Local Airglow Records producer ‘Surge’ Talks People Power

Hailing from the northern rivers of NSW, Surge has recently struck a golden cord in the Psychedelic music scene, most recently releasing the extremely popular EP – The People’s Power.
Tracks on the release skyrocketed up the charts peaking at number 4 on Beatport during April earlier this year, rivaling trance veterans of the game, such as Neelix, in purchases.
Formally part of the duo Raw Flo, Levi’s solo project has seen him welcomed by crowds at some major doof events up and down the East Coast of Australia, throughout Victoria and even internationally.
He made his international debut on stage in Thailand last year, playing for a massive crowds of locals and tourists alike. More recently though Levi has been getting back to his roots in NNSW, playing sets at events like Rabbits Eat Lettuce, Wobble Weather and Airglows very own Psynight at Cocomonga’s nightclub in the cultural nightscape of Byron Bay.
Recently Dreamland caught up with Levi at a private location in Byron Bay and we discussed the success of his Djing and producing career, the popularity of his new EP and amongst other things his opinion of the culture and trend of the Australian doof and festival scene.
Why the name Surge? Is there a philosophy or motto behind “The Peoples Power”?
Surge the name, I came up with after creating my solo project; I needed a name to go with it. Surge means ‘of a crowd or natural force, to move suddenly and powerfully forwards and upwards’.
So I thought it was fitting for an electronic music name. And The Peoples Power represents both the power of music to the people and also at the time there was protesting going on around Northern NSW and so the People’s Power was displayed a lot around the time of release through the protesting as well.
What’s the main difference you’ve noticed between playing in nightclubs and playing at outdoor music festivals? Which do you prefer?
I find that nightclubs tend to get a mix of crowds, people both not interested in the music and people that are. Because they’ve got people that’ve just blow in off the streets and are just there for the sake of it. Outdoor events usually draw a crowd of people that are interested in that style of music, [psytrance].

What were the highlights for you both personally and as a musician playing for such a large crowd in Thailand last year?

It was extremely rewarding and huge for me to be given the opportunity to play for such a massive crowd. Definitely a highlight in my musical career.
It is great to see you more active around the area again, before hitting the solo track and becoming Surge you were primarily playing at gigs in Victoria with local boy Jack Gallagher under the stage name Raw Flo. Why did you decide to start your own thing? Do you think we will eventually be seeing another Raw Flo set anytime in the not-too-distant future?
Jack and I both got into electric music production at the same time and started our project, Raw Flo. Which was a lot of fun at the time. We were bouncing off each other with ideas and were living with each other, so it was really easy to collaborate.
When I moved back up to North Coast NSW I found that it was a bit more difficult to collaborate so I started my solo project Surge and pursued that, instead. But definitely could see some Raw Flo sets in the future – with some old school tracks.
You’ve probably by now experienced almost every type of outdoor music festival; do you ever think you’re going to get sick of the scene? Personally I cant stand how drug orientated doofs can be at times.

I think I could definitely get sick of the unprofessional scene, like unprofessional promoters and that aspect, but the professionally organized parties I don’t see myself ever getting sick of.
I do agree that both in the professional and unprofessional parties there is a lot of drug orientation, which can be boring after a while.
What other types of music are you interested in and what other artists have you been influenced by?
Massively interested in all genres of music. I love acoustic and that sort of music. But electronic music and psytrance in particular is what I’m mostly influenced by. Artists specifically would include, Twilight and Unseen Dimensions. As well as other Airglow Records members.
Funniest or most embarrassing moment at a doof that you’ve seen?
Funniest moment definitely Southern Oracle, still not sure if it was 2009, but a while ago. There was a guy that had taken his clothes off on the dance floor and was masturbating in the middle of the dance floor. He had to be tackled because he was creeping everyone out.
He looked like a bit of a threat also. There ended up being a pile of people trying to take him down. And on top of the pile there was a hula-hoop thrown. Turned into quite a big thing and he was taken away in an ambulance later on.
If you could play at any festival in the world, where would it be?
Within Australia, Maitreya would definitely be the festival I would love to play at. If given the opportunity. Internationally, BOOM, I’ve always wanted to attend. If I was given the opportunity to play at that festival it would just be a life changing experience. It would be amazing.
I checked out the Airglow Records site the other day and listened to some of your tracks. Lucidity has almost 10,000 plays on Soundcloud alone. That’s a tremendous feat in itself but when you tally up the plays as both Surge and your first project Raw Flo, the play count totals over 100,000. Did you ever see your self gaining so much popularity when you first started out in the game?
Definitely not. I had no idea that I would be so successful. I’m stoked. It’s kind of unbelievable, to have made [such] progress. I’ve already played internationally, I’m just stoked.
I had no idea when I was sitting in my bedroom with a cheap laptop and speakers, just mucking around with electronic music, that I would actually make something from it.
Any words for your die-hard fans out there and where can we expect to see you charging in the future festival-wise?
Well I’ve been experimenting with progressive music as well, which seems to be a bit more commercially viable. As well as pursuing my faster psytrance. So I’m going to go track to track with those two and just see where it takes me.

Psytrance is therapeutic to listen to, it brings people together and gives them a reason to celebrate, whatever their reason. Is there anything to you more satisfying in life then producing music and seeing the positive effects it has on people?

No. I find the feeling of playing in front of a crowd and them dancing to your music [incredible].It’s a representation of yourself. For them to be responding positively is extremely fulfilling. There’s nothing really that compares to that for me.

Check out Levi’s latest more progressive track on Sound Cloud titled Down the Line which features beautiful vocals by Jova Radevska.

© Kaspar Paradox 2014 for Dreamland doof magazine.
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