Chicago – 1200 Mics
You are part of the very successful band – ‘1200 Mics’ with Rajaram and GMS.How did that come about? How did you meet Rajaram?
Wow…those are several questions…. How did I meet Rajaram? He came to Goa in ‘89-’90, it was his first season in Goa. A friend of his said you got to come to this place called Goa, and he came here. He had never heard trance music before, and he instantly went wow! And he went right back and found a young guy named Graham Wood and they started ‘The Infinity Project’ – the band, which was one of the biggest bands in the early 90’s. Rajaram and I became instant best friends, and he lived here in Anjuna, and me too; so we were together almost every day. And then we were going so many times to see live concerts, live trance shows, and found them always boring to watch. You could like the music, but just watching was never very interesting. So we said we could get together a band and do something more fun, more interesting, that has some visuals to it too, so people could enjoy it that way. We knew Riktam and Bansi fom GMS since they were 16 -17 years old, and we were close with them. Raj got the idea thar why don’t we ask them if we can make a seperate band, the four of us. So that was the beginning, we asked them and they were up for it, and here we are five years later with three albums done, and we are working on the fourth one right now.
What is the vision of the band?
Well, I don’t know if we’d call it the vision of the band, but there is no way of getting high quite like dancing together to this music on a big system. Its a special kind of high and those of us who love that music just love to get out there and dance. Even these small parties, now Goa has become much smaller in the parties… But I noticed the last couple of times here that there is a core group of people who really love dancing and this music, they’re just happy. It gets you high in a very special way. So our vision is that we want to get high ourselves on the music, and make other people high all around the world enjoying this music, dancing together and hearing the special sounds we are trying to make.
How is it having been around the trance scene since the beginning? You must have seen many changes and directions. Tell me a little how its been, where it is now, where is it going…
Well there have been changes and directions. First of all, the technology keeps getting more and more incredible all the time, year by year. and all these new sounds and different things that artists are able to use. That is one thing that has happened. A lot of the older people have drifted away from trance now, and there’s a whole new young generation that has come in, that’s a big change. Even teenagers,they really like to dance to it, they love this music. And Rajaram and I many times have young people come up to us, and say that we are an inspiration, here they are teenagers or in their early twenties and when they see two old guys still rocking away, it gives them inspiration and hope for the future. Many people are complaining now that too much of the music sounds the same, its got a little bit boring, all sounds the same. And I agree in many ways. We are here at Curlie’s, and they are playing trance music all the time, and many of these tracks sound the same. But in 1200 Mics we are trying to do something different, we build layers of sound, and we are trying to make intersting soundscapes, in addition to having strong pumping driving bottoms, which are really dancey, we like to have all kinds of interesting melodic aspects going on in the top to take people flying in their heads. So that is what we are doing… The scene is growing in Brazil fantastically. It is the Number 1 place onthe planet. Its kind of levelled off on most of the rest of the planet. The police are causing problems all over the place, they somehow don’t like this story. So that’s a change as well. And I would say that the parties are smaller now. One other aspect is that before in the 80’s and 90’s, everybody was dressed psychedelic. Everybody had all kind of trance clothing on, now you hardly ever see anybody in anything trance, its just normal clothes that evrybody wears. That’s another change, so some change is going on, but overall this core group of us who love trance music and are dedicated to trance music and partying all around the planet because it just feels so good to all of us to get together and dance together and have fun. That’s what we want to do. The world is spinning more and more out of control. There’s more and more harsh reality for everybody in their lives, and if they can get away a little bit, and just dance and feel good with friends, that’s a blessing. It’s wonderful.
What is the maddest experience you ever had?
The maddest? Well, I tell this story often…I was…(laughs)…its a pretty mad one for all of you, I hope nobody is squeamish. I was trekking in Nepal, and everybody had diarhoea, because in Nepal everything is very dirty, the food and the water, and they had one pit in the back that everybody squatted over, with two stones on the sides to stand on. And its 5 o’clock in the morning, I woke up, and I had diarhoea myself. I ran out in the back there, and I wasn’t quite making it, and I sort of leaped in the air, and I came down and I fell right into that pit of diarhoea! And it was five in the morning up in the Himalayas, and I am covered in @!$%#, and I run over to this little creek, and its like from the glaciers – ice water coming down, and I’m trying to wash this diarhoea off me, and its all over… you sleep in all your clothes because its so cold, so all my clothes are completely covered in. I had to rush back into my sleeping bag which unfortunately was in a guesthouse in a dormitory with about 30 other people. And when everybody started waking up, they were going, ‘Oh my God! What is that smell?!” I had to tell them what happened…
How and when did you arrive in india? What does is do for you?
Well, I arrived in India in 1983-84, And I had been travelling already for years around the Pacific Islands, which I also love. And I met a guy in Borakai in the Philippines, Miguel, who was also a Goa guy, and he said you have to come to this place called Goa, you will love it. And I came here. He said go to ‘Jo Banana’s’ and ask for me, and there he was. I got a house… and I’ve been coming here ever since for more than 20 years. There is no place on the whole planet like Goa, where tens of thousands of people, like minded people who want to live an alternative lifestyle, not the normal way that everyone lives in their countries, but something different, come here to Goa. Its so internatonal with people from all over the planet and everybody is enjoying the beauty of the nature and the wonder of India, I ride my motorbike around and I love it; especially at night, cruising around and looking at all the little scenes happening all over the place. There is nowhere like Goa on the planet and there is nowhere like India on the planet, there is something special, magic that is still alive in India, a very special magic that you can’t find back in Europe or America or Israel. And its hard to describe in words but its something that all of us feel and love. We are in love with India, mad as it is.
What were you doing before you came here?
I got married at University, and all through my twenties I was a businessman in Chicago – in my suit and tie, going to the office in a big advertising agency for ten years; being a businessman and a yuppie collecting all these things, and the house and cars and all of that, but dreaming of being outtravelling the world and going overland to India! Like people were doing then, this was the late 60’s, early 70’s, but finally at 31, I decided to get a divorce and leave that business and I went trvelling and I just never went back, because it is such an amazing planet. Unbelievable.
Where does the name Chicago come from?
I am from Chicago, and there were lots of Dave’s around, my real name is Dave, and everyone called me ‘Chicago Dave’ because there was ‘Amsterdam Dave’ and ‘Sydney Dave’, but slowly that Dave seemed like that dead married guy who used to be a businessman and a yuppie in Chicago, and I didn’t want to be Dave anymore . And some people called me Chicago, so it stuck.
Is it true that when you play with 1200 Mics, young girls throw their knickers at the stage?
Yes, but that’s only in our fantasy. No, I can’t say I have ever seen any knickers thrown at the stage, but there are a lot of girls with their tits out, up in the front, bouncing around, and smiling, and there’s a lot of flirtation, and they ask us to sign their bodies sometimes with Magic Markers. Yeah, we sign a lot of autographs. And Rajaram said he did sign somebody’s knickers once, but I haven’t, and so that is an outright lie!
You have such a great voice. I understand you use it in voice overs and recordings.
Yes, well, in 1200 Mics, both Rajaram and I do vocals, like ‘A thousand years ago’, ‘Deep in the darkest forests of the Amazon’ – that one is me. Aha, you didn’t even realize… yeah, sure, in many of them, ‘LSD’… But I’ve also done about ten tracks now which I would say are more ambient and Ma Faiza with Chicago chill out tracks, more normal kind of music, not trance music. But they use my voice speaking, friends of mine make the music, they give me the music, and then I write the words, I do the vocals. I’ve done about ten of those tracks. About half of them are released on compilations already and the other half are looking for homes. So yes, I am doing vocal stuff too.
Some of your songs have names like ‘LSD’, ‘Marjuana’, Mescalin’… As a group, are you behind drug usage as a way for creative expression? And how much of a role does that play? What does it do for you? What is the experience? Also I will not print this if you don’t want to, but if you want to talk about it…
That’s alright. Yes, i get asked this question many times. And our answer is that we are interested in consciousness expansion, and we believe that all of us owe it to ourselves to explore these other dimensions; there are more dimensions than just our five senses. We all know that, and these different things like marjuana, hashish, help you to expand your mind, open your mind, and your senses come alive. This is one thing that is very important particularly for dancing. That is why in every club all over the world, with all kinds of music from hip hop to rock to trance, people are taking drugs, and having fun. This is the idea, it opens your senses, you hear the music in a different way than you normally hear it, you feel the music in a different way. When you are on the dance floor, and its playing on a big system, you experience this music in new ways, and also many times you have consciousness-opening thoughts come to you; new ideas and perceptions that you didn’t have in your normal reality before. Its a door opening into a new reality, an alternative reality, which is very interesting, and many times people have what we call in English – epiphanies. This means a light bulb goes on, you suddenly understand certain things that you didn’t understand before, and you go – Wow! So we are behind that, we believe in that, and it combines with the high-ness of the dancing and the music. People like to do all of them together, and its a very fun experience. Basically, we all want to be high and happy, and on the dance floor with our friends dancing to this music is one way we do it. And consciousness expansion is also quite interesting and important to us. By the way, for anyone who is using drugs, we always say that they should be very careful with this, and responsible. Many people get to a certain place and they are high and they take more because they want to get higher and this is a mistake. You have to respect these things, and do them with the proper mindset, and not get carried away, and not overdo it. We are not believers in excess, we are believers in use, not abuse.
What are your other influences?
Well, I have to say I’m an old rock ‘n’ roller from way back. All through my teen years I played in a rock bands, and I always liked hard rock and the early heavy metal like Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix and ZZ Top, ACDC, those kind of bands. We use guitar in a lot of our tracks, we like this strong guitar thing, and as DJ’s we see when we are playing our DJ set, and then when you put on a guitar track there is a jump in the energy of the crowd. Something about guitars is also beyond words, there’s a primal something that moves people, and moves me too. When I hear those guitars it really makes me high. So we use guitar a lot, and that’s one of our influences. But I would say in general, Rock and Pop are coming more and more into trance and we like to use them. It brings more and more poeple into the audience, it broadens the group who are interested in trance now. So yeah I would say Rock and Heavy Metal are two of my strong influences, and good dance music, Pop music. There’s a lot of good dance music on the radio also.
Being in India, are you attracted to the mystical sides of India?
I am, but I must say I never went on the sadhu trail like many did. But for sure, and I think its a fascinating thing that the mystical side of India has gone all around the world. Wherever you go, you see Om’s, and people are doing Yoga and meditating and all the spiritual aspects are spreading right around the world. The New Age of open consciousness is expanding and more and more people are interested in this, and a lot of it comes from India. Yeah, so we are always influenced from the beginning and always like to have that around us. Just the experience of being here in India, you have that mysticism in your life, without even consciously being aware of it.
There is no place on the whole planet like Goa, where tens of thousands of people, like minded people who want to live an alternative lifestyle, not the normal way that everyone lives in their countries, but something different, come here to Goa. Its so internatonal with people from all over the planet and everybody is enjoying the beauty of the nature and the wonder of India…
When you are in a creative mode making music, and you use magic drops; how is it different, the whole experience?
When we are in the studio, we like to use these magic drops, for the same reason I mentioned before. It opens your senses, you experience and you hear the music in a different way. And as we are creating the music, we also have different feelings and special ideas and responses to what we are doing as we are making the tracks. So we do believe in that and it works very good for us.
Does it give a different edge?
Yeah, its definitely a different edge and usually we make most of our tracks in two days, and we spend the first day preparing all the different sounds and sequences and ideas; and then the second day we take a magic drop and start to listen and put it all together. And that’s how we make all our music, and its working very good.
You start with the left brain in a way, and then you get into the right brain and it all flows..
Yeah, that’s a good way of putting it. I like that left brain-right brain thing…yeah
Maybe its my way of trying to understand it…
No, no, but the left brain is more organizational, and we set it up the first day; and the second day we open up the right brain access and start flowing with it….yeah
Interview and photo by Kamakshi