First of all, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer a couple of questions. Your new album One has been recently released. Where did that name come from?
Ocelot: well, when I envisioned the album I was imagining a bunch of hippies holding hands in a circle and was originally going to call it "we are one" as in: everything/everyone is participating in a singular shared reality in addition to the strange personal/group ones we put ourselves through. Then I found out that was the slogan from Boom 2006 and honestly I did not even know until a year later. Not wanting to be a blatant ripoff and ever the editor I whittled it down to "one". I can live with sharing the title with an older work by Metallica, not enough crossover audience, although I WAS playing on a rock/metal festival this past weekend in the Algarve (Guadiana fest)...
Could you tell us how the idea for a downtempo album came to be?
Ocelot: Well it's kind of obvious for a trance artist. I always found it funny that someone would specialize exclusively in not only one genre of music, but one stylistic aesthetic inside that genre...too much. Anyway, you have the main-dancefloor ocelot, and you have the chillout ocelot. Next up is the alternative floor Ocelot, but there I run into the dreaded 'Ocelot Mthrfckrs' who want(ed? not sure yet) the name Ocelot also. There is a folk music Ocelot at a metal band by the same name. Artist names are stupid and we should all just make music under our own names and lets the styles represent as they may...I regret artist names.
In what way the experience of writing a downtempo album and releasing it is different from a dancefloor album?
Ocelot: Well first of all it's a lot slower bpm-wise. The main difference is that in psytrance (especially today) the goal is to whack the person on the head with the most force possible. It's dance music. Chillout/downtempo by its very nature is musical and dynamic.
Could you describe the state of today’s psychedelic scene in one word?
You are a very active member of the psychedelic community. Could you tell us how you feel the psychedelic scene has evolved over the last couple of years and where you envision it will be in two years?
Ocelot: It's bigger now, and more spread out, and very diverse. I don't know if there are so many common threads linking the various scenes anymore. At the same time the appearance of large commercial scenes has somewhat transcended cultures and provided some common focal points for creative efforts. Where it used to be about hard music vs. soft music, it became about dark vs. full on vs. progressive, and now it seems to be about crazy vs. musical as both full on and dark get very fast and explosive and people seem to be breaking away from these iron-clad schools trying to find a happy ground for psychedelic musical exploration. Psychedelic music, by the way, to me means that the music has psychedelic effects and this is transcendent of whether any psychedelic drugs are in the listener's body or not. The music should work by itself and not be just like pop music- clarity is good, but a very predictable defined sonic tapestry is not, in terms of my definition of psychedelic.
What has been your role in this trend and do you feel that you have been a driving force of the development of the scene or a counter balance?
Ocelot: Well I am a counterbalance for sure. I don't see any evidence of my affect on others music in the scene. Some people have told me of an influence I had on their music but I think it's in contrast to the concepts that are colonizing minds in trance right now. These caricatures of dark or full on trance. Dark is for emos, goths, nerds, geeks, freaks. Full on is for jocks, football players, drugmunching party animals and thus more popular because those people are more popular in the high school... sheesh. We are right back to high school. this is retarded (my apologies to any developmentally disabled people, but I have been fond lately of the word "retarded" to describe slow mental processes) My serious question is: why are we abandoning trance to only the children, where are the adults, where is the mentoring? Where is the tribal respect for elders? Why did the elders all leave? Why are the kids trying to drive them all away with fast music? Will someone please show these hooligans how it's really properly done? They are like insects on amphetamines. Kids these days. etc... (partially joking, partially serious. its a perennial situation in this world. I am 34 so you know ;) Its too fast and I'm too old). Well, I guess we can look at the parties in different places and see the different social niches they fill and see how it became a much more youth oriented thing than it used to be. It's like a rite of passage in some countries- the kids are only going on parties from the time they finish high-school until the time they get serious about university. They are only there for that brief "party party" time. Hmmm... are we interested in the lifelong appreciation and growth of our art?
You are an avid participant in the discussions concerning stereotyping within the scene, and its subsequent development. If I may quote: ‘search for the real cutting edge of thought and culture... it’s out there’. Would you say you have found the cutting edge? Or are you still exploring?
Ocelot: Found the cutting edge. Loosing a bit of blood over it. No really, I never found it but I will say it's important to check out what's happening in other scenes and with other music. Sometimes we can learn more from them than from the other trance people and music, which tends to get kind of self-reflective. Psytrance is especially prone to "square white man's disease" and needs regular infusions of new blood. I think the issue is to move beyond the influences of rock and roll and to start importing vibes from other, more sophisticated sounds of music. To me it's ridiculous how trance music never questions some of its fundamental clichés while adding new things into the mix. You hear this standardized kind of beat/bass line with a very square 16th note feel and usually the only relief from the monotony is when they arbitrarily change the key of the bass line and just jump around a bit. Then it's just silly instead of annoying. Yes, I am being a bit harsh, but I am trying to goad some action and thought of my fellow monkeys. Let's not get so complacent here, folks.
The tone in a lot of your outings on today’s scene is rather skeptical, sometimes bordering on contempt (don’t get me wrong, I understand the tone fully). This is however in stark contrast to the atmosphere which surfaces a lot in ‘One’, which (to my ears) conveys a sense of wonder, naivety, and playfulness. Would you say that your music is the aural translation of your opinion on what music should embody in today’s scene (or in any timeline for that matter)?
Ocelot: The critic is an editor. However, he needs something to edit. And you hear only what he leaves, not what he has cut away. First thing is to create something and this requires naivety and playfulness. Then you can edit it. You can be ruthless and cold-hearted. They are two aspects of the creative process. Regarding my conduct on internet forums, I say a lot, quite freely. Probably it's not helping my bookings or fan base. I'm not an alien on a hilltop, but a human with hopes, fears, dreams, weaknesses, strengths, etc. Like anyone. Given a forum I can make an ass out of myself just as well as the next person can.
You’ve called your brand of psychedelic music ‘neurotranz’. Would your latest album also fall under that moniker (e.g. key characteristics: ‘sophisticated’ and ‘power’)?
Ocelot: I would say "Let's Dance!" (coming out on Zaikadelic in October) is the closest I have come to that ideal. It's still a bit messy compared to how I feel this exact moment, but it's already moved so far beyond 9-lives that I can't really wait to release it any more. I guess I will always improve so I need to stop beating on this and allow this album to come out (I've been revising it since my original January completion date until a week ago. Work started before 9 lives was released). FYI there are only a couple of crazy tracks. Mostly its rather smooth. This fast crazy music has pushed me in another direction completely. I am more interested in musicality and depth than the amount of chaos I can put into a track at the moment. There will always be a new generation- faster harder more intense. With time they age. In my opinion the trance scene is catering exclusively to younger crowds and needs to focus on retaining the old school and the middle school etc... More mixed crowds result in wiser scenes with more information being passed around. This is the same reason why having lots of foreigners on a party, or going to a party in a foreign land is very good. There is a lot more mixing of ideas. You see people in one area of the world think that all the people in the world have the same values for music as they do! In fact, each region has its own tastes and sounds, to say nothing of the actuality of individual people and their tastes. Cultural influences vary. Sophistication will involve mixing and new ideas. Novelty and learning are good.
If you had to start your own label, what would your catalogue look like? (e.g., which artists would you like to release work from, what genres, etc.).
Ocelot: It would probably consist of jazz musicians commissioned to produce dance music in a special studio. For sure my label would need some rich guy with a great big studio so we can smoke lots of joints and have great big monitor speakers to listen to sounds on. Maybe like these- (the G1's http://www.griffinaudiousa.com/) or some custom built soffit mount jobbies. Better the studio should be outdoors with only a wall to mount the speakers in and a rain/shade cover for the mixer table computer area. Probably we could have some synths around we don't use because we are all using VSTs and real instruments and doing it all in audio in Cubase... We could have the hottest synths in the world that we won't ever use. It will be very posh. We must buy some expensive tube gear with really shiny front panels. Each piece must cost more than 10,000 euro. Then I will invite all the most interesting artists from all the genres and subgenres of music and we will make a big jam session in various keys and tempos... freestyle. Then we will edit. I would like to use a baton and pretend to conduct these guys while they just jam away and ignore me. The coolest new genre I heard lately is this one, very very underground right now, called "deep silence". It's very deep. It's about phase-canceling out all the background noise/sounds and making complete silence when you stand in the sweet spot of the dance floor. It's very deep and intense. I like it a lot.
You come from the US, a small tribe in the world trance movement, how does that affected your music?
Ocelot: The tastes of the USA are more prone towards breakbeat, dubstep, etc. than trance or straight 4 on the floor dance music. (like UK, Australia, New Zealand, perhaps there is some circuit there?) It's always been a rock music place more than a dance music place. That said, there are scenes everywhere, in Iowa, even in Arkansas. The traditional scenes of San Francisco and New York seem to have lost people over the years, but continue on. There are now many artists coming from USA in all genres of music, this was not the case before, because it was difficult to release via European labels and releasing for the domestic market was often fruitless. The biggest factor in the US dance scenes is the physical isolation from Europe. This has one advantage, however, in that the really basic disco beat clubby boom chik part is less accepted culturally and thus the dance music ends up focusing on more funky rhythms. I think things are starting to mix more. Don't forget that USA is largely made up of immigrants and they have their own connections depending upon how recently they came to the USA. I also must remind people that there are small-minded nationalistic people in every country of the world, you only feel the pressure strongly because of the "300 million people industrialized militarized hollywoodized" presence presented in a red-white-and-blue mcpackage. We are not actually generally more bad people than any other segment of the world populace- just physically isolated and thus the usual quotient of ignorance has more inbred tendencies. Don't worry. We are already being treated for this by our Latin neighbors and hopefully the Puritanism will dry up a bit. If the sex life improves and the repression eases we may end up a bit less violent overall... it might take a generation or two. Actually overall that's my recipe for changing the world. Wait a few generations... 2 or 300 years should reveal a difference or two in human society at least if not the organism.
You've traveled and played around the world, how is trance & party culture different in America? Do you think that because it stayed very much small and marginal it managed to retain a more open mind and more of the original sprit in the US of all places?
Ocelot: Well I should say "I don't know anymore" because I have not been in the USA since last November when I was there for a month. Having said that, I will add an affirmation to your question. Yes. I think it's more pure, idealistic, and hippie in the USA than in the big party centers in Europe, Russia, Asia, South America, etc. Of course right next to the big parties in Brazil you have underground parties also. But the USA has kept psy underground and everyone has day-jobs. They usually don't have a bar on outdoor psy parties for example.
What can we expect in the near future from Ocelot?
Ocelot: As Aaron Peacock I am giving away some minimal techno soon that I have been making for the last year or two. I will be also releasing a free Drum n Bass EP as Neurotransmitterz, I hope to complete a compilation of tracks with various friends. I will start the name vectorSelector again as a project for my new concepts for night music. oCeLoT will get ever more experimental. Mind you, when I come to play on a party I play the music that I feel to play, not necessarily the last releases etc... I have the material for just about any time of day. Just because I release a morning album, for example, doesn't mean someone doesn't book me for a night slot also. The news about how an artist is playing lately takes time to travel around a bit. On parties I like to play multiple sets and for me the booking is more about taking the time to come to an event than about playing a specific set. A few weeks ago in a forest near Zagreb I played for 8 hours night to morning to groovy back to psy then chillout... I just put what parts from what music I feel when I feel it. Ableton... Clip view. Seems to make the most simple sense. Usually I am content with a send to a delay and 3 or 4 stereo channels of outputs to the mixer.
Anything you’d like to add?
Ocelot: Everyone tune in turn on and drop out and build earthship eco-villages. Permaculture is the way. Grow lots of things and compost. Also we need this system of tubes going everywhere in the word to replace both trains and big roads. The tubes will have these ring electromagnets everywhere and there will be capsules inside floating in a magnetic-levitation field (maglev. good concept. don't make a monorail folks. see "chinese monorail mag-lev north Germany accident derail" on google...) The capsules are shot around and controlled electrically, the entire system routes like a network router, moving capsules in traffic patterns for optimum efficiency. The capsules can be fitted for cargo/logistics, passengers, private parties, whatever. Just hop in a capsule and type in a destination. They won't de-rail because they are inside a tube. Tubes can be laid over the land/water or under it, whatever. Very flexible. Do you know someone that would build this system perhaps?
Thank you for your time, effort, and the lovely music!
Ocelot: Thank you for the opportunity to yet again open my big mouth and expound my opinions for the world to poke holes in and take issue with. It makes me happy to hear you say you enjoyed the music! Thank YOU.