the back and said to my friend Bianca, “what is she doing?!” I think some DJs never fuck it up but I am very spontaneous. I don’t believe in preparing a set and it has worked for me but it has also worked against me. Luckily I’ve never had such a big fuck up like jumping up and down in the DJ box and having my boob pop out or anything of that kind, which could be a disaster. So other than that, in hindsight the make up I did at Mystical Contact might have been a bit risqué but it was good fun.

Psyked: Speaking of which, I’ve seen you in face paint, tutu’s, corsets but what is the craziest thing you’ve ever worn to a party?

Sway: Mystical Contact was definitely my wildest outfit and when I started wearing corsets, it took people by surprise, I think. As a DJ I’d like to say, “yeah, the music is all it’s about” but it’s not. When you get up on a stage, you are bound by theatrical. It’s a stage. Regardless of whether you’re DJing, reading poetry, acting or doing acrobatics, you are there as a performer to entertain people and I don’t think you can just roll out of bed in PJ’s because that’s just boring (and embarrassing). I used to have really long mousy brown hair and one day I decided, that’s it, I’ve had it. I cut it and that was the day people stopped calling me Tune Raider. *laughs* I’d say the short, pink hair as well as the crazy bling makeup and outfits have definitely worked for my image. And I want to be different, that’s who I am.  I’ve always been very eccentric.

sway at mystical contact photo by logal lAt Mystical Contact, photo by: Logan L Photography.

Psyked: You’re known for swaying not only in the DJ booth but on the dancefloor too, how do you maintain a balance between your work and your play?

Sway: I have a T shirt that says “leave me alone, I’m dancing” which I wear most of the time. It saddens me that so few DJs/producers come just to party at events. I remember when you’d see DJs on the dancefloor at the parties they weren’t playing at. Until recently, it was difficult for me too because I have kids. But now my son’s 3 and my daughter’s 8, so they’re older and I can do it. The dancefloor is where you really connect with your fans. I think it’s important for them to see that you love the music that you play and you love the parties that you put on. It’s not just about fans coming to MY parties. If there’s a party with a rocking lineup, I will go to that party. For example, I was really amped that the Side Show brought down Cyberpunkers, and I will definitely check out R3hab because it’s electro and I feel like I haven’t been exposed to enough live electro from acts. You can’t really experience the music that other DJs are delivering if you’re not there jamming to it.  And as someone who is going to construct the lineups that I want fans to go wild about, how would I know who to choose if I’m not on the dancefloor loving the music?

Sway at soulstice photo by Michael YankelevDancing at the Soulstice Festival, photo by: Michael Yankelev.

Psyked: Is it tough to make time for your family and be a DJ? And do you feel that other members of society respect your profession or do you feel there is still an underlying stigma that trance parties are about drugs and hippies?

Sway: Ja, there’s definitely that stigma. I try to avoid telling people what type of music I play. But at my daughter’s school I’m the hero. The kids love it because of the pink hair and stuff but I think the moms don’t know how to respond to me. I don’t care actually. *laughs* Some of the mothers dig me and we get a long but I don’t really travel in those circles. I am too busy. In summer, it’s hard because I’m away when I’m doing my own parties. Often for a few days at a time. My kids understand. It’s been part of their lives from the start. They usually want to come and be part of it. When my son came with me to Mutha FM studio this year, he asked me, “is this where you dance Mommy?” So yes, it is hard and there is a stigma but after finding out what I do most parents go, “Oh my gosh, that’s actually quite awesome.” And it’s easier for them to find out after they’ve seen me with the pink hair.

sway with bruce photo by dreamer.
Sway with Bruce.

Psyked: Earlier you mentioned Bruce, would you say he’s a mentor of yours? Is there anyone else who you really look up to in the community?

Bruce was my mentor for a long time but we play similar sounding music so we kind of became competitive. We’ll still ask each other for advice. I’ve recently discovered that there’s a lot to be learned from electro/house DJs and electric DJs. Bryan Farrow is my new favourite DJ. He’s really good with his equipment. He can DJ. He doesn’t just drop two beats on top of each other, he mixes. I’m also a big fan of Grimehouse and Hyphen. Both of those boys are unreal behind the decks. I want to take what I do behind the decks to the next level. I plan to steal from them *winks* so that as the style merges, I can come out of the gate with a bang. I’m not sure about “looking up” to anyone, ’cause I think you get to a point when that changes.

Psyked: Maybe they’re looking up to you?

Sway: It could be. But I have a huge amount of respect for the guys from Ultranoize and what they’re trying to achieve, as well as the way that they do things. They keep it really underground and true to their hearts, you know. It’s hard to stay smaller and true to your core genre, because everyone needs to evolve. But as a group, the Ultranoize boys are very close to my heart. I love them. I also look up to Dave Love from Enough Weapons. He runs a record label, I get a lot of advice from him, and Lyle Jensen. That’s why these people are my partners. I admire what they do and I value their input above all else.

sway at Lyle at MMD photo by Llyod Newkirk
Sway with Lyle (Archive) at MMD, photo by: Rachel Doyle Photography.

Psyked: Your Twitter handle is @lovedancesway, but it’s a bit more than that, it’s your manifesto. Can you tell me a bit about it?

Sway: It’s who I am and how I got to this point. I love, I dance, I sway and I encourage people to do the same but to keep it real and to do it their way.  I love Twitter. I saw a tweet yesterday that said, “if you’re on the outside looking in, Twitter seems daunting but once you’re inside it’s like fucking Narnia.” Ain’t that the truth? Twitter is just a way to express yourself in quick bursts. I do have a lot to say. I talk all the time. My mother used to tell me that when I was a kid she only took in every fifth word I said to get the just of what I meant. My husband has learned to do that too.

I find that because human beings are voyeuristic by nature, they like to look into other peoples lives. Twitter is a way for people to get a window into your life and who you really are. And it’s a way of connecting with your fans and seeing another side of you. Music was, once upon a time, about artists coming and performing and fans then going and buying an album. Today artists put out two track EP’s so that people will listen to the music and people will come and watch them perform. That’s how they make their music now. It’s not about selling albums anymore. It’s about selling the person or selling the brand. I think that social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud and Instagram are just means for people to get to know the brand a bit better and to see parts of a DJ you can’t see in the DJ box. I can put things out there that people can learn about me that they otherwise wouldn’t. It does give people a different image. For example, I have this ongoing love affair with snails and I’m trying to find out where they go when it stops raining. No one can tell me though.

herbal remedy photo by Logan LAt Herbal Remedy, photo by: Logan L Photography.

Psyked: Any big plans for the future and for 2014?

Sway: Ground Zero is going to be a big one. Last year it was on the same date as Celestial Beings but this year it’ll be on the 15th of March. We’re also going to partner up with Disasterpeace Records on the 25th of March for a new event. That’s very exciting. I can’t share the scoop now but it’ll be something completely different and hopefully it will speak to a massive amount of people who love psy trance. Not just my style or progressive or  dark psy or hard psy etc. Then maybe, I’ll make enough money to take my kids to Disney Land. I’ve been trying to do that for ten years, it’s my goal in life.  I just wanna see their little faces light up. Anyone want to sponsor me?

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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Sway from Beartrap (Part 1)

Sway is one of South Africa’s most popular female psy-trance DJs. She’s also the co-owner of  Beartrap Productions; the organisation behind three of Cape Town’s major outdoor festivals, namely Ground Zero, Celestial Beings and Remanufacture (that is to take place on the 16th of November). Within the psy community, she’s affectionately referred to as Mama Bear, but her real name is Laura Ann Rix. During the past fifteen years Laura has progressed from capturing Cape Town’s psychedelic scene on camera to blasting her banging beats to thousands of fans on the dance floor nation-wide. Sway’s musical style can be described as powerful, bouncy, fun and always unexpected. She draws influence from a range of genres including full on, hard trance to electro and progressive. Through Beartrap Laura has exposed South African trance-enthusiasts to A-listing international acts such as Mystical ComplexDapanji, CPUMekkanikkaBizzare Contact, Exaile, Orca and Skazi. Laura firmly believes in engaging with her audience whether she’s in the DJ box, on the dance floor or online. Although her passion lies in outdoor parties, she frequents the indoor scene during winter too. You need only experience a Sway set live to feel the genuine love Laura has for psytrance and her fans.

sway at MMD ancients photo by Llod NewkirkAt MMD, photo by: Llyod Newkirk Photography.


Psyked: Hi Laura, I’m psyked to be chatting to you today, I’m a huge fan! You’re not only a resident DJ at Beartrap Productions. You’re co-owner. When did your involvement with Beartrap begin?

Sway: Sho, it all started with my husband. Before we were married he hooked up with this little gang of guys from Stellenbosch who owned Beartrap. They were all local kids who went to varsity there and they all knew eachother. They grew up on the farms of Stellenbosch and they had a massive following. My husband would do the sound for them. Then they grew up and out of trance parties and decided that they didn’t want Beartrap anymore, and were just going to let it go. So my husband bought Beartrap from them and we’ve kept it and built it up again over the next seven years. Doing production is an experience. It’s something I love. I’ve worked for Investec, I’ve worked for I.T companies, I’ve worked for programming companies, that’s what I used to do for a living. But I hated it. Hate, hate, hate!

Psyked: What was the first party you ever played at and how has the scene and your music evolved since then?

Sway: Now, that’s a good question. The first gig I ever had was at the old Gettafix, I thank Bruce for that. He’ll always be my hero. He gave me my first gig. Dave Mac gave me my second break which was at a club above Mama Africa called Upstairs, which my husband owned though we weren’t married at the time. That’s how I met him.

My first outdoor party was a Beartrap event, and funnily enough I was supposed to play in the evening but there was some issue with the generator, so they had to put me on in the afternoon. Rinkadink and Broken Toy played at that party too. It was very rustic back then. Parties weren’t like they are now, there weren’t the event regulations that we now have to guide things. Mostly, they were really well organised squat parties.  It was fun, it was underground. Everyone was grubby and dirty. Layered clothes and dread-locks were the in-thing. It’s changed since then, I think it’s become slightly more sophisticated. If you look at the younger kids who come into the scene now, they all come from a club background. They come to outdoor parties not necessarily  for the psy but for the outdoor party experience. I think, as organisers, we should acknowledge that. This season, Beartrap is going to break away from our tried-and-tested formula which has worked in the past. Now, we have our following, we have our base and we are going to try to give people more of what they want.

sway at fiction photo by equinox experienceAt Fiction, photo by: Equinox Experience.

Psyked: From the organiser’s perspective, what’s it like trying to cater for such a growing scene? Is it more difficult nowadays because there are so many party-goers? Are there more needs to satisfy?

Sway: I find that the biggest problem is that five years ago there was a party every two weeks and every one got a certain amount of people. Everyone’s parties did well because there was enough of a break in between each one.  But now, there’s a party every single weekend, and every season. I think there are enough people to feed all the parties but I don’t think that outdoor psy trance has the pull to get enough of those people to all of those parties. For example, if on one weekend nearly five thousand people go to  The Sunflower Festival and nearly the same number attend Alien Safari the following weekend, there’s a pull of ten thousand people you can tap into. But a lot of those people are not coming for the psy and that’s what makes it hard. They’re coming for the outdoor experience so they’re going for the brands they know. You have to build up your brand. I think it’s going to be tough on the smaller guys this season. People are going to have to think clever with what they’re doing.

sway at village photo by LV starAt the The Village, photo by: LVstar Photography.

Our philosophy has been to always bring only new talent to Cape Town. We debuted Menog, Smash3DTryambaka, Dapanji, Sinful Reactions, Orca and the list goes on and and on. Then we see other people bringing out acts that we debuted. Because we debuted them we did okay but now they’re making the money on it. This season, we’re bringing out Class A who was just here for Sunflower and got a really good reception. And we’re bringing Dapanji back. Hopefully we’ll debut Ranji’s progressive project as well, which is very funky and very sexy music. We’re also going to look at bringing down acts that have done well in the past but we’ll still try and bring new talent in also.  I don’t like force-feeding people things. In the past when we asked for feedback from the fans regarding the acts they wanted to see, they’d just repeat acts that have already been here. But it’s slowly changing and I feel that the psy followers are becoming more involved in what the artists are doing by getting to know which acts are connected to which, who is collaborating with who, what the different sounds are, where the DJs are playing and so forth. I don’t think it was like that five years ago, so that’s brilliant.

sway with bliss photo by dreamer.Sway with Bliss, photo by: Dreamer.

Psyked: Speaking about progressive, at the Eqlipse Full Moon event this winter you played a more “progressive” set. We’ve seen many progressive side projects start up lately. For example, Bruce has Synchronist  and EMP has Contra. Can we expect any more prog from Sway?

Sway: It’s a hard one. I don’t think prog is the right word. We need to come up with a different way to describe what Class AGhost rider, NeelixMorten Granau and those guys are producing because it’s not progressive. But this is the tag we have given it cause it’s slower. The music Gandalf plays, for example, is slightly more progressive in style (even what Wulfsohn played at Equinox Exclusive).
I still see it as full-on, it’s just slower. So we’re not looking at 145 BPM, we’re looking at 135 BPM, which is quite a lot slower when you have to move your feet to it. I really love it. I think it’s funky, I think it’s sexy. And I think it’s got melody, it’s got groove and it’s got the most essential psy trance quality which is a banging bass line! So yes, I played the same kind of set at Sunflower. I’d like to do the more “progressive” thing under another project name but it’s a challenge because Sway is already well known for the psytrance/techno sound. I’d happily play the progressive tunes on a Saturday night when a Sway set is booked but I still want to do a full-on set at the party. (Yes, it’s selfish, I admit it). I don’t want to lose touch with the full-on. That’s what I love. That’s how people know me and love me, too.

Psyked: I’ve heard that when you’re behind the DJ box that you adapt and alter your set according to the particular crowd. How does the vibe and energy of the dance floor actually affect you as a performer?

Sway: That’s a powerful question, Tia! It all depends on the event. At The Side Show, for example, I play for a more commercial crowd.  So I know that if I play tracks from Smashed or Orca, they might not go down as well. I can still play them and the dance floor will still jump up and down but ultimately, as a DJ my job is to be a conduit for music and to give the dance floor what they want. A producer gives the dance floor what they play, a DJ has to read the dance floor. On the other hand, when I play at Equinox Experience (Wednesdays at Fiction) I will play a similar set but less commercial with less vocals and when I play at Vortex,  I’ll plan a set that is much more psy-orientated, without any vocals at all. Having said that though, if I drop a track and see that the dance floor doesn’t respond or the back of the dance floor starts to empty out, I don’t play the whole track. I immediately move to something else and I’ll change the style, change the sound of the bass line, change the tempo and bring in a little bit of electro or whatever.

sway at mungus colour of time
At Mungus Fungus.

I’d say the hardest dancefloor I ever played to was a crowd, this winter, who just wanted electro. It didn’t matter what I did, they weren’t interested. It might even have been at the Side Show. I remember I dropped ScrovinskySkrillex and Deadmau5 and suddenly the dancefloor just picked up. I wasn’t even playing psy trance anymore but luckily I just happened to love that music and I had it in my bag. As a DJ you have to adapt. I have eaten a DJ’s set list that was given to me on a piece of paper, so I feel quite strongly about that. Know the direction of your set, maybe have an idea for your first track, see how the dance floor responds to that and then take it from there, that’s your job.

Psyked: Is there an event you’ve played at this year that you really enjoyed, or a moment when you really felt the vibe of the dance floor?

Sway: At The Village at the end of last season, I played an old school set on the second dancefloor. Then they closed the main dancefloor a bit earlier so everyone came down there and then I went from playing a two hour old school set to playing a nearly two hours long Sway set. The dancefloor underneath that small tent was just amazing! Everyone was obviously still psyked up from what they were getting on the main stage and they just brought that whole massive vibe with them. It was super.

sway at soulstice festival photo by michael yankelev 2At the Soulstice Festival, photo by: Michael Yankelev.

I thoroughly enjoyed playing at the SOULSTICE FESTIVAL in Joburg too. The crowd is different, it reminds me of the old free range parties from eight- ten years ago that I never ever played at because I wasn’t DJ-ing back then. But it’s a very hard crowd. They’re not like Cape Town fans who are super vocal. That’s why the international acts love playing here. Nobody shouted on the dancefloor in Joburg, it took me 45 minutes into my hour set to get a whoohoo from them. I really had to work it hard.

Psyked: Would you say that the Joburg psy scene is growing somewhat?

Sway: I definitely feel that it is. They also have a much more forgiving winter so their outdoor season can potentially be longer. It’s freezing there at night to the degree that your fingers will stick to the buttons on the mixer. But even though it’s cold, it’s not wet like Cape Town so during the day the sun will shine and people can still party. I think the Joburg scene is growing. There are a lot of good organisations out there who are buying space and every one of them seems to have their own unique brand, style and what they want to offer. I think that’s important. I see a massive amount of support by the organiser for each other which is great, too.

Psyked: So Remanufacture is coming up and it’s Beartrap’s first outdoor party of the season. The theme this year is IndepenDANCE, what inspired the name and what’s the message behind it?

Sway: The Cape Town scene has become very competitive among the organisers. Once upon a time in a land far, far away, we were all really close friends. I would go as far as to say that we’re still friends but it’s become competitive. I can’t say much more than that. It’s something that’s new-ish to the scene and it’s not something I love about it but it’s inevitable. As I told Psymedia in my interview last year, the only thing that we can expect from this scene is change and if we try hold onto it and to keep it the way it was five years ago we are going to throttle it to death. We have to let it evolve. It’s a living, growing community. The indepenDANCE theme is about that. It seems people bleat about which party is better, which party is bigger, who’s throwing the party, who’s going to the party, whether they have been doing it for a decade or one year. But, I don’t think this is the criteria that should be instrumental in fans deciding which events to go to.

Sway at remanufacture photo by EmelenAt Remanufacture 2012, photo by: Emelen Photography.

There’s a Deadmau5 track where the intro said it best: it’s about the music. It’s about a place where music is more important than the promoter, the venue, the DJ, what your man thinks, what your woman thinks. The music is more important than your clique or your clothes. It’s about coming together, being free to dance, to laugh, to express and to do it outdoors and have an amazing time, and be independent from all the bullsh*t that goes on. That’s what we want to do with this party, we want fans to disconnect and reconnect with this in mind.

Psyked: We all know that Dapanji is coming back to Cape Town for Remanufacture, how exciting is this for Beartrap and for you on a personal level?

Sway: Well when they came down for our 10th anniversary – which was our first really “big” party – they were the first internationals that I really connected with. They’re such down to earth, real guys and they had such an awesome time. So I’ve been waiting a while. And I can’t believe they were actually here in February of 2012, a year and a half ago. It seems like five years ago! When they got on the plane to go back home we said we’re bringing you down again as soon as the time is right. So when Beartrap decided to bring down an artist that had already rocked Cape Town, I knew it had to be Dapanji.  I’m super excited and I’m excited for Ranji to showcase his other projects because he’s really blossomed as an artist. Everyone knows Dapanji as super psy tech with it’s funky beats but  I think people are going to be really surprised at what Ranji has to offer with respect to this progressive style which is born from full-on and it is very warming to know that these guys can actually make more than just full-on. They clearly are musicians in their own right. They’re not just guys who are striping together little bits of digital data on a computer. So I am super excited about that.

 

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Read Part 2: Exclusive Interview with Sway.

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