Music

Things that Go BOOM in the Night: The Psychedelic Bass Music of dela Moontribe

SoCal DJ dela Moontribe has built a following for transformational sets that synthesize psychedelic lyricism with thundering bass music—and now she’s branching into music production with her collab project Trikaya

dela Moontribe has become a luminary in the Southern California underground for her transformational DJ sets that synthesize lyrical psychedelia with thundering bass.

She began her career DJing with the Moontribe Collective. Since then, she has been a driving force in the shape of the SoCal underground soundscape with her epic sets that carry the dancefloor on a journey through trippy downtempo to tribal drum and bass.

The unifying field of dela’s psychedelic DJ sets is her primordial love of bass.

“My favorite bass comes from nature,” dela reflects. “Things like thunder and earthquakes, mostly thunder. And deep ocean sounds. You know, rumbles. But there’s something very viscerally soothing in my body to have it shaking at the deep frequencies.”

Bass ties us to the primordial arch of human evolution — the heartbeat of the mother and the drums of tribal ceremony.

“The most primal things are drums and heartbeats,” explains dela. “Those lower resonant sounds… It fully complete[s] the circle.”

Those who have danced beneath the full moon to dela’s otherworldly DJ sets have shared the nondual experience of tender embrace in the All Mother’s arms while simultaneously exorcising astral demons through ecstatic dance.

Now, dela is translating that experience into music production. Yopo Ono, the second EP by her collaborative project Trikaya, dropped last month. Her Trikaya collaborator, fellow Moontriber Brian Saitzyk a.k.a. Eastern Sun, shares dela’s love of bass.

“Brian’s a really phenomenal producer and has a great studio,” dela says of her Trikaya collaborator. “We both share a love for different kinds of bass music and we were both really into downtempo when we started. We both love dubstep as well. And then my love for drum and bass started creeping in pretty soon after we started working. So we wanted our music to reflect that kind of wide interest that we have in different kinds of bass music.”

Their self-titled debut EP was released on 11/11 of ’15 was reflective of the duo’s shared love for downtempo and dubstep. But with Yopo Ono, released on 12/12 of ‘16, the duo has begun branching out into a more energetic midtempo sound. Its two tracks lulls the listener through a cosmic lullaby into a hypnotic state of ecstatic self-awareness and an orgiastic dance with the absolute.

The seeds that grew into Yopo Ono were planted last year, with a cosmic giggle echoing from the jungles of Panama.

“When we finished our first track I had just gotten back from the Tribal Gathering in Panama where I had done a bunch of plant medicine,” explains dela. “Someone had actually had gifted me some Yopo seeds from the Amazon. They’re these little flat brown seeds and they contain both DMT and 5eo-DMT. I kinda like the name, because we were laughing about the term YOLO, and then it turned into Yopo. Then we said we should name the other track Ono. It’s reflective of our psychedelic playfulness.”

The sound that the duo has synthesized together is lyrical, melodious and funky.

“We’ve learned a little bit is that we like bass, we also like melody, and we like funkiness,” dela reflects. “So I feel like those are our the pillars of [our sound]. We like all the different genres in the bass music realm, so we’re not interested in being a one genre type of project.”

The bliss of creation is ecstatically enhanced when shared with another, as dela points out when discussing the creative process she shares with Saitzyk.

“When you make art with someone else, it’s a relationship,” she says of the alchemy of collaboration. “It’s so interesting to make art with someone else, because you plus another person equals a different vibration. You have a certain chemistry together — a certain sound is going to come out and you refine it over time. I [look forward to working] with other people because… you have the opportunity to combine your sound with other people and make new sounds come out. It’s really fun… You manifest a creation that can be shared. It’s really satisfying and fun.”

The duo’s name refers to the trikaya or “three bodies” of Buddhist philosophy: Nirmanakaya, or “emanation body,” the physical body that we are born with; Sambhogakaya, or “bliss body,” the body that experiences the bliss of enlightenment; and Dharmakaya, or “truth body,” the experience of the absolute.

dela’s own practice of Eastern spirituality has developed in concert with her music career. In addition to DJing, she is also a yoga teacher and Ayurvedic practitioner.

“Yoga teacher training was kind of essential, because it taught me how to stand up in front of people and express myself in a more confident manner. That helped me with my DJing, and somewhere along the way all these things came together.”

As her sound began evolving from her earlier downtempo sets to incorporate elements of dubstep and drum and bass, dela noticed a personal transformation take place.

“I remember it felt like a lot,” she says of her transformation as an artist. “I was able to play the gentle music easily but it felt really intense to play more intense music, so I felt like my capacity for being able to project that intensity grew over time. I had to become a stronger person — physically, mentally, emotionally — in order to handle playing crazier music because it wasn’t within my means earlier to be that intense. But I definitely grew into it. Yoga was essential to that. After a while I was seeing an Ayurvedic doctor. I felt that as I got stronger as a person physically that I was able to project the music better.”

The strength and confidence to perform as both artist and teacher grew from — indeed, was transmuted from — crippling shyness.

“When I first started playing — and I was playing for no one — my hands were shaking,” she reflects. “As my actual strength grew, the same thing was happening in yoga teaching, too. When I started teaching yoga I would be such a nervous wreck before I started class and I would be completely exhausted after class. But after time it built strength in me to withstand that much nervousness. And it took me a while to calm my nervous system down to not lose it every time. So both yoga teaching and DJ’ing and everything else were making me stronger.”

Expect even greater things from dela in the future. For starters, Trikaya is nearing completion on a third EP, expected to drop this winter.

“We started using Ableton this year instead of Logic,” dela says of the upcoming release. “The last EP was all done in Logic, which was a slower. So we’re almost done with two more tracks, and the next release is going to be drum and bass.”

Live in Love.

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Follow dela on Soundcloud and Facebook, or visit delamoontribe.com

Yopo Ono is available through Trikaya’s Bandcamp page.

Featured Image © 2016 Soodyod Photos

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