It’s been exactly a year since Avi Shmailov aka Astrix was last interviewed on HarderFaster and in the last 12 months he’s achieved more than some DJ/producers will in their lifetimes. With his one and only London set of the year looming at the Halcyon Christmas Ball on Friday 2 December, where he’s headlining alongside Hallucinogen, Sub6 and Prometheus, we managed to grab him in between tours for a quick run down on life with one of the few true psy trance jetsetters…
You’ve just had an incredible summer; I take it that 2011 is going pretty well for you so far?! What have been the highlights for you so far?
Yes, 2011 is going great. Playing at Brazil’s massive Tribe 10 and XXXperience Festivals, Tomorrowland Festival in Belgium and Privilege in Ibiza with Infected Mushroom was very inspiring. Having Paul Oakenfold support my tracks on his radio show and release my remix of Man With No Name’s ‘Sugar Rush’ on his label, Perfecto Records, was also a pleasure. Jerome Isma-Ae remixing my track ‘Reunion’ was an exciting new frontier and my self-made video clip for ‘Sweet Disposition’ getting over 60,000 views in two months was a great start for my video habit. Also, being voted in the DJmag Top 100 DJs poll for the 6th consecutive year is a sweet ongoing achievement.
You’ve now released seven of your free download mixes Trance for Nations with downloads fast approaching 100,000. What’s the philosophy behind giving the mixes away for free when you could be charging some money for them? Do you find it hard to select tracks for each mix or is it a mission narrowing the possibilities down?
Well, the short answer would be “Free sells best”, but it’s more then that. My vision is to turn Trance For Nations into a monthly podcast or an online radio show, and for that agenda, I prefer to make the larger exposure of free downloads and to showcase many young talents alongside the big guns in order to support the scene’s new generation, as they are the future. It’s not easy to select the tracks for each mix, but someone’s got to do it.
You’ve also made you own music videos for ‘Sweet Disposition’ and ‘Reunion’. Did you do a film-making course or are you self-taught? What software did you use and do you really still play with all those action figures? Or are you going to blame Jimmy the cat?
I love to play with visuals, I feel I have the right pair of eyes for it. But it’s a journey to complete as I do it on my own as you rightfully called it “self-taught”. I mostly use Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects and Final Cut Pro. And yes, my cat, Jimmy, is a young rebel who refuses to get rid of his action figure collection so I play along with his cattish fetish.
Might you consider doing live audio/visual sets in the future, using your own visuals?
At the moment it feels a bit like “putting the horse before the carriage”, but yes, ultimately I would love to mix my audio and video together and put on a show that will satisfy more senses at once – as long as the promoters will also step up to the technical needs of design and budget.
You travel around the world fairly constantly: do you now hate airports or do you always manage to entertain yourself when you’re on the road? And with such a full-on DJ schedule and so much time spent at airports and in hotels, is it not hard to motivate yourself back into the studio during the week?
Flights are indeed the harder part of touring. Actual flying hours are only a part of the challenge, there are also the long lines of check in, security checks, delays, language barriers and so on, but I have to take my hat off to Lufthansa Hon Circle membership which makes this non-stop flying more bearable for people so constantly in the air like myself. If I return from a trip jetlagged or sick then it’s hard to go right into the studio (although jetlag sometimes helps you go crazy with ideas in the studio which probably wouldn’t happen if you were in a normal state), but otherwise I admit that coming back home from a wicked party always inspires you to go back into the studio while the party’s positive vibes and energy are still in your veins.
For a lot of people, traveling the world and going to the best clubs and festivals is their dream and they save all year so they can go on holiday to places like Ibiza or a festival abroad. Given that’s what you do all year as part of your work, what do you and your girlfriend do when you want to take a holiday?
My perspective is that a DJ has this privilege. It helps keep the fun factor with all the tours. I don’t get many holidays but I do see the world and meet so many interesting people and places that I really can’t complain. In regards to a couple’s holiday, if I know I am travelling to an exotic place or a shopping kingdom, then I would extend my stay and take my girlfriend with me, in order to explore and enjoy.
You’ve now played all over the world on some of the top line-ups with your heroes like Hallucinogen, made it into the Top 20 of the DJmag Top 100 DJs, produced several amazing best-selling albums and have got the likes of Oakey playing your tracks. What could there possibly still be left for you to aspire to in your music career?
I still aspire to keep growing. I’m dedicated to always expanding my fan base as they are the source of my success. After a trilogy of psy trance albums, I am planning a side project with a different name to explore other electronic productions in order to touch more people, but without confusing my psy fans. Also, some psy collaborations with artists I respect (details in the next answer) and as always, I am targeting the bigger events and stages in order to be exposed to more people everywhere.
What else do you have planned for the rest of 2011 and do you have any new productions in the pipelines you can tell us about?
I’ve started to work on a long distance collaboration track with Infected Mushroom (my idols), and soon I’ll host local collaborations with close friends such as Pixel and Ace Ventura. On the remix frontier, I am at the last stages of a remix for Sub6’s classic ‘Stand with Me’ and the next remixes in line are for Liquid Soul’s first single from his upcoming new album on Iboga and Anton Firtich’s ‘AF Project – Something Wrong’ (originally released on Ferry Corsten’s Flashover Recordings label).
The results of the DJ Magazine Top 100 Awards have just been announced: can you tell us who got your votes this year and why?
Infected Mushroom – Israel’s biggest electronic music export.
Deadmau5 – to spite my cat.
Skrillex – for taking Dubstep to the next step.
Armin Van Buuren – biggest networking and clean image.
Astrix – because you can’t ask other people to do something you wouldn’t do yourself.
You’ve embraced new technology better than most DJ/producers around, making your own videos, regularly updating your FB page and even having your own app. Would it be fair to say that you’re a fan of technology and if so, what else are you exploring? Astrix the X-Box game?!
Electronic music and technology go hand in hand, I am addicted to it and it’s all over my daily doings. Music, videos, Facebook & Twitter, iphone & iPad, my massive studio computer and my Mac pro… these are the wheels of technology moving our new way of life and I would be lost if I wasn’t at least a bit of a technology fan. AstriX-Box… hmmm… sounds good… going into process!
What have you got playing on your home stereo at the moment?
At the moment, Nero’s album Welcome Reality is smoking out my CD player and right behind him I recently started my rounds on the new Justice album Audio, Video, Disco… Electronicults.
If you were going to plan a dinner party and could invite any six people from any place or time in history, who would you ask and what would you cook? Do you have a favourite recipe?
Yuri Gagarin – “the Russian Columbus of The Cosmos”
J.J. Abrahams – because I demand an alternate ending for LOST.
Steven Hawking – to ask a few questions about the universe.
Salvador Dali – to discuss cover art for my next album.
Shimon Peres – it never hurts to personally know the president of your country.
Eyal Yankovich (my manager) – to entertain with small talk while I cook.
I love cooking and consider myself a good cook. Lately I have been experimenting with some delicious fish dishes (the ultimate peace compromise for meaters and vegetarians) and I would have served a variety of those to such respectable persons if I didn’t know their preferences in advance.
A lot of hippies are saying that the world is going to end in 2012 next year. If this is indeed the case, what are the main things you would try and do before this happens?
I am a very intimate person so my guess is I would dedicate myself to more family (and cat) time and for sure I would save and bury all my music in a time capsule for the next round of humanity.
You’ve been playing psy trance for around 15 years now. Can you ever see yourself retiring in search of a quieter life?
No, music is the soundtrack of my life and it will play in the background as long as I can manage it. I always said that even in the scenario of me not being a musician, I am still sure my occupation would have something to do with music, be it front or back stage.
This year HOMmega celebrates 15 years in the music business. Can you remember when you first met Eyal and started working with him? What have been the highlights for you both?
I have been working with Eyal for over a decade and I have no doubt he has a major part in my success. Eyal manages my career from all aspects: music, bookings, management, PR and so on. We share the same joy with every track I finish, every good booking deal he closes and every good gig I return with a smile on my face from. We have a long way behind us but the highlight of it is that we both share the feeling that the road ahead will be even bigger and better and that we will get to the top of our mutual potential as an inseparable team… go go HOMmega!
You’re going to be playing your first London set of 2011 at Halcyon on Friday 2 December. Is it just possible that you might have some new full-on psy trance tracks ready for your fans? And why should people reading this who’ve never heard you play come along to the party?
Yes, of course, there will be a bunch of new psy tracks in my live show. UK is a top priority territory and I respect the UK crowd for knowing its music taste. The shows in London have always been memorable and Halcyon productions have always rocked. With Simon Posford co-headlining and Sub6 covering our backs with quality sound productions, I don’t know who can allow himself to miss this event.
Since you’ll be playing with Simon Posford aka Hallucinogen at Halcyon, name a track of his you’d like to remix.
Hallucinogen – ‘Jiggle of the Sphinx’ would be a cool and fun track to bring back to the dance floors.
Thanks Avi! Very much looking forward to finally seeing you on the 2nd of December!
Images courtesy of Astrix and HOMmega PR. Not to be reproduced without permission.
We’re back! And ready once again to unleash a mind-bending extravaganza, with an extraordinary selection of international artists, record labels and crew for London’s trancendental Christmas gathering of its psychedelic family at the beautiful historic Coronet Theatre.
Overcoming the setbacks of the past few months has been a challenge, but the cancellation of our August event has galvanised our desire to produce a spectacular event and end 2011 with a bang. To make this extra-special, we’re combining the forces of the two massive pioneering labels HOMmega Productions and Twisted Records showcasing their top performers in the main room.
In room 2 Mutagen Records host progressive legends Middle Mode for their debut UK appearance, as well the label's raw talent including the new project Isophaze between Sean Spindrift and DJ Mif.
Liquid Records host room 3 with some of their best breaks and electro talent.
And for all those who just don’t want to go home at 7am, we’ve arranged a very special afterparty at the legendary Corsica Studios, 2 mins walk from the venue.
Tech Trance. Psy Trance.
Astrix - Live
Hallucinogen - Live
Andi Leppard Matt Lorine
Room 2 - Hosted by Mutigen Recs (UK)
Middle Mode - Live
Mechanimal - Live
Continuem - Live
Andy Force Isophaze
Room 3 - Host by Liquid Recs (UK)
From: Mariaon 17th Nov 2011 14:14.12 Nice one! Shame I will miss it one more time...buuuuuuuuuuuuuaaaaaaaaaa but at least was lovely to meet Astrix last year playing here in Ibiza at Privilege. Big kiss Tara baby and Matt dad...hope you ALL still living the dreams! Lots of love!!! mmmwwwhhhaaaa
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