Tune Raider is the psytrance DJ project of Pamm Legg. She has been rocking South Africa’s dance floor for over 15 years and is considered to be one of the top female performers in the country, including performances abroad in Brazil, Australia, France, Germany, London and more.
Tune Raider opts for a more psychedelic full-on sound, however you can be sure to catch her deep into the night or rocking a morning session at any festival!
Hey Pamm! How did you start out in the psychedelic scene?
Hey Psymedia, well I hit the Cape Town scene as a fresh 17 year old from the Knysna forest area. I had experienced a small amount of the ‘organic, old school’ style parties in the Garden Route, but my first Vortex which was January 2000 featuring Tsuyoshi Suzuki.
Did that Vortex have a big impact on you?
Vortex 2000 blew my mind. I knew I was home. I was a bit of a freak at school so I partied for a season, then started becoming involved working the bar, the door, and décor. I just loved the scene and meeting overseas DJs that were touring and living the life – it was so inspiring.
I eventually decided to go back home (Knysna) in 2002 and finish my Matric because you kind of need a Matric to get a college education, and when I was home I met up with a group of trance DJs and party promoters called ‘Psynapse’.
Is that where you learnt to DJ and come up with the name Tune Raider?
They had a studio and hippy-style farm right next to mine. I literally walked into their mellow yet very intimidating studio and asked if they would teach me how to DJ. They helped me but did not spoon-feed me. I moved back to Cape Town and started playing the small club circuit including Getafix/ Organafix, Upstairs Bar and Club Babylon.
I joined up with a record label called Psy-Station and that’s where the name Tune Raider stemmed from (PlayStation, Tomb Raider). From there I pushed and played all sorts of gigs, and slowly season by season I built myself up to finally getting booked at a Vortex, which was quite a milestone for me.
You have managed to master both night and daytime styles.
Tune Raider: This is the problem; I love both styles, so I figured I would play both. Over the years I have played different styles, but I think that is because the scene itself has gone through many changes, technology has advanced making it possible for more creative producers to make great music.
Daytime style has become almost full-on in speed yet very melodic and psychedelic and playing in the daytime, bouncy beats and lots of smiles on the dance floor, it’s so much fun.
Night time style on the other hand…. is very expressive, I love the big bass, breaks and build ups, getting down to some serious beats late at night, having a private stomp moment on the dance floor, unleashing the beast so to speak, so you see my dilemma.
I don’t have a preference, I just love being in a festival atmosphere in general – it’s like stepping inside the bubble of a different world.
One thing I love about your sets is your enthusiasm on stage.
Thank you! I think one should just play from your heart and if you dance and go mental on stage because you feel it, then so be it. Do not be fake or act, you cannot really work on your presence as it comes playing from your inner energy and moving within the beat.
While concentrating on the sound and beats in your mix, you begin to move in a natural way and express yourself. I think that is why I get the dance floors moving, because my love of the beats is infectious. If you don’t love your tunes, why would your dance floor?
I learnt old school – the focus is on the dance floor, not you. As a DJ, it is our job to create the space for people on the dance floor to enter a journey, and to travel within the trace space, let go of ego and just have fun. It is about letting your body go and just move.
In 2008, you also put together a documentary Under the African Sky, showcasing the local scene.
I was on the side of the dance floor chatting to a DJ friend about the scene and that it was close to 10 years of psy in South Africa back then, and that someone should document the scene.
I decided that is what I wanted to do, and I am so glad I did it; we now have a piece of history to look back on. It is insane because the scene has been going for almost 20 years! One of my reasons for seeing it through was to try and tell the story and pay homage to the people who have created this beautiful and unique scene that we have here in Cape Town.
It was born when the chains on South Africa truly lifted, and electronic music and dancing was accepted and from there the hippy movement of outdoor music festivals somehow morphed into Psytrance parties like it is today.
Technology has accelerated things, and this has aided music producers to create the most insane sounds and beats. Our South African artists have been recognized worldwide for years now, thanks to the boys from Timecode and Nano Records being the first to pave the path for South Africa producers.
Did it take long to make? Would you make a new one?
The film took me about four years to make, it was challenging because I didn’t have funding until the final editing process and I was working and touring with Madame Zingara at the time, so I worked on it from my bunk bed on tour and internet cafes, I was a very determined young thing back then.
Am I considering making another one? Yes I am, I just need to find other people who are determined at making another piece of history, and of course the funding.
Is the local scene supportive of female artists?
I think Cape Town has always been supportive, but I have learnt that in any male dominated industry, the boys just want to see that you have the balls to play the game.
If you fuck up or do not get your way, tears and drama get you nowhere and neither does screwing the crew to get to where you want to be.
It is dedication to master your craft, evolve into an artist when you play, love for the scene and the music and a certain amount of sacrifice. I think the dance floor can hear and see that by your mixing, you cannot fake it and you cannot just learn it, it has to exist in you.
At the start, I remember being judged every time I played – my mixing, stage presence, track selection, crowd interaction and ability to take the dance floor on a journey.
It seems like locally females are primarily involved in the production. Are female DJ numbers dwindling? Is it the same abroad?
Well, it is hard to comment on that. I guess locally our numbers have dropped, it’s a hard industry to work in, and keep pushing, also life happens, so I guess some women choose to make families and careers.
Internationally there are still a good number of women DJ’s, I have made close friends with some girls in different countries, we all still pushing our careers and dream of playing the big festivals, plus we are all very supportive of each other. It’s a great sisterhood, as we recognise the fire in one another.
Did attending Boom, Ozora and Modem influence you as a performer?
I was really fortunate to go dance at these 3 big festivals. It just made my dream to one-day play at them even stronger. We have big stages in South Africa but what I love about the international festivals is the global family gathering, and how many people trek from all around the world to dance together.
There is a different sound at these festivals, the main guys that we all follow and play are presenting their new tracks and one hears the new sound for the season. The stalls are filled with the latest psy fashion that you can only find in European festivals. It’s a whole world than just a party. I get so sad on the last day of festival, even though I’m going to the next one.
You also performed in the UK and Australia. What are the scenes like there?
I played the Boomtown fair outside London. It is an incredible production! Really epic! It has many stages with different music or bands, there is so much to see it’s almost overwhelming. They have different areas and stages which are built like a movie scene, with roaming characters hanging out of windows or walking around, adding to the realism of the event… it’s really epic! So much attention to detail.
I played in Australia at a festival called Mushroom Valley in Queensland. Now that was a killer party! The Ozzy’s know how to put on a great event. One thing I loved, was the fact that everyone there dresses up, not just in Psy trance fashion, but in full carnival gear, and the outfits are outrageous! Next time I will definitely dress up.
Do you have any highlight moments of 2018 and any career goals for 2019?
I had a great 2018. Antaris in Germany, Boomtown Fair UK, Mushroom Valley Australia, Experience Festival Thailand, not to mention partying at Boom and Ozora. I guess my goal is to keep pushing. It’s my dream to represent South Africa at Boom and Ozora one day.. such beautiful stages and the people. I guess these events are the Mecca of Psytrance. I also recently joined United Beats records and I plan to bring out a compilation this season. I don’t have anything planned for Europe this season but perhaps it’s time to go back to Brazil for a bit.. let’s see what unfolds.
What are we doing right in South Africa, and what can we learn from the global scene?
It’s really evident that Cape Town Psy Scene is going through its changes, what those changes are, I can’t pinpoint. But I think we should have a bit more fun and get silly, we are too serious [laughs] Perhaps smaller and more psychedelic events is hopefully going to save us in the sense of quality over quantity. Cape Town as a whole is suffering because we have a lot of unconscious party-goers. I guess that’s how it feels nowadays. I feel the day parties are bringing the kids in, but I feel the events are a bit soulless. Everyone is there to take a selfie for Instagram, rather than have a spiritual experience. We party to release from the constraints of work life, yet I don’t see that happening. It’s a bit of a shit-show really!
I feel that Psytrance is not just about a party. It’s a lifestyle, it’s an energy that we carry with us… a feeling like we belong. One thing about international festivals is the feeling of a global belonging. Perhaps in Cape Town we are sheltered from that. We are in a little bubble down South, and we don’t realize how good we have it. I see the scenes overseas that struggle, yet we have it really good. We must just hang onto that, and keep up the good work, even through the tough times. Because life without psytrance would be boring in my opinion!
Thanks for the interview! Anything else you wanna say to finish off?
Keep partying with love and respect in your heart, open your eyes to what is happening around you. Psychedelic parties are about us coming together and having a great time in the sun and the nature, respect that nature, clean up and collect your rubbish from your campsite area.