Scene and Heard

Photo:Psy-Kwaai a.k.a. Paul Dunk

Psy-Kwaai a.k.a. Paul Dunk

Photo by Morgan Nichols

Paul - Psy-trance: a natural progression

By Morgan Nichols

Psy-trance: a natural progression
Paul ("Psy-Kwaai") is a psychedelic trance DJ and also produces his own psy-trance music. He moved to the U.K. from South Africa (S.A.) several years ago and ended up in Brighton, which compared with much of the rest of England has a burgeoning psy-trance scene.

An outdoor phenomenon
Musically speaking, psychedelic trance can be distinguished from more mainstream trance by its stronger bass line and its more eclectic sound sources, e.g. guitar. On a lifestyle level, while trance can be found in many mainstream clubs, 'psy-trance' is a more underground phenomenon, though becoming increasingly popular. According to Paul: "It has become a lot bigger the last two, three years, but it is still a very underground scene. Parties in Britain are still 2-300 people."

Most importantly, though, psy-trance is primarily and originally an outdoor phenomenon. This is largely due to its 'hippy' influences, which makes being "in touch with the earth" a central aspect of the scene. "That's why a lot of it is outdoor, it is getting back to nature," says Paul.

Distinctive style
Typical psy-trance followers have a distinctive style: dreadlocks, 'fluoro' [fluorescent] clothing that is influenced by hippies and New Age travelers who hosted the earliest parties on their own land. But the psy-trance scene is not uniform: "There are a lot of different kinds of people at psy-trance parties...its not just the fluoro people, there are metal heads like myself, people from all walks of always fit in somewhere cos there's such a mishmash of people."

Paul was attracted to the psy-trance scene by the fact that it is so "music driven": "Everyone was there for the music and that was the main thing". He describes it as a very "free" scene where people can be themselves, and indeed psy-trance is home to many "strange characters and cool individuals". Psy-trance is an open-minded and "intellectual" scene where people have strong opinions about matters such as ecology and are "very respectful of other people".

From metal to trance
Paul first became involved in psy-trance back in S.A., when he went to a music festival that included a psy-trance stage. "We ended up on the trance floor and we just heard these insane sounds and we just got hypnotized into it cos it was brilliant."

Still a "metal head" at heart, before psy-trance Paul listened to bands like Machinehead, Korn, 311, Helmet, and even Sublime. He used to frequent the Gloucester in Brighton: "a nice place where you can go and listen to alternative music, rock and metal, nice environment...down to earth people."

Moving on to psy-trance was a natural progression in some ways, however, because of Paul's taste for music with "groove and energy", and psy-trance has a "hard, darker edge to it".

Good club scene
The differences between the S.A. and Brighton trance scenes are marked: there are a lot more outdoor parties in S.A., and the parties tend to be bigger. This is largely because of Britain having stricter laws on the use of land. However, the club scene is "really good in Brighton...there's always a nice vibe in Brighton." Paul describes Brighton as having "a psy-trance web of people".

Good psy-trance nights in Brighton include '180 degrees', Enzyme, and Psychedelic Cookie who do non-profit parties for charity. There's also Shanta Luna and the Earth Rite parties. Well-known clubs to host psy-trance events include Ocean Rooms, Volks on the seafront, and the Concorde where "the big guys" tend to play.

Psy-trance attracts a slightly older crowd than most club scenes, from mid to late twenties, to people in their forties and fifties. Because the ethos of psy-trance is about meeting new people and sharing ideas, the scene is open to outsiders: "I've taken a few people who've probably never been to psy-trance parties, introduced them to people."

The cutting edge
Paul sees the future of psy-trance as getting bigger and bigger: "There's a lot of huge parties now, over the summertime, all over Europe... I think that's gonna continue... just more outrageous ...more beautiful venues." His opinion is that psy-trance "is at the cutting the forefront" of computer based music.

Added to the site on 26-09-05 
This page was added on 22/03/2006.
Comments about this page
Thank god for PSY Trance; the ultimate in musical mind expansion. Thank you to all psy trance DJs. You are the best.
By Chris Wilberforce (30/11/2005)
PLUR and music driven crowds... unity created by music... utopic nights filled of equality amongst the ravers.. a one night stand community... if we all were ruled under so basic tastes.
By Kuma (19/02/2006)
Hey Paul - great to see you getting it on. Cool stuff! I always knew you would do something cool.
By Justin Newton (25/07/2006)

Please help, I've been doing the hard trance scene in Cape Town, South Africa for over ten years. Just moved to Hastings and I am hanging for a good trance jol.

By Jennifer (29/07/2007)

Hi Paul. Great to see there is a psy-trance community right here in Brighton.  I am a psy-trance DJ from Goa, India, but live in Brighton now. Looking for an opportunity to play my music to the lovely trance people of Brighton. Please advise. Cheers.

By Eddie (21/03/2008)

Nice one Paul (Psy Kwaai)

By Richard Palmer (10/05/2008)

Hey Paul another man from SA loooking for party in the UK as I have just got here. I had a lot to do with the party scene in JHB from sound and lights, decor and music and would love to be in touch.

By Terence (11/03/2009)

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