I was given the privilege of speaking to the director of Electronic Awakening AC Johner. This groundbreaking film discusses the beginning of the rave & dance music culture. Moving through Moon Tribe, Burning Man, psy-trance parties & other foundations of the scene, the music is stupendous, as is the commentary.1. Was this project your baby, or did someone approach you to direct? Electronic Awakening is my baby. I directed and produced the film under my production company Federation of Earth. I began the film in 2006 when I set out to explore the culture under a grant from my university. After my initial fieldwork, I invested to expand the project into a feature film. After 4 years, interviewing and filming, I built a rough cut of the film strong enough to attract finishing funds from a successful Kickstarter Campaign, as well as a production partnership with Keyframe-Entertainment. Last but certainly not least, Philip Wood and Satsi Jaquith of Ammo played a huge role in getting the ball rolling on production.
My conception of the project began during my undergrad thesis in anthropology when I began researching electronic music culture. Having never been to any events, I was inspired to read that the parties had encouraged so many participants to engage in more conscious lifestyle to the point that some had established a spiritual kinship with the music.
Coming in as an outsider, my perception of EDM was little more than a stigmatized imagery of teenagers with glow-sticks dressed up in fury costumes celebrating a drug-high to obscure music. My perspective broadened after discovering the research of anthropologist Graham St John, Scott Hutson, and religious studies scholar Robin Sylvan, whom all had contributed a wealth of scholarship towards the spirituality underlying the culture.
While the media had reported little on this side of the culture, I set out to explore it first-hand. I sought out events such as Burning Man, Moontribe, Shambhala, outdoor psytrance festivals, and other events now heralded as transformational festivals. When I arrived on site and witnessed the alters, ceremonies, and wealth of participants professing the dance floor in a sacred context, I knew that this religiosity reported by the aforementioned scholars was all very real, real to the point I had questioned if this were some new form of religion rising up through the dance music underground. Continue reading