Interview: Berlin Psych Fest


Far Out Magazine is travelling to Berlin in April for Germany’s first ever festival of psychedelia hosted at Postbahnhof, a historical landmark of Germany’s past. Who is behind the event? Austin’s very own Robbie D Love of ‘spacegaze’ outfit Deep Space. Robbie explains everything from why a psych fest is next stage of Berlin’s musical progression to allowing children to take LSD in school might not be such a bad idea…

Can you explain exactly how you came to this point in your life, what’s your story?

Hello, I’m Robbie D Love and I play in a psychedelic rock band called Deep Space. Our music can be described as ‘spacegaze’, which is a term we invented a few months ago. If you took ‘shoegaze’ music, drenched it in LSD, took it into another another dimension where space and time no longer relate in a linear fashion, you would end up with ‘spacegaze’. My band happens to be going on a European tour this spring and so we decided it would be fun to host a festival in Germany, since that is where our label is, Sulatron Records. Berlin Psych Fest was born out of our creativity to call Germany our second home, since we are originally from Austin, TX. Our band playing spacegaze is also the reason why we decided to call the small collective of people bringing this festival to life as, The Space Gaze Order Of Infinite Light.

I believe this is the first psych festival in Berlin, Germany. How well suited do you think the town and the country are? Are the people ready for it? 

Well, as I stated earlier, since I’m from America and have never been to Europe before, let alone Berlin, I can only go off my intuition. We are actually proud to be doing something in a country that has a very rich and steep history in the development of a musical art form called Krautrock that stemmed from the youth movement of the 1960’s. There were groups of kids coming together who didn’t adhere to the beliefs and stigmas left over from WWII. They wanted a whole new world of choice and freedom for themselves. They also decided that they didn’t want to follow the music movements in the UK, such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, who were taking African American soul music and reimagining it with a European outlook. Instead, these kids who developed Krautrock, wanted to look inward toward their own German heritage and take it into the future. Bands like Kraftwerk and Can used new instruments such as synthesizers to create new sounds, which helped define their own generation. I really respect the courage it took for these kids to stand up for what they believed in and play their music the way they wanted to. This is the reason why Deep Space feels so honored that a record label in Germany would see the Krautrock influences in our music and reach out to us. I think our band accidentally stumbled upon the monotonous aspects of Krautrock by looking into the California desert, LSD, and our own imaginations of outer space. I actually wanted to grow up and be a astronaut. I was a space nerd as a kid! Exploration of the unknown frontier is something we have in common with older German bands, such Amon Düül II and Neu!. This is why we are really exited to have the opportunity to host a psychedelic music festival in Berlin. Honestly, I can’t really believe that something like this hasn’t happened already. All we want to do is honor the past and pave a way for the future. I know we aren’t German, but that doesn’t matter to us. We want people to groove together all over the world, which is why we have invited so many bands across Europe to come partake in this movement. We are in this for humanities’ sake. Peace, Love, and LSD.

As it stands, this is a niche festival. What is your opinion on some of the larger festivals like Glastonbury UK and is there anything similar happening in Germany? 

This may be a hard question for us to answer since once again, we’ve never been to Europe before. We have a feeling that these larger festivals take a plunge every now and then to book good psychedelic bands, but Berlin Psych Fest is kind of it’s own island. This is our first year, so we are creating and breaking the rules at the same time. We believe in music that feeds the soul and frees the mind. We fully stand behind the bands we have booked for Berlin Psych Fest and believe the world should really take a second to look at these bands and take a step further into the unknown and discover something new.

A few other European festivals that seem groovy to us and worth checking out include Liverpool Psych Fest, Copenhagen Psych Fest, Eidneburg Psych Lab, Yellowstock Festival, Paris International Festival Of Psychedelic Music, Bad Vibrations, and Umbria Psych Fest.

Obviously it’s early days, but how far do you envisage taking this gig? 

Do you mean are we planning to have this festival be a annual event? If everything works out well, we would love to do it again. But who knows? Tomorrow isn’t promised. All we really have is today and that’s it. Even the past is just a memory in our minds. Erasing the memory means erasing the past. Erasing one’s vision is erasing the future. But you can’t erase the ‘now’ because the now is what is being currently occupied at this exact moment by your consciousness, unless of course you astro project out of your body (Yes, we enjoy delving into quantum physics in our free time). If someone would have asked me six months ago about Berlin Psych Fest, I would have said, “Berlin what???”. I definitely didn’t see this coming six months ago. So who knows, maybe our next thing will be the first music festival on the moon. Moon Psych Fest? I’m sure we’d have to come up with a more creative name than that if we ever take this to the moon.

You’ve got a great line-up; it must be hard selecting a certain amount of bands to play, what swayed your decision to confirm these acts? 

Honestly, good music speaks for itself. Some of the bands I have been a fan of previously and other bands just happened to land across our desk and our ears dug it. We love discovering new music. I really believe that people should come to Berlin Psych Fest, not only to see the high profile bands, but to come and discover the bands you’ve never heard of before. There is so much great music around the world happening right beneath our noses. The mainstream media won’t tell you about it. The politicians won’t tell you about it. Your corporate radio stations won’t tell you about it, but the people will. The people will stand up and speak. So thankfully, Berlin Psych Fest has ears to listen. We stand up for what the people are saying, even if the status quo isn’t listening.

The term ‘psychedelia’ is thrown about in music without much caution these days, how would you define it personally? 

I’m so glad you asked this question. I personally believe that I have a pretty good grasp on the ideas of what psychedelia means while at the same time admitting that there are still millions of unknown universes to discover. Recently, a few people have told me that they feel the term ‘psychedelia’ gets thrown around too much, but I feel the exact opposite. More people should be willing to open their minds! There’s an infinite amount of possibilities to space and time. Why would anyone be upset over people waking up and looking into the unknown? Being human is about discovery, adaption, faith, hope, and a willingness to go into the unexplored frontier. What about the first caveman to have the guts to venture into a darkened cave to make a home, regardless of the unknown dangers lurking in the dark? Or what about the first caveman who thought, “You know what, I don’t need this cave anymore. I’m going to leave and adventure into the outside world and see what the unknown has in store for me.”

I honestly think more people should embrace psychedelia. I think we should give children the choice to take LSD in schools. Most schools teach children how to dumb down and not think creativity. They teach you how to sit in a desk for 8 hours a day. They want to turn you into a human calculator, into a non-thinking machine. Why don’t we have schools in nature, teaching children how to explore their surroundings? I think we should encourage people to read more, write more, think more, create more, express more, live more! Why should you have to be subjected to what the corporate world wants to package and sell to you via the mass controlled media? Stop numbing down and awaken your senses. Obviously one doesn’t have to take psychedelic drugs to have psychedelic experiences. You can meditate, you can create new ideas by thinking, you can manifest anything you want in this world.

If you look at the facts, you will realize that psychedelics, spirituality, and exploration have been at the root of human beings since the dawn of man. Every culture around the globe has a medicine man in one shape or another, encouraging us and leading us through the ‘other realm’. I don’t understand why the status quo demonizes the idea of thinking for yourself, expect for the fact that they want to control you. People like Jesus and Gandhi were the true cosmonauts. They didn’t believe in demonizing. They believed in a higher order beyond our feeble minds. They were discovering new ways to elevate consciousness.

If you read the ideas of someone like Dr. Timothy Leary, someone who was advocating the use of LSD in the 60’s and onward, his message is more about humans understanding themselves and the relationships to their surroundings more than it was about getting wasted on drugs. LSD was the medium they had at the time to reach mass communication. Timothy was about linking up minds and souls together to communicate through the unknown. Forward to the late 80’s, the invention of the Internet was everything that Timothy Leary was teaching. All of a sudden, millions of minds have the ability across the world to link up and exchange information. You can also overlay unrelated information together to create new information. This is alchemy in its purist form, to create newness out of oldness. That is the purpose of using psychedelic drugs, to open your mind from the normal states of 2-D thinking and see the energy existing between all things on the subatomic level. Leary believed groups of people should get together to link up their minds and exchange cosmic information. Honestly, the Internet can be seen as the new LSD.

This also explains the use of ‘psychedelic light shows’ at music festivals. The alchemy of mixing and overlaying images and lights to create new ideas and stimulation across the brain. We’ve booked about ten light show artists to cover our three stages at Berlin Psych Fest. We are really excited to see what new and innovative ideas these artists will bring to the atmosphere of the festival.

Apart from the modern purveyors of psychedelia, such as the ones about to treat us at the fest in April, what bands from the past inspire you?  

Good question! At the end of the day, I am just one person, but the world is full of millions upon millions of souls existing since the dawn of time. Maybe we could have all the human soul energy comes together for a ritualistic chant to free ourselves from our mental and psychical constraints. All cultures have elements of psychedelia and free thought; you just have to know where to look.

If you could somehow manage to time warp and bring a few bands from the past to play, who would it be? 

I think it would be great to bring all the indigenous people around the world together for shamanistic chanting. We could create world peace if we did that. Vibrations are real. Sound vibrations, light vibrations, and thought vibrations are real. I think people only think about the obvious when it comes to psych music, like The Doors or Jimi Hendrix, but what these guys were doing were being shamans, and I’m here to tell you that shamanism has existed since the beginning of time.

On that note, are there any contemporary bands that you would like to see play the festival in the future?

Another hard question to answer. Of course I have my personal favorites, but don’t have enough space to list them all. I’m excited to book any band that makes music that resonates with my soul. But you should know this festival is not about me, this festival is about the people. Music only matters if the people listening can relate. The other day someone was joking around by calling me Robin Hood for all my hard word and positive attitude about creating change. However, I don’t believe in stealing. I’d rather have people communicate and come together in unity. The idea of stealing from someone who has everything to give to someone who has nothing doesn’t make sense to me. If we did that, then all the rich people would become poor, and that wouldn’t help things change. It would just keep the vicious cycle going, so my ideas are about balance. I’m here for the good of all people. You can call me Robin Good instead.

Outside of music, have you had many psychedelic experiences, if so, enlighten us please?

As I stated earlier, I wanted to be a astronaut. I have poor eyesight so I found out that being half blind would keep me away from those goals. But if I knew then what I know now, then I wouldn’t have let these physical restraints hinder me. I would of fought tooth and claw to achieve what I wanted to do. The Universe would have delivered a solution if I had acted on faith instead of fear. Faith can turn the impossible into the possible. To me, having faith in the impossible is as psychedelic as it gets. However, the reason why I wanted to be an astronaut is because everyday I have vivid hallucinations. You could call them daydreams, but to me, they are hallucinations. I realized after the first time I took mushrooms that I’ve been tripping out my entire life! I just didn’t know it; I thought it was normal thing. I didn’t know there were psychedelic substances to take me to the places that I would regularly visit as a kid with my natural imagination. Other worlds and other dimensions is my currant state of consciousness. I’ve been born on the other side and I’ve been trying to get back ever since, the doors to this world are closed, so I’ll keep drifting out here in Deep Space.

What does freedom mean to you?

True freedom knows no constraints. On one hand I stand up for freedom, but my duel mind could argue against it as well. What if everyone was free to kill and murder everyone else just because they wanted to? We wouldn’t be living in a peaceful world if that were the case. I believe in freedom, but with some constraints. It’s the ying and the yang. I probably believe in true balance before I believe in true freedom.

Far Out.