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Triskele MAnagement Exclusive Interview
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We talk to the Godfather of Goa-trance

RAJA RAM

ahead of his appearance at earthcore 2017






Raja Ram - Born Ronald Rothfield in December 1940 is - the ultimate Psy-trance guru. Having been in the music industry for most of his life, and having travelled around the world multiple times; he must have seen and done it all! Set to grace the stage of earthcore festival again this November 2017 – we decided it was time to check in with the original Godfather of Goa-trance!


Q1) Firstly, can you tell us about your childhood, what was it like growing up in Melbourne? What were your parents like? What shaped you as a child?

My parents were Gurus and Angels! My mother supported me and always wanted me to be in the arts. My father was a peaceful and a wonderful man, they supported me all throughout my life. I loved them and we moved them to England & hung out together. Growing up in Melbourne, it was the 40s and I don’t remember that much. But in the 50s it was horrible, it was probably one of the worst places to be born ever. Because in the 50s there was nothing but ‘bodgies and widgies’. No one really liked art, no one smoked; and it was just a desert intellectually. So that’s my upbringing in Melbourne.

Q2) You ran away from school & I believe headed to South India. What triggered this? What were you running from & to?

I went to Wesley college, hated every moment of it and they hated me even more. I just couldn’t stand it, as soon as I got out of my short pants I bought a pair of long pants and ran away. When I was 17 I hopped on a boat which sold contaminated pork to the south of India and I got a passage for $10. I found myself in India when I was just 18. I was 18 & I was by myself in India and I didn’t know nothing. But I knew I wanted to be out of Australia and find out what was happening in the world. And I hitch hiked all around the world but that is a whole other story.

Q3) What age did you learn to play the flute and how did this come about?

In 1962 I returned to Melbourne with my first wife and enrolled at the Melbourne conservatory to study classical flute. I’d walked past a shop, heard flute playing and it turned my life around. I fell in love with the sound, it was like meeting a mistress. I was in love, went to the conservatory and got a jazz teacher. My whole life changed when I started learning the flute. In 1965 I went to New York to study with the great jazz master Lennie Tristano. He taught me everything I don’t know. After that I went to a Greek Island with my new darling wife (who I have now been with 50 years) and I spent 2 years in a windmill practising my scales and painting.

Q4) You came to the UK in the 60’s and formed a band Quintessence, you were signed to well respected labels such as Island and RCA and did some impressive gigs supporting Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin and performed at Glastonbury many times. What were the highs and lows of this incredible era?

When my wife discovered she was pregnant we came to the UK to have the baby. I came to London, I was still selling my paintings and realised in 68/69 that music was what was happening and not so much painting. So I stared with music, put an advert in the Musical Express and I got 250 people replying. I picked the 6 most useless musicians - but they were all in good vibes and I left all the good players behind because I was not going to get on with them. We started with Quintessence and 3 months after our first gig we were offered 12 contracts, we were playing the Roundhouse every Sunday and started to build a big following and went on to make 5 albums. We did 100s of gigs and we were on Island Records, did the opening for Pink Floyd 3 times, we also did Led Zeppelin and the Who. But we were always at the beginning and brought out when everyone was having a beer, but it was still amazing!



Q5) Your wife gave birth to your daughter around this time, how did becoming a father change you, if at all?

It changed me completely – it changes everyone. After 2 years Quintessence started to bore me and we were all arguing. At the Albert Hall gig I got the band together and said ‘it’s all over now’ and we broke up the band – everyone was really pissed off with me.

Q6) In the late 1970’s you retired from music and became an envelope salesman. Tell us about this period, how it came about – how it was for you & your family – and at what point you returned to music?

At the start of 1973 I gave up music to be with my daughter and took other jobs, that was what I did for 6 years. Until one day I thought this is more boring than living in Melbourne and I decided to do something new. I went out and bought all the synthesizers I could – it was the early 80s and no one had many – and I stayed home for 5 years learning how to program them. The family was good, I was putting food on the table.

Q7) You went to Goa around 1989 & ‘heard new music from another planet’ at parties every night. What was it that captivated you about this sound?

The blue lights, the radiant sea, the coconuts, the moon reflected on the ocean and everyone dancing. There were 1000s of people dancing to this music I’d never heard. It was then my duty to find out who made this music, where did they make it and what drugs did they take. I started being a detective from the spiritual sphongle world that we now know as psytrance. All through the 90s all I did was dance all through the night, every party - for years; but never played. Then Goa got really boring – you must think I get bored of everything – but everything was the same! My mate Bobby suggested we get on a plane to Brazil and that was the big change, it was where I did my first DJ set. I never wanted to be a DJ, went to a beach party where the DJ had collapsed and there was no music. Everybody said: ‘come on Raj’ – and I said I couldn’t play but they said: ‘but there is no music!’ so I jumped up and put a record on, pressed play and everybody started dancing. I thought, My God this is soooo easy and I became a DJ – the Brazil scene really exploded -and it was amazing!



Q8) Later you met Simon Posford and formed Shpongle. Tell us about your relationship & how your collaborations work?

I met Simon in 1990 at the Butterfly studios run by Youth. Simon was already doing fantastic things, we got together and took a trip to Glastonbury. After we came back we made our first track together called ‘Rumours of Vapours’. My relationship with Simon is like a marriage with bad sex. I have known him forever and we speak every day. I love the guy to bits, we have a very special relationship.

Q9) You founded the legendary TIP Records in 1994 and it’s still going strong today. What’s your secret?

Back in the 90s I founded The Infinity Project with a guy called Graham and did about 50 or 60 tracks which were being played all the time in Goa and it was going really well. But then I got bored of it (!) and we broke that up and thought ‘what’s next?’. Shpongle was next and so I also started TIP records in 1994 and we’re still going strong as ever. The secret is to release music I like, can dance to, can keep underground and psychedelic. It has now been going for almost 25 years and had 6 number 1 records. The secret is hypnosis, I think I secretly hypnotise myself and have learned how to do it with audiences.

Q10) You’ve released lots of music over the years, have you ever experienced ‘writers block’ and if so; how did you overcome it?

No, I ‘ve never experienced writers block but have experienced other blocks. My ideas are eternally fresh, eternally flowing so everyday there are new ideas!


Q11) I heard you once said: ‘As each day goes by, I learn less’. I love this. Can you expand on it a bit for us?

Who said that? Did I say that? It’s probably because you realise how insignificant and useless you are. Everybody is doing better than me, everyone is a genius, everybody is enlightened, and everyone is stumbling around like a blind man in a black room feeling an elephant. Every day is a new challenge; but we’ll never give up! I’m 77 now and my doctor says I have to stop at 100 so I got a few years left.


Q12) What’s next on the cards for you; production wise?

My God, we’ve got Raja Ram Stashbag with 10 new tracks, a new album from Space Tribe, new releases from Electric Universe & Astral Projection, new albums from Ajja & Lucas and singles from 1200 Micrograms. I mean it is blasting! There is a lot happening in the next few months.




Q13) You’re playing the almighty earthcore again this November 2017! What’s it like playing at this awesome festival?

Like most festivals it all depends on many things - like the weather, the crowd, how you’re feeling, stage setup and what music you have got and what you want to share. But every festival Jessica, I promise you, I always put a 1000% in and I always think - it might be my last gig so I really go for it. I’m really looking forward to it of course – Melbourne, my hometown – and Spiro treats me not like a King but like a God! He is an amazing guy and I’m very honoured to be playing there and to be asked to come back.

Q14) If you wrote a biography about your life so far what would you title it & why?

I have written one - last year and it’s sitting right next to me now in a draw. People keep asking ‘when is it coming out?’ but it’s too embarrassing to bring out. I would title it ‘The Worlds’ Oldest DJ’!

Q15) And lastly, if you could have one wish come true – what would it be?

I’m not going to do the cliché World Peace, because it’s never going to be peace, and I’m not going to say no pollution, as it’s already polluted...So I would say - to all my friends and people I love and people that I know and people that I don’t know – I hope we can make a better world by playing consciousness music and having fun at parties. I love you all!

Raja Ram – thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview & enjoy rocking it at earthcore 2017! xx






You can find more about RAJA RAM here:


Facebook:
www.facebook.com/raja.ram.tip

Soundcloud:
soundcloud.com/raja-ram



Exclusive interview by:

Jessica Alici
www.facebook.com/jessica.brownjohn


earthcore international PR:

Robin Triskele // Triskele Management
www.facebook.com/triskelemanagement








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