The highly anticipated collaboration between psy legend Tristan and rising star, Avalon, Killerwatts.
What happens when a legend of psytrance gets together with a new up and coming star of the scene? Killerwatts of full-on power!
I got to speak to both Avalon & Tristan about their return to South Africa at the end of January for the Origin Festival and to find out more about their lives both as solo artists and the all new project aptly called Killerwatts.
Leon ‘Avalon’, he of psytrance project Avalon fame, is following quickly in the footsteps of one of his heroes, Tristan, with what will be his third consecutive visit to our sunny shores this summer. But this time instead of coming with an English posse of nutters, he arrives armed with a second power project and one of the biggest names in psytrance at his side…
You’ve become SA’s next best friend after Tristan. He’s been here umpteen times but at the rate you’re going, you’ll soon catch up. Looking forward to partying in SA again?
“F**k yeah! I can’t wait; it has always been one of my favourite dancefloors to play to. The energy, the vibe, the people. Love it!!
Last year was quite mad with the whole Pommie posse…
“Haha, well get ready for us again. Here we come!”
So how’s 2011 been for you?
“It has been a huge year, gigs have pretty much doubled since and I have had some awesome times on my travels. Burning Man 2011, Samothraki, Indigo in israel; the list goes on. Studio wise, been a busy year too. Made an album with Tristan and about 10 Avalon tracks are also just waiting to land.”
Where do you find yourself gigging the most, worldwide?
“I would say Europe at the moment; been playing a different country every week. But there has been some great Brazil tours and just played Mexico for the first time which was a blast!
So Killerwatts with Tristan. Amazing that now you’re making tunes with someone who was possibly one of your heroes 8 or 10 years ago…
“10 years ago was my first party, Samothraki 2001. I remember asking ‘who is this DJ?’ (as it blew my frikken mind). A girl told me Tristan. Ever since he has been my favourite DJ. If you would have told me back then that 10 years later I would not only be playing on that island, but with Tristan together, with our new project! I would have never believed you!”
What’s different about the Killerwatts sound as opposed to Avalon?
“Well it’s a hybrid of the Tristan and Avalon sound, with a twist. Top quality production on this album has been a huge focus for us. We’ve learnt so much in this area while making it. Hold on to your brain cells, ‘cos they’re going for a ride!”
And finally, 2012…. Is it the end of the world? What’s your take on things?
Haha, I’m actually playing the ‘Last Day in Time Festival’ in Mexico by the Mayan Temples on Dec 21st 2012. Pretty far out! So I will let you know, I guess.
Tristan is of course Cape Town’s very own ‘psychedelic, prodigal son.’ He has been here so many times and for good reason. He loves us and we love him behind the decks! After last year’s disappointing no-show he owes us a big one and knows it. He explains…
So I guess the first thing to ask is ‘Are you definitely going to make it back to SA this time around?’
Yes, Yes, Yes!!! I spend much of every season as I can in Goa, but 2 years ago the Indian government changed the laws so that if you left the country you couldn’t return within 3 months… bummer! That’s why I couldn’t make it to Cape Town last year. However… this year I have the correct visa which does allow me to travel freely in and out. So here’s a big middle finger to all the idiots in government out there that try to control us and stop the freedom of movement of people around the globe!
How’s the guitar playing?
Good, I managed over the years to reach an intermediate level; so I can play songs, jam and improvise a bit, but to take it to the next level I would really need to graft and practice a lot, and I just don’t have the time to commit to it. I got a piano for my 40th birthday and have started lessons which I absolutely love so that’s my new craze at the moment. Having a foundation of musical theory makes it so much easier – but again it’s sitting down and practising!
A few years back you opted to stop DJ’ing and only do live sets i.e. play your own music. Is that still the case nowadays?
Yes. I was forced to stop DJ’ing as a result of an increasing level of tinnitus in my right ear. Doing live sets (i.e. only my own music) is less intensive on the ear drums as I’m more concerned with production on stage than simply beat mixing; so thankfully it hasn’t got worse. It was a complete blessing in disguise, as focusing on my own music has made a massive difference to my level of production and arrangements and the overall quality has definitely accelerated since the switch.
Your new EP rocks! Working with the Antidote must have been interesting. The two styles definitely work… Tell us a bit about Trance Odyssey. [Available on Nano Rec’s]
We wrote that tune in Serge Antidote’s studio which is in Ibiza, designed by himself, underneath his swimming pool! Amazing… it gets really hot out there in summer; so when you finish a section on the track and have built up a bit of a sweat… just step out and jump in the pool! Doesn’t get more pimping than that!!!
Speaking of collaborations you’ve teamed up with Leon from Avalon who is quite a prolific composer I believe. Tell us a bit about the Killerwatts project. What’s the dynamic that exists between you two?
The Killerwatts project has been quite a journey! We have strived to take things to the next level with the UK psychedelic sound and I believe we have succeeded in creating something big, fresh and definitely kicking! Most of the album has been written in my studio, simply for practical reasons (main one: I don’t want to spend too much time away from my family) so Leon comes to mine, sets up camp for a week, we graft our asses off and emerge from the studio with a belter!!! The album is 95% finished now; and certainly completed by the time we get to South Africa… which I am really excited about.
And finally, I asked Leon the same thing; 2012…. Is it the end of the world?
I think the world is in a tricky place right now, simply because we don’t have the right people running the show. I’m not the Armageddon/end of the world type, (although many of my friends think the Mayans had something going on;) so I don’t think any sudden enlightenment or catastrophe is about to happen in the next 12 months. However I think the governments around the world certainly need a rethink about the distribution of wealth on this planet and I wish they’d sort it out… soon!!!
Shout outs: [Tristan added this special message to Cape Town’s psytrance massive].
“I’d like to add that I cannot wait to come to South Africa and rock on the dancefloor with some of the best party people on the planet!! It’s been way too long and I look forward to seeing many friends very soon! x x x x”
The Origin Festival is from
27-29 January 2012.
Keep up to date at www.originfestival.com