DJ Spotlight : Khromata
Real Name: Eileen Lewis
Hometown: Bangkok, Thailand
Hobbies: cooking, crafting, humor writing
Affiliations: Iboga Records/ Pulse SF
“As a woman, when you see another female on stage it can be pretty empowering”
Psy-trance grabs you by the soul which embodies your inner core for a deeper connection to the music. Those who are behind the decks control more than just the tempo; they control your being, and when Khromata takes on the decks, she sets in to take you to a new level. Embracing her love for genre, she sets out to tell stories staying true to herself and open to world. As one of the few females in a male dominated scene, she holds her own and leaves a lasting impression. As the genre grows, she continues to be a staple for both Iboga and Pulse SF, and a role model for other female DJs, her career is just getting started, and this star is shining bright in the future.
Congrats on booking Dreamstate. How does it make you feel knowing you are only the fourth female to play under this banner?
Thank you, it was an amazing experience to play Dreamstate especially with the Iboga Records and FMBooking Hologram show, which I actually flew to Denmark earlier this year to go see, and I played at the Hologram afterparty in Copenhagen. And this past weekend I got to play the actual show at Dreamstate in the U.S, so yeah I’m pretty happy!
At my gigs, I am always glad to represent women, the SF Bay Area, California, the United States, PoC, and of course my hope is to see many more passionate and promising talented women-identifying DJs and producers being booked at events like this as I believe representation is really important, so I’m glad I can do that right now. Growing up, I only knew of a few female DJs, and I really looked up to them and they gave me hope that maybe I could do that one day too. I can only hope that by being up there, I can inspire someone in the crowd to follow their music dream. I am very supportive of this as I believe that a positive encouraging culture and climate for traditionally underrepresented groups is the way forward.
You had an early exposure to psy-trance. How do you see the genre expanding in recent years? What has been the attraction to the genre?
It’s true. I started listening to goa/psy trance in junior high in the late 90’s running around with green glow sticks while my friends were hooked on Backstreet Boys, it was hilarious. I’ve observed the popularity of the genre rise and fall these past few decades, and it’s definitely on a rise right now everywhere. It’s typically been much more underground in the U.S than in places like Brazil or Israel to name but a few (it’s a very transnational music scene!), but in the States the popularity has definitely expanded in recent years beyond the underground, to some purists’ chagrin, but I welcome anyone who is genuinely curious who wants to experience this to come on and check it out! To explore and not just the big parties which are amazing but to also support their local psy scene!
The general rise in popularity in electronic dance music as a whole in the States has exposed people to what’s out there, and with some trance artists warming up to psy-trance (it used to be like oil and water!) and playing it in their sets exposed a new audience to it and it turns out many like it. The path is that people often start off with progressive and full-on, and then explore more from there and go down the rabbit hole of sub-genres and maybe discover that dark minimal progressive, or hi-tech, or suomi is their jam, haha! There’s something for everyone!
Why do you feel so passionate about psy-trance? And how does this translate to your story telling when you play?
I can’t quite pinpoint the source of my passion and why it’s been going on for so long, but I do know that I really love the music and the culture and community surrounding it. Since I was a young girl, I just loved to share music through mixtapes and CDs. Even when I got a new CD like a Jungle Sky release, I’d make my grandma sit down and listen to it and share the experience with me. Now I just spread the sound I love on a much larger scale through my DJ sets. I love psy-trance but I don’t stop there, it’s my main thing but I also play progressive house, psy-dub, and breakbeats to name a few.
How has your affiliations with Pulse SF and Iboga helped you navigate your way in the music industry?
Both Pulse SF and Iboga have given me the chance to play at awesome parties here and in Europe and it’s been really wonderful. I am so grateful to work with such professional and passionate folks who are pushing boundaries and setting the bar high in the industry with music and events.
Pulse SF is my heart and soul and I’m very proud of the parties we’ve brought to the SF Bay Area over the years (and Los Angeles with Pulse LA by Lawrence Chavoya aka DJ Paradigm). We are on a hiatus from putting on indoor events at this moment, but for the past 5 years, I learned so much and got to meet a lot of amazing people from it. When one of the founders Paul Scott aka DJ Psynthetic discovered me in 2012 and brought me on as their first resident DJ outside the original crew members was the start of it all for me, and I eventually grew into the event organizer and promoter role too. I got many chances to play alongside and open and close for legendary international artists. Aside from my own work, I credit a lot of where I am today to the opportunities Paul and Chris (DJ Tobal)gave me, so I am very grateful to them.
Iboga Records has been one of my favorite label since I was a teen. I was very honored when label bosses Emok and Banel invited me to be their U.S label DJ representative earlier this year. While many labels come and go over time, Iboga has been around for 20 years (the Hologram Show you saw at Dreamstate has been making appearances around the world all year celebrating 20 years of the label) and their hard work and dedication shows through the two decade longevity and success as it’s going stronger than ever and I’m excited to see what the future holds.
Iboga Records has a massive catalog with frequent releases and a diverse array of styles, from downbeat to progressive house/techno and of course trance, all styles I play so it’s perfect, and it’s a great team with an amazing roster of artists many of who you got to see on Saturday night at Dreamstate: Ace Ventura, Ritmo, Vini Vici, Liquid Soul, Captain Hook, etc. Unfortunately Emok and Symbolic were unable to make it due to visa issues. A few other great artists who weren’t there were MVMB (Martin Vice and Michael Banel) on the more techno side of things, Bwoy de Bhajan for really cutting edge and beautifully unique downbeat, Human Element has a great album coming out end of December, Perfect Stranger also has a forthcoming album to look out for, there’s so many artists and styles to explore and I encourage everyone to dig deep into Iboga and check out the great music!
Your new radio show “Deeper” congrats first of all on getting that launched. What can listeners expect with future episodes? Where would you like the radio show to go?
Thanks! I have some heavy hitter guests lined up for the next episodes, so I’m super excited about that. Its main purpose is so I can hear my own voice (haha); it’s mainly to help educate people about producers and labels because sometimes psy-trance can feel overwhelming to people who don’t know all the artists, I am just a messenger spreading the good word and that’s all I hope for it!
If you could live by one motto, what would it be?
Never give up, and reach for the stars <3