Tel Aviv is becoming more and more noticeable on world’s musical map. What did contribute to this rapid development?
In the late ’90s — early ’2000s there was a huge scene in Tel Aviv with a variety of clubs, parties and afterparties. Then, intifada, terrorist attacks, and periodic military clashes started. Things that can be called “excesses” were influenced by this situation in the first place. Which life delights can we talk about when people are dying, when buses explode, when there are no tourists, and when artists are afraid to perform due to such conditions and environment?
However, despite the war that took place a few years ago, Israel’s nightlife survived. This is largely the merit of clubs such as The Block, Breakfast, Deli, and Bootleg, that bring cool artists weekly, establishing Tel Aviv on the world’s map of electronic music. Now, several interesting events take place in the city at one night, and I don’t even speak of strong LGBTQ scene, which is directly related to the development of nightlife in Tel Aviv.
So, people still go to clubs despite the permanent war, don’t they?
Well, local audience still goes to clubs during the war, but less frequently. War has direct influence on economics — everything gets more expensive, less money are spent on entertainment, and I’m not even talking about the very mood to go out. Nevertheless, events were still held and not all foreign artists canceled. We went through it carefully. War in Israel is always just a matter of a few weeks, but the impact is felt for a long time. There are divergent and contradictory views on what’s happening here, so not all artists are ready to play, because politics is a hot topic.
Do the authorities support the development of country’s nightlife?
The government doesn’t support the nightlife. It just cares about the mainstream — and if the latter doesn’t kill music, it certainly doesn’t develop it. The authorities just use the success of club culture which suddenly broke out here, especially LGBTQ culture. Everything created here is the handiwork of the people, not of the government. Authorities are a fake.
You're one of the founders of Pacotek collective. How long has it been existing and what has changed during this time?
Pacotek was created by Tsahi Soussana and me in 2003 in Jerusalem. There were almost no parties, raves, clubs, and electronic music events in the city. At that time, I had just started playing, as well as Tsahy, so we had to create the scene for performances on our own. However, we had hell of a lot of enthusiasm, we organized many risky illegal raves in Jerusalem and in the suburbs. We would tear down locks on abandoned buildings, put ours instead and would hold raves there. Everything would happen like that until we organized an event at a military base (which we thought was abandoned). Dozens of people wearing police caps simultaneously appeared on the dance floor and closed the event violently. From that time on, it was hard to get rid of the police. We tried to keep holding raves, but almost every time they would end dramatically or wouldn't even begin at all. We did all that not only for the genuine rave atmosphere, though, we loved music in the first place, so we had to move to less pleasant locations, which reduced the number of visitors greatly. It was important for us to have good sound and music, and we were trying hard to keep the visual elements at a decent level as well. However, a small room on the third floor of a block of flats is quite boring, unlike an underground parking lot in the center of Jerusalem, where one can’t even see where it ends. Our goal was to encourage visitors to focus solely on music, so we brought our favorite artists, many of whom were still little known at the time.
Eventually, we moved our activities to a concert hall, where people finally could feel what we had been doing all this for. Afterwards, there were clubs and parties in Tel Aviv. Over the years, we have brought many amazing musicians: Daniel Bell, Cassy, Levon Vincent, Steffi, Tama Sumo, Fred P, Mike Huckaby, Shinedoe, everyone from Dial Records label, and many others. Today, Pacotek organizes one event per month, preferably with local artists. On its tenth anniversary, we released a record and now are preparing the next one, albeit a little too slow. Speaking of me, I’m now a resident of The Block club, but neither I nor Tsahy leave Pacotek aside, despite a huge workload. Sometimes we personally take part in the organization of the event where perfectly “our” by spirit artists are playing.
What did make the main contribution to the rapid recovery of the scene: performances of foreign artists or local enthusiasts?
Bringing musicians from abroad is always important. However, today when a local DJ starts their set after a foreign guest, nobody goes home, as it was before. Clubs have recently started making regular events where local DJs have an opportunity to play at the party’s peak time, not just at the beginning or at the end. In addition, the parties have become longer, which is also important.
Whom should we check out among Israeli musicians?
Speaking of the famous ones, Red Axes. Also, Deepa & Biri. I’d also mention a couple of young guys who started to play five years ago and opened their record label, Parallax Recordings. Also, Afik Naim has recently released a record at Steffi on Dolly. This list can be long.
When did you become interested in music?
Interest in electronic music came to me abruptly, around 2000. I remember, in 2001 I heard the first techno album on the headphones, it was Plastikman, Consumed (1998). I immediately started going to raves and standing in front of DJs, watching them. Back then, I was sure that they played some old records and edited samples on the go. However, after a while they told me how everything works and I started to make my own raves already in 2002. In 2003, friends brought me a controller and a Grundig player with pitch control. This is how I learned to mix — playing CDs at home.
Do you write music?
I have completed 15–20 tracks, but, honestly, I do it only when I have inspiration. It’s going well, but you need to sit with tracks and spend time working on them, and more than anything I like DJing. The time that I could spend writing tracks I spend looking for records. I understand that a careers are to be built in a certain way, but the most important thing is to be honest with yourself. If I would want to compose tracks, I would do it, there are opportunities.
Recently, Fact Magazine has published an article saying that it really doesn’t matter which media to play from, be it vinyl or laptop. Do you agree with it?
Software has its own sound and it’s not always good, and you don’t have these problems with records or flash drives, Pioneer perfectly recreates the audio files. Although I prefer vinyl, I always keep a flash drive with a few dozen tracks, mine and of other producers. I should digitize all my records, though. If something happens to the bag, at least I could keep my files.
Do you have a large collection of records?
Not a huge one. I choose records “with tweezers”, without succumbing to momentary whims. In addition, I’ve never had the money for big purchases. At the time, I was lucky to look through collections of DJs who switched to digital, where I was fortunate to find some worthy rarities that are now very valuable. I'm looking for honest, sincere music across all genres. Like many DJs, I guess.
Do you like non-dance music?
I love various bands from Sade to Psychic TV and Swans, I like contemporary classical music, which is a bottomless pit you can dive into. Also, take interest in medieval masses and in particular artists representing various genres, from ‘90s post-Soviet pop to Mamonov. I have a friend, Mikhail Brin, great DJ and producer, who always introduces me to absolutely incredible things. For example, yesterday he gave me a record of early Mika Vainio, Gagarin Kombinaatti.
How do you react to articles in magazines that discuss the topic of female DJs, gender inequality etc. Does it affect you?
Why should I be affected? I don’t think about it, though I’m often asked about inequality. Are all men equal, after all, or all women? Just kidding, of course. I only suffer when I have a heavy bag and there’s nobody around to help me. In general, my sets never have any political context.
Club music is still marginal in some countries, though.
Club music sounds everywhere nowadays: I’ve heard some great soul at Silpo (supermarket chain in Ukraine) while visiting my mom in Kropyvnytskyi.
Do you come from Kropyvnytskyi?
Yes, I do, and that is why I come to Ukraine often. I still have my family living in Kropyvnytskyi and Novhorodka. There are not many of us, but I come as soon as I can. In general, I’ve never forgotten Ukraine, even though I’ve left 21 years ago.