Goa Gil (real name Gilbert Levey) is an American-born musician, DJ and party organizer. He is one of the founders of the goa trance and psytrance movement in electronic dance music.
Gil was born in 1951 and grew up in San Francisco, California. He witnessed the birth of the hippie movement and acid rock, and was involved with the freak collectives Family Dog and Sons of Champlon. Feeling that the San Francisco musical scene was falling apart, he took off in 1969, going first to Amsterdam and then to India, settling in the hippie mecca of Goa. Here he discovered the sadhus, wandering holy men living off the forest and covering themselves with ash and drinking the elixir of the gods. Gil became himself a Sadhu, Baba Mangalanand, in the order of the Juna Akhara.
During the early 1980s, many Goa hippies were becoming increasingly fascinated with early electronic music such as Kraftwerk. Gil and his friends soon gathered some equipment and started DJing and playing live music all night long on the Goa beaches. The mix of outdoor electronic dance parties with Eastern mystical and spiritual overtones came to define the aesthetic of the psytrance movement. For Gil, dance is an active form of meditation and the use of trance music is a way to “redefine the ancient tribal ritual for the 21st century”. During the 1990s, the aesthetic of the Goa trance movement spread by way of European and Israeli backpackers who attended parties in India. Nowadays, Gil is still based in Goa for several months of the year, and spends the rest of his time travelling and throwing parties, notably in Northern California.
Gil is married to Ariane MacAvoy, herself a child of French Goan “freaks”. Together they formed the band the Nommos with Peter Zigelmeier of Kode IV.