Exclusive Interview With Shlomi Aber
“Not that much has changed. Music is always music, no borders or restrictions. What has changed is that in modern days talent isn’t everything. You need to be a self-promoter, a character, social media player and much more.”
Shlomi Aber has the kind of impact that usually elevates you off the dance floor, making you explore space and time and when he is done with you, brings you back down to earth with a blown mind and blurred perception of “What just happened?!”. A comment taken from a Radio 1 interview sums up why he’s hitting such a broad mark over the span of his career: “No matter if it’s hard or soft, it just needs to touch your mind, body and soul at the same time. That’s what I call a ‘Good Record”. This personal approach, married with 15 years of production experience, takes influence from jazz, funk, minimal, acid, and in Detroit techno in particular.
Aber has created some of the most recognizable techno anthems of modern times for the prestigious labels like Cocoon, Desolat, Cadenza, Ovum, R&S, Objectivity and Renaissance. His own “Be As One” imprint is also well-established, where a broad range of quality house and techno can be discovered.
Shlomi’s worldwide success granted some prestigious rewards as “best newcomer” in 2006, “best producer” and “track of the year” in 2007 with “Freakside”, “Beatport artists of the year” in 2008, while also receiving the respected “Worldwide DJ Awards nomination”. These recognitions and the unquestionable love he usually receives from the crowd have been his calling card to headline many reputable venues.
Here Shlomi goes into his his most recent adventures on tour around South America and the US, which releases we are to expect from his and his take on the music industry today and the role the Israeli artist plays in it.
A successful year is coming to an end for you, but not quite yet. You have two upcoming releases before 2015 begins. Can you tell us more about that?
Hi there , it’s all my pleasure, thank you for having me! Indeed it was a great year but as you mentioned it is not over yet. There are still great things to look forward to in the next couple of months, including my new release “O.D. – Helter Skelter ” on my Be As One label and a mix-cd project that I’m working on.
One of the releases is going to appear on your label Be As One and the other one on Saved Records. Why did you decide that, instead of having both releases on one label?
Yes, the Be As One release was a natural thing, as the music was just what the label is all about, whereas the “Saved” release was actually more of a come and go thing. I saw Nic Fanciulli, who has been a good friend for many years, at the airport and somehow we got to talk about one of my old tracks “Tel Aviv Garden” which has been released in 2006 originally and Nic was all over that record back then. The idea to remix and re-release it came up and it was natural to give it to Nic to put it out on Saved.
It’s already November and our summertime sadness is on. We heard that this Ibiza summer was quite exciting for you, as you had a residency at Sankeys. How is it to be a resident there?
It was such a great experience – 14 shows of pure pleasure. It was an interesting project to maintain, as during those 14 shows I had to play headliner peak time sets, so it wasn’t really a conventional residency when you get to play in different time slots. We stuck to the 3-5 most of the season and I had to keep it vibrating and challenging without repeating myself. But the room and the feeling on those decks are just fulfilling…and gets you excited again and again in every single show.
What is your craziest Ibiza story?
Someone once told me that the real Ibiza stories are better left untold. But somehow finding a stranger sleeping on my balcony naked in the early morning never helps..
Big news didn’t stop there though. What about the nomination for the Ibiza DJ Awards
Yes, that was a big honor to be nominated and actually to win The Best Techno DJ for 2014 by the Sankeys DJ Awards. I was nominated together with guys like Ricardo Villalobos and Jeff Mills and I’m very humbled. I think there are probably others that may deserve it more, but I’m very grateful for all of you who voted for me.
Recently you have also mixed the new cd/compilation for Nordstern 15 years. How did you come to do that?
I’m very much looking forward to finalize this project. I had the chance to do the mix for various well-known clubs, but Nordstern is definitely the one that thrills me the most! Just because I’m playing at the club for so many years, it grows up to be one of the best clubs in the world and I’m feeling part of it like a proud father. The compilation is still in the making though … I keep delaying this as it was impossible to accomplish during the busy summer, but I’m finally back to live Tel Aviv these days so I hope this project will come together in the next weeks.
You have two big tours in the schedule as well. One of them in South America has already passed. How do you like to play there? How professionally organized is nightlife in South America?
South America is my favorite place to play, not just because the vibrating crowd and the great parties, but its mostly because of the wonderful people and the special cullers. It’s always great to be around and they make you feel like part of the family straight away. It’s a very big market that keeps growing up! Looking forward to be back again soon!
Next, you are heading to the USA for a tour now in November. As in the USA the culture is completely different, so is the club culture, are you going to prepare differently for that tour?
I’m actually going to the US just for the one weekend, three shows, so I wouldn’t call it a tour per se. I’m often visiting the US and in the recent two years things are blowing up in their dance market. Our so-called underground scene is finally making it there and in a big way. I’m happy to see it happening as the US is more than ready to take on this side of dance music.
What do you devote most of your time to?
Being an artist, DJ, or Producer, is not work, it’s a lifestyle. It does not really leave me the time for many hobbies. The one thing that takes up my time and to which I’m well-devoted to, next to music, is family. I’m very excited to announce that I’m expecting a baby these days, a little boy from my lovely wife Noemie in three months.
When it comes to DJing, what do you prefer: analog or digital? And when you produce?
For DJing I’m 50/50, still caring and playing vinyl, but also playing Traktor or CD’s when needed. These days the music on vinyl is better, but you still want to play all the demos and promos that can be found only as digital as well. So you must maintain both worlds. Regarding the studio I’m a 100% analog fan. The only thing which is digital in my studio is the computer. All the rest of the gears and hardware are fully analog, not that I have something against digital, analog just sounds better .
You have a career of about 20 years now. It’s safe to say during your career you have definitely managed to create a Shlomi Aber sound. There are many producers out there who are looking up to you, just the way you did back in the days with the guys from Detroit. What tip would you give them?
Thank you for the kind words! I started DJing 20 years ago indeed, but professionally I’m doing this for about 15. I’m still excited and loving it like a little kid, like the first day. I had better days then others but I never thought of doing something differently. I think the tip I would give is “Don’t be afraid of being wrong”. Too many new producers are just following the market instead of leading it. They are trying to produce something they already heard just to be part of the game, instead of innovating or doing things in another way. It’s important to get it wrong in the first few times before you get it right at the end!
How would you compare the electronic music scene now to what it was when you were just starting?
It’s not that different to be honest, it’s just wider. Music is always music, no borders or restrictions, so these days music may be more mixed in terms of influences and genres, but that’s normal when it’s so easy for any new producer to build a small home studio and start producing.
What has changed is that in modern days talent isn’t everything. Now you need to be a self-promoter, a character, social media player and much more.
When and where were you happiest?
Home, in bed after a long weekend watching TV shows with my wife under the warm blanket…but actually that goes for all of us, doesn’t it?
Imagine somebody asks you to choose a record from all that you have ever created to be put in a time capsule to be opened in 50 years from now. Which record would it be and why?
“Sea Of Sand” no question there. It’s so timeless and futuristic that even in 50 years it still will be relevant .. heck .. this one sounds like a way to communicate with UFO’s.
O.D. / Helter Skelter is out now.