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August 23 , 2019
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Interview with BLT & Danni Makov

Please allow yourselves to introduce yourselves...

Yuli: Hello I am Yuli, I am 1.78m height, brown hair (what's left of it), born 1970, Aquarius, single, own a cat and a dog and make trance music.

Danni:Danni Makov from the holy land, been playing drums for very long time. Started with top pop rock groups in Israel (Tractor's Revenge, Berry Sakharof) moved in the last years to house and trance with such acts as Guy Gerber (Cocobit), Astral Projection and finally met Yuli with whom I just released a first album. Otherwise, I'm into sex, women, yoga, Ashtanga and many other things!

Danni, do you do anything else to put food on the table except the BLT project?

Danni:I opened a small dance bar in TA / I started teaching Ashtanga yoga recently and totally love it and into yoga myself / and play a lot with top Israeli DJs in posh events and a freelance drummer but very selective- until today no money made me play something I do not like!

Yuli, you have been producing trance for about 7 years, 5 of them on your own, and in the past 2 years with Danni. Tell me something about the change in the work style.

Yuli: Well working as a solo is quite easy from the social point of view... the only ones I have to think about at a given moment are my pets... When two people are involved in any kind of work, the communication between them in the studio and outside of it plays a very important role in the final outcome. Specifically, working with Danni for these years was a lot of fun and rewarding for me, since we are altogether different people and also play different roles in music making. Danni was teaching me drums and I was teaching him studio work in the process... to sum it up- it is more fun to work with more people, but it is also very important to create by yourself.

Danni, tell me about the adjustments from rock'n'roll to electronic percussion and drumming.

Danni:Most important in playing rock that it is a totally live situation, which means you stop playing and all might collapse. In most electronic situations, I am mostly adding colors in my playing and not less important have to transfer huge energy from the stage to the crowd. But most times, because there is lots of info coming from the electronic man i.e. DJ, or the computer man i.e. Yuli, it is more about adding small amounts of good vibe.

Danni, how do you feel about the studio work? Is it something you see yourself continuing into this field?

Danni:It is already happening- had the best teacher in the holy land- Yuli... So now it is up to me how to progress.

Yuli: he got all his lessons for free!!!

Danni:Big time- freeeeeeeeeeeeee. In future work I would love to bring more "balagan" into the drum parts- maybe hire the Muppets drummer (if he is available)- you know, Animal.

Yuli: I love the Muppets' drummer. Never bring him into your studio though... It will be damn hairy in no time.

Yuli, let's talk about the album now. New album- Anything U Want- is out now, elaborate about releasing it yourself and why you chose to do so.

Yuli: After releasing 3.5 albums with labels ( if I include the Enertopia- Face Adaptor CD from 1997 ) I came to a conclusion that if I want to make a little living out of my music, I must drop one of the hands that handles the product on its way to the customer. The shops are there, and the distributions are quite irreplaceable... So we made our calculations and saw that at this time, with the connections we have we can succeed financially much better, and do it ourselves which is even more fun, getting to know all that are involved in the business and trying to make it better. This is also the place to thank Thomas Tokyokid from Trance Shop, for taking care of our interests outside of Israel, and letting us into his label: Tokyo Dance. Time will tell if we were right about this but at the moment it looks like a very good decision.

In a world consumed by full on mania, you have both managed to produce an outstanding piece of music, resisting formulas and redundancy, tell me about the flow of the album.

Danni:About the order of tracks, Yuli will tell better than me. About the cooperation, I think there is a nice combination between Yuli's taste and mine, but for sure if you feel a little full on melody for a little moment I think it's got to do with me. I have to admit I always liked heavy metal in the old days and grew up to like full on when it's with quality and kicking.

The arrangement is felt... every track in the right place and in the right order, there are patterns…

Yuli: the order of the tracks is very important since an album is a full voyage and there are many trancers who miss it completely!! Nowadays, when faster = better and every thing is so damn unemotional, We believe that it is the time of coming back to the storytelling days, of tracks with beginning and an end, and CDs with a start and a finish. About melodies, in most of the cases Danni is right- he is the main motive behind the melody- he is a real fluffy guy!!!

Danni, trance in its origin is repeated hypnotic percussion in its most tribal form, tell me about that in this album since I felt the choice of rhythms and cycles was very tribal, Eastern style influenced.

Danni:I think it is a combination again between Yuli's rhythms that are even more(!!) blue blooded, i.e. aristocratic, then my own feel, coupled with an eastern influence of mine from listening to a lot of world music. It is very special adding percussive instruments like bongos and timbales to the machine loops and metal-industrial percussion generated in trance usually.

Yuli, I have felt elements from many different styles of electronica all blended into something new and original. Specifically, what has touched you musically while producing this album and as result, you can say influenced you.

Yuli: When I thought about it well, I found that maybe I withdrew from trance at the last 2 years; coming back to all the art rock stuff I used to hear long time ago and more electronic music such as Chemical Brothers and Massive Attack. In the past albums, there was a definite tendency in certain tracks to 'imitate' a style (like track no. 1 in God is Love), but in this album what is really nice is that it came out without being bounded to any style in trance that I know of, and not to any way of structure or sound that I know of.. And having said that, there are a lot of things that we did absorb thru the 2 last years from the more 'modern trance', which I can hear in those tracks when I hear them today.

What is "Anything U Want" and why did you pick that name?

Yuli: Anything U Want is the name of the album and the name of the third track in the album. The track was the first and its name cam out from me jamming on it late at night and suddenly I started singing the line, and it came perfectly into the groove so next day I called Danni and told him: listen man, we need a girl singer to make this line and it will be damn cool. So he brought a singer with him- Dalit Yoash is her name- and she sang to the track. The name of the album means, I guess- anything u want it to be it will, just wish- everything is there ;)

In your album you have 2 tracks with distinct vocal nature to them- Anything U Want & Epitaph- is this a new direction for you? For the scene as a whole?

Yuli: I am not a speaker for the whole trance scene, but I really like to say things I think are good and important and have something in them. For a long time already I was a little tired of searching for smart or funny things in movies. I think it is good only to a certain extent. And then I decided that we can do it ourselves.. I used to write lyrics in the times I played the guitar and sang a bit, so I just used those lyrics in Epitaph- it came out quite nice, and I believe there will be more.

Who sings on Epitaph and what still makes it different from commercial trance songs?

Yuli: Well believe it or not, it is me singing, but though I ain't no singer, every track and its story, and in this case it just fit like a glove. More commercial trance songs are very easy to absorb and everyone will sing them in matter of seconds, but after 5 times you already need to find a new anthem. Epitaph is a track that only 1/5 of the people will give a second chance and maybe 1/15 of the people will give a third chance. But those that will come to 5th chance will not stop hearing it for a long time… Believe me, there are enough tricks there to pull your ear for half a year.

The track Graceful Dead is dedicated to Avihen Livneh (Cosma), tell me what that means to you and how it came about.

Yuli: It was obvious we want to remember Avihen in our album; he was a super cool dude, with a lot of talent and wisdom much more than the age he was. You can hear it in his tunes. So I thought it could be nice to dedicate a song to him- obviously this song should have been spacey and laid back with a lot of atmosphere and very gentle- just the way he was. So that is how the track basically is. About the name- I am a sucker for word games, and those that know Hebrew and want to dig it a little will understand the name easily.

Many Artists' "live" shows today are simply a "press the spacebar" on the laptop and go, yours is not. Danni, how much live drumming is actually done?

Danni:A lot!! We actually take time to prepare a set. We take out drum parts so if I f%ck up they will be missing.

Yuli, how do you communicate with Danni on stage?

Yuli: I send him pigeons... we keep heaps of those white pigeons before the shows. We keep the trainer also at hand in case some shit happens to the pigeons, and lot of shit happens ;)

And seriously now?

Yuli: We are working together a lot on the live act.

Danni:Let's just say that when we play live there are actually 4 of us, 2 Danni and 2 Yuli and they all communicate.

Yuli: Every track we finish we think about what parts to take out of it and Danni replaces them while playing live and I mix him accordingly into the track

Danni:I also speak to myself during the show, and that's not purely from being mad.

Are there ever any noticeable mistakes?

Yuli: sure man- a live show without mistakes is not live.

Danni:I hope not- I have been practicing for many years now to become a human sequencer and I am not bad in it.

Yuli: One time for instance my computer keyboard fell off because of the bass, and the sequencer stopped, since then I take care of things to be more stable on the table (mind you, a name of a track here)... Danni f#cks up from time to time on the 32s but generally for a grandpa he isn't that bad...

Danni:Agree, but it's the 64s.

Yuli, what's next, production-wise?

Yuli: At the moment a lot of remixes are on the way, actually I am flooded and this is wonderful since naturally after an album effort comes a time of little decay and tiredness. So now a lot of work in progress. I learned something from music making and the scene in general... No need to rush anywhere- if you create something with quality in it, it will get where it belongs so there is always time.

What kind of remixes? Any hints to any of the artists submitting their tracks?

Yuli: I already finished remixes to Phony Orphants, PsyCraft, Sesto Sento, Homer & Lazon (Tegma boys' laid back project), Schatsi (Yoni of PsySex), and more on the way for Astral Projection, PsySex, Shulman, Frogacult and Paste. There is a chance I forgot something, since there are a lot of remixes as I said.

Yuli, with the worldwide MP3 problem, you have managed to keep all your unreleased tracks off the net, if someone wants to hear BLT, they must go to a show or wait for the release, explain how you achieve this.

Yuli: Only certain people get my tracks to hear and play at parties, till the time is ripe for the tracks to be on the net. I also want to say here that my mind changed a lot about the net in the last year or two.

What is your opinion on it now?

Yuli: There is not much to do against the MP3 piracy. Therefore we need to learn how to live with it... I am for sure trying that my newest music won't be on the net, and see that it gets only to the people I fully trust and respect... But... I think that an MP3 album on the net a couple of weeks before release is only a good ambassador to the music and therefore no need to get hectic if in the end a track or two leak to the net a month before release, it makes a buzz and mostly good things come out of it.

Who impresses you today in the trance scene?

Yuli: From the latest releases I can say that FREq and Sub6 did really well and I enjoyed their sound to the fullest, but in the same breath I have to say that they will have to evolve from here (each for his way) otherwise it will be no more original and special.

Yuli, I know you have a degree in Acupuncture, is that only a hobby now?

Yuli: The general idea from now on is to make the acupuncture my main thing and to move the music back to the hobby spot. Actually I can't wait for it to happen since making music under pressure of succeeding / money making is a bad thing for true art.

Last question, in a past interview you explained why you chose your name to be BLT, are you still the Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato antithesis to the rock star image?

Yuli: What did I say then? I am a little senile... oh yeah, sure- all the time. I like myself the most in a cozy position in the studio against the telli or walking my dog- not much fuss, I don't feel comfortable there thanks... I like my sh#t simple and not groundbreaking... The only thing is that my taste has changed since the time of the BLT and I ain't sure I like this sandwich anymore... but you know it has a good sound to it still.
 Interview by Gadi Vered
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