The following piece is an article I wrote about the Toronto psytrance scene for the 2007 edition of the Trancer’s Guide to the Galaxy, an annual publication with a circulation of 30,000 copies worldwide. This 80 page postcard-sized magazine provides a high-level overview of trance activity around the globe. It is aimed at the neo-hippie jet set: globe-trotting “trancers” keen on discovering the character of gatherings in distant lands. As the content is divided along national boundaries and proportioned according to overall activity, a large and regionally disparate country such as Canada is seldom profiled in any depth in the print version. Naturally, given all of the content that is written for the guide, editors must make difficult decisions since space is at a premium. From what I have heard, my article concerning Toronto has been amalgamated into the Canada-wide profile and reduced to little more than a brief mention that we exist.
After the print magazines have been sold, the Trancer’s Guide typically publishes an “online edition” with much more content. I imagine my article might appear on their site later in the year, but why wait? You can read it here, right now!
Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, an international crossroads where people of all origins intermingle. The diversity of the city is reflected in the history of the local psytrance scene, which extends back to the late nineties. Organizations such as Moonshadow, BLA (Black Light Activists), and Resonance laid the groundwork early on, while DSF, R351570R, Ektoplazm, Eloko, and Darkrave helped to expand the movement after the dawn of the millennium. There have been festivals every summer season, but few are dedicated psytrance events. Harvest, Om, and WEMF have traditionally had a psytrance stage every year or so, but it is not consistent.
BLA (Black Light Activists), the Shakti Collective, and the newly founded Metamystix are the modern vanguard of the psychedelic underground in Toronto. In 2006 we were visited by Gus Till, Koxbox, Atmos, Prisoners of the Sun, Reefer Decree, NASA, Prosect, Mapusa Mapusa, and SBK, to name a few. The festival season has been quiet, with little to report from 2006 aside from the excellent Harvest Festival. Many Toronto psytrance fans travels to Quebec or the States for the big festivals (Eclipse and Gaian Mind for example).
Yeb’s Cold Groove Records enjoys an international reputation for premium techtrance and progressive, releasing artists such as Nuclear Ramjet, La Baaz and Midi Miliz. Local producers Metalogic have become known for their industrial techtrance live shows, while Axiomata has been chocking up a few releases. Neil Gibson has had great success traveling the globe with his exceptional blacklight artwork, and Jeremy Zuch is also building a respectable portfolio of fluorodelic backdrops. Prominent DJs include Quivering Virgin, Shankar, Phink, Basilisk, Rook, Yeb, Sketi, Plan B, Lexicon, DJ Dam, Moxy, Thailer, and Marz. VJs such as Scott Guy, Wuzzle, and Saugat work the screens at even the smallest events.
The sound of Toronto cannot be defined; events vary in showcasing full-on, progressive, techtrance, and more experimental styles, although there is a noticeable tendency to slide towards the deeper end of the spectrum. Most gatherings are attended by fewer than 300 people, which encourages an intimate sense of community where most people know one another. The scene here is very welcoming to newcomers–especially those from other nations–so don’t hesitate to become involved!
The future of psytrance in Toronto is wide open: we are in a time of transformation. Certain challenges inhibit the growth of the movement here; the shortage of amenable venues is making it particularly difficult to organize proper psychedelic trance events. On the bright side, there are many possibilities for people to make a contribution and help shape the future of the psychedelic trance counterculture here in Toronto. Anything can happen!