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Telling Cosmic Tales with DJ Strophoria
Reported by Tara
Submitted 03-03-21 17:15
Joeri Haven aka DJ Strophoria first started DJing in 2002, falling so hard for Goa trance that it quickly became his main source of inspiration. He was soon playing all over his native Belgium and the Netherlands, producing his own Unio Mystica events that helped his homeland become part of the international psychedelic trance scene. A chance meeting with Free-Spirit Records main man JourneyOM led to him getting signed to the label and now, he’s just released the latest FSR compilation, Cosmic Tales.
With the VA cruising up the Beatport charts, we sat him down and asked him to tell us some Cosmic Tales for his fans at HarderFaster…
Hi Joeri, thanks for taking some time to answer a few questions for us! First, happy belated birthday! I hope you had a great day despite the lockdown. Second, congratulations on your awesome new compilation, Cosmic Tales, which has skyrocketed up the Beatport charts and was up to no. 15 when I checked earlier!
Hey Tara, thanks for the birthday wishes. I had a lovely lazy day together with my beautiful wife and some good dinner; what more could a guy ask for? . . . besides a party of course, but as you know, that’s not possible these days unfortunately.
Thanks again, I’m super-excited with how the compilation is doing. We even made it up to no. 6 in the Beatport charts!
I was totally blown away by the massive support and all the warm and good reactions to Cosmic Tales. Especially because of the Covid situation, I didn’t expect this kind of support from all over the globe.
It’s difficult to read the public or audience now about what they need or want, because you can’t play before them anymore. So, this made me even happier than I could imagine, seeing how people reacted to the compilation.
I know from working on our Lunar Phase compilation for Free-Spirit Records that putting a VA together can be much more complicated than you could ever think and usually takes a lot longer than you first expected. How has it been for you and did it turn out as you initially planned?
Hehe, funny that you asked. You’re completely right about that. It’s definitely a journey on its own.
Jay aka JourneyOM (our beloved Free-Spirit Records label boss) Invited me to come and play at one of the legendary Tribal Village parties in London. After this epic event, he asked me to join Free-Spirit Records and to make this compilation. But that was already more than two years ago, so it took me a little while to get it ready.
First of all, you want a compilation to reflect in the best possible way the style of music you as a DJ or a label stand for and are known for.
Second is to get all of the tracks together of course. Let’s say that it has been a process to gather the right tracks from the right artists at the right time.
It didn’t go as I’d initially planned it or wanted it to go… but the process in itself made me even more satisfied with the final result of the compilation.
Your compilation is called Cosmic Tales: is there a theme or a concept to it, or is it more of a collection of your favourite tracks around at the moment?
The title actually comes from a moment in space where JourneyOM and I were joking around at a party in Goa and came to the conclusion that we’re actually nothing more than two cosmic jokers and life itself is nothing more than a cosmic joke. From there the title eventually grew into Cosmic Tales.
The tracks on Cosmic Tales are all united by the fact they are all absolutely banging tunes with uplifting psychedelic cosmic melodies and lashings of acid. For you, what makes a great track?
The answer to this one is in the question itself! A good track for me has to be psychedelic! That for me is the main thing! With deep and heavy hypnotising basslines alongside twisted soundscapes and furious leads, going from creepy textures to blistering acid lines… reminiscent of the days of yesteryear.
For those reading this who don’t know you, can you please tell us a bit about your background. How did you first get into dance music and DJing?
As a very young boy I was already listening to the early hardcore and trance tunes. After some soul-searching between the different genres of music like reggae, punk rock and hip hop, I eventually stumbled upon Goa trance and it was love at first sight!
I attended my first Goa party back in February 1999 when I was 15 years old and from there on nothing was the same anymore. My love for this music got me playing my first official DJ set in 2001 and the rest is history. I started playing what is now known as old school Goa and evolved through the years to what my style is today.
I got DJ residencies at numerous Belgium parties and soon after, started organising my own parties named Unio Mystica for 10 years and in doing so, made my mark on the Belgium psychedelic scene.
Can you remember the first moment that you fell in love with psychedelic trance?
Yes, I can; I was listening to a Goa CD at a friend’s place and was totally mesmerised by the sound and vibe of this crazy music. All I wanted was to find a party where they only played this kind of music. In those days that was easier said than done, because Goa parties were still very underground back then and by invitation only.
After so many years in the scene, you’ve played many amazing parties and festivals. What have been the highlights of your musical career to date? And what goals do you still have for the future?
There are so many moments that have been a highlight for me. Of course, playing at all of those parties in Belgium and around the globe are amongst them. Being able to play at parties like Psychedelic Rave in the Netherlands or Tribal Village in London and the three times at Experience festival on Ko Tao in Thailand is definitely one of the best.
But also the 10 years spent organising my own parties and being able to share the stage with some of my personal favourite artists.
My goals for the future…
I would love to play at BOOM Festival or OZORA of course. I’m also producing my own music now, so of course I would love to release and play my own music in the future.
How did you first meet Jay and get involved with Free-Spirit Records?
I got introduced to Jay by a friend of his, who saw me playing at Psychedelic Rave in Rotterdam. He invited me to come and play in London at Tribal Village and from the first moment we met, we felt like long lost brothers and had a very strong connection. After this party he immediately asked me to join Free-Spirit Records.
As the founder of legendary psychedelic and progressive parties Unio Mystica Gatherings you’ve also organised some epic events around Belgium and the Netherlands. What do you reckon the main elements to a great event are?
For me, a great event, especially a psy trance event, should be a full sensory experience. Not only is the music important, but everything else too.
Of course, the music has to be good, but it should be a mix of many different styles flowing seamlessly from one into the other. But the venue and the decorations are equally important to give the people a mind-altering experience.
If we could give you a million euro to book any line-up for a party or festival anywhere in the world, who would you book and where would it be?
That’s a difficult one! My main focus would be, as always, psychedelic! I would go for some classic all atars like Astral Projection, Electric Universe and Space Tribe and from there on the list is endless.
Of course, I would go for my personal favourites and the artists from Free-Spirit Records, just to name a few: JourneyOM, Tron, Braincell, Chromatone, Virtual Light, Xoxbox , Mono sapiens, The Alchemists, Laughing Buddha, Tristan, D-ther, El Mahico, Burn in Noise, Earthling, Alienatic. I could go on forever!
I would definitely try to do different stages too, for the more dark and progressive sounds or experimental genres. I love them all, big or small!
It’s been a very difficult year on all fronts and the music industry has suffered more than most. What have you been doing to keep sane in these crazy times?
It’s been a difficult year indeed; luckily I have the love of my life besides me and that helps a lot. For the rest, I’ve been at home for a while now, because my normal day job is also in the events industry, building and preparing mainstream events. I’m doing some woodworking jobs on the side, but I hope normal life will return soon.
I wish I could say that I’ve spent all of my time in the studio but unfortunately that’s not true. With no input or feedback from the dancefloor, I must admit I have a difficult time finding the inspiration and motivation to focus on my music, because it’s always been very much dancefloor orientated. Let’s hope we can dance together again very soon. We all need it.
Finally, what plans do you have for the future once things finally return to ‘normal’?
My plans of course are to go blast as many dancefloors as possible and see all those people I’ve been missing for so long. But also and even more importantly, I’m gonna enjoy normal life with my love and welcome our first-born into the world in August. I couldn’t be more excited!
Thanks again for your time and hope to see you on the dancefloor soon!
It was my pleasure!! Can’t wait to see you there. Much love & hugz from Belgium XXX
Check out Cosmic Tales on Beatport and Bandcamp. The first Friday of the month is Bandcamp Fridays, where all sales go directly to the artists - so please do show your support!
All images courtesy of Joeri Haven aka DJ Strophoria, Allnighters.net and Sati Design. Not to be reproduced without permission.
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Other Features By Tara:
Tom Psylicious aka EarthAlien takes 50 Spins Around the Sun: Raising Awareness Through the Power of Music
The Breakthrough interview with DM-Theory
Is This Your First Record? Khromata gets ready to make her UK debut at Tribal Village
Pixie Nature: from Brazil to Bristol with DM-Theory
Tron talks festivals, flip flips and mezcal ahead of Tribal Village
The views and opinions expressed in this review are strictly those of the author only for which HarderFaster will not be held responsible or liable.