DJ Archive from MMD Records (RSA 🇿🇦) – Exclusive Interview
Lyle Jenson is DJ Archive and co-owner of Mind Manipulation Device Records. He’s been DJing Psytrance close to ten years and running MMD Records for six of those – releasing top notch twilight releases and throwing unique parties catering to a specific market. We decided to have a chat with Lyle, to speak a bit about being involved in the scene for nearly a decade, and what to expect from Mind Manipulation Device Records in the next few months.
– The following questions were compiled on behalf of Psymedia by Evan Greenblo
Psymedia: For those that don’t know you, tell us a little about yourself.
DJ Archive: Well my name is Lyle Jensen aka Archive. I’ve been DJing for close to 11 years now, of which 8 of those years I’ve dedicated to Psytrance, specifically the more night time Full On Psytrance. The other years were dedicated to Death/Black/Thrash Metal, Industrial, EBM & Darkwave (under the DJ name “Isotope”). I studied a BBA Degree in Marketing & Communications, graduated in 2005, and co-founded Mind Manipulation Device Records together with Zion Linguist later that year. Six years later and we’re still here fighting the good fight!
Psymedia: How much of your time makes up (1) DJing, (2) MMD Records owner, and (3) the rest of real life?
DJ Archive: Hmm, that’s tough because all 3 things seem to vary from year to year. I think my time DJing is limited to the amount of sets I get nowadays. Most of the time the only time I mix Psy is when I play sets at parties, which is great actually because it forces me to better myself each time I play. I guess you got to find a balance between work and play, and originally when myself and Laurence (Zion Linguist) first started MMD we both agreed to ease the workload off each other when the other person was dealing with ‘real life’ things. At the moment being so involved with maintaining MMD’s release schedule along with the V/A Night Terrors I’m compiling has forced me to be a little more proactive in the scene, so if I’m not dealing with an enduring day job, I tend to be either smashing a dance floor somewhere or smashing my PC keyboard. [laughs]
Psymedia: Your Double V/A Compilation Night Terrors will be released through Terror Lab Industries (Mexico) next year. I believe Thomas Ewerhard will be handling the artwork. He’s worked with some big metal names so naturally I can assume you’re super stoked about that. What are your thoughts on artwork these days? With the rise of digital formats, are they still valid?
DJ Archive: To say I’m stoked would be the understatement of the century! I honestly never thought I would be able to say that I’m getting the designer for Cannibal Corpse, Testament, Trivium and Morbid Angel to do my compilation artwork. I’m truly honored that Ivan and the Terror Lab crew have taken such a chance on this metal psyhead from the deep south of Cape Town, in releasing such an edgy V/A, not just in terms of audio but now visual as well. It’s been an awesome experience, and probably will be my biggest personal contribution to the Psytrance community, so no pressure here then! [laughs]
As for artwork for digital releases go, I think that comes down to the label’s personal opinion of how to present their releases. I know with MMD, we put as much pressure on our designers to design killer unique EP covers, as much as we pressure our producers to make the best produced slick Psy they can. I’d like to think that every digital EP cover we put out has the potential of becoming a physical disc, so that’s the route we want to maintain into the future. At the end of it all, a good visual representation of the music only heightens the experience of the music itself.
Psymedia: How did you become involved with Rudraksh Records and Terror Lab Industries?
DJ Archive: I’ve always had a fascination with how wide spread the Psy culture is (more so in the other third world countries), so when we first started MMD in 2005, we wanted to sign specific international DJ’s and producers to our label, that would spread the gospel so to speak of our signature nighttime style. When I first spoke to DJ Shiva Moon of Rudraksh Records (India) mid 2008, it just seemed natural at the time to sign another avid twilight Psytrance lover to MMD, who could now push our specific sound to Goa masses. In August 2009 he approached me to represent Rudraksh in South Africa, and I said ‘hell yes!’
The same could be said about DJ Transgenic of Terror Lab Industries (Mexico), who we signed to MMD shortly after monitoring their evolution in sound with their own label that he was running, so we made an agreement at the end of 2010 to have me join the Terror Crew if he joined the MMD crew, as both our individual labels sounds show similar psychedelic qualities. I can say that having all these crazy mofos on MMD has really opened up the eyes (and ears) of the world to what we’re all about as a Psytrance label, and I couldn’t be happier with our choices!
Psymedia: Some people generally have a problem differentiating between a live set and a DJ set. Could you explain what differences happen behind the decks?
DJ Archive: Well the simplest way of looking at the 2 is that a producer makes his/her own original music which they then perform live at parties using hardware, laptops and gear. A DJ simply plays the ‘other guys’ tunes’ using CDJ’s (which are basically glorified CD players) along with a mixer with certain effects provided on it. For reference, sometimes live acts will also mix their music using the CDJ’s and mixer. The usual case scenario at a party nowadays is that a DJ acts as a buffer between live acts. As producers play their own beats, it’s the DJ’s responsibility to fill in the gaps between those producers’ styles, so that the party can musically maintain a sense of flow leading from the beginning of the night till the end of the party.
Psymedia: Will we ever see some music produced by you? Is production the natural progression for DJs, or do they each have their own place?
DJ Archive: You know, I’ve been there since the first wave of valley producers hit the Cape Town scene, when all the producers like Frozen Ghost and Zion Linguist started their movements into Psytrance production, and honestly I get asked this question all the time, but I really think it takes a certain mind to produce Psytrance and I’m just too judgmental to be a producer! I don’t think I’d ever be satisfied with anything I produce, and personally I would rather stick to releasing and playing the artists that I think do it best. I personally feel as a label owner it’s hard to be objective with selecting releases and artists, when you automatically compare them to your own music, so I think I’ll rather just leave it to the pros. I believe I’m an exception to the norm though, as I think more of MMD Records as my indirect contribution to the scene, rather than contributing directly by physically producing the next dance floor hit.
Psymedia: It’s no secret you’re a fan of metal. Guitar driven artists like Skazi, Infected Mushroom, SUN Project and our local boys Super Evil are hugely popular. Why do you think there’s such a big connection between fans of metal and fans of Psytance?
DJ Archive: I can’t speak for other metal fans out there, but for me, it comes down to fast rhythm and leads. Metal tends to focus on strong rhythmic drums and screaming guitar riffs, and I think more so in the night time Full On Psytrance genre, producers look to digitally recreate the energy you would have from a powerful guitar chord and translate that into a screaming synth lead and raging percussion. The same can be said about the speed of metal in comparison to Psytrance, where you see a lot of dark Psytrance producers who make 160bpm Psy and upwards all enjoy the more thrashy speed that you get in metal. It’s all about finding a basis for comparison in the music you enjoy. If there’s a sound you like, you will automatically be attracted to music that gives you that sound, and this applies to all music, not just Metal and Psytrance.
Psymedia: You’ve been playing all hours of parties these days before and after the slow and the high BPMs. How much of a DJ set is generally prepared beforehand, and how much is made up during the set and/or altered around the other sets?
DJ Archive: I totally agree, it’s definitely been a varied season as far as B2B sets and different time slots for me, but that’s cool, I like the challenge…but I will always prefer the witching hours of the night to crank it! I think it’s different for every DJ, but depending how comfortable you are with the music you play, along with the type and time of the party you’re playing at, that will determine the amount of pre-planning required for a DJ set. For me in general, it’s good to get together a rough skeleton of your set and take it from there. For example, knowing the artists’ style you play before and after; just possibly have your first and final track in mind. From there using crowd reaction as your guide, you can fill in the blanks, and hopefully pull off a nice set.
For Rezonance, knowing that I have to follow Absolum and play before Jester & OutPsyder, aka Up-Psy-Down in the early morning hours, I will try filling in the blanks between that twisted high-tech psychedelia before me and the more high energy Full On to follow me. And Up-Psy-Down will do the same for their DJ set, and so on and so forth through all the acts performing, until we’re all just euphoric psychedelic mush puddles!
Psymedia: There seems to be some kind harmonization on the forefront between party organizers, label owners and so on however now and then some drama spills through the cracks. As a DJ and label owner, what is your opinion on the current state of the Psytrance scene in South Africa?
DJ Archive: Well when we started MMD Records in 2005, we made sure all the local Psytrance event organizers and fellow label owners at the time knew what our intentions were with Psytrance and our label as a production company, and with that basic communication we got the support from our peers. As a matter of fact the middle of January month date that MMD hosts for our annual anniversary was originally offered to us by Afrogalactic Records when they decided to forfeit their annual party date at the time to focus and build more on their Alien Safari and New Years events. So without that original offer who knows, MMD might never have hosted events, but we did, and I’m stoked with the result we got! I truly feel that alongside our first MMD V/A “Twilight Children” released just 2 weeks before our 1st outdoor party “Point of No Return” in January 2006, really lead to getting the word out on MMD as a new face in the Psytrance scene in a quick space of time. Over the years the scene and players in scene have grown, but the principle remains the same, and that is that communication to your peers is essential for the longevity and survival in this scene. The Psytrance scene is like a family, and sometimes you got to just talk to that second cousin twice removed that just pisses you off!
Psymedia: 2011 was a pretty big year for psytrance in Cape Town which saw a definite growth in the audience and many international artists visiting. How many peeps do you predict will be at Rezonance, and what will 2012 bring for psytrance?
DJ Archive: Well there’s no doubt the Cape Town Psytrance scene has grown by leaps and bounds over the years, which according to the population count of youngsters matriculating annually was kind of to be expected, but there is still that consistent difference in turnout between the small gatherings and larger festivals, and I don’t think that will ever change. I’ve known the Alien Safari and Rezonance crew for many years now, and without pigeon holding the NYE Festival to a number, I will just say that the amount of time, financial and logistical effort required to pull off an event of this size completely justifies the turnout they get to this epic event, and this year’s Rezonance should re-affirm that very fact…I mean with psychedelic legends Dino Psaras, Transwave and Absolum on the lineup how can you go wrong! As for 2012, gosh who knows…they predict the end of the world or something, so I guess MMD must just release a whole lot more cutting edge releases, and all us party organizers worldwide must just make it the best party year ever!
Psymedia: Many people don’t appreciate the amount of effort it takes to throw an outdoor party and often criticize small problems that take place. Could you briefly explain how the process works, and what are some preparations that people totally overlook?
DJ Archive: I think throwing a party regardless of size requires a good team to keep things together. A party is only as good as the energy put into it! We’ve been lucky enough to have some great people work alongside MMD to keep our level of party production as high as possible. It’s hard to say how to avoid problems going down for a party, but I could literally give you the scenario of what you’re trying to do, which is essentially: You are throwing a party with loud music with so and so number of people attending, all with the hypothetical idea of drinking, eating, partying and parking/camping in safe and secure area, all with the dance floor still having the visual appearance of a Psytrance party…solve all these problems, add a monetary amount to the efforts needed to do it, and that’s what it takes to throw an outdoor party. What I will say is to all the smaller party organizers out there is try remember that outdoor parties require outdoor sound rigs, which require the right generator and a sufficient amount a fuel to run it, along with running your stalls present…remember your diesel!
Psymedia: How much interaction is there with authorities and the police in order to run smoothly? Are they aware of everything regarding parties?
DJ Archive: I cannot obviously speak for other party organizers, but with regards to the MMD and Remanufacture outdoor events, depending on where the venue is, will depend on the amount of authorities you will have to alert. It also depends on the size of the party expected. Due to the increased popularity of Psytrance parties over the years here in Cape Town along with the high usage of social forums, there’s a good likelihood that the police and legal authorities already know of the upcoming events. As an organizer you make sure you have your medics, sound engineers and fire marshals on site, along with any relative liquor & sound licenses required, and this must all just be relayed between the land owner of the party and the relative authorities. If you take the rights steps around the law, the law shouldn’t pose a serious problem to your event.
Psymedia: Thanks Lyle for your time and see you at Rezonance, and of course MMD “Back to the primitive” party on the 14th of January 2012!
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