After taking a break through the summer Halcyon once again cranks it up to provide you with what will be the definitive psy trance event of 2010. Spread across 3 rooms of music, in a truly underground warehouse location, Halcyon returns with its biggest and most exciting event yet.
Hallucinogen Live from Twisted Records and Astrix Live celebrating the HOMmega 13th Birthday are only a taste of what to expect from this very special event…
For tickets and more information check www.crowdsurge.com/halcyon
Astrix brings HOMmega’s 13th birthday to Halcyon
Once upon a time, Hallucinogen’s track ‘Deranger’ changed the life of a young Russian-born Israeli electro DJ. Now one of the world’s leading psy trance DJs and producers, Avi Shmailov, otherwise know as Astrix, surely needs no introduction. Having made his first track when he was just 15 years old, the journey to the top has been a steady climb, from his first album ‘Eye to Eye’ (2002) to ‘Artcore’ (2004), last year’s digital album ‘One Step Ahead’ and finally, the long-awaited ‘Red Means Distortion’, which he’ll be launching at the Halcyon Warehouse Party Friday 19 November. Headlining with hero Hallucinogen, Astrix will also be ensuring HOMmega Records’ 13th birthday is celebrated in the epic style it deserves.
With the countdown on for what is surely going to be one of the biggest psy trance events to hit London this year, we spoke to him about Lost, world peace, his forthcoming live set and how much he loves his job...
Hi Avi, thanks for taking some time out of your busy life to answer a few questions for your fans and congratulations on releasing your new album, ‘Red Means Distortion’. It’s a huge achievement for you to finally get it released! Since you started working on ‘Red Means Distortion’ you’ve had a lot of changes in your life, including a back operation and moving between cities in Israel. How’s the new life treating you? Are there not a lot of distractions there to tempt you out of the studio —like the beach and some great parties?
While I was working on my new album, I was fully dedicated to its making… no fun in the sun except the tours. After I finished the album I moved to a new city and yes, I am experiencing a bit more pleasure time on the beach and with my friends. Now starts the new tour supporting the release of my new album and my new studio is almost ready, so I have a feeling the “long nights” and musical journeys will step back in motion very soon.
In the time you’ve been working on the album, you actually ended up replacing some of the older tracks with new ones. This must have been a very frustrating process! How did your sound change and evolve a while you were working on the album? How would you describe the Astrix sound at the moment?
Changing tracks was not frustrating as each track had its “home”. Some came out on the compact stick project ‘One Step Ahead’ and some on various compilations and in the end it provided bread crumbs for the fans that patiently waited for so long for the new album. My sound production was upgraded due to technological advancements and because I had more time to play out the tracks, get first hand impressions about each of them and if needed, I had time to head back to the studio and polish them up to perfection.
Astrix’s trade mark sound is still composed of driving bass, atmospheric breakdowns and soaring melodic climaxes… but always in a fresh way and not the cut and paste sound that floods the market from time to time.
You’ve always seen your style as mixing psy trance and club trance, a clash between underground and mainstream. How do the tracks on your new album reflect this? Does the album have an overall theme or vision?
This round, the album is more focused on full on trance tracks because I got this feeling that this kind of tracks are becoming too rare to find or hear at parties and as a result people start to lose faith in the genre. But there are still some takes on the club “clash” with tracks like ‘Harbour Candy Remix’ and ‘Killing Time Remix’ which are clubbier and feature vocals.
One of the tracks on your new album is called ‘Antiwar’. You were born in Russia just before the fall of communism and grew up in Tel Aviv, Israel, a country that’s been in a constant state of conflict for a while now. Do you think there is ever going to be hope for eliminating war in our lifetime?
The thing I love about my career as a DJ/producer travelling the world and making people happy with my music. I feel that this kind of privilege comes with a certain mission to try and bring people together. I can only do my best and hope for world peace. We all deserve it!
’Mir’ samples Jim Morrison, are you a big Doors fan? What other influences can be found on the album?
I am not a big Doors fan but I totally respect them and love some of their songs. The sample was more to remind the old school people of the X-Dream classic remix of E-Rection’s ‘Out Here We Are Stoned’. My main inspiration comes from staying true to the trance music that I love to play, but if you’ll examine things in a magnifying glass, maybe you’ll find some influences from Deadmau5 and Infected Mushroom, who I am a big fan of.
The word ‘Dharma’ is originally from Indian philosophy and religion. Have you spent time in Goa? ‘Dharma’ has some serious meanings: what does it mean to you?
I used the word ‘Dharma’ because I am a huge fan of the hit TV series Lost. Dharma initiative is the future!
You say on your MySpace that the new album is “the result of some very late night sessions” which were needed to perfect your album, which implies you haven’t had much down time in the last couple of years. Now that you’ve got some time on your hands, what plans do you have?
As I mentioned before, since I finished the album, I moved to a new house in a new city, built a new studio and I spend a lot of time communicating with my fans on my facebook fan page (www.facebook.com/astrix.official). I also got addicted to some TV shows like Boardwalk Empire, Modern Family and Eastbound & Down. I managed to get some sun because my new city has a great beach and I also spend more time with friends who now live close by. Right now I’m already in the new race of a world tour for the new album and I’ve already got 3 tracks after the album… with many more to come.
In an interview for last year’s Halcyon, you said that one of your goals was to explore some other types of electronic music, and your new album is definitely your most musically diverse and eclectic yet. Given that you started out as an electro and classic ’80s DJ until you fell in love with psy trance in 1994, are you going back to your roots in a way? Are you concerned that you may be alienating some of your hardcore psy trance fans?
First let me say that I’ll never stop producing psy trance! No need to worry. However, I am going to dive into the bigger sea of electronic music. I already have one track cooking which is slow and hypnotic and will hit the progressive house scene with a bang… stay tuned. It’s all a matter of muse. And I’ve got lots of it with all that is going on with me at the moment.
Like most good producers you’re a perfectionist. How do you get inspiration when things aren’t going as well in the studio as you’d like?
I take a break. Play with my cat or open my X-box. Letting my mind drift away from the traffic jam that goes on in the studio and I come back all re-started and fresh.
Your rise to success actually happened quite quickly after you were signed to HOMmega in 2002. Do you feel you’ve had to make many sacrifices on the way?
Signing with HOMmega proved to be the best thing that I could have wished for. HOMmega is the biggest label in the scene and it helped support my success in so many ways. I don’t feel I made too many sacrifices because “I love my job”, but I can say that spending every weekend away from home and spending so much time on international and cross Atlantic flights is really not easy. It has its price both mentally and physically and you need to take good care of yourself not to lose the motivation and the fun factor.
If you weren’t a leading international DJ and producer, what do you think you might be doing?
As I have this deep passion for music, I believe whatever would have been would still be in the music business.
You spend a lot of time in South America and have travelled all over Europe and Asia. Do you have a favourite place to travel and play in?
The list is long… UK, Korea, Brazil, Belgrade, Japan, Denmark and many more.
On Friday 19 November you’ll be presenting a very special live show to launch your new album at the Halcyon Warehouse Party. You always plan your sets in advance: have you starting planning this live set yet?
It’s my new live that I made especially for this album tour, many tracks from the new album along some eternal classic in special edit and mixes. Prepare to enjoy!
Hallucinogen’s ‘The Lone Deranger’ is one of your top albums and you said in your DJMag Top 100 interview last year that the track ‘Deranger’ changed your life. You must be pretty excited to be on the same lineup as Hallucinogen at Halcyon? Will you be up dancing for his set?
Simon Posford is an idol for me. I am honored to be headlining Halcyon with him. Full respect to the man for keeping his music alive for so long and with so many refreshing experiments such as Shpongle and Younger Brother… simply the best!
Finally, is there anything else you hope to do while you’re in London, or will this purely be a business trip?
I always come focused on the “business” because there is tension and excitement towards the show, but if all goes well, I tend to take an extra day off and enjoy the victory.