Dancing With the Digital Shamans


"Given that everything in reality is made of vibrations, sound science is extremely important because it has the unique ability to tune, harmonize, and modify people's vibrations (our journey). Within a sound-scape, one can transcend the physical realm and take sonic leaps and bounds of personal growth. Music brings people of all walks of life together, and it also heals the mind, body, and soul."

 ~ Julian Reyes / Keyframe-Entertainment (Executive Producer, Electronic Awakening)

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Interview with Julian Reyes, Executive Producers and Music Director for the documentary ELECTRONIC AWAKENING by Terra Celeste

Across the Evolver network many Spores and community groups are hosting screenings of the Documentary film “Electronic Awakening”.  Julian Reyes is Executive Producer and Music Director for the film.    In this interview, we discuss the creative and healing nature of sound and vibration, particularly in the Electronic Music world. 

TC: Thinking back through your life, was there a key experience or moment when you knew you wanted to work with music?  Was it specifically electronic music?  (or, when did Electronic music become part of your Journey?)

Julian Reyes: My earliest childhood connections to music were with Cumbia, Bolero, Flamenco, Salsa and Classical. My Colombian roots and my mother’s love for Classical shaped my perception of and passion for music from an early age.

I consider the “active” birth of the Techno movement to be the Break Dancing era.  I realize that the music was being created prior to this period. Nevertheless, the breakers embraced it fully: it wasn’t a fad, it was actually (and still is for many) a way of life.  Many years spent in the Miami underground – at the legendary Edge Club, Zen Festival, WMC, Firestone, and Ultra Music Festival – sealed it for me. Then, I lived in Orlando for a couple of years during the height of the Breaks scene, and met amazing artists such as Icey and Baby Anne. After those experiences, I left for the West Coast, and in 1999 made it to San Francisco where I experienced the CCC PsyTrance parties, Thump Radio, and eventually the most amazing event in our country: Burning Man.

My personal evolution is in tandem with that of Electronic Music’s evolution; my connection to it is eternal. Sounds grandiose, but I speak from the heart.

TC: What about currently?  What inspires you to continue this work?

Julian Reyes:

I’m on auto-pilot at this point. My involvement with the Ultra Music Festival has been pivotal and working with people like Danny C. from Creator Entertainment is very inspiring.

Witnessing the evolution of the music and the culture really motivates me to keep on nurturing the movement.

Inspiration comes in many forms: watching up-and-coming talent such as JB Vries, Captain Hook, and Derek Ryan pave the way, experiencing The Crystal Method tear it up hard after so many years leading the way, listening to Treavor Moontribe’s Techno mixes, enjoying amazing visuals by Dr. Paradise and Psyberpixie, knowing that the Synchronize crew, Phoenix Family, and Geomagnetic is holding it down for the PsyTrance community in SF, people like Kri in NC and Roe Revolution in Miami are also inspiring, hearing my son play piano and rap to Electronic Music, throwing down at events such as Opulent Temple and SteadySF, so many things move me…. I see the music and hear it everywhere, and when it’s not there… I do what I can to facilitate it.

TC: What is Electronic music?

Julian Reyes:

Electronic Music is modern shamanism; it is the evolution of ritualized drum circles. The music is a key that digital shamans utilize to move, inspire, teach, and heal others.

From a global perspective, Electronic Music is spiritual technology that can help humanity open metaphysical doors to a realm of infinite possibilities.  The world can benefit from the energy, community, and love felt on the dance floor by so many – “Electronic Awakening” speaks directly to that.

I’ve always felt that Electronic Music is a beacon from the Singularity. It is technology’s way of letting us know that it is awakening.

TC: As an Artist Manager, you work with DJ’s who create this (electronic) music – Does the DJ have a role in shaping society? Is this specific to sound culture? Or, what is that role (if any)?

Julian Reyes:

There is a quote from the film that answers this question: “…The DJs are our priests, and the music is our religion….”

And what a beautiful religion it is (speaking metaphorically of course).  It includes everyone, it doesn’t judge you.  It empowers you to dance “like no one is watching,” it introduces you to many great souls, and it encourages us to be comfortable with our uniqueness.

Electronic Music allows you to embrace others and yourself. It breaks down language barriers, economic divisions, and invites us to experience each other as equals.  Everyone on the dance floor becomes one organism, or what we really are: ONE. The DJs enable this alchemy. 

Similar vision is experienced at other events and other styles of music. i.e Sufis, Native American dances, Woodstock-like festivals are example of that, all ceremonies are extensions of music culture.

For a real powerful look into this phenomena please check out: Global Beat Fusion which suggests that “by listening to a culture’s music you gain direct access to the soul of that culture” www.globalbeatfusion.com.

TC:  I love electronic music mainly because I love to dance.  While watching ELECTRONIC AWAKENING there were moments when I was wondering, how will we keep the audience seated?   For me, dancing is not about performance – it’s about expression.   Globally, ELECTRONIC AWAKEING points to tribal cultures arising focused around this form of expression.  How does dancing tie in to the tribal sound culture?  Is it important for individuals to dance?  Is dancing ‘medicine’?

Julian Reyes:

There are so many ways to answer that question. Allow me to quote a friend from DancingFreedom.com:  “The paths of Dance are Ecstatic, Somatic, Shamanic & Expressive”.  Ecstatic and Shamanic are similar, but there are important differences. Somatic focuses on the body and can also be very beneficial to your emotions. I believe we experience different degrees of these paths when we interact with sound.

One could say that “Performing” is a part of “Expression.”  I feel that dancing is absolutely essential to a culture’s identity, traditional values, and future understanding.

“Electronic Awakening” covers this topic in depth, and it explains how we move and direct energy through our dancing as an art form, while sharing this experience with others at the same time.  Dancing is medicine to me; it is a ritualistic and liberating.  The appreciation of music can be just as powerful.

I recently attended a Taiko drumming festival, and the visions I experienced were very strong. After some research I came across this information:

Taiko drums are handmade by professional drum makers in Japan. It is believed that the spirit of the trees from which the wood came, as well as the spirit of the builders of the drum, and even the performers who played them over the years come to embody each drum. The sound of today’s performance comes from the spiritual bond between the performer and this deep tradition.

And this passage was very powerful to me for two reasons. First, in the film we explore the different metaphysical “pacts” that dancers make with sound energy… because what we’re really talking about here is the interaction with energy (dancing). Secondly, I’ve always felt that every object carries an energy signature, something like a DNA imprint of every person that object has come in contact with. One can extrapolate from this and apply it to a vinyl record, CD, or digital sound. What we hear is the physical manifestation of the sound, but what we perceive metaphysically is much deeper… and the expression is manifested in the dance.

TC: What was the ‘goal’ when you decided to work as Producer + Music Director with the documentary ELECTRONIC AWAKENING? 

Julian Reyes:

From a music perspective: Andrew (the Director) and I knew that we wanted a Shpongle track from the beginning… that was essential.

Including a track from The Crystal Method was epic, those are living legends right there and they represent an entire generation of Electronic Music. The goal was also to bring some Psy in the mix, Cosmosis included a great track and the interview with Goal Gil is just perfect. The Androcell track “Atmo-Spheres” is truly majestic; every time I hear it in the movie… it just leaves me speechless. Jason Knight and Sheff bang out some serious Techno, and Vibrasphere adds tracks that are sonic bliss.

There were multiple goals:  to help, to inspire, to inform, to promote the artists who work so hard, to be a source of positivity, to create prosperity for Electronic Dance Music culture, to entertain and to share.

From a production perspective: We wanted to create something different, something unique to our culture. We spend time in the film encouraging people to find happiness within (accepting who you are). The film itself can be perceived as a conduit of love.

I think if more people on the planet experienced self-love, they would be more accepting of others.

TC: You’ve described music as ‘healing to mind, body and soul’ – for you, has working with music always about healing, uniting, transcending?  Or was there some point or moment of realization when your work took on a new or deeper meaning?

Julian Reyes:

When I understood that Electronic Music was an integral force driving my personal evolution, I realized that it had the potential to help others transcend.

I couldn’t pin point a specific moment, what I can say is that helping and inspiring others has always been part of my life. And the deeper my journey takes me the more I realize that my mission is to inspire those who inspire others (DJs, producers, VJs, performers, and promoters).

There is also the Technology factor; my entire professional career has been within the Computer Graphics realm. My visual interaction and passion with technology is as important as the sonic.

TC: Sound is said to be healing, can it also be harmful?   

Julian Reyes: Sometimes harm helps you evolve; other times safety and comfort make you complacent.

Even a teenager banging out to Gabber derives a certain type of healing. An observer may not understand this experience in that moment.  And I feel that this is one of the reasons why rave culture is so misunderstood. It’s easy to judge what you don’t understand…. I would like the world to be more accepting of our culture.

I think sound has unlimited potential.

TC: Where can one discover more information on sound healing and spirituality as shown in ELECTRONIC AWAKENING? 

Julian Reyes:

As it relates to the film, I feel that sound healing begins with ALLOWANCE.  Allow yourself to just BE.  We spend so much of our everyday lives trying to “control” everything.

The dance floor offers you the opportunity just to BE, and to share that BE-ing with everyone else.

The DNA of sound healing can be found in the drum and every subsequent evolution of all musical instruments.

There are countless resources on the Web for the different methodologies; the main thing to remember is to stay open to exploration and to “let go”… enjoy the dance floor, it is sacred.

TC: Landscapes fill the backdrop of our visual perception and also give a sense of topography or shape to the land.  You master the soundscape of the documentary ELECTRONIC AWAKENING as Music Director; can you share a bit about your process in creating the audio topography for this powerful documentary?

Julian:

The audio topography was a real collaboration. We had support from many on this journey, and the Director (AC Johner) also played a key role in the music selection.

My main objective was to include a wide variety of styles and artists, as long as “something” in the music resonated with the viewer, I was happy.

Timing and placement were very important; some tracks just seemed to magically fit into place, like utter serendipity.

First we locked down the story and matched the proper video footage, then the music completed/filled each scene. Phuture Primitive and Bird of Prey lent a very modern feeling. Our friends from Moontribe were great contributors and we had people with great ideas like Liana, Saturnia, Satsi and Drew Martinez (The editor).

I would say that the process was one of complete collaboration and fluid creativity.

TC: ELECTRONIC AWAKENING brings up the concept of dancers and DJ’s being deeply unified through music, having shared experiences, emotions – unified hearts and minds on the dance floor.  What about off the dance floor, do you experience this unity carry through into everyday life? (if yes, in what way?)

Julian:

My personal life is filled with this unity and I am very grateful for that.

The Electronic Dance Music community is very strong and active, just take a look at some of the Burning Man projects out there… those are year around.

When I step out of my circle, I see a lot of discord and elitism.

And then you have movements like OWS that gives us that sense of bonding… that unity that is so obvious on the dance floor. And if you look closer in that movement, you will see a drum, you will hear a chant, you will see a dance. It’s all interconnected.

 In my opinion, that is the problem with the “1%”, they are too busy looking after their empires, that they miss the whole point of the living experience.

TC: What do you see as the future of tribal sound culture?   

“Electronic Awakening” takes you on a wonderful voyage and covers a lot of history, insight, and theory, but it also places a powerful marker on the ground.  That marker for the future is stated brilliantly by Terence McKenna in the last scene.

What I see in the future is more prosperity and growth. I think now Sociologists and Anthropologists are starting to take a serious look at our movement. We have screenings requested from Universities in Brazil and Germany, we’re also talking to about a dozen Universities here in the U.S. to screen the film in their campuses.

The legacy for me is to guide the masses, EDM culture is the guiding light for the rest of the world. We’re not the only guiding light of course, but we are the ones that adhere to PLUR. We are the ones that love Burning Man’s 10 principles. We are the ones that push the envelope in music production and do not make money the primary drive (especially in Psy). We are the ones that want to include all. Doesn’t matter what you look like, what you wear, what you sound like, what color, what preference… “we accept you”. The world needs more of that; the world needs more ELECTRONIC MUSIC… and it’s on its way.

TC: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Julian:

I’d like to thank you for this interview and allowing me the forum to mention people who work so hard in our culture. I’m glad that our film resonated; we worked for many years on it and are very happy with the final film. I’ve watched it many times and I always feel gratitude. Glad to be collaborating with collectives such as the Electronic Music Alliance and Evolver. Glad to have such wonderful friends that helped us along the way, friends that contributed to our Kickstarter campaign at the very beginning. I’m happy to collaborate with people like Yvette Soler of Infinite Connections, Megan Young of the Boom Festival and Jonah Bolt of Starseed Energy Radio.

Most importantly I’d like to thank Andrew Johner and the producers and interviewees for their time and energy, this film was possible because of their collaboration.  It’s an honor to be involved in such a great project. Hearing from people say things like: “This is a film that I can show my parents, so they can understand my life better..” or “As a producer of Electronic Music this film answers a lot of questions…” let’s me know we are making a difference.

“Electronic Awakening” is like experiencing a geometric prism; everyone will see different things in it.  At the end of the day I hope everyone sees that we can make a difference, that we can make this world a better place.

You can find more about ELECTRONIC AWAKENING, including information on scheduled screenings at www.ElectronicAwakening.com