Interview: Aril Brikha
Stockholm’s (by way of Iran) Aril Brikha has never been one to conform to the musical trends of the day.
Brikha demonstrated his musicality early; at seven, given a keyboard; in his early teens developed an interest in electronic music – Depeche Mode, Front 242 and Jean Michel Jarre. By 17, he was using an Atari and composing his own compositions that friends dubbed “Detroit Techno”.
Since those days Aril has had an interesting, non conformist career, releasing early on Swedish imprint Dunkla, Plump, and Placktown, followed by Derrick May’s Transmat label, Kompakt, Music Man, Poker Flat, and finally on his own Art of Vengeance label. Such an eclectic release schedule has seen Brikha’s live tour everywhere from the inaugural DEMF (Detroit Electronic Music Festival) to Fabric and Tokyo’s Air and Yellow.
On 4 June, Aril Brikha will be in Amsterdam at the Open Air Weekender. He will play the Oliver Weiter hosted WEITER stage alongside Cubicolor, Edu Imbernon, Dominik Eulberg, Formel, and Patrice Baumel. Get ready for that performance and the the entire Amsterdam open Air experience here as Aril speaks on his relationship with Amsterdam, his native country of Iran, studio gear, and much more.
“…and I will not even start on the whole Trump disaster”
In early June you will be in Amsterdam for Open Air Festival, have you played this event before? You will be playing on Oliver Weiter’s WEITER stage, how did your relationship with Oliver develop?
Not sure how it has developed apart from meeting at parties and I believe the first time was when we played at Doornrosje some years ago and then of course we met at festivals and other parties.
Over the years what has your relationship with the city of Amsterdam been like? Do you have any particular memories from events here?
It was many years that went by where I would never play in Holland but then I would say it really took off after playing for the Loveland crew and, of course, Eleven and Trouw. I went from playing in Holland once every 2-3 years to 2 times per month and Amsterdam has always been a special place for me.
Can you talk a little about your label, Art of Vengeance? When were you struck with the idea/need to develop your own music platform? How do you approach curating music for it? How do you enjoy handling a label vs. performance?
I had the idea of my own label back in 1996 when I couldnt release my music on any Swedish or European labels but as I was about to start it, I ended up sending 2 demos to 2 detroit labels, Transmat and 430 West…so needless to say I postponed the idea of my own label and the right time for me to start it was in 2010 for the 10 year anniversary of my album “Deeparture in Time” on Transmat.
My label has only been a platform for me to releas the music I want to release and 99% of it was all mine apart from one remix “Tough Love” and an EP by my friend Christian Vance. At the moment the label has been dormant because 3 years ago I decided that I wanted to release something on other labels but that has taken a bit longer than planned because I’m not sure I want to make another album or perhaps 2-3 EP’s on different labels…still work in process.
You have a multi cultural background, born one place, moved and raised somewhere else, and now living even somewhere else. This is much like me and I believe that the multi-culturalism of my background is very influential in the work I do. Do you feel the same? Do you focus at all on ideas of multiculturalism in your music?
Honestly I dont think or plan much of that in my music but it is definatly something that has affected me. I don’t really have a home to return to. My family is Assyrian, we don’t have a country. My father was born in Iraq, my mother in Iran. I don’t speak Arabic or Farsi…only Assyrian. We left Iran 1980 and have never gone back, but I hope to be able to go back to visit it one day. People would probably say “but you lived in Sweden for 35 years, isn’t that your home?” I’m sad to say that the older I got the less Swedish I’ve felt. Of course, it was and still is the “home” I would return to after travelling and to visit my parents but noticing after all these years that even if you speak better Swedish than most Swedes, pay your 1200 euro taxes every month and never done anything illegal, in the eyes of the common Swede you will never become one of them. Your looks and your name is what never would make you one of them.
Speaking of your roots, there is a new documentary called “Raving Iran” that is making the (film) festival circuit these days, have you had a chance to check it out? What is your relationship like with the scene in Iran?
I have only seen the trailer for it but I’m very curious to see it. I have no relationship to Iran or the scene there apart from a few fans that have reached out thru Facebook, but as I said I hope to be able to go back one day and perform there.