HarderFaster veteran Tom Psylicious aka EarthAlien has been writing and contributing to this site for many years, so it was only fitting that we finally featured him just in time for his fabulous 50th birthday. In typical Psylicious style he isn’t doing things by halves, instead planning an epic 36-hour online music marathon, 50 Spins Around the Sun, to raise money for The Myelin Project over the coming winter solstice weekend. With an awesome international line-up in place and the stars aligning to ensure this is one very special party, we spoke with Tom to learn more...
Hi Tom, thanks for taking some time out to answer a few questions ahead of your 36-hour birthday party on Psylicious Radio over the winter solstice weekend.
Firstly, I’m so sorry about the recent passing of your father. I appreciate you’ve been busy planning his funeral and it must have been a massive shock on top of an already very stressful year.
Somehow, on top of everything that’s been happening, you’ve managed to put together a massive 36-hour online event that features some of the most impressive names in the psychedelic trance scene. How did this come about and how on earth did you get so many incredible artists on board?
Hi Tara, thank you for your kind words and condolences. Admittedly it has been a very cruel and challenging time over the past days. Cold, cruel and barbaric sums it up! Trying to keep in focus has certainly been difficult, but yet helped by the wonderful support by all the artists and DJs involved behind the scenes with 50 Spins. Having a certain coping mechanism in place also helps, it is how you pick yourself up from these situations and move forward.
50 Spins has been planned for over a year now. It celebrates my 50th and at the same time leads us into a very special winter solstice and planetary alignment that will only happen once in our life time, and at the same time raises awareness for a charity close to my heart, The Myelin Project. These are the three elements combined that make 50 Spins Around the Sun what it is.
2020 is about making positive things happen or as we call it, making magic. 2020 has been a very rough year for everyone on a global scale, so my 50th is a perfect opportunity to do something a little more special for everyone. Psylicious Radio has always been about giving something back to the scene and fans since we first launched back in 2007. We re-launched in 2019 after a short break and continue to retain the same ethos and concept for each show we do; be it an artist or DJ showcase or record label showcase, it’s what we are known for, combined with the free promotion that goes with it.
The line-up projects a healthy balance of fresh, up and coming, established names and names that deserve the title of being legendary pioneers. You could say we have a perfect bag of psychedelic all sorts.
Many of the artists and DJs involved I know or have either worked with in the past or work with now. I work very closely with RIGEL and Auricle, so collectively we have all reached out and pulled it all together. It helps that Psylicious is an established name and has been around for a long time and our work, standard and presentation is recognised.
There’s more to your event than just music though, isn’t there? Please tell us a bit about The Myelin Project, the charity the event is for, and why we should support it.
I lost Mum to MS a few years ago. So in memory of Mum I thought it would be fitting that The Myelin Project would be a perfect final piece of the jigsaw puzzle and give more meaning to 50 Spins as a whole.
I have always admired the work of The Myelin Project, they do what they say on the tin so to speak. As a charity they work on research into demyelinating diseases such as ALD, AMN and also MS. Also, because its origins are true from personal experience, through the determination of its founders Augusto & Michaela Odone for their son Lorenzo who suffered from ALD – a rare genetic disease that deteriorates myelin in the brain and central nervous system.
The Ordones developed a treatment called Lorenzo’s Oil named after their son and what became to be the dramatised film Lorenzo’s Oil. As charity’s go, The Myelin Project comes from the heart and is a charity that has made a difference to so many. I shall be wearing my Myelin Project t-shirt with pride on the 19th! I just want to say a huge thank you to Francesco Ordone and also Kathy and the trustees of The Myelin Project for allowing this opportunity to transpire.
To understand what the Ordone family went through, the film Lorenzo’s Oil is the perfect starting point. I first watched the film back in the early ‘90s just after it was released; since then it has always resonated with me and conveys an amazing message that anything is possible through the power of love. It is a beautiful film and for those whom have not seen it, I recommend it.
The artists and labels supporting 50 Spins Around the Sun are a testament to your lifelong involvement with the music scene, particularly psy trance. For those readers who don’t know you, can you please give us a run down on how you got into playing and promoting music?
I fell into it all by accident. I enjoyed some kind of escapism away from the profession I was in.
I was into bands such as The Damned, Specimen, New Model Army, ASF, Mission and many others of that genre. I had grown up being a huge fan of Pink Floyd, Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Gary Numan and was introduced to the sounds of Ozrics, Hawkwind amongst others – I had and still do have a varied taste in music as a whole and collected music since I was a kid.
My friend at the time was DJing in a rock, alternative venue, so at the end of each night the owner would ask me if I could take some flyers with me to hand out in the city I was working in at the time. So you could say I started at the bottom, flyering events! I’d always be stood watching him DJing as primitive as it was back then and one night, he showed me what to do, asked me to take over whilst he nipped to the loo. Anyway 20 minutes later he stumbled back and the rest is history as they say. I got totally bored of that scene after a few years and wanted new experiences.
The late John Peal used to play some amazing and diverse music on his shows from artists such as Dr. Devious aka Guru Josh amongst others. Combine that with pirate radio stations of that era, new sounds started to resonate with me. Back then it was just house and techno before the sub-genre divide, however the trance element has always been a sound I have enjoyed most of all. It was Goa trance that got me hooked onto the trance sounds.
Towards the late ‘90s we put a few monthly events on as one offs and then stuck with one called Gold, which eventually ran bi-weekly. At that time the super club events such as MOS, Gatecrasher, Cream etc. were at their prime. It was a huge success and filled the venue every event we put on. We gave Matt Hardwick his second residency in the UK away from Gatecrasher, as well as giving Marc et Claude their first UK gig. Gradually I gave into the pressure of the overground sounds being more commercially viable than the sounds of the underground that I enjoyed more, Goa trance and psy trance as example.
I had worked on the TdV memorial night at the Arches, which again was a huge success that then led to me working for the venue as promotions manager with another TdV memorial event planned following on from the previous. Unfortunately, due to ‘industry politics’ it had to be cancelled at the 11th hour, no thanks to a certain event in the south, no names mentioned! In hindsight it was the wrong move, but everything happens for a reason. When industry politics destroys hard work, it’s wrong on every level and a dirty tactic, it’s the ugliness of the industry – it affects everyone involved directly and indirectly. It’s just selfish in my opinion.
After leaving the Arches I was head hunted by Louis and Dan and invited to work on their event at Bed being Scream; they also ran Scream in Bristol, at the Sanctuary before moving to The Old Firestation. As promotions go, I was working for a very well-oiled machine with one of the best in the business and a breath of fresh air, so for that experience I will always be thankful.
I’ve worked with most types of ‘dance music’ over the years – the only difference is the choice of venue, music and décor. The promotion factor and logistics remain the same. It is what you put into it that matters.
I’m known for working behind the scenes, oiling the cogs that need to keep turning, and I have helped numerous labels, events and festivals with advice, promotion and marketing, both street level and online for many years.
With Psylicious you could say I went back to what got me into the whole dance music thing in the first place! Call it a comfort zone: music I absolutely love and am passionate about. I was involved with artist/DJ management before, so for me it was simply turning the light switch off and locking that door and moving forward with Psylicious.
You’ve worked in the music scene since the early ‘90s and as well as DJing as EarthAlien, you’ve also managed venues and events as well as a load of artists; what have been the highlights of your time in the music industry?
The many people I have met along the way and friendships that have been formed have to be at the top of the list.
Tony and Kerryanne from Visual Rhythm, our friendship goes way over 20 years now. Tony was working for Shug aka ‘Man In a Suitcase’ at the time, I was sat on the railings in Gatecrasher, gathering my thoughts before flyering one of our events at kick out time. Tony came bouncing up to me in his theatrical way and introduced himself, we’ve been friends ever since. I was contacted by an agent for rock band Breed 77, they wanted a fire show for the music video World’s on Fire for MTV. This is what Visual Rhythm specialised in and we had less than 24 hours to get it together.
When a well-known record label tried stopping me with what you could call an industry political game of chess. They had asked two very close friends of mine to sweet talk me into closing down what I was doing and going to work for them on their promotions team with a key position.
However, it backfired on them. I saw it a mile off, what they were attempting to do when they told me, and yeah I stuck to my guns, I stood my ground and asked my friends to tell them to **** ***! Check mate! That has to be one of the most priceless moments ever!
Being involved with Be Psychedelic in Poland, not just as a DJ for them, but also being a patron for them giving them promotional support. They are a great crew and I absolutely love playing at their parties! It’s a relationship that both Marcin and I had pre Be Psychedelic since around late 2007 and it’s thanks to John Phantasm of Phantasm Records that our connection transpired and still continues. Marcin is a great friend and Polish brother.
Our launch event for Scream is always one that will stand out. For those who don’t know Dan Prince, his parents formed DMC and Mix Mag. Dan turned up and made a bee line for me, wanting to know the percentage we had in… I really did not have a clue percentage-wise, so blurted out a guesstimate of 72% that I hoped would suffice. Anyway, he came out of the venue with a huge smile on his face, ushered me inside and said, “Congratulations! 86% and counting; you’ve done us proud, well done.”
As the founder and manager behind Psylicious DJ Management and booking agency, you’ve promoted and managed some of the psy scene’s most important artists. Who do you currently have on the books that you recommend we check out?
For chilled out downtempo beats definitely Rita Raga is worth keeping an eye out for. Her voice is very unique and a great asset for a range of musical projects!
For progressive it has to be N.A.S.A. in my opinion his musical genius is way overlooked, not forgetting his dark project Mutalisk. Both Mikkel’s projects are nothing but quality!
RIGEL is also not just a well-known name, but an artist who sticks by his guns and keeps it all very real, also a fantastic guy to work with. We have a wonderful working relationship be it Psylicious-related or the work we do together with Metabolizm Records. He definitely lives up to his name being the brightest star!
Infernal Gift is also an artist worth checking out: he is more known from his Robert Vadney days with Oakenfold and many others, however he changed musical direction into what he is now doing with Infernal Gift. It works and his music has its place on the trance-floors!
For the DJs, definitely Auricle: I’ve known Min a long time and she really packs an audio punch where it is needed. Her sound has evolved and matured nicely over the years and she is also co-creator of Psylandia with DJ Sarana – they both work tremendously well together!
For the darker sounds Dryad. Maja and I go back many years, established Psylicious and Psylicious Radio and her sound as a DJ has evolved so much. One of her pivotal moments was spinning a 4-hour set at Alex Grey’s CoSM for Visionary Tattoo.
DJ Sarana is really starting to gain momentum; this girl is on fire! The story telling and energy she puts into her sets is very special. She is also co-creator of Psylandia with Auricle – a great female combo!
As someone who’s so actively involved in the music scene you must be constantly sent demos and tracks by new artists. What up-and-comings have impressed you recently?
Admittedly there are so many artists/producers and so many DJs in today’s world. The digital era has made getting promos a lot easier than the days of mix tapes, vinyl test pressings and then CDs being sent out and often ‘lost in the mail’. I once complained about this in DJ Mag in the letters section and ended up winning letter of the month and a UDG vinyl bag! Bonus!
Finland-based producer Oden is a producer who really stands out for me, from the Blue Hour Sounds label. I love his sound and the depth created. His music is beautiful and you can catch him on the 50 Spins line up! He is one producer who really needs to be heard more, so yeah check him out!
Swiss producer Sonosphere is another artist to look out for. He lives close to Braincell, and had production lessons from him. He released his Feline Dominos EP on Metabolizm Records this year. His music certainly shines through and has great potential.
Working with Metabolizm Records, four names that stand out are: KrisTiaM, TERAMOON, Aster and Nihal. Each has their own mark within the realms of psychedelic trance and veer away from the more generic copycat sounds that seem to saturate and dilute quality production.
A couple of remixes that have really stood out for me recently are…
GhostNote’s remix of the Cosma classic Keep Going recently released on Phantasm Records really does hit the spot. Cosma was light years ahead with his production, sadly no longer with us. In my opinion GhostNote has really done this track the justice it richly deserves.
Microtech’s remix of JourneyOM & Hypnocoustics’ Kinesiooptic on Free-Spirit Records is another that stands out. I’m a huge fan of both JourneyOM and Hynocoustics so this is definitely one for the CD wallet!
You’ve published something like eight artist interviews with DJs and producers from the Psylicious roster over the years of 2008 to 2013 on here, but this is the first time you’ve actually been interviewed. What’s the one question you’ve asked that you always wished to be asked yourself?
Yeah, it’s been a bit weird being on the receiving end here. I’ve never really thought about it, so would not know off hand. Apologies I can’t answer that one more fully, I don’t know…
There are around 18 hosts of 50 Spins Around the Sun last time I checked. Just coordinating your promo team is surely a mission in itself?!
I don’t really look at these things as a mission. Admittedly Dad’s passing has really thrown me off guard in a huge way and knocked me sideways, making my creativity a little fuzzy… but having said that, everyone involved are doing what they can, no pressure. Online I work very quickly and have stuck to a format that works and is recognised; years of doing this becomes second nature. The only difference is more towards the way social media has taken over and content does not engage and click as it once did within forum communities, which let’s face it, need to make a serious come back!
Looking at the event page you’re hosting the event over Soundcloud. What’s the best way for readers to sign up and get updates?
You’re also going to be playing: do you know what time your set it going to be yet so we can tune in?
I was born at 10.22pm, so will be around 10pm on the 19th and then closing the show down with a final set for 50 Spins.
Finally, what plans and goals do you have for the future when things finally return to ‘normal’?
To keep on going, keep evolving and at the same time grow at the organic rate we have been doing. There are going to be a lot of fresh releases coming up on Metabolizm Records, a label I’m involved with over in Canada. I think the reality is we just have to go with the natural flow of whatever normal happens. You never really know what is around the corner until you’re faced with it.
Thanks so much for your time Tom and wishing you all the best for this amazing event!
Thank you, Tara, it’s been an absolute pleasure. To all the artists and DJs involved in 50 Spins, from the bottom of my heart, thank you all! Enjoy the show and wishing everyone a good Christmas and prosperous New Year.