As an ordinary electronic music fan, chances are you might not know that much about the psytrance scene in Belgium. That’s probably because the genre remained isolated from the rest of the house and techno spheres for a very long time, dealing with a general neglect from other music scenes. In recent years, this has started to change. Praising the subculture for its extremely welcoming attitude and friendly character, new fans are finding their way to psytrance events slowly but surely. Most of them flock to the massive parties hosted by B2B Productions, which celebrates its fifteenth anniversary this year and changed its name to ‘Psygathering’ accordingly. In order to shine light on this greatly misunderstood movement, we connected with Michael Kiriloff (who also goes by DJ Firaga) the founder of Belgium’s biggest psytrance event for a friendly chat about what most of us have been missing out on.
We have to be honest, we don’t know the slightest thing about psytrance. What’s so appealing about this style?
"For me, it’s a genre that’s full of energy and innovation. The production and decoration at the events is always extremely solid and there’s an ever present friendly atmosphere amongst the ravers."
I think few people know how big the scene in Belgium actually is. Can you describe it for us?
"Psytrance has been around in Belgium for ages, but it always stayed in the shadows. It continues to do so even though the genre is breaking through internationally. That said, slowly but steadily, the scene is growing here too: our events attract between 1000 and 3000+ visitors every time. All psytrance parties are known for being extremely amicable and respectful towards anyone who wants to join. We take the old motto, PLUR (Peace Love Unity and Respect), still very seriously today."
Why do you think psytrance is still very much detached from the rest of the electronic music scene and nightlife scene?
"If you would have asked me this question 6 years ago, I would have agreed, but the situation has changed: psytrance is now being picked up by trance fans across the board. Events like Tomorrowland or ASOT (A State of Trance) have upgraded their psytrance stages and many big producers, like Armin Van Buuren, are collaborating with new exciting psytrance artists. I’m sure you’ll see a lot more of the genre in the years to come."
What role did B2B Productions / Psygathering have in the local psytrance movement - and where does it stand now?
"The genre has always been a criticised subculture – but I believe we helped to overcome that image by putting on quality events and working together with the local authorities. Tomorrowland was the first festival that saw our potential and helped to give it more time in the spotlights by allowing us to manage our own stage. That was about 11 years ago now."
You’ve done a few three room editions at IKON in Antwerp. Is that a winning formula?
"Absolutely! This venue allows us to give a space to all the different styles in our genre. This way, new visitors can get acquainted with everything we have to offer."
You’re a DJ yourself too. How would you describe your DJ-style?
"Well, every DJ has his or her own style – and I like melodic, energetic and full on psytrance that floats around 143 BPM, the kind that rarely comes out anymore."
So what’s next for you guys?
"Since we switched names to Psygathering, we aim a lot higher with the start of our record label and booking agency. During my 15 years of experience in the scene, I’ve met so many talented people, so I would like to work together on different levels, instead of just booking them on our events. We’re already looking forward to October 6 (Facebook event page), on which we’ll celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of our event with a massive rave at Waagnatie. Expect a production with a massive Lambda soundsystem, unlike anything you have ever seen. This XXL edition will feature Vini Vici, Ace Ventura, Avalon and many more. Lastly, we are finalizing the details on the pavilion we’ll be hosting on Amsterdam Dance Event this year – more info on that soon. This will most probably be a day event, but our aim is to offer a 3-day-long festival in the near future, although it’s still too early to talk about that!"
Follow Psygathering's Facebook page to stay up to date with the latest events.