I first came across Scionaugh at the 2017 edition of Shadow Drum at Rubix Warehouse.
Well, to say I “came across him” is a bit misleading, because I couldn’t actually make it to the gig, even though I had a ticket. Shattered, I decided to log in to the livestream, a new initiative by the venue; it turned out to be a revelation.
I tuned in at 8pm sharp, curious to see and hear who would be kicking off the evening for the likes of Redshift, Azrin and Farebi Jalebi… I was instantly hooked on this sound – the rolling basslines and a primal groove.
FOMO – Oh good Lord, what have I done. Why am I here, and not there??
My First Look at Scionaugh
Who was this sonic magician..and why had I never heard of him before? At that moment, helplessly dancing in the living room, I decided to never miss an opportunity to hear him play.
That decision lead me on wonderful adventures, introduced me to amazing people from all over the world and opened my eyes to endless possibilities.
In a way, that night – 8 September 2017 – was the genesis of Doof.Life
Today, I am fortunate to have sat with Scionaugh to learn about his journey and it is my privilege to share his story with you…
Before we even begin, he hits me with “I’m a bit busy with exams at the moment, doing a double masters in Electrical Engineering and Astrophysics.” insert mindblown emoji
How did you get into doofing?
Funnily enough, I started listening to psytrance music while studying in high school because I found that it put my brain in focus mode. Hypnagog and Terrafractyl started me on my journey and I kept going from there. I ended up at Rainbow Serpent 2015 purely to go to a “hippie festival” just for the vibe, not even aware of the fact people listened to psytrance for fun. I just rocked up to Friday night psytrance at Market Stage and I was like “I HAVE FOUND MY PEOPLE.”
What got you into making music?
I’ve been a musician ever since I can remember.. started out just playing ukulele and the first instrument I ever learned was the saxophone in primary school and moved on to guitar in high school. By the time I got to Rainbow, I was DJ’ing a little bit as well, playing some house music here and there. A year and a half or so after that Rainbow experience, I installed Ableton to muck around, but it wasn’t until I saw artists like Smilk and Grouch and Terrafractyl create a complete journey with their own sounds that I went “this is what I want to do. I want to make my own music. this is what it’s about.”
Which artists would you say influenced you early on in your journey?
In my early listening, I always really liked chunky, fat choons. The kind of music that really got my dancing had groovy basslines – the bush techno and bush prog vibes. I liked artists like Captain Hook and the Israeli chunk guys, but what really inspired me were the Australian artists that then added a level of musicality to it, so it wasn’t just fat electronic music. It had an element of “real music” to it.
That was one of the things that really drew me to psychedelic music – how organic it can sound. Beacuse it’s an illusion right? You’re like a magician, you’re using essentially synthetic sounds and making it sound completely natural.
Artists like Shadow FX, Tetrameth, Smilk; though they don’t necessarily play the instruments on their music, you can hear their influences shine through in the way they arrange and compose their tracks.
Grouch stands out though, with his ability to make groovy music – it’s not techno, it’s not psytrance – it’s Grouch.
Scionaugh: what’s the story behind the name?
The one thing that really got me with making electronic music was this realisation of ignorance – omg, this goes so much deeper than I even knew. With my interest in science and engineering and deep fields of learning I had a feeling that I had it all figured out and knew how the world works. Until I started making music and I realised that there was so much more to learn.
So I named my project Scionaugh which means To Know Nothing. Scio, from science meaning “to know” and naught, which means nothing. It reminds me to alway be curious and remain a student to the world.
A Star is Born
You also play as Gabriel Robinson – what’s the difference?
Before I was Scionaugh and came up with the sound and the vibe, I was into DJ’ing prog and glitch hop. Growing up in the Peninsula, I was mates with a crew called Caradise, and they did a renegade stage at Rainbow one year. They didn’t know what to expect, being house and disco guy, when they got me to DJ a set of the “weird music.”
It went really well and they loved it and had me down as the glitch hop guy! At Tanglewood 2017, they were given a slot at the Funk Tunnel and asked me to play a set. It was cool because I was already Scionaugh by then and I hadn’t played glitch hop in ages, and it gave me a push to change my perspective and hunt for new music.
How about that time you spun poi during Carl Cox’s set at Babylon?
I started spinning poi as a stress relief during my first round of uni exams in the first year. it’s also a great way of procastinating, though these days it’s become more about a flow state of mind. I have spun at a few Culture Jam events and even spun fire at Burning Seed, though not for the big burn.
The Babylon thing came up because of my friends Damien Meredith and Matty Armstrong, who are phenomenal dancers; they were booked for Babylon for a group performance and were asked to have a fire performer! They knew me like “yeah, Gabe can spin fire” and asked if I would join. I said yes, even though I was at Earth frequency the weekend before and yes, it was a mad dash to get from Queensland to Victoria.. but hey, it was a free ticket.
It ended up being a total fire ban and I ended up spinning LEDs which was cool. Plus, no one was looking at us, everyone was locked in to Carl Cox. And now I can have it on my resume – HAS SPUN POI FOR CARL COX.
Let’s talk about a heart stopping moment in your music journey
I was playing at Save the Forests, on after Sensient, the big boss, the O.G. – the mastermind behind Zenon Records. So I get up there, open up Ableton and it says “your Ableton is corrupt. You must reinstall Ableton.”
I was meant to start in 10 minutes, I restarted my computer and… “yeah, nah, your Ableton is corrupt. You must reinstall Ableton.”
I was literally like “Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. This can’t be happening. Not today, not right now.”
So I decided to copy all of my songs on to a USB stick and play of the CDJs. I used to DJ so I knew how to work them, but I’d never done a Scionaugh set, never practised this flow. It actually ended up pretty good, because I knew my songs well and I could mix well. Phew!
But… there was that 5 minutes where Sensient was like “so you good to start, or…” and I was like “maybe my computer is joking, let me just restart it for the fourth time.” Phil (Eartheogen) actually came up to me after my set and gave me props for my “getting on with the show.”
The Show Must Go On
Get to know Gabriel
Top Netflix recommendation: Jessica Jones because of the complex characters and Big Mouth – an extremely crude but endearing and relatable cartoon about puberty and being a teenager. Oh and Joe Rogan’s new Special.
Soundcloud follow: Oricch from Brazil. He released a “back to my roots” downtempo album. Also Hedflux’s latest album and EP.
Top Doof recommendation: Earth Frequency Festival. I reckon Dragon would be my favourite if I could go there, but it’s always during my exams.
Favourite song at the moment: Nocturnal – Groove Template.
Not many people know this about me: I study maths, astrophysics and electrical engineering, building robots.
Favourite gig I’ve played so far: Opening for Twisted Sibling at Progression Sessions, and the Tanglewood Funk Tunnel set.
Dream gig: Playing at Earth Frequency Festival as Scionaugh
Any pets: I used to have a dog, and dog sit often; but I’m not ready for that level of responsibility. I stick to my succulent plant babies.
The second time I heard Gabe play, it was the Gabriel Robinson glitch hop extravaganza at the Tanglewood Funk Tunnel in 2017 – 18. The dance floor was going OFF so I did what any doof writer would do, and decided to get some video of him mesmerising the crowd for the article I would eventually write. I cruised through the crowd, filming on my iPhone 6s for a few minutes before finding my way out the tunnel. And then I watched what I had just recorded… At first, I couldn’t believe it. Were my eyes still dancing to music, or was my mind still reeling from the funk? And then it dawned on me… the bass from the choons had made its way into my iPhone circuit board and was rattling the very core of the camera lens as it was filming… I give you what is probably the most epic 30 seconds of video I will ever capture in my life.