Next week a special party will be going down in the Garden Route, a stretch of the south-eastern coast of South Africa from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape to the Storms River in the Eastern Cape. Over the years the Garden Route scene has become notorious for being a leech of good vibes, potentially because of its surreal natural beauty and distance from large towns (roughly 5 hours from Cape Town), which means those who attend have come a long way. In preparation for Aloe Roots, we chatted to the creator, Theo Barnard (Psytronik), to discuss how it all started and what the Garden Route has to offer.

PsymediaHow were you introduced to the trance scene? What about it inspired you to create your own?

Aloe Roots : That was a long time ago. I guess the first time I heard about trance parties in Cape Town I was actually overseas, in Scotland. I finished school and went travelling abroad, where I got into the commercial club trance in Europe. I met some older South African mates and they told me about the crazy parties in Cape Town they went to, like Vortex and so on. That’s when my eyes opened. In December 2005 I went to my first Vortex party. The scene was so psychedelic compared to the boring club trance in Europe. I was blown away, for sure. Being outdoors in the open, with crazy sound, crazy décor and all the crazy people jumping around! That was the year Infected Mushroom played with a full band on stage. I was sold coming from a live music background. I immediately wanted to be a part of it, having always loved music and making it

Psymedia : And when did Aloe Roots come along?

Aloe Roots : The whole Aloe Roots formation happened way later in time. But yeah, I guess I always saw the market for a Garden Route party with the right music and production. I was in the party throwing scene way before Aloe Roots, and that’s actually where I started DJing as well, at the annual Wildfarm New Years jol! The inspiration was a combination of the music and dance, as well as being at the right place, at the right time.

PsymediaWhat were some of the obstacles for your first party? When did you start throwing Aloe Roots parties?

Aloe Roots :  The first Aloe Roots party was in December 2012, about three years ago. Some of the first obstacles were always budget. Things aren’t cheap, it all costs a lot to set up and whatnot. So yeah, we lost a bit in the beginning but pushed on through, and since then it has grown.

PsymediaWhat makes Garden Route parties special that we don’t generally find in Cape Town?

Aloe Roots : That’s a tough one. You know, I don’t really want to say anything that’s going to sound like the Garden Route parties has it all compared to Cape Town. But yeah, in my opinion, I would say the parties are smaller and more intimate, the people who live her are here for the lifestyle, the nature, and so on. Because it is further away from Cape Town, it’s only the people who want to mission and adventure. As the Garden Route is between Cape Town and PE, we get a lot of the Eastern Cape crowd jolling here too, as it’s closer to home than Cape Town. This in itself makes it a special place; because you’ve kind of got a blend of two scenes in one area. Whereas sometimes one can find the Cape Town scene is very into Cape Town, and Cape Town only, if you know what I mean [laughs] hopefully without stepping on someones toes.

PsymediaTell me about Aloe Roots in particular; what’s the venue like, who is doing the décor and how many people have attended previously?

Aloe Roots : I would say it is something different. Sometimes it makes me think of a Karoo beach party, if you can imagine something like that! Yeah, it’s next to the Gouritzriver but inland, away from everything out in the sticks. It’s 30km off the N2, in a river valley with a cliff and water to swim. The river pretty much has beach sand, so ya, differently refreshing! For the second part of the question, the décor has changed at every party. The first few parties we worked with some of the Cape Town guys. This year we are going old-school, doing a lot of the décor, and canopy with the local artists we have in the area, building our own repertoire! We’ve also got another Cape Town artist doing panels for the DJ box and slacks this year. We like to mix it up, working together, always making it unique and interesting. The last party we clocked the 500 person mark, so we will see what happens this year. It has only ever grown every year!

PsymediaHow does the lineup showcase the local Garden Route talent and other areas of South Africa?

Aloe Roots : The lineup showcases some of the best local Garden Routes acts, as well as the other areas of South Africa! We have DJs coming from 4 provinces – Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. It should be fun with various styles of music, a proper journey of music through the weekend! The styles will vary from night to day time, and over the weekend you would have heard a good selection of styles and BPMs. We’ve also got the Brazilians in this year, again, just to give us the South American flavor too!

PsymediaWhat are the long-term plans for Aloe Roots?

Aloe Roots : We are not really sure for the long-term plans right now. We are taking it one party at a time, one year at a time! But yeah, at the moment it looks like a once a year psytrance festival for people who like to get away from the usual mumble jumble in the city or work and enjoy the outdoors, music and dance!


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