“Cyberia” was the name of a long-running series of music mix compilation CDs conjured up in South Africa between DJ friend Rufus Blairgowrie and I.
Rufus provided most of the music and handled the mixing part while it was me who “mastered” them into some cohesive result and was responsible for the artwork (bar for the first two). Acting under the silly collective name of “CeeJay Cyborgasm”, the first mix CD-R came out on 31-03-1999 and could be considered fairly successful because we did manage to flog a few discs to friends, fans, and visitors to houses of ill repute. Though we barely broke even on expenses, our clientèle was, to put it mildly, very interesting and most certainly varied — which led to some rather amusing encounters and side projects!
Strange days, indeed!
After I left for Germany, we continued the Cyberia gig via postage and electronic mail.
In April 2003 we even created an entire web page dedicated to the series, borrowing liberally from Douglas Rushkoff’s novel, “Cyberia: Life in the Trenches of Cyberspace”.
The compilation series was beginning to do its name honour.
Cyberia is a frame of mind, a state of being. It is a point of view, an abstract of reality, and a degree of insanity. Cyberia is a method of madness, a point to ponder, the question to answers, a menace to society, and the means to an end. It is as real as it is surreal.
Most of all, it is an alternate look at sentient existence.
Cyberia is the place an ordinary citizen goes to during a phone conversation — the same place a shamanic warrior goes when traveling out of body, and the place an acid house dancer visits during the bliss of a techno-acid trance. Cyberia celebrates the digital realm and all things virtual.
Cyberia is a compilation of music, thoughts, art, and sounds.
It follows the lives and translates the experiences of the first few people who realised that culture was about to take a leap into the vast unknown. The Cyberia compilation series is a private, non-commercial and ambitious flagship project of questionable legalities, dubious purpose, and debatable skill.
The intercontinental collaboration didn’t work well in the long run. Rufus started sourcing music from Audiogalaxy and other dodgy P2P networks, forcing me to discover discogs!
The quality of his mixes deteriorated. The frequency of releases began to wane. Still responsible for the artwork, I continued to burn those worthy of the Cyberia name to nice ‘n elaborate CD-Rs while Rufus took the MP3 route and found religion along the way.
In time, even more of the mixing and editing was left to me; it was in early 2009, following the release of Cyberia #18, that Rufus handed over full control of our imaginary “empire”. I put it on indefinite hiatus later that same year and eventually shut down the site.
While nowhere near the same league as Dave Seaman, John Digweed, Tiësto or Randy Squalor, some of our mixes did come out rather well. They were certainly imaginative.
Granted, one shouldn’t praise his own work but since “Mixcloud has blanket radio licensing deals with various collecting societies around the world” you’re (legally) able to judge for yourself. There’s even an app for that.
Have a listen on Mixcloud here.
The old website, warts ‘n all, has been archived here.
And since each release represented a meaningful and dated point in our lives, similar to a personal diary or a blog, I shall make no apologies for inserting their blurbs and part of the storylines as retroactive blog posts right here.
Constructive criticism is welcome. Snide remarks are frowned upon.
Music Piracy remains illegal.
Addendum: Listening to some of those mixes now, as I write this, I’m getting inspired to continue the saga and create new “mixtapes” (as some people call them), especially since there’s a load of Creative Commons-licensed and free netlabel material just sitting and waiting for something to be done with it. Oooooh, them fingers are itching!
Looking back on that decade, it was a fun gig. We had a good run. Thanks, Roof!