Ace Ventura Interview #Issue 2

5 months ago
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Here’s the interview with the legend himself, Ace Ventura, from our 2nd issue.

PM: Let’s dive right in. Your music history dates back some time, beginning with Children of The Doc, a project which later transformed into the legendary Psysex—making you one of the oldest artists still active on the frontlines. What brought you to Psytrance in the first place?

Ace Ventura: I’ve been into electronic music since childhood. It started with 80s pop, followed by late 80s/ early 90s EU dance music, slowly morphing into sounds of acid house, early techno, and eventually, Goa trance. It was a natural evolution. After listening to Goa Trance for a year or two, I discovered the underground parties in Israel, which completely changed my world. From then on, I attended a party every weekend.

I have been a DJ for most of my life, starting at around the age of 13 with gigs at kids’ birthday parties and eventually moving on to club gigs in Israel. At the end of each set, I would always incorporate more Technoish and Trancy tunes. After discovering psy parties, my next step was to play and produce psytrance.

PM: A fact some people might not know is that your father is the renowned Israeli composer and songwriter Kobi Oshrat, who also wrote the hit song “Hallelujah,” which was performed by the band Milk and Honey and won the 1979 Eurovision Contest. How has Kobi Oshrat influenced your musical journey?

Ace Ventura: My dad would constantly take me with him to studio recording sessions. In a lot of cases, it was boring as I was really little, but it sank in. I spent a considerable amount of time backstage at shows and concerts in Israel, where I had the opportunity to meet numerous famous singers and bands which was quite cool for a kid, and I really liked that world. Another fact that most people are unaware of is that my father’s actual last name is Ventura, which is the primary reason why I selected it as my stage name. My grandfather was unhappy when my father changed our family name, and adopting Ventura as my stage name is my way of continuing our original name’s legacy.

PM: Okay, that we didn’t know! As a veteran artist in the Psytrance scene, you’ve seen the genre evolve and change over the years. What do you consider to be some of the most significant changes you’ve seen, from the Psysex days to today, and what do you see as the future direction of our culture?

Ace Ventura: In the mid-90s, when I began attending parties, the Israeli scene only had two genres: Night and morning. At least these were the terms in the Israeli scene. But it made sense, the night was reserved for dark and more intense music, while the mornings were dedicated to uplifting trance. There were barely any festivals back then: only parties that started at night and lasted till late noon. The strongest hour of the party was the sunrise. Ironically, today this is the ‘graveyard shift’ in festivals. Many subgenres came and went, the longest lasting being full-on, progressive, and dark psy/hi-tech. 

In recent years EDM and commercial motives entered the scene. While full-on music had some vocals in the early 2000s, nowadays it’s a much bigger phenomenon. Many people consider pop songs that incorporate psytrance production to be genuine Psychedelic Trance. The progressive scene went a few steps back, and many progressive artists disappeared. The borders between genres got more blurry. The average BPM is constantly on the rise and it feels like alongside the more commercial music, there is a bigger demand for faster and more psychedelic music. It’s hard to say what the future holds but in my eyes, it’s safe to say that the more psychedelic it remains, the better it will be.

PM: That’s a great pass for our next question. In recent years, Psytrance has become increasingly visible at major EDM festivals like Tomorrowland. On the other hand, we are also seeing Techno DJs incorporating Psytrance tracks into their sets at mainstream events. How do you view these trends, and what impact do you think they will have on the psytrance genre as a whole?

Ace Ventura: I like the trend of popular techno DJs incorporating psytrance into their sets. Overall, I support introducing more people to psytrance and encouraging them to delve into decades of music, explore festivals, and engage in mind-altering experiences. In many cases, this can lead to discovering a new, more conscious way of life. The less positive side of EDM entering the scene is the commercialism of the music and the loss of the original psychedelic essence. It makes artists write music differently, relying too much on drops, Vocal gimmicks, and crowd-pleasing techniques. I think that basically there is room for all genres, it just needs to be managed properly. Ideally, there would be a separate stage for the more commercial trance. Otherwise, the promoters need to curate their lineup carefully and separate the genres wisely, which sadly doesn’t always happen.

PM: So, as Psytrance becomes more mainstream, there are indeed concerns about the potential for commercialization and commodification of the genre. How do you see the role of the music industry in shaping the future of Psytrance, and what steps can artists and fans take to ensure that the genre remains true to its roots and values?

Ace Ventura: When something is good it’s bound to be discovered by more and more people and eventually be commercialized. There is no escaping it, it’s just the way it works.

It has its negative sides but it’s not all bad. It’s up to artists, DJs, labels, and promoters to shape the future. You have the commercial festivals and you have the underground ones. Thankfully, a lot of festivals, labels, and artists still stay true to their psychedelic roots after all these years. It is only up to you to decide who to follow and where to go.

PM: With the rise of digital music platforms and streaming services in recent years, the music industry has undergone significant changes. How has this affected the psytrance genre and what impact do you think it will have on the future of the scene? It appears that the established artists are receiving the lion’s share of the streaming profit, leaving little for everyone else, thus discouraging many.

Ace Ventura: When I started my journey with Psytrance the only way to consume the music was by buying a CD or a vinyl record. There were a handful of radio shows but very few. So, artists had a bigger cut from physical media. Afterward, file-sharing programs like Napster and others emerged, and this was the moment when music, even if obtained illegally, became accessible to anyone online. 

The introduction of streaming services marked the beginning of the end of physical media for all music genres. The main point of this historical account is that, throughout all of these developments, playing at parties remained the primary source of income for artists. In many cases, income from streaming is insufficient to support a living. 

Fortunately for us, there will always be a demand for parties, as long as the world permits them, as we have witnessed in the last three years. We are indeed seeing more established artists in the lineup these days, and this is mainly because promoters need to sell tickets following the COVID-19 pandemic. The break that we had to take due to the pandemic was difficult for many people in the music scene, including artists, promoters, deco artists, and club owners. After this break, last year we saw signs of hope with huge festivals happening all over the world. So let’s hope this keeps getting stronger, and the parties will return to include more up-and-coming artists too.

PM: Let’s get back to you. Many of your tracks are collaborations with other artists in the psytrance genre. How do you choose your collaborators and what do you look for in a musical partnership?

Ace Ventura: I’ve had my share of solo tracks over the years, but since the beginning, I’ve always found that two minds are better than one. It started with two kids playing around with equipment hoping one day to lead a party with their sound, and it’s basically the same nowadays. Since I moved to Switzerland, almost a decade ago, most of my collaborations are done online, and while it lacks the fun of human interaction it still works pretty great, most of the time. As for choosing a partner, it starts either with a friendship, or just by approaching an artist I really like musically, and vice versa.

PM: Your radio online show “Psynation” with Liquid Soul has been a major platform for showcasing artists in the psytrance scene. Walk us through this cooperation and how Psynation came to be.

Ace Ventura: At that time, only Iboga Records had a great podcast, but unfortunately, it didn’t last long. Therefore, we decided that it was time to create our own. Our idea was always to introduce fresh psychedelic trance to as many listeners as possible and to showcase various subgenres and guest artists on the podcast. We started doing the monthly show five years ago and haven’t missed an episode since. 

Running the podcast on so many formats requires a lot of effort, time, and money, but we are dedicated to the cause! Our fanbase is growing every month, so we have no plans of stopping now!

PM: Last question! Name your three favorite projects currently in the scene.

Ace Ventura: Fungus Funk, IKØN, and Asgard.

PM: Do you want to send any message to our Tribe before we wrap this up?

Ace Ventura: Just a big thank you for this community for existing. I’ve been a part of it for over 25 years, making new friends every time I travel somewhere and enjoying the exploration. I can’t wait to meet everyone again this summer. It’s the best tribe in the world, let’s keep on rocking into the future and beyond!

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