The Birth Of Psytrance Culture in India

Psychedelic Trance has its roots firmly rooted in India. Back in the 60’s, Goa saw an influx of hippies from all over the globe, the Full Moon Party rituals and people from all over connecting mind, body & soul over music and dance. It wasn’t long before Goa was deemed the Mecca for the Psytrance culture.

It began something that would later in the 90’s become a full fledged lifestyle and genre. Amidst this booming subculture Simon Posford is one of the most dynamic, celebrated and loved electronic musician.To anyone who knows psychedelic music, knows and has undue admiration for the legendary producer Simon Posford. He started producing under his stage name Hallucinogen back in the early 90’s and later went on to form the psychedelic electronic project Shpongle with Raja Ram (1200 Micrograms). This changed the way we perceive psychedelic music and are pioneers of the genre we know now of as ‘psybient’ & ‘psydub’.

The Evolution & State Of Psytrance in India

Psytrance as a genre and culture is constantly evolving. We wanted to understand how over time Globalization, Corporatization and the widespread use (and at times abuse) of psychedelic drugs, police crackdowns on numerous raves in Goa, Himachal Pradesh and other areas known for the booming Psytrance culture affected the scene we so strongly wished to remain true to its core. Here’s talking about loyal fandom.

While I do say that the current state of the Psytrance scene does look bleak, it’s still got the same energy and level of transcendence when it comes to the music and the artists who create with the same emotion and new experiences every time. Thankfully, 2018 is starting on a bright note with artists like Simon Posford, Goa Gill, Giuseppe and so many others coming down to India. We hope & pray the sanctity of the scene remains intact and all that truly matters on the Trance floor is good music & vibes!

I spoke with Vir RC who gave up his psytrance project ‘Philostrate’ a few years back to explore and navigate the tech-house world through his Electronic duo project titled ‘VridianMusic’

“It sadly seems as though the ‘Psychedelic’ is being lost in Psytrance culture (barring exceptions of course), I will always feel that the music is forward thinking and groovy as it can be. The scene (just like any other) has its beauty and a fair share of beasts, but it’s no mystery that loads of authenticity and meaning has been lost over the years.” – Vir RC

Simon Posford’s Sonic Adventures

Raja Ram & Simon Posford

It is said that the pair (Simon Posford & Raja Ram) viewed a solar eclipse in India back in 96’ and after that event, they entered the studio and attempted to duplicate the experience in sonic form. The result; a 20-minute track, “…And the Day Turned to Night,” which was featured on a Twisted label compilation titled Eclipse. Simon, who is also the founder of Twisted Records plays in various other genre defying projects like Younger Brother & OTT.

Personally, Shpongle changed my entire worldview when I came across the first track in my mid teens during my first truly psychedelic experience. To be honest, words fall short and are pale in comparison to the complexity of his music and methods of making it. It was how me and millions of people globally were initiated into this whirlpool of sounds and sights that our conscious minds wouldn’t have dreamt of otherwise. ‘Divine Moments Of Truth’ is what describes this feeling best.

“In a time and era where formulas succeed, to have musicians like Simon Posford is an absolute boon. He is a multidisciplinary musician, whether it is organic instruments or sorcery with synthesizers and has been breaking the barriers of time since the nineties. I look up to him fairly because of the sonic paintings he has conjured. Versatility, sophistication are two things I always have picked up on from his music. Being a producer, these are important philosophies that are precious to me. He’s a top example for us all!” – Vir RC

The maestro is headlining and showing us different sides of his unreal mind & music by playing two of his most revered projects – Shpongle and Hallucinogen at The ‘Rang Mini Fest 2018’ at The Junction, New Delhi on Sunday, 4th February.

Shpongle’s latest and 6th studio album ‘CODEX XI’ which released last year is definitely one of the most masterful and forward  pieces of work and Shpongle fans would agree when I say, it only gets better from here.

“Psytrance culture in India is a rising phenomenon. More and more people are opening up to it. It’s amazing to see true masters of the art like Simon Posford coming down after a long time and bringing some serious vibes to the scene here in Delhi.” – Bharat Bindal aka Starlab who is one of the leading psytrance producers in India and is opening for Simon Posford at the Rang Mini Fest on Sunday.

Rang Festival 2018: India’s Biggest Electronic Music Holi Festival

Line-up for Rang Mini Fest 2018

‘Rang’ celebrates 10 incredible years by bringing down the legend himself and this year, we’re all set to witness 4 major international headliners along with a plethora of Indian techno & Psytrance acts.

This year Rang is going out of their way to promote the counterculture by kicking things off with the Rang Mini Fest this weekend and the main festival which is on the Holi weekend followed by an epic after party. Over the past decade India’s biggest electronic music Holi festival has truly evolved into something massive with powerful international + domestic acts spread over two stages.

Akriti Niti Guha speaks to the founders & organizers of Rang Festival & Eventwala, Gaurav Mohan and Arjun Gandhi about the state of Psytrance in India, how it all began and their predictions for the scene in 2018. 

Gaurav Mohan & Arjun Gandhi – Founders of Rang Festival.

Akriti: Tell us about the inception of Rang festival and how it all began?

Gaurav: Holi has always been my favorite festival and before Rang every Holi party only had Bollywood music. So, Rang started as an amalgamation of my favorite festival and genre of music. 2008 was the first Rang festival and even then we had two massive international acts. We received such a super response the first time round with over 800 people and that just gave us the confidence to build from there. We started something great and we just kept taking it further.

Arjun: Rang has evolved over the years and we started it for quality music and it’s more about the entire experience now. This year, we’ve tied up with TGIF for the bar and Artisan Meats for incredible food. We have  planned everything meticulously and have 100% organic colors which are a part of the ‘goodie bags’ handed out, which has all sorts of ‘Holi essentials’. It’s truly the best of everything!

Akriti: What does it take to bring mammoth artists like Simon Posford to India?

Gaurav: We’ve been trying to book Simon Posford for the past 4 – 4.5 years! Being the master musician he is, he’s always touring and the only reason we’re doing the Mini Fest is because those were the only dates he had available.

Arjun: Simon is also super excited to be playing both his projects in the capital after almost 5 years. We hope everything goes smooth.

Akriti: This year, Rang is bringing down 4 major international acts (apart from Simon Posford) and some stellar domestic acts too. What is the whole budget allocated for artist booking?

Gaurav: We started Rang as a party for our friends & family and that’s the vibe we’ve maintained from the very first edition. The budget is always dynamic and varies depending on availability of the artists and our rapport with them.

Arjun: Shpongle is definitely one of the biggest & most expensive artists we’ve booked and we’re so excited and nervous (laughs).

Akriti: Tell us what you feel about the current state of the Psytrance culture in India?

Arjun: It’s all over the place. There’s a very clear lack of professionalism when it comes to the industry and there’s a need for a more accountable and responsible way of organizing and planning Psytrance festivals & parties.

Gaurav: We feel there are pro’s & con’s, of course. Psytrance listeners are extremely supportive in the sense they’re there just for the music and are happy to shell out when it comes to music and artists. That is very encouraging. We have maintained our credibility and that’s perhaps why artists like Simon agreed to do the gig in Delhi in the first place. Personally, we feel it’s electronic music we’re focusing on and that in itself is such a vast space to be in.

Arjun: Yeah, we plan and make sure the line-up and the music goes with the mood. It’s not just random music playing. We see which genres work best and we usually start off with some techno & progressive and after that it keeps building from Trance, Full on to Twilight and Forest.

Akriti: Over the years, what has Rang’s contribution been to the Psytrance scene in India?

Arjun: I think we’ve always pushed the boundaries when it comes to the kind of artists we’ve booked for Rang and the vibe that we’ve managed to maintain. We’ve had masters like Azax, Ace ventura, Ajja, Hilight tribe play back to back for 2 years. Also, we also have a strict no-nonsense policy when it comes to disruptive elements in the party.

Gaurav: This year itself, we went all out after Shpongle and we think there’s a nice balance of Techno, Progressive, Forest & Full on. Apart from the Psytrance & international acts, we have some stellar techno acts as well which includes a Qilla showcase with Kohra, Jitter and many more. There’s really something for everyone!

Akriti: What is the expected turnout & turnover for Rang 2018?

Arjun: We started out this year with keeping a cap of about 1800-2000 people. At times, we’ve crossed 3000. I don’t want it to be a huge fest since it would lose its sanctity and will be more of  a commercial fest. In Fact, we stop entries at the festival as we don’t want a situation where there’s not enough alcohol, food and that can be a vibe killer. Most of our work and responsibilities are taken care of completely in house. I take care of the programming and everything else Garry oversees.

Gaurav: At Rang, everyone knows everyone so in that sense It’s more like a family. It’s more about the support and love for the artists & their music. We never started this out as a means to make money or profit. Over the years we’ve stuck to this formula and it seems to be working.

Akriti: With more and more artists and festivals popping up, what are your predictions for the Psytrance scene in 2018?

Arjun: The fact is that artist management companies have also become much more smarter in the sense that they do proper research about the booking companies and that is our strong suit.  

Gaurav: All I can say is that we were the first ones to begin the Holi festival and now a lot of people have jumped on the bandwagon but we don’t think of them as competition really. We started this out 10 years back and with each year, we believe in ourselves more. Pulling off a full on festival is easier said than done. People have always loved and supported Rang and place a lot of trust in us and we’re humbled. That being said, if this goes well, there just might be a possibility of Simon playing at the actual festival next year!

Rang Festival

Rang Mini Fest 2018 Event Link :

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