The third electronic music event of the 2015 calendar, the Spring Equinox Cyber Tribal Gathering, is happening this weekend, presented by Electric Forest. The Echo spoke with Duncan about how it all started and what it is today.
How did Electric Forest begin?
Electric Forest began on the shores of Goa in 1989, inspired by the beach parties evolving at the time, and incubated slowly in the forested sub-tropical hills of eastern Australia, moving to Byron Bay on the cusp of the millennium.
What is the guiding ethos?
Dance free, dance safe to transformational music in an immersive, audiovisual ultraspace…
We don’t tolerate violence, alcohol or drug abuse at our events, and encourage the participation of families in an uplifting, harmless, high-vibration environment. The key to this is respect: Respect for yourself, respect for one another and respect for the land. Without this framework of reference, foundations cannot be laid. Electric Forest has always supported local emerging and established artists in many fields. The value of community-based dance events cannot be underestimated.
How has it evolved over the years?
Electric Forest began as an idea that appealed to a rag-tag bunch of eclectic musicians, artists and performers that sought to bust out of the restrictive paradigm of straight society and grok the emergent electronic subculture. It has always been ethically based, contributing to charity through its organisation of the local Earthdance event for many years as well as supporting local artists, community not-for-profit organisations and environmental activist groups.
Electric Forest has always sought out cutting-edge electronic dance music, moving over the years from psychedelic trance to a more contemporary progressive sound.
How is dance life affirming? How can it change people and their environment?
Dance reflects the natural rhythms of our biology and the natural world in which we live. It harmonises our natural vibration with the music that moves us, our environment and with those around us. Dance is very liberating and connective on both a human and macro cosmic level. It feels great, and freedom to self-express through movement in a temporary autonomous space is pure soul food.
Why dates such as solstice or in this case the spring equinox?
The sun is the source of all life, and humans have celebrated the quarterly stations of our life-giving star for millennia. The spring equinox is a special time and space in the revolution of our planet around the sun in which to celebrate the end of winter and the arrival of the warm embrace of summer.
Why do you think music is a universal language?
Nada Brahma is a Sanskrit term that means ‘the world is sound’. All of existence is vibrating according to universal scales of proportion and harmony. Every particle in the universe, all forces great and small and all information takes their characteristics from the pitch and pattern and overtones of their particular frequencies. Music transcends spoken language and speaks a profound and harmonious lingua franca that is both inclusive and unifying and is key to a more spiritual experience of consciousness. Before we make music, music makes us.
What is Electric Forest today?
Electric Forest has become an industry leader in the domain of ethical/transformational electronic music events in the Byron Bay region, providing event management, consultation and resources in a separate and distinct role and offering fee-free assistance to ethical community events. After twenty years of experimentation, a few train wrecks and a lot of love and support from our beautiful community, I think we have arrived at a special place.
What should we expect for your upcoming event?
Scott Freedman from Mahala Music in Melbourne will be delivering up a blistering DJ set of edgy electronica supported by an established local favourite DJ Pob and a very talented She J mixing up a delicious house set. Add a world-class audiovisual feast from Crystal Grid coupled with awe-inspiring fire performers and the beautiful natural environment of Kohinur Hall, Electric Forest will deliver a world-class mini-festival in the hills of Byron Shire.
She J kicks off at 6.30pm. Kohihur Hall on Friday.
Tickets are $25 on the door, or contact me directly for limited pre-sale tickets ($20). See facebook.com/ElectricForestProductions
Vegetarian solstice feast catered for by Vego Gone Troppo – delicious samosa, spring rolls, salad, cake, coffee and chai. From 7pm.