Psy Trance? Goa Trance? Trance?
Being invited to start this article with a definition- makes it seem as if there was something formally agreed upon by the artists and other individuals who have been involved in creating what we have come to know as Psy Trance- or Goa Trance- or simply Psy, for short.
However, there is nothing “formal” about the genre called Psy Trance. It has just recently started to garner any sort of official recognition at all in Japan, where I happen to live. And even if many people are calling it “Psy Trance” here- at various clubs-, most regulars at the events- and many artists, don’t use it at all.
Goa Trance is a term that has been gaining usage in Japan- despite its detractors- including some of the people who were part of the scene that coined “Psy Trance” in the first place! And if you go to any event here , called a “Komuro” or “Kom- Party”, you will find that most of the flyers I have seen for these dance events do not carry any reference to Psy Trance at all.
What is GOA TRANCE?
As far as what I think it means, I never liked the term much myself. For me- Psy Trance always sounded cooler than Goa Trance-(even if, in my book anyway, its actually taken from a KOM party which was held in Goa! ) And then when one thinks about it- calling this music “Goa Trance”- well, really makes about as much sense as calling French music “Paris Trance”, or Nigerian music-“Nigeria trance”. (I hope no one actually does this!)
Or Japanese music- “Japan trance” (Which I think is what some people call Techno!)
Japanese Trance (A popular label in the 90’s, for Goa Trance) You can’t really say it makes much sense, can you?
So why not simply – Psy Trance-(or perhaps Progressive Psy)- if Goa Trance means something different from Psy Trance?
The answer to this question might have something to do with the fact that the term “Goa trance” has been around a lot longer than Psy Trance. In fact, many artists who were active at the beginning of the scene here in Japan back in 1990, still prefer this term! So then what does it mean? This brings us to another point: there are in fact two direct translations for the term “Goa trance” which have been used in Japan:
The first translates it as “God trance”, and is what you might call a literal one. Here we see that this term does not refer to any particular musical style, but rather relates more to an attitude- or perhaps just a state of mind- which can also be induced by various types of music..
This term was actually coined in the late 80’s/early 90’s , when there were some Trance parties in Goa itself. The place was still a favorite holiday destination of Japanese tourists who happened to enjoy getting stoned on grass(forbidden back home) and listening to hours of repetitive Trance beats. Though without even knowing it at the time, they were actual participants in creating the very thing they went there for!
The other term translates it as “Goa Family”, and was probably first used by some of the guys living in or around that town, since these parties usually took place at one of their houses. When Psy Trance shows started to actually take place in Japan- rather than just among a few friends who had brought their favorite Goa records back from India -somewhere around 1990- this term must have been used more frequently here too; even though most people’s idea of what ‘Family’ meant, is not what you find when you go to an outdoor Psy Trance party like Komuro (which literally means” Party”) these days!
Each term has its pros and cons- “Goa trance” for example, does not make any reference at all to the music itself. But using words like “God” or “Family”, which can mean many different things to different people(and cultures), may be confusing even if you try to find the most appropriate translation!
So then how about just Psy Trance instead?
Psy Trance is simple, clear, it explains exactly what this kind of music means-without needing any additional explanation. And it also makes reference back to the term’s origin. It was coined right here in Japan! It is after all one of the few terms used by insiders that has spread throughout the world-far more than most alternative terms for this type of music.
So then-Psy Trance it is!
A Western term first used by some British magazines at the very beginning of the 90’s- seems to have successfully made it on its own, on an International level. Even though there are still plenty who do not actually listen to Psy Trance music at all- but think Goa trance is what they heard on some billboard somewhere!
But then again, there are still some people today calling this music “God Trance”, even though that term has long since been replaced by Psy Trance here in Japan. The same goes for Hardcore Techno , which was for years known as “Happy Raver”.
But perhaps these terms are eventually bound to fade away with time? Only time will tell…