A Sit Down With DJ Guy J
Israeli producer Guy J has established himself as one of the most sophisticated and emotive producers in electronic music of the last decade, with a body of work and a sphere of influence that belies relatively short time in the spotlight. Whether it be his sensual, hypnotic take on house music, his deeply textured techno or his wondrous ambient material, his work is always touched with a magic and emotion that few rival.
Growing up, he was immersed in Israels dance music culture, and a burgeoning scene that is known the world over for its epic parties. From its own Love Parade to major clubs and radio shows, the country has long been a bastion for underground electronic culture.
"Im very sensitive person, so I think what I make is what I feel at the moment I make it."
When did you start DJing - and what or who were your early passions and influences?
I started at the age of 15, empowered by the energy of electronic music, original music that made people move and be together. I was influenced a lot by trance music and John Digweeds radio mixes. There was always the element of telling a story in each set or a track.
Can you name some of your musical influences?
I think that by growing up during the 90s everything was influential, cause even the commercial music was beautiful and great to listen to, but trance and progressive techno were mostly taking my attention.
When remixing a track what is your thought process and what do you start off with?
Well the more parts you get from the original the better. I listen to the parts many times on the original and think "how can I give the track a different point of view and a different vibe?" I always try to keep a remix different in style from original.
What was your first set-up as DJ like? How has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?
I started with CDs, then moved to vinyl, then Ableton and now Traktor. Ive tried it all. I loved playing gigs with Ableton but Traktor has better sound so I decided to change recently.
Your music does occasionally carry that trance edge to it; youve even sampled a seminal psytrance classic in Andy Lings Fixation on your own track of the same name. Do you feel that being surrounded by that style of music when you were younger led to the development of your own sound?
Yeah of course. When I was younger Id go to Love Parade in Tel Aviv. I went for the first time around about 2000; it was certainly an era when all this classic psytrance music was coming out. Fixation, John Digweeds Heaven Scent, all the most beautiful slower tracks that were becoming more progressive were coming out around this time and more noticeably around this festival.
Ableton live is a big part of your set as we have just witnessed, what kind of preparation goes into your set before playing?
I search for a lot for music and I write a lot of music all the time, Ableton allows me to play loops over loops and go crazy with the tracks I play. I always think a great night can be when the DJ delivers a story or journey to the people who are coming to the club and Ableton supports this point of view.
Do you have any pre/ post shows rituals?
Pre-show ritual is working a lot on music, producingthis is my ritual. After the show, I love to eat!
Is there a political edge to Israels electronic music scene? Music is often a strong reflection of a cultures social and political stability...
My music, and obviously people like Guy Gerbers music and much of the popular psytrance is all very melodic. I think that because of the extreme lifestyle of living in Israel, with peace one day and instability the next, this environment has affected my reality. Essentially, living there and being part of that culture made me feel something different every day. I went to Israel last year, at a time when it was definitely not at its most stable... you still see people out in the streets, filling up the restaurants and going to the clubs, the energy of the city is amazing. Im not supporting either side here, but I have to point out that its the spirit of all the people that keeps the country going. Its very easy for the outside world to see Israel differently.
What were some of the main challenges when starting out as a DJ and how have they changed over time?
The main challenge that is there from the moment I start is to bring something original, its still here with me. I always work on music so I can have something new when I play at gigs. When I play at a club I try and make sure people will hear music that they can hear only from me, so they get something unique.
Do you ever get nervous before playing?
I used to get nervous when I started DJing, now it has turned into excitement and I think thats natural when you love something so much first youre afraid youre not doing it right and maybe that youre doing it right but people wont get what youre doing, then with time you get the confidence that youre good at what you do. You still might not be the best but you know youre good and youre coming to give the club the best night you can.
What does the power of music mean to you?
The power of music is the availability to make people feel regardless of origin. The fact that Im lucky to travel the world means the music makes people feel, it doesnt matter where they come from, it has no boundaries.
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