Tree of Life festival in Turkey this summer. He creates his sets to be a fully immersive experience, where a listener can truly allow their feet to lift off the ground and float along, while allowing themselves to be moved by this energy that bubbles up inside them. I interviewed Therapist about downtempo music, DJing and festivals he's playing next. Listen to his set and read the interview below. AND, please comment on the set in Soundcloud - this set is for a contest to win a spot at the Tree of Life Festival, and the set with the most comments by June 15 wins. We want to help Therapist win, so please read the interview and click on the set below and add a comment:
Downbeatscape: What does "downtempo" music mean to you? Is it any different from chillout or ambient styles, and how do consider the terms/styles working together?
Therapist: Most people see "downtempo" as something that puts them to sleep, something to listen when they meditate or relax. For me, downtempo is much more than that. The term itself includes a spectrum of genres - all kinds of ambient, chillout, electroacoustic, IDM, dub and some world and ethnic music. Downtempo is a type of music that can explore a part of one's consciousness that very few genres can. It can produce unique states of mind and take you on a serene journey or reveal a part of you that you never knew existed. Also, it is not just the sound that matters - its the culture it brings with it, of positive and open-minded people.
DBS: How did you first get interested in ambient music?
Therapist: It was more or less an accident. I have always listened to electronic music, but never anything similar to downtempo. Few years back, I was listening to an online radio and an ambient mix started one morning - I was instantly captivated by the sound and it all began from there.
DBS: How did you first get your start as an ambient DJ?
Therapist: I have been mixing and producing in a few genres since the age of 17. I had a different alias back then, but my music varied from progressive trance to dark psychedelic and hardcore. I was experimenting and searching for the field I am most comfortable with and I think I found it with ambient (mainly psychill) some 5 years ago. Since the scene and community here in Bulgaria is very small and I was already a part of it, it didn't take much time to start recording mixes and participating on major events in my own country.
DBS: What have been the biggest challenges to you as an ambient DJ, seeing as many 'popular' scenes aren't always quite inclusive toward your style of DJing?
Therapist: The main issue, as I see it, is getting people to listen - [ambient] is not a genre that can be understood just by glancing at it. Downtempo isn't club music and most people aren't aware that the alternative is not just for listening to at the office or before bed. The best setting for such music are the open air festivals, which most people don't visit very often, for their own reasons. Even in Europe we have our versions of mainstream music that flood all the media and leave a lot of quality production (not just downtempo) behind. Still, I don't envision downtempo as something that can or should be everyone's choice of sound. The fact that it is mostly underground does not bother me at all. Also, the funding of most of the festivals in Europe is really limited, which makes it difficult to participate in festivals because of travel costs.
Therapist: For the moment, my main goal is to help promote and form a stable ambient subculture in my own country - I am not only DJing, I'm also doing my small part in the organization of all kinds of indoor and outdoor parties and festivals - Chill Station, Artmospheric and Tangra festivals, to name a few. Apart from that, I am participating on the chill stage of Gaea Festival in Greece, which hosts some really great artists. Hopefully I will win the best set contest for Tree of Life festival in Turkey and participate on the chill stage there. I'm also having negotiations with few other festivals around Europe and an exclusive set for Q-Lounge.fm coming soon.
DBS: Where do you find influence for your DJ sets?
Therapist: I don't really have any DJ influence - I try to set my own path, using my vision of what the set should look like, forge a concept around it and hopefully send a message that the listeners can receive. Of course, there are numerous labels that have shaped my perception of the genre - Ultimae, Cosmicleaf, Altar, Soundmute, Dakini, Chillcode, Spiral Trax, Fluid Audio, Celestial Dragon, Twisted Records and many more.
DBS: Where do you see the future of ambient music going?
Therapist: Electroacoustic is becoming more and more popular at the moment, which is really cool to see - it is a very interesting mix of acoustic instruments and drones, a lot you can experiment with. Also, some of the major psychill artists are focusing on space and beatless ambient and there are a lot of great tracks and albums coming out. Personally I would like to see even more variety in the downtempo subgenres - mainly some ethnic and psychill variations, more experimenting and blending of different elements.
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