Introducing Iboga's prog detective Ace Ventura
Reported by HarderFaster
Submitted 16-04-08 14:05
Yoni Oshrat first found DJ and production success as half of full-on psy trance duo PsySex. He’s been out on his own for a couple of years now, playing and producing prog under the name Ace Ventura and electro under his Schatsi guise. After seeing him play an incredible set at the awesome Alpha Omega party at SeOne last month, we decided it was definitely time this talented musician got the HF interview treatment.
Signed to pioneering prog label Iboga Records — who’re celebrating their 10th birthday this year — Yoni released his artist album ‘Rebirth’ to critical acclaim in September 2007. However he was certainly no stranger to production, having already released three albums on Israeli heavyweight label HOMmega Records as half a PsySex, formed with his friend Udi ‘Goblin’ Sternberg in 1998. ‘Expressions of Rage’ (1999), ‘Hardcore Blastoff’ (2001) and ‘Come in Peace’ (2003) all helped put HOMmega Records on the international psy trance map, where they’re now a driving force.
After throwing himself into the full-on scene for a few years, Yoni started to hanker for slower, funkier sounds and listening to more electro and prog, and the rest, as they say, is history. In 2006 Yoni’s ‘New Order’ compilation was the first progressive psy trance album to be released on HOMmega Records. It was definitely one of the best compilations of 2006 — and the good news is there’s another one on the way. Meanwhile tracks like ‘Presence’ have been featured on John ‘00’ Fleming’s chart-topping ‘Psy-Trance Euphoria’ triple CD pack and a number of other comps.
With the kind of international diary most DJs only dream of, Ace Ventura's ‘Rebirth’ tour has forthcoming gigs at Brazil’s Tribe festival (26 April), Amsterdam’s Queensday Outdoor Party (30 April), a tour of Australia in June and of course an Iboga birthday party to celebrate their 10-year anniversary on 31 May in Copenhagen. Perhaps most importantly to UK readers, he’ll be back for July’s Glade festival, before Switzerland’s Atmosphere festival later that month and Japan’s Solstice festival in early August.
When we heard that Ace Ventura was playing at new night Alpha Omega we were over the moon. One of the most anticipated gigs of the year, Yoni did not fail to deliver — tearing up the prog room, creating a perfect mix of pure pumping progressive psy trance, blending in just the right elements of tribal, electro, techno and deep prog. We were transfixed to the dancefloor and vowed to do some detective work of our own to find out if he is indeed the best there is...
Why the name Ace Ventura? Does this mean you know who would steal a dolphin and why? And why do giraffes have little horns on their head?
Well as much as I would love to help and answer your animal anatomy questions, I must tell you I chose the name for a different reason. My father’s original last name was Ventura. When he started to get famous in Israel, he changed the name to a slightly more commercial name (from Ventura to Oshrat, go figure…). I had to quickly pick an artist name upon my first release, and Ace Ventura was the first thing which came to mind.
You actually have several different projects: Ace Ventura, PsySex and Schasti. What’s the inspiration behind each?
Looks like someone didn’t do her homework! I actually left the PsySex project in 2006, moving to a solo career. About a year before that I established the Ace and Schatsi projects — Ace Ventura for progressive psy trance, and Schatsi for everything else (be it downtempo, breaks or what not — at some point Schatsi became strictly an electro project though).
Inspiration comes from everything in life, but the main goal was to go with my favourite genres, and anything but full-on, which I have became quite tired of.
Are you already thinking about a new project or do you have any idea what it might be?
Negative: at the moment I’m putting all my time and efforts into the progressive sound, but I’m bound to make some electro and techno Schatsi tunes as soon as possible. I’d love to make a down-tempo chillout album as well, but not anytime soon.
Your father is a well-known composer in Israel. How much of an influence was that on your music growing up? And now?
Well, actually while growing up, I was on a rather cinematic path in life, studying cinema in high school, working as a soundman in my army service, and doing post-production FX and Foley work in the Israeli film and TV industry. Since my parents got separated when I was at a young age, I was more influenced by my sister actually, who was watching Top of the Pops and 80s videoclips on TV all day long.
Now I try to sit with him as much as possible and grasp whatever I can from him, as he is quite a fine musician and I have so much to learn from him.
What does your father think of your music? Do you ever collaborate?
Well I have to say when I just started producing psy trance, he was rather sceptical about it and wasn’t too supportive. A few years later though, he admitted to his mistake and today he is quite proud of my achievements. We’ve sat together a few times in the studio in the past, but not seriously enough. I do plan to do more serious collaborations with him sometime.
Can you remember the first record you ever bought? Do you still play vinyl at all or have you moved completely to digital formats?
Oh I certainly do! It was a vinyl from Kraftwerk called ‘Electric Cafe’. I saw the video of the single ‘Boing Boom Chak’ on TV — with robotic images of the band in the clip instead of the original faces — and was simply hypnotized. A day after Daddy took me to the record shop and my first record was purchased! I also remember my first CD — it was the soundtrack for Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Phantom Of The Opera!
I have moved to the digital CD format long ago — it’s funny though, that now the CD is on the verge of going the same way of the vinyl... time passes by too fast!
How did you first get into making music? Are you a self-taught DJ and producer or did you study?
Well I’ve been DJing since a very early age. Around the age of 13 I started to DJ with a friend at kids house parties, slowly moving to teenagers club parties. We had a duo team called Two DJS and were quite successful. I discovered the trance scene around 1994 and started going to parties and a few years later I tried my first go at producing. It was around 1997 after teaming up with DJ Goblin and forming ‘Children of the Doc’ which later changed to PsySex. We basically just taught ourselves really, that’s not the easiest but surely the best way!
Where’s your favourite place to play and why?
That’s a tough one, as there are many of these — so many cool places with different vibes and crowds. To name a few, I’ve gotta mention Brazil, where the scene has been absolutely booming for a long while, and the party crowd is just a blast to play for, from small club parties to massive twenty thousand-people raves. I love playing in Switzerland; the outdoor Swiss parties in the mountains have a magical feeling like no other. Travelling to Tokyo is always an experience, the city is massive and the party people are hardcore. And I must mention Israel as well — I love playing at good parties in my own country!
You play and produce full-on psy trance as well as electro and progressive. What makes a good progressive track vs a full-on tune vs an electro track?
Well I actually haven’t produced a full-on track in over three years so I won’t refer to that! I can say progressive and authentic electro are rather different, mainly in production terms, as electro has to be dry as f**k, while progressive is more fluid with much more reverb and delay effects for instance. The three genres are so different, although these days the borders between progressive, electro and techno are getting quite small.
You’re one of the few around who manage to make a living making music. Has this always been the case? What words of wisdom to you have for the wannabe producers out there?
No this hasn’t been the case always, it takes a few good years to make a proper living from producing psy trance. These days it’s even harder, as the music industry as a whole is going through hard changes, and CD sales are dropping every day, while the CD format is on the brink of extinction. So it’s safe to say that in underground genres such as psychedelic trance, the main income comes from the gigs, and any wannabe producer out there has to take that into consideration and think twice before putting all his time into it. That’s another issue though — I’ve learned that if you don’t put ALL OF YOUR TIME into it, then don’t bother — it won’t work, not in the long term for sure.
You’ve collaborated with Perfect Stranger a fair bit; how did this first come about and how does it work?
Perfect Stranger is a very good friend of mine and is also my progressive mentor. It was because of his push and support that I started to take the Ace Ventura project seriously. He remixed a few of my tunes and naturally working together in the studio was only a matter of time. I have recently remixed one of his tracks as well — we seem to have a nice match together and plan to make more collabs very soon. We also had a back to back DJ set a while ago which was an absolute blast!
What software and hardware do you use in the studio? And what are your favourite pieces of kit?
In recent years I’ve been working with software only. I’m a PC head yet an avid Logic fan since the late 90s, which forces me to work with a very old version of Logic (since Apple purchased Logic’s creator EMAGIC and stopped releasing PC versions a few years ago). It’s still a good piece of software but I’m one of the last dinosaurs who still work this way, and I reckon the move to Macintosh (and Logic 8) is imminent. I’ll have to choose that good ol’ Logic 5 as my favourite piece of kit then
Your New Order CD was one of my favourite compilations of 2006 and rumour has it there is going to be a second one… can you give us any clues as to what’s going to be on it and when it’ll be released?
The rumour is true indeed... I started work on it early this year, and I must say it hasn’t been as easy as the first round. There isn’t that much good music going around, and in addition I’m trying to do a slightly different compilation this time — more in the style of the second part of the first new order, meaning more emphasis on the techno and clubby side. But it will still feature the usual suspects, and something for everyone. The release date would probably be in the end of the year...
One of your tracks is called ‘Psychic Experience’. Have you ever had one? What inspired this tune?
I certainly have, and quite a few of those hehe... I reckon these experiences do influence music writing indeed. This track was a collaboration with a Swiss artist, Liquid Soul. We just hit it off in the studio and this track was the result — the psychic experience sample originates from the David Cronenberg film, The Dead Zone.... you’ve gotta love Christopher Walken !
What do you like to do to chill out in your down time?
I don’t really have much of that lately, but when I do I tend to watch as many movies as possible, play pro evolution soccer on Playstation with friends, keep up with my favourite TV shows (such as Lost, South Park, Family Guy etc.) and spend time with my beloved girlfriend and cat.
Who have been your favourite DJs and producers over the years? And who would you like to see break through in 2008?
Wa wa wi wa, that’s a question with a big list of an answer.... At the beginning I was definitely inspired by the first generation of trance artists, namely Deedrah and Transwave, Juno Reactor, Hallucinogen, Total Eclipse, Mark Allen and Quirk. Then with the progressive revolution it was Atmos, Son Kite, Ticon and FREq. 2008 is almost half through but I reckon 2009 will see the breakthrough of the artist as Khainz (aka Freakulizer, already getting support from world-known DJs), Quantize (whose debut album on Iboga is coming in the near future) and Motion Drive (aka Rumble Pack, a Swiss producer with a bright future).
At the end of last year you released your album ‘Rebirth’. Did it take you long to put it all together and get it right? How did you know it was finally ready?
Well, it was originally planned to be released in 2006 but I delayed it in a year or so. It’s hard to shape a whole album while being on the road a lot and that was the case. I still feel I could have done much more with it, but that’s a very common feeling with music artists! So basically you just have to let go at some point, and hope that the listeners will appreciate what is there without thinking about what is not!
What are your top ten tracks right now to get the dancefloor moving?
Here it is, my top ten for March–April 2008:
1. Beckers & Hatfield — ‘Keep On’ (Velcro and Ido Ophir Remix)
2. Perfect Stranger — ‘Morning Blues’ (Ace Ventura Remix)
3. FREq — ‘Short Life Again’ (Ace Ventura Remix)
4. Ace Ventura & Intelabeam — ‘The Jhon’ (Quantize Remix)
5. Sander Van Doorn — ‘The Bass’ (Wardt Remix)
6. Mike Monday — ‘Zum Zum’ (Audiojack Remix)
7. DJ Remy & Roland Klinkenberg — ‘Defrosted’
8. Lutzenkirchen — ‘Paperboy’ (D-nox & Beckers Remix)
9. Elegant Universe & Ido Ophir — ‘Meshugaim’
10. The Doors — ‘The End’ (Dirty South Mix)
As you can see it’s a mixture of progressive trance, electro and minimal techno, and that’s exactly how I like my sets. You need to know how to combine the three, but when it works, it rocks!
What productions do you have on the go at the moment?
I have just finished producing three remixes for Perfect Stranger, Zen Mechanics, and one of my all-time progressive tracks from FREq — ‘Short Life Again’. I’m already working on a few original Ace Ventura tunes and plan on writing more electro as well as techno asap!
Other than that I must mention my remix album, which is about to be released on Iboga around May/June, and will feature remixes of my tracks from the likes of Zen Mechanics, Perfect stranger, Fiord (aka Antix), Khainz and many more....
Your next confirmed set at the UK is at the Glade festival on 18 July. What are your top tips for having the best festival experience?
I’m certainly looking forward to that one! Festivals are the highlight of the trance scene as I’ve discovered in recent years. Make sure you have all the equipment u need for personal comfort, naturally come for the whole duration of the festie, let go of your life and suck yourself in with the people, as the people is what it’s all about, the music comes after...
Finally, some quick fire questions
Dogs or cats? (you are a pet detective after all!)
Festivals or clubs?
Vinyl or CDs?
Tango or hardcore?
Hmmm… how about metal?
Beer or JD?
Mac or PC?
Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera?
It’s Britney, bitch!
Lost or Heroes?
MySpace or FaceBook?
That’s a tough one... but at the moment, Facebook!
Thanks for your time Yoni! Can’t wait to see you again at the Glade!
You are most welcome, cheerz!
Many thanks to Sarah Goodson for her questions. Photos courtesy of Taguru Izumo, Tiago Lima, Yoni Oshrat and Dominic Search. Not to be reproduced without permission.
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