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MORPHEUS MUSIC INTERVIEW - NEERAV (INTERCHILL)

12.06.06

     
 

Q: Tell us a bit about your musical background and DJing experience please.  

SHORT ANSWER: I really started in '89 on the well known party island of Koh Phangan, Thailand, where I was asked to play even before I was a DJ! From there, I followed the developments of techno from its earliest days, helping to build up the local scene in Montreal alongside Tiga, Andrew Interchill, and other old-schoolers. I ran a 'rave' fanzine for a while, got back into Goa and Psy big time after returning to India for my third time ('95), and started spinning ambient shortly after that.

From there I went on to play out at international parties and festivals, and pretty much haven't stopped these last 10 years. Last year I worked as a road manager for an old DJ friend of mine (Misstress Barbara), and that exposed me to the current revival of the old school acid-electro sound. I decided to stop playing Psy, and changed my name to Anton A., going for a more international approach. Paradoxically, (as Neerav spinning ambient), I became even more organic, getting into really live, tribal sounds. That came about as a result of my travels in Latin America and Brazil, and spinning that music at ambient stages in festivals and finding it to be particularly effective outdoors.


 
 

LONG ANSWER: I got started while working my way around the world in 1989. I'd kept hearing about this magical island in Thailand where travellers would meet to party on the beach under the full moon once a month…it was called Koh Phangan, and it was a kind of paradise back then. Goa was getting busted every second season by the cops, so loads of people were coming to check out Koh Phangan instead. Oli wisdom was hanging out there, and that place and time was his inspiration for going on to make music.

Back then, I had long dreadlocks and mad-max style boots that I wore everywhere (even on the beach sometimes!), so I guess the woman who was running the parties thought I had to be a DJ, since she invited me to spin at the upcoming full moon party. That was my first gig, and wonderful initiation into the realm of DJing. Acid House was huge and New Beat was just exploding back then…this was post industrial dance/body music, so everyone knew Front 242 and KMFDM, but that sound just didn't fit on a beach. KLF made a lot more sense in that context…

New York City was my temporary home base at the time. When I returned, it was impossible to find the music I'd experienced in Asia, so I delved into what was available: the early roots of techno (Joey Beltram), Detroit, etc. There was a very simple chart/fanzine run by a woman called Moneypenny that discussed the global scene. When I moved back to Montreal, I ended up starting a similar publication, and that connected me to the international electronic music scene (R&S records etc.). Later I got into minimal, acid trance, trippy techno, early Eat Static, and all the usual suspects.

In '95 I returned to India and Goa for the third and last time. Tip and Spirit Zone where putting out records by the time I returned to Europe on the way home to Montreal, and that was the start of my Psy Trance career. I ended playing many of the major festivals around the world. Recently, after I decided 10 years of Psy was enough, and after touring with Misstress Barbara last year as road manager, fell in love with the retro – future sound of grooving international dancefloor music (acid-electro grooves, etc.). I then changed my DJ name to "Anton A." to give me the freedom to play that new sound. But I've kept on spinning ambient, as that is something you never grow tired of, and it also opens different doors.

     
             
Q : What has been your involvement up to now with Interchill records?  

Andrew and I had our first residency together in '93 here in Montreal, called Klub Lab. We'd both participated in helping to build up the local scene. He went on to start Interchill, and shortly after invited me to be resident DJ. Ambient has been an important part of my life ever since, and I've played out at many memorably events both alone and with the Interchill tribe; Samothraki in 2002 and 2003 comes to mind. While we were on the island, I proposed a compilation project called "13th Moon", and he accepted. The first track we signed was a demo he'd played there by Kenji Williams. We re-listened to it on a discman while on the ferry after leaving the island; it was sunset and dolphins started jumping out of the water while we were tripping to the music, so we felt we were on the right track. The idea was to create the first psy ambient / ambient trance release for Interchill. I've been doing A&R since then, following in the footsteps of Gordon Field and other luminaries…Naasko (running the Boom festival ambient stage) handles a lot of important details that Gordon use to do. Nick in London does the internet stuff, and Andrew handles most office details.

  Q : What was the inspiration for the new CD Gathering The Tribe?
 

First off: my travels in Latin America. My girlfriend at the time was a trained music therapist, and she'd come there to work with the local Mayan children in the village we were living in Lago Attitlan, Guatemala. She had loads of really great tribal and vocal stuff that I ended up working into my regular ambient and dance sets. People loved it as it just made so much sense in that environment, and the (hippy) travellers of course were particularly open to it. There was a lot of shamanism and meditation going on in this village, so I started getting more into sacred music, and music with natural vibrations. When I returned to play the festival circuit in North America, I just found myself naturally gravitating towards the live stages after my sets, and really enjoying what I was feeling and hearing there. I'd also run into friends from my latin travels. So that gave me the idea for the CD…I was particularly impressed and influenced by the California Earth Dance event.

             
Q : How did you go about selecting tracks for the project, what exactly were you looking for?
 

 

Good question…essentially, I was looking for material that would make the listener feel the way I felt in those contexts (travelling, sacred moments, celebrations, meeting friends at the live stages at festivals). The trick was to find material, (or coax it out of the artists) that would still somewhat make sense from an Interchill perspective. Interchill has built up a rep for outstanding electronic ambient (albeit organic)…but I wanted to create something that would function as a bridge between the vocal/ tribal/ acoustic / hippy scene and the electronic / psy ambient scenes. In the end, in order to make the CD more consistent with itself, and appealing in the long term, I favoured tracks that had a distinct vocal appeal or flavour, a spiritual edge, and a laid back tribal feel.

  Q : What makes a great chillout track for you?
 

Something that makes me feel something special. It sound corny, but that's really what it is. A great track transcends categories, and transcends the listener to a magical space. That kind of music is usually ahead of it's time and yet timeless.

             
 
     
Q : Now that the album is on release – how do feel it stands up among the current crop of compilation CDs? Do you think it has a unique place?
 

Definitely. It would have been soooo easy for me to release a downtempo psy-dub or psy ambient release, or even something more uptempo. The question I had to ask myself was: does the world really need another CD like that? For me, the answer was: No. There's such a flood of that material already on the market (some very good, some not so good), that I felt it would not be satisfying to simple follow current trends.

I was very excited about the possibility to make something distinct; something that would leave its mark on open-minded listeners. My goal was to make a CD for people simply looking for good music; something that would be a key for them to enter the world of festival live stages and road trips. So in the end, I focused more on integrating traditional song structures (with positive lyrics and emotions) alongside more traditional Interchill material (no lyrics).

  Q : What would be the ultimate sign of success for Gathering The Tribes?  

For me, it would be three things: a) That people who don't normally consider themselves fans of 'electronica' would enjoy the CD, and get turned on to more electronic sounds, b) Conversely, that those who consider themselves serious electronic heads might find themselves suddenly signing alongside Junior Kigwa on "See Them a Come", or enjoying the spine-tingling vocal harmonies of Hamsa Lila or Tina Malia, or Sasha Butterfly; or the ethno-pop sensibilities of Loti Child on Elephant For me, the ultimate sign of success would be that the cd opened up the minds of the respective listeners. If some hippies end up at an electronic stage, or some psy ambient lovers end up swaying to some live grooves, that would do it for me! c) The last and most important sign of success would be if any listeners had profound or spiritual experiences while listening to the CD, and that the CD helped put them in touch with the energy of the Earth…that would make me very happy.

             
Q : What do think has made downtempo and worldbeat so popular in the last couple of years?
 

I'd say that it's the energy of the music; that it helps people connect to a saner head-space in a world that seems to be going increasingly insane.

   Q :  What would you wish for as a DJ for the future of music?  

That more people continue to put there music out there, so the cream can continue to rise to the top, but also that the music makers really challenge themselves and their listeners a bit more, and not fall into pre-determined sounds so easily. In other words, that each producer really finds his or her voice, and shares that with the world.

 

           
  Q :What about your own plans for the future – can we expect more in CD form from you?  
In an ideal world, I would have released a double CD for "Gathering the Tribe": one for the more acoustic and one for the more electronic. The reality of the marketplace makes that impossible. I'm hoping Andrew will take some of the stuff that I couldn't fit into the flow, and use it in a separate comp. For now, I will continue to focus on learning the software that will allow me to generate my own music eventually. After I worked as A&R with Seb of Kaya Project on several versions of his track, he was convinced that I needed to get into the studio myself, and stop being a back seat driver, and he was right! I almost drove him crazy, but God bless him, he has the patience of a Saint J So any CDs that you hear from me in the near future will either be my own, or my DJ mixes…Having said that, there are several other excellent A&R people at Interchill who have first dibs on the next comps planned for the coming years. So if I did work on another CD, I would say it would be an artist release next time…
      
Any last words?

Neerav: thanks to Andrew and the Interchill family, and to all our listeners out there who continue to support our sonic explorations!

 

 

           

Thanks to Neerav and Andrew at Interchill for kindly allowing us that interview.