Besides the well known Boom Festival happening in Portugal, in the last few years a new festival has emerged taking place in the years Boom Festival is resting, and has been getting more and more attention for its special vibe. We are talking about ZNA Gathering Festival, started by Pedro Carvalho, one of the originators of Boom, and a team of Goa Trance lovers. It’s always a pleasure to probe Pedro’s mind, so here’s an in depth interview with him so we can learn more about ZNA Gathering taking place in 2019 in August 19-26.
Info, line up & tickets: https://www.znagathering.com
More background on ZNA Gathering: https://trancentral.tv/2017/03/zna-gathering-festival
Q: For those who missed the buzz of the last years, give us some background on ZNA Gathering, how it started, and what makes it special comparing to other festivals.
A: ZNA Gathering was not created, it was born with a life of its own. Originally this started with a Facebook group which was meant to celebrate and remember the Trance parties in Portugal around the turn of the century. Suddenly all the old crowd got back together on social media: many had lost track or given up on the scene, changed their lives, got kids etc., and had lost contact with their party crowd. Soon after that they all started begging us to do a revival party where they all could re-connect. Our team came to realize we were not alone in this quest… We had the unwavering support of the old school crowd.
Amazing vibes from ZNA Gathering 2015. We love this video:
And that gave us the power we needed in order to start this adventure. We felt sure the old school influence could help the current scene, in a very positive way. We envisioned a project without some of the pressures and fears that inevitably appeared along any path. It has definitely not been the easiest way, but it has been without doubt the most rewarding one.
ZNA Gathering was not created, it was born with a life of its own. Originally this started with a Facebook group which was meant to celebrate and remember the Trance parties in Portugal around the turn of the century…. Soon after that they all started begging us to do a revival party where they all could re-connect.
In my personal case I can proudly say that even though I have managed to generate significant accomplishments for the psy trance scene as a whole, the ZNA Gathering is the one who still sends shivers down my spine. From my point of view, it is the perfect outcome from my experience, family and karma. It´s moved by dedication and more importantly by our maturity as psychedelic Human Beings.
Since we began walking our own path following our own vision and dancing to our own music, we haven’t been exactly following what everyone else has been doing in the scene. We have our own way, our own ZNA. And this is why I feel the ZNA Gathering is different and particularly special, it takes a lifetime to come to something like this. Many people and many years of their lives, loving and sharing this trance way of life.
Q: Your musical choices focuses on music and artists and DJs from the early period of Goa and Psychedelic Trance – why is that? How do you feel this affects the atmosphere of the festival?
A: As the true psychedelic music addicts we obviously are, we all know that one of the major energy generators in a psy trance ritual is, obviously, the music. And to achieve our Utopian reality we knew we had to bring back some lost feelings to the dancefloor again. But how could we do that? What kind of external influence could we use to make people feel and alter their emotional perceptions? The answer came to us quite quickly – music. Despite nostalgia being a stranger to the psy trance reality during all those past years, we decided it was about time to take the risk, especially considering the potential of the outcome. You see this music attracts a more mature crowd with a more diverse array of soundscapes, and that generates a hell of a party!
It made so much sense that the more we grew, the more we were confident that we were on our path, the right path; as such, having old-school Goa artists and DJ’s on stage is crucial to keep the ZNA flame blazing. These are the “Shamans” who gave us our first whiffs of trance music, enriching our musical taste and ultimately making us fall in love with the “soul food” that it is trance music. So, they are undoubtedly the ones with the right skills and ingredients to feed us this love again. And the energy you can feel at our dancefloor is the living proof that we were right!
Q: Are you open to include more current music that resonates with the vibes you are looking for? After all, limiting the scope of music limits the story and in a way, it is the opposite of what this was all about when it started, don’t you think?
A: We know that it’s virtually impossible for us to stick only to this retro concept forever, but on the other hand we are willing to do the impossible to keep it grounded and strong. This is who we are.
Now, ZNA Gathering is not only about nostalgia – our hearts beat to the rhythms of the Past, but our eyes and ears are also turned towards the Future. Having our concept as a compass, we took some steps further and have been exploring the futuristic side as well. For instance, we have the Goa Guardians Night, a moment where special DJ’s, known for having outstanding collections within the psytrance spectrum, explore the legacy they have been saving for our delight. Also there is the Closing Party, a moment that pays tribute to the new-school Goa Trance, a sub-genre we love as well – here you can expect the unexpected and be bathed in new sensations while surfing some futuristic soundwaves.
Apart from our chillout stage that aims to explore all kind of futuristic downtempo psychedelic music we are also planning a BIG surprise for this edition, one that will make the wonders of everyone who like their music trendy, sexy and minimal. So, as you can see, we do get inspired from nostalgia, but we are also keen on exploring new sensations: we just do it in a different way – our way.
Q: Every one we spoke to that came back from the ZNA Gatherings, dancers, DJs and artists alike, took care to talk about a very special atmosphere and vibe. The photos & videos we saw also transmit this special energy – can you point to few things that make this happen that are unique to ZNA Gathering?
A: We believe that such magic happens when you make things with the right ideals: Love, Dedication and even a little bit of addiction to our concept and to our Gathering these are the fuel that has been feeding the flame for such beautiful moments. Moments that are experienced only every 2 years in August, at the Lake in Montargil – Portugal. We are not interested in reproducing or making collaborations under the ZNA motto. Some people may not understand our decision not to, but we believe this is what makes the ZNA energy so unique and desired. It’s a fraction of a moment in time and space where we all connect with each other and with the roots of the trance scene. Being so exceptional makes ZNA special, and having the best party animals in the world makes it unique!
Q: Some musical highlights for this year’s edition?
A: This is a difficult question to answer… We will try to explain why.
We don’t want our music program to be just a fancy poster with big-selling names, where we point this or that artist as a highlight. Actually, with every edition we spend more than 1 year constructing the line-up, because we see the program as a whole, as a story or a movie if you may, carefully designed with a beginning, a middle and an end.
Now, ZNA Gathering is not only about nostalgia – our hearts beat to the rhythms of the Past, but our eyes and ears are also turned towards the Future.
We are aware that many of our artists are considered headliners on many psy trance festivals around the world; nonetheless, for us they are all a crucial piece of the puzzle of the big picture we want to create, and it’s with this mindset we choose each artist for our celebration. They just have to be perfect for that specific slot.
In our puzzle each artist has his/her own role. Their skills and musical fluency are crucial for the ZNA experience – and its exactly the ZNA experience the one and only highlight we have for each of our editions.
Q: Besides the music what is important for you as a festival organizer to have @ ZNA?
A: We are proud to admit that music is one of the – if not the – most important elements of ZNA Gathering. Despite of that we will always make sure this Gathering also has everything our dancers need so as to explore in full the different sides of the ZNA experience.
As such we are growing a lot in terms of diversification and infrastructures. It’s mandatory for us to grow in that sense; as a matter of fact, each edition has been a leap forward in terms of quality, and at this point we can proudly say we are close of reaching the level we have always thought of. ZNA is growing as a place where everyone can enjoy in comfort all the areas available at our guest disposal. Here you are welcomed to explore the healing therapies and classes, to choose what you want to eat from a big variety of nutritious meals, to participate on our Zambukids area so as to stimulate the young ones, or just to get some tan at the dreamy white sandy beach we have bathing our place, while drinking an fresh juice or cocktail.
We took 2 years to create all this diversification, and during this next edition’s full week it’s up to you to figure out how idyllic your experience can be!
Q: How is the Psytrance scene in Portugal and does hosting leading international psytrance festivals leaves space for the local party scene?
A: When I started doing psy trance parties in Portugal everyone told us this would never survive. That bringing the Goa scene to Portugal was not the best idea, especially because at that time, in Europe and consequently in Portugal, techno music was already consuming all the dancers this kind of parties could possibly had.
After all these years I can proudly say that Portugal has become one of the major “paradises” for psy trance. After Good Mood and the Boom Festival many more psy trance festivals and parties came , and nowadays you can find all sorts of different psychedelic trance related events happening here in Portugal. I like to believe Portugal is and will continue to be an amazing place to experience psy trance, hopefully one to be referenced worldwide.
Amazing gallery from ZNA Gathering 2015:
Q: If you had to choose one track that represents your personal Psytrance experience, what would it be?
A: Personally, I would choose “Elysium – Trancelestial Psychobabas”. Every time I hear it I am immediately transported to the first steps I took as the co-founder of Good Mood Organization and Boom Festival back in the 90’s…