It looks like the new CD is a kind of summary of your last decade, so I'm going to ask a few summary questions looking back at your at this period- When did you first realize that you make/play trance?
Actually, when we started playing together, back in '88, we were dealing with electronic music. We basically created a new line that didn't really exist around the world. The name 'trance' arrived after many changes. Names like 'acid house', 'techno', 'new beat', always paralleled our musical creation patterns. In 1993 it was 'trance' and there it stayed. So you can say we understood that we make trance, when this scene was actually born.
What was drawing you to this music?
What was drawing us was the unlimited freedom a musician can reach through working in a midi studio with electronic equipment. You program a sound from zero, and the sky is the limit. The possibilities are huge, opposing standard instruments, which basically stay with the same sound character. Another thing was the possibilities in instrumental music, which speaks for itself, without a leading singer.
When did you first felt that "you made it"? That you succeeded with this music in which so few people believed?
We felt it in 1994 when invitations to play abroad started raining on us. It's the most heart-warming and moving thing… people like your music, wowwww… like what you believe in. Its great!!!
Looking at the names in Trust in Trance first compilation, it seems that there was a group of people here, most of them still around, that tried to do something new together- what can you tell us about these days in the beginning of the '90s with Guy Sebbag, Yaniv Haviv, Har-el Prusski? What were you feeling, thinking, than on this experimental music? Releasing it on a CD suddenly, and here in Israel of all places?
We were a group of people with our whole lives rotating around music. We were always interested in what is going on outside the Israeli musical bubble. We use to hand out in record stores abroad. Finishing a party in Tel-Aviv at noon, and by 2PM already on a plane going to some place in Europe to buy new records. From hearing music, we proceeded to making it, we felt the urge to make something new, to create something we love without any compromise. Then came the moment when we decided to release a first Israeli trance CD in Israel. In 1993 the first Trust in Trance was released as a compilation. The market wasn't open enough yet for an artist's album, and basically all the groups on that CD, where the same people in different variations. The CD came out in a perfect timing for us. There was nothing out there like that, we were on our own… there were no trance departments, as you can see today everywhere, in every store. It took us three more compilations like that until we felt mature enough to release an Astral Projection album. Actually that is the reason why Trust in Trance 3 that was released in Israel, turned into an artist's album, Astral Projection- Trust in Trance, around the world.
Are you still in touch with all these people? Does it interest you to work once again with some of your partners to the beginning of this trip?
Most of the time we are performing around the world, or running our Trust in Trance label, or working in the studio. To top all that, we also raise a family- we're both married and I (Avi) have a one year old girl (Amit). So go find time to work with other people… Yaniv Haviv that was with us till Trust in Trance 3, went back to religion and is in a his own world. We still see Guy Sebbag occasionally or speak on the phone. We hope one day in will happen and we will work together again, even if just for nostalgia sake.
All the wars with the system and the police, the busted parties- what were you feeling? Didn't you break up and said: enough, I'm going to work in an office, or, I'm moving to making house music?
This was their war. We never waged war on them. We were just doing, and we still do, what we loved and believed in. How did we feel? We felt like they're trying to sabotage for us, the most pure, most beautiful, most artistic, and the most true thing for us. It is the biggest absurd and injustice thing one can go through. We are associated with the criminal world, they put a sticker on us saying: musicians=drugs, it hurt us a lot. We had here in Israel one of the most important court sessions for the whole trance scene, and for the future of music. It was our fortune that it all went well in the end. But never, with all the difficulties we have gone through, did we think of retiring, or making another kind of music that will make the authorities happy. Trance and first of all, music, is us, it's our freedom, and nobody would stop us!!! Nobody!!!
Did Astral's music gone through a lot of changes in this last decade? How does that manifests itself, in musical terms, in terms of sound, in your attitude and feelings about it?
The concept of Astral Projection from the beginning, since the days of SFX in 1988, was first of all music, regardless of fashions coming and going. All along the way we're trying to preserve the concept of very high standards. Production, musical ideas, reach imagination, and very pedantic control without compromise. We spend many hours in the studio, about 14 hours a day, and work on an album about 9 months (just like pregnancy…). We don't allow ourselves to release a product that we are no satisfied with. If you browse through our computer, you'll find enough material to more than 200 hundred album, that might have make others content, but were not good enough for us. You can play, for example, a track we made in 1994, and you'll see people are still enjoying themselves and dance to it madly, like it was made today, in the year 2000. And this is actually the main idea, regardless of time and fashion, keeping the quality without compromising. Of course, with the passing of time, experience and knowledge accumulated from album to album, we added more equipment, in order to be able to make without borders and obstacles, whatever is on our minds, no encountering technical limitations.
A lot of people say that Astral are doing the same thing for a long time now, that you don't do anything new- is that true? Do you care about that?
If we would get this criticism from our audience, maybe we would accept, but we think it arrives from some other place… otherwise, how can we explain the fact that our audience just goes bigger and wider?
There are claims against you, that you have gone commercial (for example, the remix to Faithless)- is that true? Do you even care?
What is exactly commercial? Is that supposed to be something bad? The fact that a bigger, wider audience opens to us shows commercialization? We do and always did only what we believe in. We are our own bosses, and nobdy dictates to us what to do, that is why all that comes from our heart and from our studio, are only things we are satisfied with and love. The remix to Faithless' God is A DJ, is a track we really like, we decided to make it because we like the original, and we think it came with out compromising on our behalf, it is very Astral. Faithless just gave us Rolo's singing, and all that is around it is totally Astral. They are happy of the outcome, and so are we.
Can you describe for me how a track is made- how does it start, what happens in between, how much time, when is it clear to you it's ready?
Track is made by hard work. There's no such thing as wham bam thank you mam, and here we have a track. It's hard work starting with the sound programming, a lot of sitting in front of the computer, starting from a certain base that on it you have a lot of layers of different roles, that all along the creation keep changing. Sometimes a certain role that is created inspires the next role and the evolving of the track. First of all we create some raw material that is on the computer way before the editing. Even in the editing stage we keep changing things, adding or changing roles according to changes created while editing, every role waits for the right time and the right entrance, and every role gets the respect it deserves, that's why our tracks are long. When we enter the studio to work on an album, there is no chance we will release something that we don't love or not content with. Every time we go in the studio to work on an album we are very excited and without this excitement there is no point for the whole thing. The mix stage, which is the final and last one, closes the process of making the track. This process usually takes us about a month. But for us a track is perfect only after we checked it in a party and we saw the audience respond, the audience is for us an active partner in all we have released so far.
Who is responsible for what?
We inspire each other, and always feel that we complete one another like a puzzle, we both have studios at home, and we both have a lot of experience and we've been around for long. We almost always agree on things, and if there is a problem with a certain role, we immediately change it, and it doesn't matter who made it, we don't have ego problems with everything that has to do with our music making, it is clear to both of us that we share the same goal, making the best music in the world.
I saw you many times on TV, heard you in the radio, in the newspapers in Israel, trying to explain what's whole the story behind trance- what do you feel is left today from whole the atmosphere that started this music, and actually the cultural saying accompanying it? Didn't it get lost somewhere?
Sometimes we hear ourselves talking in clich?s like 'utopic dream', 'brotherhood', 'peace', 'coexistence', and it does not always work, it sounds wrong sometimes, but we would really like to see these 'banal' values come true, to see beyond a trance party, all people talking the same language, with no borders, one tribe, loving each other, no wars. It sounds so unreal, but it is possible.
Don't you feel sometimes as dinosaurs, you are all arranged, families and all, surrounded by wiz-kids with computers, making much more psychedelic music, that goes to much more extreme places? Standing there in parties in front of kids that discovered all that a year or two ago?
For us it's one tribe, and it's over because we are all arranged, than it wasn't worth it at all!!!
What kind of music you listen to? Something interesting to recommend?
We are open to all sorts of good things, not just trance. We also listen to Kraftwerk, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Madona, and yes, some trance groups, but we don't won't to offend anyone, so no names.
Which of your tracks you like most? Which CD?
They were all our sons… (ha, ha, ha)! If you insist… Let There Be Light, People Can Fly, Dancing Galaxy, Life on Mars, and the remix to Faithless' God is A DJ.
The new CD is a double mixed CD, 22 tracks, classical ones, remixes we did ourselves, remixes done for us. It's and album that shows exactly Astral's musical line. The two CDs are built like a party, one is called Sundown and it is more for night, more psychedelic. The other one is called Sunrise, and is more melodic, morning, hits, as Astral tradition goes.
Everybody know you made a few video clips? Which exactly? When can we get our hands on them?
There are two video clips, to People Can Fly, and to Dancing Galaxy. Right now Burning Up is under construction. How to get them? Contact Phonokol, tell them Astral sent you, and ask them!
Trust in Trance is going to release a new CD in the beginning of August to a promising group by the name of Neptune, it reminds a lot our musical direction, a very well produced and intelligent album, recommended!