Above, video: Yoni Oshrat rocking the Spinal Tee and shorts during his Ace Ventura set on the Liquid Stage at Noisily Festival 2023. Banner image: Yoni showcasing the 100% bamboo Maha Tee at V.I.R.U.S. Visionen Im Raum Unserer Sonne 2023 edition, photo by Udinde Fuchs.
Ace Ventura x Psylo Collaboration
Yoni Oshrat aka Ace Ventura is a highly acclaimed and active artist in the progressive and Psytrance scene. With over two decades of experience, his music has captivated dancefloors worldwide. On top of being a talented artist, Yoni is also a dear friend and a loyal customer. So between playing a set at Indian Spirit and flying to play at Free Earth festivals, we invited Yoni to this interview:
1. As a DJ, you have the ability to create unforgettable moments on the dance floor. Can you describe one of your most memorable experiences where you felt a deep connection with the crowd and how you achieved that?
I would have to refer to my latest Boom set a few weeks ago. It was my eighth set at Boomland, and I had longer sets there before. But this one felt special from the first minute until three and a half hours later. It was just a perfect day and a perfect time. I'm always a bit nervous before pressing play in big festivals such as Boom or Ozora, but in this set from the first few minutes, I could feel it was gonna be something special.
Before the set, I told myself to focus on enjoying this experience, soak in every moment and look at every face on that huge dancefloor, and that's what I did - so the connection was really strong throughout, I got so much love from the crowd and I was flying on stage. It was one of the sets I enjoyed playing most since I started DJing. I felt so high from the energy exchange, I literally had tears in my eyes at some point, and throughout the whole set just had a huge smile on my face. I am beyond grateful to be handed the keys to such motherships - it's a huge responsibility to receive big dancefloors for long sets, but an even bigger gift to be able to experience these feelings.
To top off that exciting experience on stage, after the set, I went partying all night at the Alchemy Stage with a lot of friends and two of the Boom bosses themselves. So it was just a perfect day and the best time I've had this summer - and probably one of my favourite days ever.
2. Mixing and blending tracks seamlessly is a skill that distinguishes great DJs. How do you approach creating smooth transitions between different songs, and do you have any tips or tricks you could share?
If you are playing with CDjs and want to have seamless transitions then you should practice exactly that. Mark every track with its BPM and key, and check beforehand which tracks mix in the best way with each other. You can take the rock-n-roll approach and just mix randomly, but most of these transitions would just not sound right, or at least not as perfect as they can be. So you better test it in order to achieve the best harmonies. By trying out different tracks that fit together harmonically, and structure-wise too, you can achieve some amazing and LONG transitions, which is not something you hear a lot in psytrance sets. You can test it out in a DAW sequencer or on Pioneer machines and Recordbox if you have that access. Make a playlist with tracks that you wanna play and even try to build a story. It's very useful to have many playlists like that, and you can scroll around those and find the most perfect track for the moment. This way you are not lost with hundreds of tracks but have easy access to a few folders which you know are gonna deliver the goods.
Above: Yoni rocking the Maha Tee and shorts during his set at Free Earth festival, photo by Amir Weiss @awtransform
3. The role of a DJ extends beyond just playing music. How do you gauge the energy and vibe of the crowd, and what techniques do you use to adapt your set accordingly to keep the dance floor alive and connected?
I always aim to arrive at least an hour before my set to get a look and feel of the vibe, and where to take things after the artist who played before. In certain festivals, I even try to spend a few days and feel the dancefloor for myself. I usually have an idea of what I’m going to play, and by now have a general image of the crowd in each country I perform, but the current vibe of the place and the crowd itself will determine how strong or deep I will go in my set. Unfortunately in most cases, DJs will get an hour or two hours max to play for a gig, so at the end of the day, a big chunk of the gigs is a showcase of the current ‘hits’ plus a few known oldies. It's only in long sets that you get to truly make a dancefloor go through a journey and can have real dynamic sets with different kinds of interactions.
4. Musical trends come and go. How do you balance staying true to your unique sound while also staying relevant to the evolving tastes and preferences of the audience?
As I see it, it gets more challenging to stay consistent with the moving tastes of a changing generation. But I’ve always followed my personal taste. I started my DJ career at kids’ birthday parties when I was 14 years old and started to producing at the end of the 90s, when I was heavily influenced by the Israeli Full-on sound. A few years later I was captivated by the Progressive sounds that came from Germany, Sweden and Denmark and made the switch to that style. But in recent years I no longer play under any label or style and consider myself a Psytrance DJ, as I find this labelling rather limiting. In many cases, I'm still labelled as a Prog DJ, but I don't see it that way anymore. I enjoy curating a journey which includes different styles. The trick is to tell the tale wisely so the genres melt together seamlessly. I just played the closing set at the Free Earth festival in Greece which was five hours and allowed me to do just that. Starting at 142 BPM, going up all the way to 148, crossing different styles and vibes, from deeper progressive tunes to faster full and psychedelic tracks, going up and then back down again. I enjoy these sets the most, where I am able to reach a wider taste and preference of both myself as well as the people on the dancefloor.
Above: Yoni rocking Indian Spirit Festival 2023 with the Spinal Tee, photo by @realthore
5. You play an average of two to four international gigs a week. How do you balance work-life?
The intense weekends are mostly during the summer festivals season, but sometimes there are intense tours during the rest of the year. A good example is a tour in Brazil where you sometimes play four parties in one weekend, but Brazil is so huge, and each party is in a different city - so getting to all of them in time requires many flights and car drives, without any sleep. Then you have to go on a huge stage in front of thousands of people and still give your best. No complaints - I'm in love with my job even after more than two decades - but it can definitely be challenging at times, to say the least. Usually though, it is one or two gigs in a weekend, which can also be exhausting and tiring but way easier than said tours.
After many years I found a certain balance and it works pretty well. I do some work on the road to free up time during my week, for family and studio time. Of course, there is no secret formula, but it helps to eat as healthy as possible and find time for exercise and sport. It also helps a lot if you have a supportive partner behind you at home, which allows you to reach your goals without going through burnout in the process. Thanks, wifey! :)
6. How do you successfully integrate the values of freedom, spirituality, and conscious consumption into both your role as a DJ and your personal life? Additionally, what are your thoughts on how Psylo, as a sustainable alt-fashion brand, aligns with and supports these values?
I first realised what freedom and spirituality can really be when I discovered the psychedelic party scene, all the way back in the mid-90s. That tribalism effect of dancing together in nature was so new back then, and the whole vibe of the scene had a very deep impact on me. It changed my life… I am so lucky to have stepped on this path. This way of life allowed me to follow an independent way of free thinking. The biggest gift from this career is to travel the world and meet so many inspirational people with alternative views. As a DJ, I must say that I feel my role is to entertain, and to create memorable moments on the dancefloor - rather than to educate people. I believe that whoever truly gets into the spirit of the psychedelic world and community, will find his way into a better and healthier state of both body and mind. But in my personal life, I can say I was also very lucky to meet my wife at a party above the clouds on a Swiss mountain - one of the best perks I ever got from this job. She's a super intelligent and aware person who taught me a lot and influenced me for the better over the years, with many great lessons about life, nature & and healthy eating. As for Psylo it's easy to see there is a worthy agenda behind this independent brand, with values that support everything I have said above, it clearly isn't just about business.
7. How do you approach fashion choices as a DJ in the Psytrance scene? Do you prioritise sustainable and ethical fashion brands or have a particular stance on conscious fashion?
I’m naturally drawn to wear and support fashion by people who produce clothes that don't harm people and the environment. I'm a rather casual dresser so it's not hard for me to find stuff I like from producers who put more emphasis on sustainability, like Psylo for example. It's always good to know that the brand you support puts deep thought into important issues, from employment conditions to good materials like organic cotton, to the last phases of sustainable packaging… And since you go on stage dressed with their products, you actually represent the brand - so it's good to know their background is ethical and environmentally friendly.
Above: Yoni rocking the Maha Tee and shorts during his set at Free Earth festival, photo by Amir Weiss @awtransform
8. What’s your experience with Psylo’s clothing & style?
I’m a big fan of Psylo’s vibe, style and approach. I love that the designs have both an organic look and feel. It's a very special style that obviously goes hand in hand with the psychedelic scene and festival clothes but works as day-to-day clothing, too. It's just beautiful stuff all around, and super comfy as well which is especially important for sweaty hot festival days. I'm definitely into exploring more of the catalogue in the next few years!
My first experience with Psylo was at a random shop in Amsterdam many moons ago where I bought a hoodie and some T-Shirts. Soon after that, while gigging in London I went to visit the Camden flagship store and was amazed at how huge it was!
Also, I met in-person Tehila many years ago at some festival and just love bumping into her every summer and in every Goa visit, such a wonderful soul. Lately, I met the lovely Yael who I love as well, and was helped with my orders by Deniz - always a pleasure to be in touch with these great individuals and amazing team!
9. What aspirations or goals do you have for your DJing career in the future? How do you envision pushing boundaries and further developing your craft?
I would love to have more chances for longer sets. Last year I had the pleasure of having my first open-to-close, a whole night to myself at a club in Buenos Aires. These kinds of sets are a fun challenge and bring the best out of me. Otherwise, I would love to explore different stages at festivals. I've played twice at the Dome Stage in Ozora, once solo and the second time I was presenting my dub remixes album and was joined on stage by the legendary Gaudi. I love it when a plan comes together and two different worlds collide in a harmonious way… So I'm very much looking forward to more future combos like this one!
Above: Yoni wearing the 100% bamboo Maha Tee at V.I.R.U.S. Visionen Im Raum Unserer Sonne 2023 edition, photo by Udinde Fuchs.
About Yoni Oshrat aka DJ Ace Ventura
Yoni's journey began with a childhood immersed in music, influenced by his father's work as a composer. Starting as a sound producer in TV and film, he later ventured into DJing, forming the psychedelic trance project Children of the Doc, and later PsySex, establishing Israel as a prominent trance country. In 2006, Yoni transitioned to solo projects, Schatsi and Ace Ventura. While Schatsi gained recognition, it was Ace Ventura that catapulted him to success. Merging elements of pumping dancefloor-oriented themes with progressive trance influences Ace Ventura soon became a sensation. Winning awards further solidified his status as a top producer and led to an extensive global tour. Since then, Ace Ventura has performed at renowned festivals and venues worldwide, including Boom, Ozora, Rainbow Serpent, and many more.
Find out more about Ace Ventura's upcoming releases, shows and latest news on his official website: aceventuramusic.com