Lost & Found is Gerhard Olivier. The Cape Town born producer joins a short list of South African artists who have had success furthering their career abroad, with non-stop chart toppers on the likes of 3D Vision, Nutek, Nexus Media and Phantasm Records. His unique style has seen him team up with arguably some of the biggest names in psytrance including Absolum, Artifakt, Azax Syndrom, Biogenesis, CPU, Painkiller, Shift and Slug.
Psymedia : Howzit Gerhard! To start off, how did you get involved with psytrance? How did you decide on the name Lost & Found?
Lost & Found : I went to my first trance party in 1998, which was organised by Vortex. I didn’t even know what trance was at the time, but I was intrigued by the triangular stage design and the visuals. I didn’t quite understand the music at first but I could tell that something serious was going on. I wasn’t immediately hooked on the music, not sure why. It was the Vortex party in collaboration with Etnica on the millennium that got me permanently hooked. Hallucinogen, X-Dream, Koxbox, Cydonia and Infected Mushroom all played unbelievable sets. Hallucinogen‘s opening track Mi-loony-um is something I’ll never forget. After this and the rest of the season I was completely addicted to the otherworldly soundscapes of trance. It didn’t feel like it was made by humans, it was completely alien to this world compared to other dance genres.
Then in 2001 I moved to London and continued going to some great events. Some friends and I decided to organise a party and found a squat venue somewhere in Neasden, London. Shift actually played there. I’ve always been a crazy music collector and my friends started telling me that I should start DJing, so I got hold of some decks, trained for a week and played my first set, and it went really well. But I realised fast that a DJ needs secret weapons to compete with other DJs and this was what drew me to producing my own music. So I saved up and bought loads of gear, and I’ve been producing ever since.
I needed a name for my first “live” gig which was at a Beartrap Productions party in 2003 I think. I thought long and hard about which name to use, Lost & Found just dawned on me one day as something that can describe new and old elements in music. Lost is the past, and Found is the future, and I am all about the future.
Psymedia : How many months of the year are you generally in South Africa for? Was the move overseas a career choice?
Lost & Found : It depends. In the past I had to come back to South Africa to organise visa stuff, and this year I came back because in August I had a booking at PsynOpticz & MMD Frost-Bite 3D and now this month I came back for a wedding, but I decided to stay on for the rest of the month since the trance season is always kicking in December. The move overseas (first Barcelona, now Berlin) was at first kind of career related yes, because it is clearly easier for promoters to book you when you are already in Europe because the flights are cheaper than from South Africa and to be in closer contact with other artists and to operate on an international level.
Nowadays, since I’ve been in Berlin, I wouldn’t say the move is career oriented. It’s more of a lifestyle choice. Berlin has this creative vibe to it, but not in the conventional sense. When I’m here I naturally drift towards more industrial/techno/punk elements in music and art, it suits me perfectly, but it’s probably not for everybody – especially if you like good weather.
Psymedia : Your debut album entitled Decoder came out last year. Were there any specific reasons as to why you took so long to release a debut?
Lost & Found : There are quite a few reasons. Reason number one, it took me ages to be convinced that the music was good enough for an album. I wanted to choose only the best tracks, but I wanted every track to be completely different from each other. There are so many albums where every track has the same kick and bass and key, this was something I wanted to avoid, so there was a lot of experimentation until I was happy. The track “Decoder” had like 7 versions, versions so different from each other that they could basically be its own little album. I also wanted every track to be properly tested on a dance floor before the release. I didn’t want to release anything that I’ve never played before. So for all the tracks to be properly test driven took time as well.
And the other reason, the whole time I was writing the album I was moving around, so the album was not written all in the same studio. This was good in the sense that different influences would be present because of the different environments. But on the downside, it made me quite paranoid about the production levels between each track. I was scared that you would be able to hear that the production levels were different between the tracks.
And lastly, 3D Vision Records gave me creative freedom to do what I wanted and I didn’t have a deadline. Now this is of course good and bad. I was starting to make myself insane. Finally, Artifakt told me that he would be going on this massive tour in Europe and that he wouldn’t be able to master my album for many months, so he gave me a 2 week deadline. In those 2 weeks I wrapped up everything – thank god.
Psymedia : The album was highly praised, although some criticized a stylistic change from early Lost & Found. Do you think there’s a lot of pressure with releasing a debut album, especially so far into your career?
Lost & Found : The plus side with releasing a debut so far into your career is that you actually have an audience that is waiting for it. I am interested in the whole spectrum of trance and I believe that a live or DJ set should take you somewhere and not just stay on the same point. I remember Koxbox‘s set at Samothraki in 2001, it felt like the world was ending or something, this is seriously missing in today’s sets and albums – actual feeling and not only good production.
If there were people that criticized a stylistic change from “early” Lost & Found, they are probably only interested in a certain point in that spectrum, and that is fine. A psychedelic experience is definitely not something that is stagnant, everything changes into something else. That’s why the last track on the album ‘Division’ ends with the sample “The worst of times, like the best, are always passing away”. I made the album with a psychedelic viewpoint in mind, it is called “PSY”trance after all isn’t it?
As far as debut album pressure goes, I feel it is far less these days than it used to be. The album itself is an art form that is becoming somewhat endangered and this is sad. The internet and Facebook age has really changed how music is consumed. For most people, listening to music is now like checking your email or something – people just click on some files they downloaded. In this age it really is a battle for people’s attention. Most albums today would get overlooked because everything is disposable and people seem to have short attention spans because of the information overload everybody experiences on a daily basis. I wouldn’t want to be a new artist starting out today, but that’s just me.
Psymedia : I believe you’ve been working on a new album already since June? Could you tell us about that?
Lost & Found : Yes, my new album is under construction. I’ve been playing some of the tracks in my live sets and it’s been super. It will continue where Decoder left off but more “purist”. I can’t really say more than that at this stage. The best plan is that there is no plan. The trance musical landscape has changed a lot since the release of Decoder. “Progressive trance” or whatever it’s called exploded. It would be fine if the music actually progressed but this is not the case at all. It seems filled with just more clichés. And on the other hand night time trance has reached alarming levels of predictability. Producers use the same old presets that have been in use since 2007, it is getting sad. I am taking these factors into consideration with the next album.
Psymedia : Will Multistate (alongside Xatrik) ever come to life again?
Lost & Found: Probably not, but there will be an unreleased track coming on a Timecode Records compilation soon.
Psymedia : Is it surreal coming across South African artists overseas?
Lost & Found : It’s not as surreal as you might think. Coming across artists you know in different countries is actually quite a normal occurrence. I’ve been with Frozen Ghost in Japan, Israel and Portugal for instance. Or for example I’ve been with Absolum in Finland, Greece, South Africa, Portugal, Israel, Spain and probably somewhere else I can’t remember right now. Seeing your friends around the world is part of what keeps this profession exciting. When it’s a South African artist you see on the road, it’s definitely cool.
Psymedia : In your opinion, why has psytrance become one of South Africa’s best exports?
Lost & Found : If you mean exports as in artists playing outside South Africa, I’m not sure that I completely agree with that statement. It is actually quite hard for South African’s to get gigs because our flights are so expensive. Headroom is obviously one of the main exports, as well as Protoculture but I wouldn’t call what he is making psytrance anymore. Regan as well. Actually it looks like Nano Records is one of the main exports!
For a scene so big, there is actually quite a small number of artists touring internationally in my opinion. There are artists from other scenes doing very well, like say Haezer who recently released with Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak Records. Petite Nior has been getting serious international attention. Not to mention Die Antwoord performing with Aphex Twin on stage, getting millions and millions of hits on YouTube and sell out shows all over the world. It depends how you see it and what you define as success.
Psymedia : You’ve played locally at a variety of times. At Alien Safari’s Flying Circus 2012 this weekend you’re on from 12:00AM to 01:30AM. I believe in 2009 you played from 04:00AM to 05:30AM. How much consideration is given to track selection depending on the time?
Lost & Found : Track selection depending on the time is absolutely critical, the time determines everything. If you play in the morning, there has to be a certain morning fresh/crispy vibe. If you play at say 4:00 – 6:00 in the night there can be heavy searing leads in the beginning with an uplifting touch towards the end. I don’t normally play at a time like 00:00-1:30 but it is quite cool because it means the dance floor will be full and I am the one that sets the tone for the rest of the night. At that time people will be listening more attentively because they are not wasted yet so it is a good opportunity for me to play some new tracks that require attention. It’s almost more like a concert to play at that time. The fact that I play at a variety of times is cool and I definitely prefer it that way.
Psymedia : You’ll be playing at Rezonance NYE Festival once again. As a South African abroad, what’s it like returning to your home base to play in front of such a huge crowd?
Lost & Found : It is always a pleasure to play for the home crowd because I generally tend to refer to the South African crowd in my mind when I make trance. On the other hand it is kind of stressful because it feels like there is a bigger need to play good. So usually I work extra hard before a set whenever I play in South Africa. Like right now I am actually working like a maniac in my little South African studio.
Psymedia : Thanks for the interview! Any last words?
Lost & Found : Thanks for having me. Remember to join my Facebook page and watch my Soundcloud for updates, if you feel inclined.