Synergy, Sound and the Sacred: Documenting Transformational DJ Culture



We're excited to announce the launch of Evolver EDM, home of all things related to electronic dance music, and curated by Julian Reyes of Keyframe Entertainment. Julian, who is featured in the article below, will be releasing a new issue of Evolver EDM every month. Evolver EDM is a section of Conscious Convergences, the go-to page for the transformational festival scene, featuring a comprehensive festival listing and a comment section for readers to share their experiences. 





The Bloom Series / Symbiosis @ Pyramid Lake / Photo by Akira Chan

The art of being a DJ, dancing or creating the space where DJ’s and dancing communities meet – this is the art of connecting, joining ourselves with the energy of life. The dance floor is an alembic. When we dance on the earth, the whole planet becomes engaged in this alchemy. Dancers, with our bodies, move energy – the tone and vibration of this movement is set by the DJ, master or mistress of ceremonies. The dance floor is our setting, where DJs and dancers meet to create unified states of consciousness through music and movement. This creative engagement is sourced in sound and vibration, the first formative forces of our existence. 

In recent history music has transitioned into the electronic dimension. Even acoustic or live music comes to us through refined digital formats, live streams, downloads and MP3’s. DJ’s of varying skill levels and degrees of understanding have come to work with these electronic files and bits of vibrational data, creating fantastic soundscapes.  

While not all DJ’s are Digital Shamans, some DJ’s do tap into the spiritual and through their love and knowledge of music, engage with the work of joining communities, creating unified, peaceful, intentional, ceremonial and sacred dance experiences.

Synergy is the combination of two or more things that creates an effect which is greater than the sum of both separately.  

Shaman is generally defined as a member of certain tribal societies who acts as a medium, communicator or guide between the visible world and the invisible or spirit world.  

Sacred refers to a space or object that has been blessed, set aside as consecrated, holy or hallowed.  ex. Sacred objects on an altar.  Sacred ground, etc.


The Bloom Series / Water Woman Festival in Equador / Photo by Akira Chan

DJ’s work in the digital or electronic realm with synthesized and digitized sounds. Computers, mixers, production boards are all instrumental in selecting and matching beats, harmonies, tempos, mixing in samples to invoke emotion and reflect current or past memes of music culture. These tracks become anthems, electronic markers in time and space.  DJ’s have a knowledge of music that stems first from the heart - they know what they love in music - and they extend this love to the dance floor. When the synergy is right, the effect is transformational.  

The affecting vibrations of EDM on current, flow and development of cultures around the world is not going unnoticed. In this article I explore EDM as part of a global cultural evolution through conversations with Julian Reyes (Founder, Keyframe-Entertaiment), Andrew Johner (Anthropologist, Directorof Electronic Awakening) and Jeet-Kei Leung (mazeguider.com and Director of The Bloom series), with photos by Akira Chan (Photographer and Director, Episodes 1+2 of TheBloomSeries).

As EDM evolves into a socially and culturally significant catalyst, several documentary teams are at work to capture the moment.  Keyframe-Entertainment is involved with production of two documentary film projects focused on EDM and transformational events, witnessing the birth of this NeoTribal culture.  Keyframe’s first documentary release Electronic Awakening (Directed, Produced and Written by Andrew Johner) is currently screening at festivals, community events and universities around the world.  

The next Keyframe-Entertainment film project, TheBloomSeries, is being released in four Episodes.  The first two Episodes are available for download on a donation basis now www.TheBloomSeries.tv - all donations further the efforts of the Bloom team as they continue to document transformational culture, creating Epidodes 3 and 4.  


Julian Reyes, Founder / Keyframe Entertainment

Sound and vibration are not only fundamental to the DJ, dance and music production arts, these are also referenced and believed in as creative, formative forces in many traditions and teachings found throughout time and all around the world.  

Modern science is deeply curious regarding String Theory - basically the idea that everything is made of extremely tiny vibrating strings and the frequency or oscillation of these strings defines the shape and nature of what is materially manifest - different frequencies, different particles, even different dimensions.    

The OM or Aum, has been resonated in meditation by Buddhist, Hindus, Jains and Sikhs and regarded for centuries as the all-encompassing first formation of divine consciousness, the first and original vibration manifesting as sound.# Many of our world’s stories on creation and the origins of the universe relate to the first word or vibration - this is belief in sound as the original creative source and while it’s not a new idea, the digital or electronic age is bringing a new understanding.  

New stories and modern understandings of vibration as the source of all creation and sound as active creative and healing forces are being generated through Electronic Dance Music and tribal sound cultures, now connecting on a global scale. 

Julian Reyes, Founder of Keyframe-Entertainment says, "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." 

Independent documentary films such as Electronic Awakening and THE BLOOM series document these stories and through community screenings, broaden awareness of how far reaching, synchronized and harmonized the EDM cultural and spiritual movement has come from underground, to rave scene, discrete wilderness gatherings by the full moon and large festival celebrations - this culture spans our world and affects the daily life of thousands of followers.

  • Andrew Johner, Anthropologist, Writer, Director, Producer / Electronic Awakening

 

 

Exploring the connection of music and dance with cultures throughout time including today, I talked with Andrew Johner (Director / Electronic Awakening) and asked him for an example.

Andrew says, “For thousands of years the practice of communal dancing has been a foundational space to build identification within families and tribes.  By the proliferation of unity, and love upon which cultures were build henceforth, dance held together these social bonds.  Through dance, trajectory of cultural evolution has a bio-mythical bond to the rhythm of the earth sun moon and stars.  We see throughout history this core experience of communal ecstasy through dance and movement as the driving force behind periods of revolution as well.

"When the Lakota were threatened with oppression and reservation life, they immediately reacted with the development of a pan-Indian religion known as the Ghost Dance.  It was characterized by the emergence of a prophecy that a particular ritualized dance would bring a peaceful end to the Anglo expansion, the return of the Buffalo, the salvation of the community, leaving the earth filled with food, love, and faith.  This narrative was typified by clean living, honesty, and cross-cultural cooperation as a means of salvation and resolution alongside the dance itself.  They believed that the dance itself would bring about this transformation.”

In December 2011 Electronic Awakening screened through the Evolver Network at Brewvies in Salt Lake, including a Skyped Q&A with Director Andrew Johner.  More than 100 music and dance enthusiasts were seated for the screening. In Q&A session with Director Andrew Johner audience members expressed deep gratitude to Andrew for following his hunch that there might be a connection between the tribal and sacred dances across many cultures and times, including those just emerging now with Electronic Dance Music. Here is a list of worldwide screenings of the film: http://www.electronicawakening.com/screenings.html.

Inspired by Electronic Awakening, the Q&A discussion included appreciation for a film which so clearly connects electronic music and dance movement, with what we experience as spiritual,  representative of the ethos, our living culture as seen through worldwide transformational festivals.

In our conversation, I asked Andrew to reflect on what he’s found in researching this connection between ancient ecstatic rituals of drumming and dance within tribal cultures, and the electronic dance movement of sound cultures today.

“Essentially, It’s the same practice, a reformation of these ancient traditions. Since the beginning of our history, our species danced.  The harmonization of mind, body and sound has always been a doorway into the attics of our subconscious cosmos, and played a prominent role in archaic history.  

The sociologist Emilie Durkheim talks about Collective Effervescence.  Collective effervescence  is a perceived energy formed by a gathering of people. For Durkheim, collective effervescence  was the fundamental component social organization through experiencing the sacred.  It was what held tribes together.  However, this ancient practice has seemingly been left out of modern society, until now.  

The EDM culture has rejuvenated this practice into modern society.  There certainly is a collective feeling of unity which permeates the experience. This liminal, and chaotic point, this rupture in the time-space of our experience of reality, frees one from values, identities within society, our own belief structures.  Free of traditional social identities and values, the environment of cultural transition becomes one of liminal chaos.”


Electronic Awakening Film / www.ElectronicAwakening.com 

My hometown, Salt Lake City, has been home to drum circles and drumming communities for many decades.  Those who enjoy drumming and dancing to organic, tribal drum beats often connect with this new evolution of electronic sound.  The film Electronic Awakening also speaks to this connection as found in communities worldwide.  

In my conversation with Julian Reyes, I asked the simple question, what is electronic music?  His reply expresses a perspective that is very aligned with how I experience EDM within my community, an experience which has been further documented on a global level.

Here’s what Julian had to say: “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.”

The Bloom Series / Burning Man 2012 / Photo by Zipporah Lomax 



Every year Burning Man (a fire arts festival in the West American Desert), is home to as many as 50 thousand participants.  At the outer limits of this fire-fueled city of Creators, where art structures and laser-lights fade into the open playa wilderness, all creative energy and purpose of this populace becomes sound.  Here with no structures, no trees, objects or impediments, sound forms roam free as massive vibrational waves, unbroken for miles.  Dancers ride these energetic waves, interact within these sound forms, feel the creatively mixed vibrations through the ground and air and respond with movement - with dance!  

In 2008, I expanded my understanding of sound arts through a combination of open wilderness and high powered, loud sound camps as part of my first year at the Burning Man festival. Dancing directly on the Earth with massive sound systems resonating incredible rhythms and beats, set amid infinitely starry skies, brought this energy connection to a new level.  Experiencing this massive communal synergy, the art of sound and vibration became a central part of my annual return to this desert homeland.  

DJ’s are artists, sound and vibration is their medium.  They create one of the most interactive experiences available on the playa, joining communities, thousands of individuals unified through music and dance.  Gathered as the community surrounding these loud sound art camps, art forms in all dimensions are celebrated - aerialist, stilt walkers, fire dancers, fantastically creative costumes, sculptural art, live painting and visionary exhibit art.  Along with sound healing ceremonies and vibrational meditations, considerable communal effort goes into the set and setting of these camps expanding sound arts into dance and movement workshops, sound healing ceremonies and meditations.  On this edge between city and wilderness, immersed in sound and vibration, we celebrate one of the most dynamically creative cultures on Earth.

When dancing within community, we feel the girth of all our resonance – the great bodily symphony of our lives in unison and dance with even more passion – to expand the love we share – love of the DJ’s, the artists and musicians, the dance floor and each other. Here we feel connected to the source of all creative potential.  Here we find unity in movement with the music and each other.  From this shared experience, a new understanding of spirituality is emerging, centered around electronic music.  

At it’s root, the word religion means to bind, join, bring together or bond.  Culturally, many individuals relate to dance within the EDM setting as creating a sense of deep unity and in some cases invoking a religious experience.  In this quote, Julian Reyes expands on the question of whether DJ’s have a role in shaping society and how this specifically relates to sound culture:

“There is a quote from the film (Electronic Awakening): “…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.”

This signature, frequency or vibrational energy of the music and those who dance with it, this relationship is ‘the vibe’. Dancers relate through the ground we stand on, an energetic ceremonial space where DJ’s and Digital Music Artists create sounds and dancers move these transformational energetic vibrations through this dance-floor alembic, guided by Digital Shamans.


The Bloom Series / Bass Coast Project / Photo by Zac Cirizello 

Skillful DJ’s carry, move, maneuver, decimate, build, harmonize and occasionally rocket listeners on a journey through music.  In this way, the DJ shares their creative experience and musical sense with others.  Dancers follow DJ’s usually out of a love for the same music and sounds - a vibrational connection.

Electronic sound culture is evolving with independent documentarians and filmmakers on the scene, sharing what is present and creating a digital record, a living history of tribal sound culture.  Julian Reyes speaks to the significance of this time as explored by two of these documentary projects.  

“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 (of the film).

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, Finland and Germany, we’ve screened at many Universities in the U.S. including Harvard and Yale.

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 (Peace Love Unity Respect). 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.

Electronic Music, Transformational Festivals, Electronic Awakening, self-discovery, art, dance, community... are all tools that some people can utilize to come closer to that realization: We are all one and we need to take care of our planet.

There is so much talk these days in the media about “EDM”, and “the mainstream”, and the 100’s of thousands of people attending the Massives (huge EDM raves). They are missing the crest of EDM’s evolution.

In THE BLOOM: A Journey Through Transformational Festivals we experiences panels, workshops, conscious classes, films, organic foods, yoga, healing, markets, fire dancing, gift economies, drum circles, meditation, deep participation, and a collective awakening.”


Electronic Awakening / www.ElectronicAwakening.com 

When the DJ begins their set with an intention setting ritual, a mantra, a prayer or vibration – perhaps with an offering or altar – this creates a ceremony, intending a creative experience, connecting with sound and vibration.  DJ’s who create transformational experiences through music are coming to be known as Digital Shamans.  They and their followers can be found at transformational festivals, in small community gatherings and of course, in headphones all throughout the world.  

 

Symboisis Festival Summer 2012 - photo by Akira Chan



www.TheBloom.tv

THE BLOOM: A Journey Through Transformational Festivals has been released.  Here is an excerpt from the preview:

Amidst the global crisis of a dysfunctional old paradigm, a new renaissance of human culture is underway. THE BLOOM, a ground-breaking new documentary webseries, illuminates the blossoming phenomenon of Transformational Festivals, immersive participatory realities that are having profound life-changing effects on hundreds of thousands of lives.

Over the course of 4 episodes and 23 transformational festivals around the globe, THE BLOOM series explores the alchemy of themes that point the way to a new world where, as a shared humanity, we don't just survive but we thrive and emerge into our greatest potential.

THE BLOOM is a true story of genuine hope and inspiration for our times:
A new blooming of human consciousness emerging through creativity, love and joy, and an emerging culture that is reconnecting us to our most ancient roots and pointing the way to a bright and promising future.

THE BLOOM vividly illustrates how Transformational Festivals create an experience for people to interact in a profound way, to explore consciousness, to appreciate art and connect with nature.

Jeet-Kei Leung, Director/Producer/Writer/Host of The Bloom: A Journey Through Transformational Festivals 


Intention, set and setting are all keys to what distinguish Transformational Festivals as featured in THE BLOOM series. These conscious gatherings, which unify through music and dance and utilize sound and vibration as creative and healing forces, are transforming participants, seeking to foster a better world through a process of becoming more aware of how we can act in balance with the Earth and each other, exemplifying peace and emphasizing the common nature of our human experience while harmonizing with the planet that sustains us.  


The Bloom Sereis / Symbiosis / photo by Akira Chan

Jeet-Kei offers some incredible insight regarding this emergent cultural phenomenon - here’s a brief quote from his presentation given on Ted Talks TedX Vancouver:

"....Notice that with all this going on, the result is a content-rich reality that features a high density of quality interactions.  These are typically intensely co-created affairs.  A typical ratio for one of these festivals is that a full one-third to a theoretical 100 percent of participants are active co-creators in the actual experience.  And what we witness is that there’s this real and deep human need to contribute to community.  

"These festivals are the convergence points for many forms of cutting-edge content.  They are the confluence points for cultural creatives--the tribal trading routes of our modern day.  They are playing a significant role in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.  Achieving transformation through inspiration by stoking us to take it to the next level, with little expended on resistance and all on creating the world now as dreamed up for this very moment.  As containers of these quality interactions and experiences, [Transformational Festivals] become markers in our lives, returning a sense of mythos that is missing from the offerings of main-stream culture.”

"As urban-technological humans, we had stumbled back upon the most ancient of tribal rituals.  This was the first meme...  We gathered as a tribe.  We danced through the darkness.  We danced through our process, our pain, and our love.  And as the dawn came up and we were still dancing among the ancient trees, watching the waterfalls spring off the mountain peaks, we realized that YES, it’s good to be alive!  It’s good to be human, whatever you’ve experienced, with all our feeling and form.”  

Water Woman Festival 2012

Through meditation with Buddhist teachers, studies in Western philosophy, reflection upon my dreams and experience with psychedelic states, I’ve contemplated the idea that consciousness is not bound to human form.  Everything comes from the same source.  Everything has consciousness.  Even the subtle and ‘unseen’ carry a conscious awareness - an interdimensional influence.  However, the experience of human consciousness is unique and precious.  Humans have the ability to change, convert, act on - to affect the material world.  Therefore, we should respect this precious human life - this unparalleled human existence - and use this ability with compassion for all life in respect of the Earth and each other.  

Independent documentaries such as Electronic Awakening and THE BLOOM series offer modern, cultural exploration of these same contemplations happening on a global level, centered around DJ’s and dancing, sacred sounds and vibrations.  For us to have the experience of what it is to be human, the conditions for this form must be right.  We require oxygen, water, shelter and the right conditions for cultivating our food & nutrition.  Take away these Earth amenities, and consciousness may continue, but not in human form, not with life as we know it.  For the sake of our own humanity, it is important that we live sustainably in harmony with the Earth.  

The Bloom Series / Water Woman / Photo by Akira Chan

Actualization of this cultural movement is beyond the conceptual, being active in circles, spores, communities and individuals around the globe today.  Leaders, activists and cultural organizers are facilitating this vision in everyday life.  Filmmakers such as Jeet-Kei Leung are documenting the stories of this cultural emergence through independent films including THE BLOOM series which continues to follow and document transformational festivals.  Community and public screenings of this independent documentary series create opportunity for dialog around the sacred dance experience, validating individual experiences, fusing local communities and further connecting global EDM tribes.

Jeet-Kei offers a brief summary of THE BLOOM series:

“My most recent project, THE BLOOM: A Journey Through Transformational Festivals explores how the emerging festival culture is taking us beyond entertainment–-beyond being consumers of spectacle–-and into the realm of Temporary Autonomous Zones, where we get to share in the actual lived experience of the liberated world we would wish to live in.  These festivals become fundamentally life-altering because once you’ve experienced what’s possible--and how natural it really feels to who we are as humans--there’s no way to go back to living in the box.”

THE BLOOM: A Journey Through Transformational Festivals is a four-part documentary web-series.  Each episode is 25-45 minutes in length and covers the variety of themes which define a festival as being transformational.  The series offers a closer look at what inspires and connects these global intentional, creative communities.  As the Electronic Dance genre becomes more sentiently aware of the capacity to bridge cultures and deepen human connections through this music and the energy of the dance, the potential for healing both individually and socially becomes more realized.  Those who connect with this intention are bringing forth a new light.  This re-emergence of the light of the World is a new, or at least, contemporary definition of tribal -  the Neo-Tribal.  

The first Episode, Fundamental Frequencies, focused on Inspiration, Connection and Healing is available to watch by download on www.TheBloomSeries.com 


The Bloom Series / Photo by Akira Chan

One experience of human consciousness is of expansion, expanding the mind, expanding the heart - moving past the individual form of “I”.  Some describe this as a unity going out of self joining with ‘the universe’ or ‘the source’ - dissolving and becoming one with all.  Others go inward, become so deeply self-absorbed as to notice the inherent ties of self with others.  Meaning, the deep examination of self seems to point out how connected we are - every individual “I” is the result of a collection of relationships, interactions and experiences.  Evolving moment to moment, continually forming a new-self born out of the experience of each previous moment and interaction.  

To dance is to become fully and physically engaged in this moving evolution while connecting energetically in a very visceral sense with other dancers and the music.  


The Bloom Series / Photo by Akira Chan

Synergy, Sound and the Sacred.  There is a very real and thriving global populace, a significant and defining part of EDM culture, which is focused and blooming directly from these creative and transformational principles.  Roots for this electronically sourced music culture sparked with the dawn of the digital age, evidenced in the sounds of early synthesized vibrations.  As electronic sound forms emerged, so also came a newly defined connection with our source, and our tribal beats became known as trance, techno, psy, house, dub and all the many varietals of Electronic Dance Music.  Those who dance and celebrate music with this ethos carry an awareness of the energy being worked with, respect for the ground being danced on - this is a movement of consciousness and awareness of ourselves as individual parts of a great tribe.  We set intention and create the sacred out of the space where sound forms and our forms meet.

Enter the discovery of this culture or expand your current awareness.  For more information on screening THE BLOOM: A Journey Through Transformational Festivals or Electronic Awakening (now available for instant play) with your community visit www.Keyframe-Entertainment.com .  

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www.ElectronicAwakening.com
www.TheBloom.tv - direct link to free online content Episodes, Featurettes, Soundtracks
www.TheBloomSeries.com
www.Keyframe-Entertainment.com
www.EMA-global.org   
www.RealitySandwich.com
www.Evolver.net