Astrix Interview - Psy Sellout-
Author: Clare Dickins
Monday, 5 December 2005
Like it or not, 27th October 2005 was a landmark day for the global psy trance movement. When DJ Mag announced its coveted Top 100 poll, two Israeli psy superstars had out-polled a host of house and trance household names to become two of the more popular dance acts in the world. From marginalised bush party faves, to sell-out festival headliners, Infected Mushroom (26) and Astrix (75) were confirmed as world-beating kings.
"The big surprise wasn't us entering the Top 100, but more that our music is now being recognised and voted for by mainstream audiences and media. It's a big pat on the back; it's confirmation that our music isn't too underground. I wouldn't say we were mainstream, because psy will never be mainstream, but lately we've felt like we've become more understood," says Astrix.
The 24 year old made his first massive impact on the psy scene with 2002's LP Eye To Eye and together with the likes of Infected, has been pushing the psy sound into ever-increasing accessible waters. "We have to admit that our music is a bit more successful because we try to implement more commercial ideas into it like vocals or guitars or clubby elements. This is especially the case with Infected, but my music also has a 'clubbier' and clearer sound compared with the really heavy psychedelic stuff."
As with any underground music movement, Astrix and the Infected boys have their fair share of critics. Pioneering psy legend Simon Posford is one who's spoken out, labelling the growing commercial aspects of the sound as "dangerous".
How does Astrix respond- "First of all, we have a huge amount of respect for him. He is probably the scene's biggest artist and he's someone we grown up listening to," he says. "But he was lucky enough to start this music when the audience was appearing from rock and the thrash metal scene. At the moment we're trying to bring a new audience and a lot of them come from the club scene, mainstream and MTV and for that, we have to keep some kind of accessibility to the music so the people can really hook into it. The only way the scene can survive is to bring in a new audience. Sometimes we have to shoot to different targets to get this audience and sometimes that's what we have to do."
One new audience that's lapping up psy trance (and particular Astrix's music) is the UK. On average the Israeli gets invited to play there three times a year and has recently had tracks licensed to the Hard Dance Republic and Tidy Euphoria CD compilations. "Every time I go there I play a bigger profile party than previously - like Brixton Academy, which is held at the biggest indoor party venue where they can hold 6,000 people. The biggest highlight has been playing at SW4, which was the biggest dance event in the UK and I was the only international DJ invited to play."
Working on a follow-up to last year's Artcore album is the name of the game for Astrix at present. He says the album will be a two CD release of both commercial and pure psy trance.
After tearing off the roof on his last Melbourne visit in September 2003, Astrix is looking forward to a return visit. "I'm coming with a new live show which I think the crowd will like very much," he says excitedly. "I've set myself a challenge to be very very popular in Australia because I feel it's a very warm country. I personally haven't really been there enough and the carnival will be my big shot [to earn popularity] and I hope from there things will grow bigger and better."