Whistler is often a strange place, but it is safe to say that it is unusual to find DMT at the finish line...
Ragged runners stumbling into Olympic Plaza at the end of Saturday's Half Marathon will find themselves pounding their final, weary steps to the polyrhythms of no less than 300 drummers. The open-for-all djembe circle will be led by master drummer Munkie of local electronic music trio Digital Mountain Tribe (DMT). All are welcome to come patter and pound their way into hippie/Zeppelin/Afrofuturist oblivion. The event will be live streamed at new.livestream.com/dmtlab.
Hailing from South Africa, Mbuyiselo "Munkie" Ncapayi is a founder of the Drum Café and one-third of DMT. The Drum Café first launched in Johannesburg in the early 1990s, offering pan-African drum therapy workshops. Revolutionary in its own right, it was the first South African company to have mixed black and white partners; Munkie and his crew played at President Nelson Mandela's inauguration. The Café now has locations on nearly every continent, including Vancouver, where Munkie now lives. The Drum Café is donating 300 djembes for the occasion.
Appearing alongside Munkie are DJ Test Pilot and VJ Matsui808, who together form the DMT triad. Test Pilot, otherwise known as Adrian Moran, is relatively new to Whistler, just settling in last year after a hop-skip-and-jump from South Africa through Vancouver. Alongside silent partner Jane Hollohan, Moran has been DJing and throwing large-scale electronic music events since the early 1990s. As Incubated Cyber Energy productions (ICE), Adrian introduced the UK acid house and trance sound to the continent, organizing events with the likes of Gatecrasher, Ministry of Sound, and Peter Gabriel's WOMAD, flying in internationally-recognized DJs such as Carl Cox, Paul Oakenfold, and Paul van Dyk.
It was in the heady rave-era atmosphere of post-apartheid South Africa that Adrian met Munkie.
"We did the Fusion Dance Festival and Electric Workshop in Jonannesburg," says Adrian. "We did rock bands during the day and dance music at night, with a tribal village with a drum set-up next to that . . . everyone got exposed to different genres. It took off and we held it every year for eight years."
It was in this Lollapalooza-esque mix of music cultures that Adrian and Munkie began mixing ragga dub with djembe, fusing contemporary electronic dub music, mixed by Adrian on CDJs, with live Africanist polyrhythms.
"We came together to fuse intelligent electronic music with tribal djembe drumming," explains Adrian. The result is a world-beat infused dub, with subsonic bass rumbling underneath the sparkling taps of Munkie's improvised djembe.
At least, this is where DMT will start on Saturday. If the crowd is able and willing, says Adrian, they'll up the tempo to the pulsing 4/4 beats of "melodic trance." Ever since Adrian and ICE brought in the Trance Wizards of Goa to Jo'burg in 1995, he has been a dedicated instigator among worldwide trance culture. He points out that trance — or psytrance, as it is often known — is one of few electronic music cultures that continues to throw festivals attended by everyone "from kids through to grannies."
Psytrance music, which ranges from deep to melodic and acid tangents, offers a psychedelic twist to the 4/4 beats of underground dance music (hence psytrance). Psytrance dates back to the hippie/traveller scene of mid '80s Goa, where outcasts and drop-outs would dance for days under palm trees on the Indian subcontinent's famed beaches.
Adrian would like to bring trance music to Whistler, which, like the underground yet internationally established genres of techno and house, has found itself pushed out of Whistler's increasingly commercial clubs. To this end, he and his collaborators host weekly livefeeds from their site at TheDMTLab.com.
Last but not least, the third point of the DMT triumvirate is VJ "James" Matsui808. James, who points out that his wife plays bagpipes, is a Halifax native who has been exploring the strange geometric patterns of the Illuminati while living in Whistler for the past 15 years. He will be providing the mind candy as your hands try to drum, your feet try to dance, and your brain tries to keep down the DMT.