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Interview: Amirali

With his debut album 'In time' due for release on Crosstown Rebels next month we delve into the past, present and future of budding artist Amirali...

After quickly bagging himself a record deal with Crosstown Rebels and releasing his track Beautiful world on the imprint in January there is no denying that the Iranian born DJ has impressed Crosstown head Damian Lazarus; who even used the budding star's track My Way to open his Get Lost 4 compilation.

With 13 tracks on his first artist album Amirali hasn't held back and takes the listener on an emotional journey carried by grainy vocals and deep melodies. Here we find out a little bit more about how he came to producing such powerful tracks and becoming a fully fledged member of the Crosstown gang...

How did you first get into Dj'ing and producing?

I've been playing the piano since I was about five and I had several piano tutors over the years and played classical pieces. I remember sometimes I wouldn't play the pieces my tutor had told me to practice and I would end up just playing what I liked and composing my own pieces. So I was always involved and into making music even before getting my head into electronic music. My father has always been into music too and I think he is the reason I am here now.

I was about sixteen when my parents decided to move to Toronto and that's where I began to taste the excitement of night-time clubbing culture. I remember I always had problems getting into clubs because I was under age so I had to make fake ID's in order to get in. It was really amazing what I experienced in those early days. I was about the same age when I started collecting vinyl and started to DJ; there were two record shops in Toronto that I used to buy records from or I would shop in the online stores. After a while I bought a drum machine and a synth and one of the early versions of ‘Reason' wiring to Cubase and started making music; that's basically how it all started.

Who are your musical heroes?

Bach, Freddie Mercury, Radiohead, Depeche Mode

You were signed by Crosstown Rebels without having a commercial release to your name, tell us how this came about…

When I finished my college in Toronto I decided to transfer my studies to London. Another reason for my move was obviously because of the music scene. I knew Europe was the place to be if I wanted to pursue my career in music and think about it seriously. So I came here, set up my studio and finished a few tracks; after some time I was introduced to my current management team through a very dear friend. We then decided to send those tracks to a few labels that we had in mind. That was basically how I met Damian; as soon as Damian heard those tracks he told me to start working on an album for Crosstown, which took me more than a year to finish. I can't wait for its release next month and I'm super excited about the whole thing.

Damian Lazarus used your track ‘My Way' to open his Get Lost 4 compilation, how did it feel to have your music recognised on this scale?

The whole deal with Crosstown was quite surreal to be honest. It was such a great moment when Damian told me that I should start working on an album for his label, and I'm truly happy to be a part of the family now.

Has working so closely with the Crosstown gang help you grow as an artist?

Definitely. During the period I was working on my album I could totally feel that musically I was getting to know myself more and I could see my improvement day by day. My view on music or lets say art in general is to keep on going. Success is infinite and I can never see myself as a complete artist. I experience and learn something new everyday, in ‘learn' I don't mean only technically because I see art as a never-ending experience and you can always be inventive and do something different than what you did before.

Your debut artist EP 'Beautiful World' was released on the label in January 2012, what has the response been like?

It's been great. The track got out when the BPM festival was going on in Mexico; I couldn't go to the festival this year, but I heard the track got played all over BPM. It got massive support from many big players and I still receive great comments and messages from people saying that they absolutely love it.

You use vocals throughout your tracks, why do you choose to feature them and this and where do you get your inspiration?

Honestly I didn't choose to feature them when I first started. It happened very naturally. The first track that I made and added my own vocals to is ‘Story Of Us' which is included in my album; it was a total experiment for me since I had never done anything like it before. Each one of my songs has something different to say; some of them are sad, blue, and heart breaking and some are happy and hopeful. The inspiration behind the lyrics came from the music itself, the harmony and mood of the tunes while I was making them. Like every piece of art, my own mood and state of mind played a significant role. There were days last year when I felt a bit down therefore affecting my music mood and shaping my lyrics in such a way.

Your debut album ‘In Time' is due for release in May what can we expect from that?

Expect a lot of variations. I have lots of ups and downs in my music, which makes it very interesting for myself and I hope for others as well. I like to keep things fresh and always push boundaries. That's what keeps me going, to not have to look back at my previous works and just keep going.

What is your favourite track from the album?

I like them all for many different reasons. I can't really pick one to be honest.

Can you tell us a bit about what inspired you to produce it and what kind of journey you wanted it to take the listener on?

Making this album was a period of self-discovery in which I got to know myself on a deeper level. It was a year and a half journey into an experimentation of my sound and myself, which consists of 13 tracks. Each track has a different story to tell and is a reflection of my past. It's the most honest and personal I have ever been with my music, like I´m giving a part of my soul to the listener and I hope they enjoy.

How would you best describe your sound?

Deep, Atmospheric, Weird Spaces, Melancholic, Emotional

What are your favourite programmes to use as a DJ/Producer and why?

Ableton is doing it all for me. I use it for both my live shows and music production. It's such an easy program to use. I just can't think of using anything else anytime soon.

You played at Fabric for Rebel Rave over Easter weekend alongside Damian Lazarus, Maceo Plex and Subb-an, how was this experience for you?

It was like a dream come true for me. It really was an amazing experience; there was a great chemistry going on between the crowd and my music. Playing live in Room1 was like playing a proper concert; months of work in the studio had been worth it within a matter of minutes. I just can't say how wonderful that moment was for me. It was definitely one of the highlights of my career.

Have you got any new releases or collaborations in the pipeline?

I just finished a remix for my friends' label ‘My Favorite Robot', and I'm very happy with the piece. I'm also doing a remix on Bpitch Control; I have two more singles coming out on Crosstown, which is going to be very exciting.

Any forthcoming gigs that you are excited about?

I'm playing at Studio Martin in Bucharest on May 12 with Deniz Kurtel. We both play live so that's going to be interesting. I'm playing at Troyka in Moscow on May 24, which I'm pretty excited about. I'm also playing ‘Love Saves The Day Festival' in Bristol with Maya Jane Coles, Jamie Jones and tons of other great artists. I'm also looking forward to the LoveBox Festival on June 16 in London for Rebel Rave along with Damian Lazarus, Art Department, Maceo Plex and Robert James.

Do your summer plans involve Ibiza, or can we expect to see you on the White Isle in the near future?

I don't have any concrete plans for this summer in Ibiza yet. But I'll definitely be there at some point.

If you could choose to play back to back with any DJ who would it be and why?

Well I've been doing live sets for a while but my DJ sets are usually groovy melodic and trippy kind of sound. I think playing with Guy Gerber would be very enjoyable.

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