With eight years of DJing under his belt, Dane Stirrat has become a force to be reckoned with in SA’s dance music scene.

Both as himself and under his D-Sciple moniker, Dane’s energetic DJs sets have become a staple in Cape Town, frequently seen at clubs like District, 40/40 and Club 89, as well as festivals like Rocking The Daisies, We Love Summer and Earthdance.

But in the last three years, he has taken matters into his own hands, creating The Eden Experience—an exclusive outdoor dance music festival boasting some of the best local artists and world-renowned international artists.

Ahead of the festival on November 18th at Zevenwacht Wine Estate, which features Ruback, Dubdogz and Crazy White Boy, we chatted with Dane about the journey that brought him into the epicentre of Cape Town’s festival culture

Where did your love for dance music begin?

It was Earthdance 2009 where I really experienced the full power of dance music on a top-quality, large-scale sound rig. From that day on the music always fascinated me, and I just wanted to learn more and more about it. I think the combination of having such a deep passion for something and wanting to learn more about it just solidifies that unconditional love towards it. I am still constantly learning and still constantly exploring dance music on a daily basis. It honestly is one of the things that keeps me ticking!

How did you first get into DJing?

I started out around June or July in 2009 out of pure curiosity. I had been to a good few parties and always wanted to know what it was like to be up in the DJ booth playing your favourite tunes. A good friend of mine let me go into his room in our residence in Stellenbosch and mix on his CDJs. I used to just collect music, burn it to CD and stand up there for hours practicing and teaching myself what it was all about. Things evolved and I played my first club gig at a small club in Stellenbosch called Republic. My first club gig in CT was at the Bang Bang Club Summer of 2009.

What sparked the inspiration to start Eden?

A massive love for events, production and different genres of music really sparked this idea of Eden. At the time there were no parties that focussed so heavily on a multi-genre approach, whereby the music progressed significantly from set to set, eventually ending off with an explosion of good quality progressive trance. Well at least not within the space of 12 hours. It was something we took a huge risk with, but it was well worth it. I suppose the lineups at Eden really show, and always have shown, the love for all different types of good quality dance music, whether it’s house, techno or trance. It’s more than just a line-up for the party goers, it’s a somewhat storytelling, musical journey that really expresses what we are all about from set to set.

How is Eden different to any other festival?

I wouldn’t want to compare Eden to any other party as such, but I just think it is unique in itself because there is always such a massive appreciation from the people who attend it. An appreciation for the music, the sound, the vibe, the venue, the love—and I always really do feel such a special energy when it comes to Eden event day. It’s hard for me to explain, but anyone who is reading this could most likely back me up on this.

What are you thoughts on the current dance music scene in South Africa?

The dance music scene in SA is absolutely booming and it’s pretty damn impressive to see how many promoters are showcasing the talent we have within our borders. Record labels are emerging with purely SA based productions, local line-ups are hugely credible and the fact that international artists have influences from our scene makes it even more awesome.

This year was the start of the SA dance music awards, and this is a massive step towards exponential growth in this country when it comes to dance music. South Africa is really starting to identify and acknowledge the real talent that we have on our doorstep in dance music, no matter the genre, and the talent and scene is really solidifying a larger footprint in the cultural South African market. The scene really is powerful and more and more artists are becoming hugely successful exports internationally too, one of which we have the privilege of hosting at the next installment of Eden!

You DJ as Dane Stirrat and as D-Sciple, your progressive trance alias. How has your trance background influenced your more house/techno sets?

I would have to say that they have both significantly influenced each other in some way or another. My first big, outdoor gigs were as D-Sciple, so in a way it kind of built up this confidence in me when it eventually came to playing on big, outdoor stages as Dane Stirrat. I still to this day get nervous when I play at big festivals—it is a unique feeling and something I thrive off I’d say. It took some getting used to for me as playing on an outdoor stage is very different to a club. So I think it was just practice, not just with the different styles, but building up those hours when it came to big stages, big crowds and big sound rigs.

What differences have you noticed between the trance and house/techno parties in SA?

The biggest difference for me is that we do not have any 24-48 hour house/techno events in SA (well at least to my knowledge). The trance scene still has regular parties where the music does not stop the entire weekend, which most certainly adds a very unique element to the party. I feel the parties that are well attended these days (both trance and house/tech/techno) are ones that really put effort into their production and their attention to detail. It keeps pushing the bar higher though. Because the standard is so good, everyone just wants to push that much harder and it really is showing in the top dance music events we have in this country.

What’s your favourite place to play in South Africa?

That is actually a really tough question, because every venue has such a uniqueness to it. If I had to choose favourite club (in this instance, most memorable set) would be the Groove Bar at Era (now Reset on Loop Street). My most memorable festival and quality of production has to be between EDEN and Rocking The Daisies. Every year I have had the honour of playing Rocking the Daisies it has been super special and humbling. With D-Sciple.. man oh man.. each and every one of the Earthdances I have played at have been once in a lifetime moments that I shall cherish forever. It’s still a dream for me to play at Origin Festival one day.

Which artists have influenced your sound the most?

I am going to keep within the last two years because I have played many different genres in my years of DJing, so my list of influencers runs far and wide. If I really had to pick a top three it would be Kyle Watson, Low Steppa and Sonny Fodera. Favourite labels being Dirtybird, Defected and Simma Black. Massive shoutout too to Chutney Records from Joburg who I follow and support as it is showcasing local house music and showing the world how talented our house music producers actually are.

What can we expect at Eden?

When it comes to Eden I think one should not expect anything. Come with an open mind, open heart, and of course open ears! We really pride ourselves in quality over quantity, and I think the experience as a whole is going to be something super spectacular. Live in the moment and have fun, always!

Tell us one thing people don’t know about you.

I am convinced cucumber was created by the devil. Blink 182 is my favourite band of all time and I am probably their biggest fan in SA.

Eden takes place on November 18th at Zevenwacht Wine Estate. Tickets available here.

Visit the event page for more details.

Follow THe Eden Experience on Facebook