Reported by Tara / Submitted 02-09-14 00:46
Having quickly established itself as one of London’s leading psy trance nights, Tribal Village continues to push musical and visual boundaries. With another epic line-up carefully programmed for the next adventure on Saturday 6th September, the psychedelic playground is looking better than ever with live sets from Allaby, Cimi, K.I.M and Imry (who’s playing his first live); DJ support from Dillan M, Face, Lauren Lyon, Mr Mush, Neutrino, Nova, Sean Spindrift, Young Kim and Jay OM; and UK debuts from Somatrixx (Germany) and StereOMantra (Hungary), who’ll be showcasing his album Projections.
Listening to Projections I was instantly impressed by the incredibly smooth sound quality and beautiful progression, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise to discover that Robert Rohaly aka StereOMantra is actually a classical pianist and composer who’s been creating his own music for many years. Fill a glass and make yourselves comfortable as this venturing virtuoso tells HarderFaster about his road to Tribal Village…
Hi Robert, thanks for taking some time out to answer a few questions ahead of your set at Tribal Village next week!
Hi! Thanks, the pleasure is mine…
As well as producing electronic music, you’re also a classically trained pianist and composer. When did you first start making music? And can you remember what inspired you to make the jump from keyboard to computer?
Acoustic piano is really close to my heart. I’ve always enjoyed the scale of sounds it can handle compared to other instruments, so I can go as deep and high as I wish. However, I think emotionally I never experienced a real soundtrip from classical piano sheet pieces so I needed to quit music art school at an early age. I started experimenting with unique sounds on the piano coming from my own head.
Meeting the drum patterns of the early trance electronic tracks by the end of ’90s made a real change to my life, recognizing what I had been missing until then. Some tracks contained piano sounds and I just loved them. I realized that I “only” need to break through the technological obstacles in order to express myself. Actually this observation made me choose the way of learning information technology in general, but I only knew it in my unconscious mind.
The most important part of my first computers was the soundcard. I had already used tracker (DAW) software by that time and made my first music compositions, but of course the quality was really poor compared with recent technology. So I jumped into the IT business and got lost in its labyrinth for long years until eventually I returned to my origins.
When I was younger I didn’t see the point in having chill outs at parties and festivals as I thought I went to events to dance not chill out. But these days they’re often my favourite part of an event and I could have spent the whole of Boom at the awesome chill out stage and gone home happy. Have you always been into the chilled side of things, or, like me, is it something that’s developed with age?
Needless to say… my favourite place is the chill stage as well. It’s quite logical to say it is coming with age, so the elders take a rest in the chill when they get tired of hard dancing. Yet, the reason might be more complex. There are plenty of subgenres being played at the chill stage. Some of the artists want us to rest and others make a real “chill disco”.
Eat Static’s Ozora performance this year was a blast, most of the people were dancing crazy while T.S.R’s music made us lie around, nodding our heads and levitating. In my opinion a whole festival could be happily spent only around the chill place.
Moreover, I believe the chill out genre can produce more “durable” tracks. I mean if the gist of a track is caught, it will stay with us for a longer time, can be adjusted to many more situations of life, and can be everlasting. According to my own subjective opinion, in general, the higher bpm trance tracks can give an instant but not a long lasting feeling, it’s more likely you will go back to a chill track again later on.
Speaking of the trance feeling, the tempo is not important, a set can be constructed starting at 70 bpm accelerating even up to 140; the audience will still consider the journey as a chill out trip. The slower bpm takes me into the future while the faster puts me in the present and then I “arrive”. Danceable chill out for me is a kind of magic, capable of activating all my 7 chakras.
Your ‘progressive psy chill’ is the perfect combination of styles for me, as I’ve started DJing chill out and prog at psy parties (as FlibbertiGibbet). I especially love the freedom of being able to mix what could be considered other styles up in chill out sets. How would you describe what you play?
I think the term progressive comes when the boundaries of genres are dissolving and something new is being born. The psychedelic components give the context and audience, while the “chill” is only a distinction by the actual tempo.
I did not plan my way, my heartbeat gives me inspiration and I just put it into the right context. I used to listen to progressive house but I found it somewhat boring due to the low number of instruments and the lack of enchantment. Now I’m considering approaching the 130 bpm tempo range, which I believe is currently a gap in the psychedelic field. My only real goal is to create sounds only coming from my heart that my brain can convert to a deep feeling and vice versa. That’s my point.
Which artists have influenced your work the most over the years? And now?
At my early stage I was listening to popular mainstream trance like Chicane. Later on I moved to a psychedelic ambient line: Asura, E-Mantra, Cell, Koan, CBL, Solar Fields, Tripswitch, Suduaya. Finally, I found my way with GMO&Dense “chillgressive” tunes, Astropilot, Ascent&Argus’ brilliant trippy chill outs, Lab’s Cloud’s amazing purity and Zero Cult’s great feelings. On the trance side Ovnimoon and U-Recken, just to mention the biggest faves.
I’m looking this way as my inner development, as I can hear and feel more and more of the purity of drums and sounds. Currently all of the above mentioned artists are giving me strength, motivation and influences, but I’m always on my own path to create unique new tunes.
You released your incredible album Projections a few months ago, with one fan saying it made him feel like watching a movie. Was there a deliberate theme or concept to the album, or was it more a collection of your favourite productions at the time?
I really liked this comment, as the way of creation was indeed similar to watching a movie. It’s really nice to read the feedback and see others getting my point. I needed to tell my story somehow. I made myself completely free for 1.5 months and got it done in one deep breath.
The theme came during the composition, my only aim was to collect my clearest synth voices under the hat and adjust them to my blood pressure. It was a wonderful journey inside myself and around the world while it was snowing out there and the darkness ruled. There was summer inside me and by the time the first rays of the spring sun appeared, the album seemed to be ready.
My sister, Viktoria joined in the production and the final version of each track became a result of collaboration. I think it’s an important aspect to involve more ears into the phases of work so the music will become more alive. I think we will definitely work together in future projects as well.
You’ve also released a downtempo album, Magic Garden. How would you say this music differs from that of Projections (if at all…)?
I believe it is different in many ways. Well, that album was being made very slowly, it took at least a year to finish because I could only do it besides my job. There was no album concept at all, it was rather all about learning and finding a way. I was strict with myself every time I heard something different from my imagination. The inspiration came from my travels and the energies collected on summer festivals. I could only tag the album as “downtempo” since it’s partly classic chill out, café del mar, partly psychedelic, I still don’t really know. It’s not “unified”, just a compilation of my path-seeking works but I’m really glad knowing that some people found tracks matching their mood.
Since you first started producing electronic music in the ‘90s the digital age has completely changed the way music is produced, played, distributed and promoted. How has this affected what you do and how you do it? Do you see it as positive or negative overall?
It is obviously all positive for me that I can reach the world with my actual stuff. Everything is within arm’s reach when you want to show something to the world. You can release your album by yourself, you can learn about the rights, contact your favourite graphic artist, advertise, protect your work at author’s rights bureau, chat with your favourite label’s managers, create a website, publish a video etc. It’s all natural by now, the network is essential, we are really connected.
And the best part is that composing music itself can happen on the same virtual platform. I have my hardware as well but those are mostly for better controlling the virtual tools. I used to have hardware synthesizers and I’m planning to use such things again, but as an IT engineer and a soon-to-be chef I’m really into the virtual world and the creation itself.
Despite that we seem to be living in a nicely organized world, for those who just want to jump into the world of making electronic music I would recommend they organize their ingredients, folders of samples and all their other stuff thoroughly, in order to get rid of the technical problems and focus only on creation. I’ve seen many people giving up too early, those who had a real creative mind, only because they get lost in detail or go too deep into comparing the pros and cons of software and stuff. There are indeed plenty of tools, but all recent stuff is capable of giving a professional background for musicians. I only encourage everyone to just practice if they have the slightest intention.
Is there anything you would do differently if you were starting out again now?
Actually, yes. I’d like to go back in time 10 years and focus all my wasted free time into music composition When we have the intention we should not linger. But that’s all. Everything is great the way it is, all things come true when they are timely for us and we are ready. It’s never too late.
What magic are you busy conjuring up in the studio at the moment?
Since I have just finished the improvements to my home studio, I’m really excited and can hardly wait to face this winter. I’m already full of ideas, I plan to make a beautiful new “chill trance” album until spring. Anyway this summer also inspired me to make new tracks, including a nice collaboration with a Hungarian psy chill artist, Yarn. It is not a secret that you can expect a new EP soon.
Being signed to Free-Spirit Music, you’re part of an international community of artists. When did you first hook up with Jay and Bridget and the Free-Spirit crew?
It is a really fantastic feeling for me to be part of Free-Spirit label. I’ve always seen myself as a free spirit so it makes me stronger on my way.
About the first contact, I prepared an album concept and demo this March and sent it out to the world as a signal of my presence. They got my signal there at Free-Spirit and contacted me. I knew if they like it, we must be on the same wavelength and so we are. I’ve always thought that all good cooperations are based on understanding each other at a human level. Jay and Bridget have a very good sense of choosing their team, regardless of the tempo of music they concentrate on novel things and also the man behind the music. It’s a great pleasure to create in such an inspiring colourful community from all over the world.
A friend of yours has made a gorgeous video for your track ‘Spaceship Earth’, how did this come about and did you give her a brief?
For the last couple of years I’ve been keeping an eye on the activity of my Greek friends Anna (aka Ambientlife Ambient) and Nikos (aka LIVEatGOA) in the field of chill/ambient. The are producing incredible time-lapse videos not only for the lovers of psychedelia.
They simply open the gates between different people and show everyone how to travel by the wings of music, literally. Music itself can make you fly anywhere but I’m keen on presenting the global/universal oneness, the colours of the world and that we should take a step back when observing the whole thing, so nothing can really hurt us in life if we do so. Through their videos I found a perfect supplement for my present and future electronic music compositions and of course for other artist’s tracks as well.
‘Spaceship Earth’ is an unreleased track and Anna has created a wonderful video for the track. I didn’t even need to give her a brief, yet she had done perfectly what matches my imagination. This is real magic, we are all connected through music. This time again I’d like to say thank you to her and Nikos for the videos they have already made for my tracks and I really hope we can continue this fantastic collaboration in the future.
You believe that art and science meet perfectly in psy trance: by this do you mean music is the art and computer software the science? Please explain!
This is the point. Art requires tools just as the painter needs canvas and a paintbrush, the “analogue” musician uses physical instruments, the new age digital artists are using a processor and peripheral devices. The outcome of the digital art is just as valuable as the physical. Computer graphical artists might speak of the same impressions, I only refer to music.
I believe psychedelic trance and chill is the music of future, the music of people seeking enlightenment and peace. Compared to strict acoustic instrumentation, in psy music we happily welcome every kind of voice, there are no rules above enchanting our brains. That’s why I’m saying psychedelia is something above the actual tempo.
The hippy community has been always there where something new is being born. The cutting edge of the past music could be acoustic but what we now call psy trance is being created by using the most up to date technology. That’s why I believe art and science meet perfectly here under the hands of pioneer artists.
What’s the psy trance scene like in your home country of Hungary? If I came to visit, which parties should I check out?
There are 2 major festivals for the music travellers in Hungary: the legendary OZORA and the relatively new SUN. Both of these attract the international community as well. Besides these, there are some enthusiastic Hungarian teams organizing mini festivals or 1-2 night parties all year long, there’s a chill out stage as well in most cases. And there is a growing need for these parties.
Overall we have more and more people opening their 3rd eye and changing their way of life and psychedelic culture plays an immense part at this point.
I’d definitely recommend to visit the above mentioned festivals.
You’re making your UK debut at Tribal Village next Saturday night. Why should readers come and see you play for the first time? Is there anyone else on the line-up you’re going to make sure you don’t miss?
I’m really excited about Tribal Village. I’d like to recommend my set for those who need to experience some new kind of progressive chill out tunes which make them move. I’d like to invite everyone on a trip between 70 and 120 bpm and there will be some new tracks that have never been heard anywhere before.
The line-up is incredible. I’m really interested in the sets of Jay OM, Imry, CIMI and Allaby but I’m sure all the artists will do their best. I simply can’t wait for this event.
Finally, what are your plans for the rest of 2014? And beyond?
2014 is the year of my lifetime so far, I only need one more thing, to transform my positive feelings into a new album. I don’t know what next year holds for me. My only wish is to participate in more festivals and events, either as a musician or visitor. I want to feel more of the vibe and meet enlightened people and I’m sure that all this energy is going to be transformed into music.
Thank-you Robert! Looking forward to seeing you next week!
I thank you. All questions were excellent!