Ever since I arrived in Israel last summer, I have been amazed at the prevalence of the psychedelic trance music scene here. A genre that I had thought of as underground in my hometown of New York, a small select scene only for the daring and the dark, is so popular here in this tiny, tiny country. I hear it on the streets, in people’s cars, on the beach, at the juice stand down the street from my apartment, in the elevator at boutique hotels, EVERYWHERE. As music is the universal language that transcends all other boundaries of communication, I found it easy to bond with people over this genre and started to learn a little more about the psytrance scene here. Naturally, when I found out that there would be a super secret “nature party”… in the Negev desert… on PURIM, the BIGGEST party weekend in Israel… hosted by the eponymous psytrance label Tip Records, featuring Shpongle, Raja Ram, Hallucinogen, 1200 Micrograms, and more, I knew I had to be there and couldn’t keep the experience to myself. Purim is a festive Jewish holiday, and according to Jewish law, it is a good deed for adults of drinking age to get so drunk that they can’t tell the difference between Mordechai (a hero in the Purim story) and Haman (the villain). On this holiday, people dress in costume, like Halloween, but for EVERYONE. Noisemakers are encouraged. Add some untz to the mix, and BOOM – you’ve got yourself a Purim Party. Thanks to the beautiful Caeli La, the Lost in Sound Crew, and in conjunction with Sensible Reason, I was fortunate enough to have some follow-up questions about the show answered by the Godfather of Trance himself, Raja Ram.
Before we begin, I want to thank you for a wonderful show yesterday. The energy never ran out, the pulse never stopped, the sun never really rose… It was my first time seeing you play solo, and you really vaporized my senses. I can’t imagine what it feels like to have touched so many people with such high energy on the biggest party weekend in this country.
[LIS] I’d like you to think back a couple of weeks to the show you played in Goa. Tell us about the show; what was the highest point for you?
[Raja Ram] GOA was amazing. A special season, parties everywhere, on the beaches in the jungles. It was mad and awesome. The prime moment, it was a free party on the beach, Shiva Valley. The sun was going down like a red tomato, into the silver mercury coloured glistening ocean. My wife, my daughter, my grand daughter, all dancing on the beach, with 1500 people all around listening and swaying to the new Shpongle album.
What keeps you coming back to Israel? In a country where it is not uncommon for artists to cancel shows at the last minute or not even come at all, what brings you back here multiple times a year to play?
Israel is the best, it has the most trance parties in the world. It’s the most turned on, the maddest, the most passionate party animals on the planet… The party was massive.
In the desert. They built a Lotus stage, and Brahma Templeman did the decoration with his super psychedelic fluoro art.
The name of the party was “TIP: The Story.” Although The Infinity Project website gives a beautiful history of the label, we’d like to hear about it from your perspective. On Facebook, you posted that this was 20 years in the making… And now it’s happened. You told us the story through your music yesterday, now can you put it into words for our readers?
I played at dawn, a retro TIP HISTORY set, some of the classics of our 1000 plus releases. It was so good to feel the love. Simon and I played at two in the morning, and for me it was the best Shpongle duet experience ever. The sound was like a crisp lettuce at dawn, perfect, clear, and warm. And Simon playing live synths on top… Wow. And the crowd so beautiful… It was a magic moment.
As Shpongle, you and Simon played some new material yesterday. What inspired you to get back into the studio, and did you get the response you were looking for from it? Do you happen to know when we can expect the complete new album?
We hope to finish the album by the end of April, and release it early summer. The album is very different in a lot of ways, but very “Shpongled.” The running name is MUSEUM of CONSCIOUSNESS. The idea being many rooms in the Psy Castle with different moods… Some darker… Some weirder.
Are you planning on visiting any new countries that you haven’t yet been to in the upcoming year?
Japan this week, Israel again in March, Swiss in March? Nope, probably less.
At the party yesterday, I noticed a difference between the Israeli dance moves and those of the crowd back home in New York. Traveling all over the world, have you noticed different energies and styles of dancing and what is your favorite?
Brazil is hot. Pretty girls wearing shades, very social. Israel is hardcore, longest and most energetic. Russia is intoxicated but having it large. Japan is amazing on all levels; it’s like you have scored a goal on every track… A lot of total madness. Love it, and shopping is a dream.
Who is your favorite Israeli psytrance act if you have one, and why should the citizens of the world give them a listen?
The costumes were the best ever. Better than Halloween anywhere or carnivals… Extra ordinary visions all day and all night. There was a girl who was dressed as Lord Shiva, totally blue… All the trimmings, fantastic! Others as giant bananas, gigantic… Plumage, headdresses, masks, disguises… Some hilarious you just had to see it to believe it. And the party went on and on from the night ’til dusk.
From one global citizen to another, what is the first thing you pack in your suitcase when you travel?
My CD wallet, my two flutes, a torch, headphones, undies… The torch in Goa is the most important.
There you have it, friends. The costumes, the passion, the madness. These are all a part of what keeps the psytrance scene pumping life out of the heart of Israel. Thank you so much, Raja Ram, for answering my questions, and thank you world, for listening!
Written by Nina Wanerman