This week, Dreamland chatted with Aussie psytrance legend StomPsy about the joys of playing underground doofs, the scene in Tassie, and why all psytrance does not sound the same!
How would you describe your sound?
It’s very uplifting, melodic psytrance. I want my music to be driving but with a fun element – I don’t think psytrance necessarily has to be twisted. I like to play the border of that sound, keeping it clean and having the power in the BPMS, but not necessarily sounding twisted while everyone is getting well twisted.
Who/what are your creative influences?
My driving influence is Nano Records and DJs like Tristan, Avalon, Electric Universe are the main ones. But in saying that, I personally think Australia has a lot of inspiration to draw on. We have so much talent coming out in this country. Skwid, Zone Tempest, Frump – their production skills are incredible.
Do you prefer DJing or production?
I’ve been DJing five years and producing for about three. I like them both for different reasons but I’m getting way more into the production side of things, really wanting to push my sound. I’m driven by being able to finish and play a body of work that’s mine.
How many festivals or doofs have you played at?
OH, I have no idea! There’s been so many! I played Esoteric this year, that was special. I got to play at Rainbow as well, but mostly I play underground doofs.
What is better: Playing an underground party or a big festival?
The smaller parties have the people who are passionate about the music, not just the people who have seen it online and want to go to it because it’s the “in” thing. The people love music and they’re there for the right reasons.
When you have a party with 600-700 people who are all friends and friends of friends who get invited, they all really love that event. The big ones, well the system and the production level is immaculate. You wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Where did your name come from?
I can’t really take credit for it, I have to give that for my partner Megan. I was playing under my own name for God knows how long and I wanted to have a DJ name that worked with what I was about. I was trying to think of something for ages, like three months.
Then we were at a doof one day, I walked into the campsite and said, “Fuck I love stomping to psy!”. Megan said, “Literally put those two words together and boom! There’s your name.”
Is it Stomp-Psy or Stompsy?
To be honest I really don’t care how it’s said. Say it how you want. Do you! It’s like psytrance, interpret it any way you want.
How does the Tassie scene differ from other states in Australia?
It’s a lot smaller, like, a lot smaller. Go figure. I still find it quite strange how everyone knows each other. It’s like living in a little country town. Tassie is very intimate – even in indoor gigs it is very intimate, you always have that relaxed vibe.
Are there many indoor gigs?
Thloop is an initiative we started. It’s bringing the outdoor vibe indoors, just for safety. It’s gone pretty well, we’ve had big artists we had Grouch, Perfect Stranger, Nanoplex. I got to hang with Yuli from Digital Structures and last week we had Megapixel came down. People are starting to realise you can still have fun inside.
Plus, it’s pretty cold in Tassie right?
I hate winter here. That’s probably my main driving force to want to play down here. It snows and stuff!
Do you listen to your own music at home in your leisure time?
No, I can’t say I do really. I listen to artists very similar to what I play but I don’t want to get oversaturated with the style I play by listening to it so much I hate it. Not that that’s ever happened with a song, but I would hate for it to get like that. I love music.
What would you say to someone that thinks all psytrance sounds the same?
Prog is usually the first genre of psytrance that you’ll hear, and you can get sick of it quickly. Spend the time to actually listen to more psytrance if you think it all sounds the same. Most people hear three tracks where there’s a rolling kick bass and they think it all sounds the same. The kick bass may get repetitive in the heavy stuff but you gotta look past it. If you spend the time and look through it there is so much stuff there you can get hooked. There’s a genre for everyone there within it.
What about people who are “genre snobs” and only want to listen to one style?
I think psytrance has enough subgenres that you don’t need to choose just one. There’s a time and place for all of it.
It is meant to be a journey and by playing one genre at an event you’re not giving people that journey. Having it light and then moving into the heavier stuff, it has a flow. It’s not just an individual song that has the flow, it’s the whole event.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about making music?
Be yourself. Do you. Don’t go out and try to play to the crowd – it really just doesn’t work. If you want to be good, you want to be doing it for yourself at the end of the day. If people can vibe the love that you have for that music and you portray your passion to people and they see that, that’s what it is all about.
If you’re trying to play for people that’s where you sort of lose it. Back in the day, I’d play more prog because that was the set time or the party’s genre, but it probably didn’t work because it wasn’t me being me. I get the best crowd response when I play the music I love
Advice to people just starting out?
Do you. And persist. You are gonna fail. You’re gonna run into walls. You’re gonna have hurdles where you play a shit set and everyone hates it. If you are playing a show with good DJs and your playing sub-par compared to them, you probably won’t want to continue. Don’t get disheartened. If you get disheartened you are going to give up.
No one is going to be the best or great or even good straight away. Just keep going. If I compare my first set to how I play now it’s ten times different.
I don’t know if it was me or my mate, but we were playing a club show and he was plugging in the computer and I was fucking around and next minute the mixer isn’t plugged in and I had a whole room silently staring at me. The music completely cut out, the lights were still going off but the mixer wasn’t turned on. It was probably five minutes to get it back up – it was pretty embarrassing. It was annoying because it was on us. It wasn’t a technical fail, we should have been careful and we weren’t.
I also probably failed early on with stupid DJing techniques back in the day, not knowing how to DJ properly, dropping a song at times where it completely didn’t work.
Esoteric this year was insane: Just being on a lineup of that size was special.
But in terms of best set or party, it probably wasn’t the biggest. There were like 1000 people at New Dawn in Victoria over New Years. The vibe of the party, the crowd, the energy of the music through the whole thing… it was just one of those parties where you walk in and absolutely instantly vibed. I played after Pacman at 5 pm in the afternoon – it was quite pleasing to play the afternoon while people have the energy to dance.
Guilty musical pleasure?
I reckon probably like 2005 emo rock. Get my iTunes out and put My Chemical Romance on.