The psytrance community in Singapore

PsySociety.net is striving to become the first magazine covering all aspects of psychedelic music. In this article, we will present the psytrance community in Singapore. The author of this article wishes to stay anonymous, as in Singapore there are very strict and repressive laws against drugs and he fears to be prosecuted for his contribution.

Being a racially-ambiguous brown man, there are times when I meet someone new overseas, especially at an underground rave or festival, I’d receive strange looks, as though they’re trying their best to quietly figure out where they think i might be from. I’ve had a young guy at a German rave once innocently ask me:

Him: Where are you from?

Me: I’m from Singapore

Him: So…what are you doing here?

Me: To…party? Just like you…

Him: (still in bewilderment)….but do you know this music back in your home?

Although I wasn’t offended, I realised the global perception of Singapore and it’s culture can vary wildly from deceptively positive to “that’s in China, right?”. 

So here’s a brief history of Psytrance in Singapore and its cultural context within greater Asia itself. I figured Westerners will inevitably make their way to Asia some day when they figure out the low cost of living, wild raw nature and that Asia too has festivals (albeit not as big a scale as ones in Europe).

Singapore is known for many things. A strong, stable government; clean-crystalline, safe streets; Violently pro-business; and a landmass even smaller than Micronesia (c’mon…it literally has the word “micro” in it), and yet it has grown into a sprawling cosmopolis attracting travellers, colonialists and businesses alike all under 50 years since its independence in 1965.

And despite all major media outlets being state-controlled, there have always been pockets of independent artists, DJs and musicians playing experimental & interesting music in the vibrant bar/club scene. However electronic music especially has always remained “underground possibly due to its close proximity with drug, club and party culture. Regardless, people took genres like Techno, Trance and Drum & Bass found a foothole alongside Top 40’s mashes and Mambo Nights at one of Singapore’s many ever-changing dance clubs and bars big enough for a dancefloor. Singapore is also not shy of the commercial EDM money and thus has hosted events like FMF, Ultra and ZoukOut as early as 2000.

It wasn’t until local techno DJ, NStomp, returning from a party in Thailand in 2005, introduced this new hypnotic sound that was entrancing the crowds at parties like Jungle Experience and the infamous Full Moon Parties in Koh Phangan. 

By the following year, he organized Om Project; the first of many party events featuring rising local artists and DJs from all around the world to showcase psytrance for the first time and Psychedelic music seemingly blended well with Singapore’s eastern philosophy and culture. 

He would later go on to meet fellow DJ/label owner Andrea Kikx, eventually signing with Bali-based Italian record label, Purple Hexagon and began touring around Asia and Europe in the summer of 2008.

Throughout 2008-2013, NStomp together with other up-and-coming artists from the region established South East Asia as a Psytrance destination. As small parties turned to 3-day festivals and better organized events started popping up around South East Asia, Singapore DJs were quick to jump on the darker music from festivals like Noise Poison, Momento Demento & Haunted Future and began spreading the new sound back home. It was a much harder, faster, darker sound than anyone in Singapore had heard before. 

Darkpsy inexplicably jived perfectly with the Psytrance community. This new dark & ominous sound aptly suited the country’s frenetic pace and austere city vibe. 

The Singapore soundscape continues evolving more complex and even louder and distinct thanks to a slew of ever-present and emerging homegrown artists like Psy-yang, Euphoriaz & Psycharge; setting the pace and inspiring a new generation of artists, producers, DJs, artists and organizers to keep fighting the good fight, for our right to party hard. 

To explore further into the Singapore Psy sound, check out: