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Perfect Stranger

Speaking from Berkeley, California, Perfect Stranger is no stranger (pardon the pun) to success. From his re-assembled studio – and pet dog – he has recently made the leap of faith from Israel to the Bay Area. RK talks to him about life, times and music.

So how did you end up in music? 

I started producing and writing electronic music pretty much very late – at the age of 27. I had been dealing with music in a non-pro way since I was a little kid, as my mum and grandma were both professional pianists so I could run - but I couldn’t hide from the piano and the chair! Back then when I was around five years of age I hated that damned chair and I hated playing Bach etudes and would do virtually anything not to be in the same room with the piano and my mum!

 

Looking back at things, I must admit that it’s the backbone of my musical knowledge today, even though I am not a very good keyboard player to say the least due to my laziness and total dependence on computers while creating. When I was traveling overseas at the age of 22, I started jamming with the guitar and that was much fun – at that time of traveling I was already very active dancer at goa parties around the globe too. For my 27th birthday back in Israel, my closest friends got me a cheque to go and buy a synth for myself as they thought I should make trance music. They knew better than me apparently, as I did what they said and look what happened since!

 

Tell us about the scene in Israel – obviously it is the centre of the psy-trance universe? And what is happening on your DS label? 

In 2013, Israel’s party scene is definitely the busiest I have ever witnessed worldwide, especially given the fairly small population there. There are many outdoor events every weekend during the summer where you can choose which party you want to attend. In the winter, most of the action goes inside the clubs and again, the action is more or less daily during the weekdays and weekends, but take off Sundays. You will find anything to everything in Tel Aviv alone and sometimes you will have more than two or three options to choose from in a given day and from mega clubs to hell-holes dependent on your likes. The parties would in general feature a very enthusiastic, relatively young crowd, that parties very hard, know very well what they like but are still open minded enough to bear with what they don’t - and for the rest I guess everyone is invited to come over and check it out! The scene is booming no doubt.

 

As for the label, we take things slowly, especially since the boss (me) was busy with other things more than being musically orientated in last few months. But nevertheless we have a steady line of releases and are going into our fourth year - and still deliver psychedelic, progressive mini maximal techno trance to your cortex! There are some very exciting new artists that we feature on a regular basis too like Diamandy and Gabi 2b; you’re all going to hear way more tunes from these two in the very near future. We also get visited these days by a super talented duo from Canada – the FM Radio Gods – they graced us with a dual track EP of delicious psy techno. There is way more in the pipeline too, so just stay tuned!

 

So tell us what has been happening in the studio? 

The last few months were probably the longest break I have taken from production since I started making music back in 1997. Luckily I was working hard before that, so I still have some diamonds in the rough to share, that folk would recognize only from the clips on Soundcloud. But here my vacation ends; the studio is ready to produce new Perfect Stranger tunes right now! As for expected releases, there will be a very slow and fat remix of Sleek’s (aka Liquid Soul) Something- to be released on November 12 on Flow Records.

 

The remix to Sensient - Galaxians should be out any day now too on a big and lush compilation dedicated to remixes on Zenon Records. The remix I did for Grouch and Mr. Squatch is about to be released too on T.I.P world in early 2014 - and there is a remix of Ping Pong between Captain Hook and I on his remixes LP that should see the light this month or the next on Iboga Records.

 

You’re obviously big on full-length albums – tell us about the albums you’ve done and how they have evolved? What are you working on to follow up from Leap of Faith LP? 

I will mention that I made about 4.5 full-length albums before the Perfect Stranger era as BLT. Going back that far in time would make this really long though, so lets start with 2006: that year I released the Learning = Change album - that was a sign to my move to Iboga Records, where I went down with the tempo’s. I must say that as much as I know there are people that like this album - and I got to travel the globe performing it as it has good moments - in general I didn’t have enough mastery of production in the genre at that time and for my ear it’s a pretty confused album.

 

After that one we went for a really successful remix CD the year later that also featured three remixes that I did for other artists - and some of the most outstanding artists of the progressive scene remixed my own music. I think this CD is the one that brought the bar up and brought the attention to Perfect Stranger as an artist with a specific style that does something different.

 

A year later in 2008 might have been the peak of my creation when Free Cloud was released and this “style” that I mentioned earlier - in that specific album was (in my opinion) - brought to perfection. Add to it that all the tracks in Free Cloud were written and produced by myself and the whole orchestration of this album was “Perfectly Strange” so I feel it would be really hard for me to beat this one!

 

Four years later, after I understood I wouldn’t be able to beat this one eventually so I decided to beat the quality with quantity and release the Leap Of Faith triple CD. I was of course joking about the quality vs quantity issue, as I do think that it is a good album.

 

What is it about the techno and trance sounds that appeals to you? How have you seen those genres evolve over time? 

What appealed to me about the techno and trance fusion is the raw aggressive power that techno has - those grinding qualities, “dirty” sound that is “inaccurate” at times - and it’s combination with trance themes and composition. It’s something that really affected me personally while having fun on dance floors back in the day - and everywhere else I listened to it actually. If I had to comment on the evolution of this combination, I could say that in most cases, it went way too far for commercial and big breaks, with silence in the end to enhance the effect of the drop - and I am not sure that’s what turned me on back then or not, but there are still some really tasty sounds out there - it’s just much harder to find them.

 

What are you playing in your sets at the moment? It is not unusual to mix these styles but also not so common – why did you do it? 

I try not to categorize my music by genres, but it’s music that appeals to me - so I am for very many years now trying to promote that mantra and I play what ever I like, as long as it mixed well. It’s so much more fun for the crowd too, to be hit by unexpected tracks from other genres out of the blue. Of course sometimes that doesn’t work but that’s what art and music are about! It doesn’t have to “work” all the time!

 

What are you enjoying doing outside of music like in your spare time? 

I like hiking and spending time in nature; I also a freak for good restaurants and I like to cook myself from time to time. Something says to me that soon I will be giving some of my spare time to meditation, Qi Gong or yoga – I’m not sure which of those three but it feels like an inevitable thing that will happen!

 

Finally, you’ve had some pretty memorable gigs in Australia over the years –is this going to be different? And what music are you bringing with you? 

I am expecting an awesome time at Earthcore. Also it looks that I am playing right after one of my all time favourites - Boris Brejcha. All the signs show there will be heaps of fun – I can’t wait! What music am I bringing with me? Perfectly Strange music but of course!

 

BY RK

Perfect Stranger plays at the Earthcore 20th Anniversary alongside Ace Ventura, Perfect Stranger and more, which takes place from Friday November 29 - Sunday December 1. He also plays at the after party on Friday December 6 at Brown Alley.