The Phenomenon of Goa Trance
Ma Faiza was born in Africa and is of Indian origin. She evolved as a DJ in London. She is an Artist, Producer and Head of A & R for Masti Music, India. She DJ’s internationally, travelling around the world, playing at some of the biggest parties and festivals on the planet! Her djing has taken her from
London to India, Germany to Israel, Greece to Turkey, Ibiza to
Portugal….Dubai to Austria…and the journey has only just begun! She participates in some of the most cutting-edge concepts in sound, vision and experience. Welcome to her page!!!!!
A BRIEF HISTORY..
The area of Goa, situated approximately half-way down the western coastline of the southern part of India, has had a colourful history of occupation. From the tenth century until early in the sixteenth century it vacillated between Hindu and Muslim rule. In 1510 it was taken by the Portuguese whose presence lasted, except for a few short periods of occupation by the British from 1797-98 and 1802-13, until 1961. In that year the Indian Army took possession. The presence of the Portuguese for 450 years had a strong effect on the cultural life of Goa, clearly evident in the present era by the many Catholic churches and monasteries and other characteristic architecture, but also reflected in the cuisine and the arts.
The multicultural history of Goa is an important background to the development of the Goa beach party scene in the early 1960s. Goa is an unique part of India with a “special vibe” related to the Portuguese background. The hippies who flocked to Goa could be seen as the “new colonists”, and the locals as being as tolerant of their occupation as they were of the Portuguese. The general attraction of India for the hippies and other misfits was both to its spirituality and to its hashish, (which was legal up to the mid 1970s, at which time the laws were changed with pressure from the U.S).
The available documentation of the early history of the Goa beach parties is scant, but generally most people agree that the hippies descended on Goa in 1968, they met beautiful warm friendly villagers…and a paradise-like haven in which they could…with the utmost freedom…enjoy a life free from all distractions…these people started to have “parties” on the beaches or in the jungles…eating psychedelics and dancing to the music of the time. The majority of these hippies would spend their summers at Goa, then return to Babylon for the rest of the season, but some decided that they would stay there.
The music of the time was, of course, nothing like the music that has come to be known as Goa trance, and around 1980 the staple beach party repertoire still consisted of the Doors, Neil Young, the Eagles and perhaps some Pink Floyd. The pioneer Goa trance DJ, Goa Gil, who was one of the originators of the famous Goa full moon parties, played live with a band, and also DJ’d in Goa throughout the 1970s. When, at the beginning of the 1980s, he grew tired of the “rock/fusion/reggae” music he was spinning, he introduced the first post-punk experimental electronic dance music coming from Europe, the neue deutsche welle, electronic body music.
The international character of the Goa scene seems to be a key to the development of the genre of Goa trance. There were many influences from French and Italian DJs, specialising in electronic music, Australian DJs playing rock, and others playing only South American styles. Also it is believed that the classical music of India played a strong part in the development of Goa trance.
“The freaks and the hippies used to collect the most mind-boggling psychedelic dance music they could find and bring it to India and play it at these parties, and we used to exchange this music……In the old days we used to call it “special music”. It was very obscure and it was very hard to get your hands on. You were a real connoisseur or collector, and Goa was a kind of fraternity of obscure, weird psychedelic music collectors getting together, sharing each other’s music, exchanging it, copying it, and then making parties out of it. The collecting and exchange of music was a central practice of the Goa trance community. The process of absorbing unusual music from diverse international sources often had a liberating, mind-broadening impact on those involved.”
A typical party in the late 80’s involved a PA, a few coloured lights, some black light, and occasionally some psychedelic banners, but not much. There was one dance floor and the music normally started around midnight. Local Indian ladies-‘Chai Mommas’ would set up mats to one side selling cakes, biscuits and chai. There were no police hassles The 1991/92 season, generally regarded as the last important year of Goa parties — there was a party every two days. There had been no parties for one or two years because of one or two problems with the police. Suddenly the parties were on again; everything was in full scale…………the ‘Feeling’ became something that everyone wanted to identify with…..Suddenly everyone wanted the ‘Feeling’ coming from Goa. By this time the size of the parties had increased dramatically and had become even more international. They had between 500 to 1500 people, many Japanese, Germans and Israeli’s.
“The authorities became embarrassed by it….it was getting slammed in the West, about it being a drug haven, and the Indian government were courting tourists and they wanted to bring more up-market tourists to Goa. It never really worked because Goa doesn’t really have the infrastructure. Now, It’s more expensive to put on a party in Goa than it is in London or in any big city in the world. It’s lost it’s innocence…”
THE IMPACT OF GOA TRANCE MUSIC AROUND THE WORLD
In the mid-eighties, as warehouses in Detroit were transforming Kraftwerk into techno, Chicago DJs were creating house out of the ashes of disco, and New York’s hip hop scene was taking popular culture by storm, in Goa the all-night parties were going strong. The electro from the UK, and kraut rock from Germany were making their impressions on the dance floors, as well as psychedelic rock which has strong roots in the hippie movement. In a scene reminiscent of the early hip hop artists taking the drum breaks from their favourite funk records and looping them for breakdancers, the dance shamen in Goa would take the crazy electronic pieces from M.A.R.S. and Eddy Grant and layer them overtop the heavy beats from Skinny Puppy or Front Line Assembly. When Detroit techno took the UK electro scene by storm at the end of the 80s, the acid house craze became what we know as the ‘rave scene’, and the UK hippies that were still visiting Goa every year brought these acid records to India, and it was then that Goa trance was born. The introduction of the tb303 sound to the parties in India was all that it took. Within a few years, artists were inspired by the intensity of the parties in India and went back to their home countries and began producing what became known as Goa trance.
Starting around 1992, mostly in the UK and Israel, labels began to pop up all over the place that were releasing the Goa sound. A few popular DJs picked up on it, including Paul Oakenfold who (I’m fairly certain) went to goa in the early years, and brought its sound to Ibiza, and his essential mix in 1994, eventually dubbed Goa Silver, remains a classic.
Fast-forward to 1995, and an Israeli group called Astral Projection releases their third album, Trust In Trance 3, and it is HUGELY successful, in particular the single People Can Fly was played at clubs around Europe and was perhaps remains the largest cross-over hit for psychedelic trance to this day.
The upshot was an EXPLOSION in the goa trance scene. A growing scene of upper-middle class travellers, rebelling against their parents began travelling around Europe, and eventually around the globe to go to huge outdoor festivals. Voov in Germany, Boom in Portugal, Samothraki in Greece, Koh Phangan in Thailand, and others in Brazil, Australia and around the world, as well as solar eclipse parties in exotic places such as Nigeria, Turkey and in the middle of the Australian Outback.
After the huge increase in popularity in the mid-nineties, there was a bit of a lag, a few labels had to close its doors, and a new, darker, tribal, minimal sound began around 1997, labels like UK’s Flying Rhino and Germany’s HadShot started to move away from what they saw as cheesy- the uplifting, twisty fun melodies of earlier goa music became anathema. Suddenly talking about ‘goa’ was like talking about ‘raves’- it meant that the speaker was not cool enough to know that psytrance is what is cool.
Fortunately, the dark minimal tribal trance was only dominant for a very short period, existing almost as a backlash to the popularity of commercial trance music that took the rave world by storm at the end of the century. 1999 was the ‘year of trance’ according to MixMag, and it really seems to be true. In 1999 it seemed you couldn’t go to a party without hearing the succulent, over-sweet sound of formulaic build/break/build/break shwag trance. Ayla, Madagascar, For an Angel, Out of The Blue, anything that Tiesto played, the crowds ate up. At least for a while.
Meanwhile, across the English Channel, a new movement in psytrance was gathering steam. Artists like Talamasca, GMS, Infected Mushroom, Toi Doi and many others, spearheaded by a label known as 3D vision were focusing on what is known as ‘full-on’. Full on is psytrance that has intense basslines, twisted-up synths and is probably the most gnarly of all trance music. As with many styles born so late in the rave scene, it’s very dance friendly, and the best music for really dancing your brains out to. Perhaps, even better than hard techno or acid techno. Infected Mushroom has become hugely popular, especially in Israel, where they are routinely played on pop radio. Psytrance parties continue to happen globally, and new, awesome music is still being released around the world…..
Words and pics – MA FAIZA – Next issue “ Part 2 – Trance music explained….. Musicology and styles “
Ma Faiza’s Top Ten Albums for ‘Monsoon’ 2006
1 GATATIKA – LEMON STRIKE – Millennium Records
2 FEUERHAKE – RE:START – Synergetic Records
3 ENTHEOGENIC – GOLDEN CAP – Chillcode Records
4 V/A Compilation – BETWEEN THE LINES – Groove Control
5 MA FAIZA & VEET SANDEH – LIQUID DREAMS ->Masti Music
6 V/A Compilation – CITY HIPPY – Globetronica
7 V/A Compilation – PSYMEDITATION 2 – Organic>Records
8 DAO – SOHAM – Peacelounge Recordings
9 AEROSPACE – EARTH – Medium
10 V/A Compilation – OXYCANTA – Ultimae Records