“Light and Darkness. One cannot exist without the other. There is no true Master without the power of balance”-Luis Marques, Kemet – The Year of Revelation
Light cannot exist without the dark, nor can dark exist without the light. Just like the Tao symbol in Tai Chi, no matter where our soul leans in life, there is a little of the opposite within. I believe we all relate to this concept on some level, and it drives us musically toward what we like. For me, I lump all of those characteristics into two musical categories that best represent my two personas: Denzil and Ricky and specifically my love for techno and trance. Now it’s not to say I only appreciate these two genres of music or I have some sort of dual personality that only listens to these types of music. It’s more of a representation of how I can feel in a specific time and place where these types of music fit my vibes. Throughout my life, I’ve always been this way, but never really knew how to categorize it until I started getting in tune with myself musically and spiritually.
Usually in my posts on socials or in the articles I’ve written I speak about things from the point of view of “Denzil,” which is my rave name. It represents the PLUR side of my life. Recently, someone told me I had no darkness in my heart and I was full of light. Maybe it’s the way I was born or just the negativity that I grew up around in my earlier years that caused me to look at life half full versus half empty. How else should we view life in any situation? Nothing gives me greater joy than seeing others smile and optimistic. That’s why I also feel the need to be the hype man, a character, the center of attention. The trance, R&B, and dubstep scene seems to allow me to do that with no judgment. I can go crazy with the party mindset but also get all in my feels and share the euphoria of it with others. There is a reason why people go crazy for Anjuna, or why Lost Lands was so successful last year, and even bigger this year. We love the positivity and connection we share through the music that makes us feel. But even with all that joy, there’s a little bit of dark, and that’s where Psytrance comes in. It is my low key inner rage monster that allows me to still be my social, loving carefree self but also go hard with no abandon.
Even before I came into the EDM scene I was like this to an extent. Back in high school or even college, I felt the need to crack jokes, throw events or do silly shit, just to get a positive reaction out of people. But I also think it’s because I felt a sense of belonging. And this where the inner darkness comes in within that light. Growing up without a father and not feeling a connection to my family negatively impacted me and made me feel inadequate. I overcompensated in my pursuit of education or other values that would make them feel “proud,” when truly I thought I should be loved for just being me. Living by the rules or being perfect in an imperfect world is a false reality. A lesson I would learn the hard way later on in life with the loss of 2 of my best friends, Melvin and Steven. I won’t go into details here (saving that story for another time) but these are the reasons I feel the need to be positive all the time because life can be so negative. But even when things get dark there is also pleasure in it.
The underground: the place where rules do not apply, there’s just the music, and your personal journey with it. Unlike the light side where people connect and bond, the dark side of music is more individualized. It took me a while to realize this in my musical journey. Back in the day, you can say I felt that with old school Hip Hop. I mentioned before how I felt like an outsider in my earlier years in life. I used to zone out to artist like Jay Z, Nas, and Jadakiss. To this day Reasonable Doubt is still my all-time favorite album, top to bottom. From being sent to boarding school from age 15 to not having a true family experience, being on a solo journey was literally my life. I resonated with the vocals of underground rap artists since most of the lyrics talked about how to grind better so they can get satisfaction. This year in my EDM journey, I definitely leaned toward more underground music, specifically Techno. First being smitten by the darkness in full effect during a b2b set with Sasha and John Digweed in Ezoo 2017, I knew there was no going back. Since then I chased that feeling and although some shows were better than others, one thing that was always true was I was able to express my raw form through dancing.
Unlike my Denzil persona, where I dance for fun and entertainment when I listen to techno, I’m just me at my core, just Ricky. My dancing is an outward expression of the anger, the pain, the love lost, the opportunities missed I had in life. I think about the time I thought I finally found the love of my life in college, almost being engaged thinking I met the perfect woman and she broke my heart. I think about how I let that heartbreak lead me down a dark path where I went out drinking and partying with my friends, just to almost lose it all. During this time came the greatest gift life could’ve given me: BBC Radio and thus the light in that darkness. This past weekend during the Nicole Moudaber B3B set with Paco Osuna and Dubfire, I experienced all these emotions during this legendary set. It was mostly dark where I did get in my head a bit. But when things became lighter, it reminded me of my feelings towards tech house, like Dirtybird or Elrow music. I love tech house because of how dirty the music can get. You see, I realized I’m not ashamed of the darkness I’ve gone through; I embrace it. So when I dance to this music I crack a smile, not to impress, but rather to say “I’m ready to tear shit up” because I know who I am and I’m way past asking for forgiveness.
So which side do you identify with most? The answer should be both or neither. It is human nature that we share all of these traits of light and darkness. I personally believe that, which is why I adopt the Tao principles of balance. The Yin Yang symbol is something I use a lot to express my mantra, but musically I mentally connect. You see, I am neither a good person nor a bad person, I am just human, and one who is trying to find his place in life. It’s the reason I go back and forth in my musical tastes because I relate to and want to experience everything and I would be remiss if I stay limited or let my past define me.