Hi! Please introduce yourself. Where do you live, what you do with your spare time, what are your goals in life and more.
Shahar: I'm Shahar Melamed, 25 years old, living in Haifa - a lovely city on the Carmel mountains, near the coast, in the north of Israel. Most of my time these days is spent in my studio (Indepth studios), working on different projects and writing music. I'm not sure I have figured out my goals in life just yet ,I am very happy to be making a living off the one thing I love the most which is music, and I hope to always have the same satisfaction I get from it now, be it from writing music, performing live or DJing.
Youíre on the musical road for a long time, and this road can lead to many different places, so how do you choose where you want to go?
How and when did you discover Psytrance and ambient/chill out music?
Shahar: I have had a passion for electronic music ever since I remember myself. I have been into very early techno and house even back in elementary school days, and I always got a special feeling listening to early house and things like KLF, and later on couldnít get enough of The Chemical Brothers, BT, Aphex TwinÖThe list can go on forever. The musical road indeed leads you to so many different places, so I guess you just flow with it - I started producing my own music at around age 14, starting from IDM-ish stuff whose influence can definitely be heard on my first album. I also played around a lot with industrial, noise and experimental stuff. At some point I uploaded some music I had made to a website and started getting a huge amount of feedbacks about it. Then One day I came back from the army on the weekend to find a feature in an Israeli paper about my music, and from there things moved on to being contacted and signed for my 1st album. That is an example of how the musical road can lead you to so many different places, way beyond what you can plan yourself. That same 1st album has received some amazing feedback, and was actually chosen as one of the top releases of 2004 (please donít tell them we released it in 2003... hahaha), alongside all the pop and mainstream CD's that you'd expect to see on this kind of list. That album has also granted me the resident DJ slot at my "home" club, the LUNA. The thing is I only got into trance and ambient after that album was released. Before that, I had heard maybe a few classic psy releases like Juno reactor, early Infected Mushroom, and maybe some Shpongle, but I was hardly aiming for that musical world. After releasing the album and starting to perform live at parties, things kind of flowed in that direction, and Iím glad they did: we have a very nice Psy scene here in Israel, with a lot of things going on, so it turned out as a good direction to follow.
Few artists in the psytrance scene actually work regularly as resident DJs, theyíre usually busy making music or touring, and canít afford a weekly compromise as resident DJs (or maybe itís because many artists suck as DJs). You have experience as a resident DJ in the Luna Club @ Israel for more than 4 years now. Talk about this experience as a resident DJ.
Shahar: Well I donít think the resident DJ thing is a 'compromise'. It is a place for me to do what I love doing best, express myself musically and have fun. The DJing thing, for me at least, has become as much a need as writing music, especially with the fantastic crowd we have in our line, and the interaction you build with it. Being a resident means you can also have a very wide range of musical expression, because you are not limited in any way: I play anything from minimal, tech, electro, house and psytrance, it all depends on the mood, vibe and the interaction with the crowd. You said few artists in the genre do itÖ I suppose it requires a sort of a commitment from you, you cant just play the same old pre-made set again & again (like we've seen a lot of DJ's do), you do need to have the will to be there every week and do something fresh, and obviously you have to really love doing it. Needless to say it has its ups and its downs also Ė Iíd say itís like any other long term relationship... hahah. Besides the residency thing, I have played in pretty much any major club here in Israel, all of the big festivals that we've had, along with tours & international gigs, so I donít think being a resident has restricted me in any way. Scheduling is another thing Ė it can sometimes get a bit crazy, but you try to balance the things and it works out fine.
What is the difference between when youíre playing as a resident DJ and when you have a famous invited guest? Which guest rocked the crowd the most?
Shahar: Well we have guest DJ's every week, and we've hosted pretty much anyone you can think of, so I can't really say who rocked the most. In the psytrance world, I guess Infected Mushroom are obvious contenders for crowd favorites, & Some other highlights would be great live shows like Sun Project, X Dream and such.
Your first album is an ambient release as Depths Of Despair, and was released back in 2003. Tell us a little about this debut. Why the change in the project name?
Shahar: "False sense of security" was my first album, which summed up a few years of work. I tried to write something that doesnít sound like anything else I have ever heard, and tried to throw in a lot of different things at once. The album had moved from ambient, breaks, dnb and glitch, sometimes all in the same track, and was very hard to categorize, so we called it chilloutÖ haha. The responses for it went way beyond what we had expected, so it was great to see how the music I wrote for myself has had a lot of people connecting to it Ė it's kinda like you throw what you got out there, and you never really know how people will react to it. The change you mentioned in the project name was needed later on, because following that 1st album I started exploring different musical directions and attitudes. If every track in that 1st album went to twenty different musical directions, I wanted to write tracks that are more solidified, and more complete, and are less all over the place genre-wise. I think at some point it is important to decide what sound it is you want to make, one that can set you apart from everyone else, and set your focus on that, so I was basically looking for something that would define better what I'm trying to do. It can be longer tracks like the ones on the album, or shorter and catchier stuff like my remix work or the electro releases, but I think the "Indepth" materials are more complete in that sense.
You just released your second album though Elektric Dragon Records, a diverse double CD release. Why it took so long (almost 4 years) to release it? Why a double CD? Please introduce us to the music inside each of the two CDs. What is your favorite track in each CD?
Shahar: My 2nd album, titled Disappear Here, was indeed released lately on Elektrik Dragon (Sonic Dragon Sub-label). This album has gone through a lot of changes in format and in content, and that is one of the reasons it took a while to be released, it started out as a more downbeat thing, and evolved to breaks and finally to what it is now.
The concept of the album is having the best of both worlds for me: 2 CD's that have a wide range of styles: the 1st (Disappear) which is more dancefloor material, and the 2nd (Reappear), which is mostly broken beat stuff. With both CD's I tried to create something that isnít already out there, and you can hear a lot of different influences, from rock, House, Trance and electro. As to the different parts, CD1 goes more to the 4/4 directions, and has a lot of prog and electro elements, and works very well in the psytrance environment. CD2 is a bit more experimental, with breakbeats and a bit of electro, ambient and psy. Picking a favorite track would be difficult for me, but I can say one track that is very special to me, is the collaboration with Jonathan Dagan (J-Viewz), id say its kind of a nu-skool breaks track, but it has Jonathan's incredible jazzy-bluesy guitar solos weaving in and out, which gives it that something special.
Your album Indepth - Disappear Here came out in a double CD digipak format, with special artwork and design. It seems youíre investing a lot into something more than music. You think it is worth and fans still like to hold a real CD in their hands? The return is being as positive as expected?
Shahar: That is an excellent question. I believe that an album needs to be more then a collection of tracks that someone burns onto a disc - you can make it into a piece of art that connects the music with the visual aspects, otherwise, what reason would people have to buy it? . We have worked super hard on the art and packaging for this album: the design alone was hand made and took over 6 months to be done, and along with the packaging and print, I am very proud of the result. In today's musical world, especially in the trance business, it doesnít seem to pay off to invest the money and work into the album, which is a reality you have to deal with I guess, so a lot of the times the product you get is pretty standard. I still think the experience of having the CD along with the art and the packaging is better, only as long as it is a worthy product. So thatís why it was important for me to have the CD as a complete package, and Iím glad the label thought the same.
In contrast, youíre also releasing music in a digital only format. What is your opinion about digital only releases? What is the concept behind your Acid Punk EP?
Shahar: Acid Punk E.P is more of an Electro-House release, and aims mainly for the more mainstream DJ's and listeners out there. The release is a lot more club-oriented and therefore the way I thought about releasing it had to be different.The concept of Acid Punk is basically making some groovy dancefloor electro, with the quirkiest vocal samples I could get my hands on. Electro has always been a big passion of mine and a favorite genre for spinning, so a large part of my future releases will go in that direction. The E.P has a very wide distribution and can be found in places like Beat Port, Itunes, Ministry Of Sound, DJ Mag and basically anywhere that sells digital music - The digital format enables a huge amount of freedom when dealing with your music.there is also the advantage of not having to wait for labels, printing, distribution and such. It's already looking like one of the main directions in which the music industry is heading, although it doesnít seem like it will replace CD's just yet.
Your album has a collaboration with J Viewz. How was it to work with him? In one of his tracks he uses the sample:
"I think you can have all the greatest technologies around you in the world, but at the end of the day itís the human beings that make the music".
I know it is almost a rhetorical question, but do you agree with that? What was the piece of hardware that changed/improved your music composition the most?
Shahar: Haha... yeah I know that sample. Well I think the human beings make the music, but on the flipside, it's also amazing to see how technology has opened up so many people to music creation in such a short period, and how many options it has opened for us in terms of musical exploration. I just saw this documentary that shows how house music had started in Chicago, and it's amazing to see how it has opened up the world of music creation to people that didnít necessarily play instruments, but have still been able to influence hundreds of thousands of people. I was actually supposed to appear in that movie but my schedule was too hectic Ö.as to working with Jonathan, we talked about the idea, and I tried to write something that he could connect to, sent it to him and he recorded the most incredible guitar parts for it. I then took those parts, edited them a bit and threw them in, and they worked perfectly with what's going in that track.
Do you prefer to play a Live Act or DJ sets?
Shahar: Well for me those are two very different things. A DJ set for means I play other people's music, using CD's or vinyl, and having a huge amount of music to play around with and choose from and being super flexible music wise. A live set means I play my stuff and the focus there is trying to give all the tracks a live interpretation that is different, and being more spontaneous with whats goin in the tracks. I donít really have a preference, since I like them both, but there is nothing like watching people trip on the music you worked hard on creating, so that is a strong plus in live acts. On the other hand, Djing requires a lot less effort, so itís a tough call...
Indepth DJ set @ Doof festival 2007
How do you prepare your Live Acts? What you usually change in each different Live Act? What gear do you use?
Shahar: Usually for live acts I use Ableton live, where I have the basic elements of each track playing, along with effects. The tracks are live mix versions so that the live experience will be different then the album. Alongside that I have a ton of loops that are thrown in and out to go with the track, which is something that can't really be planned and is more spontaneous and open for improvisation / errors (depends on the level of sobriety... haha). On top of that I play synth if I have one available, and at the same time I juggle pizza slices and jump through a fire hoop , you need to see it to believe man!
How long does it take for you to make a new track, from the ideas and inspirations to the dance floor? Any hint for a person who is starting making psytrance? What is easier to produce in your opinion, dance floor music or freestyle?
Shahar: Usually I start of with a musical idea that I like and play different parts over it. From there I play around with it until I feel like I have something good. When I feel like I have enough material to work with, I usually construct the track and from there it's a matter of finding the right balance. Usually the track is finished within a matter of hours if I am in the right mood, or days if I'm not. Then usually I move on to do something else and return later with a fresh ear to work on the technical side of things, like the final editing and the mixing. I donít think any style in particular is more difficult - I think good music in general is harder to make. Every genre has its own characteristics and clichť's, but making it work and doing something that moves people is the trickier part Ė dance floor can be simple and still be amazing, or it can also be complete shit, it depends really.My hint for someone who's starting out? I think most people start off by copying someone they like, and then they find themselves within that style and grow from there on. Id say just do what you feel is best, and hope people donít throw beer bottles at you (it hurts), and the rest will work out for itself.
From the point of view of someone who already toured the world and at the same time plays regularly at a club, what are the most expressive differences between outdoor and indoor parties? Usually the same music works well in both places?
Shahar: I think that good music is good music everywhere. Every event has its own vibe and atmosphere, and you need to adjust yourself to that along with the crowd, but still that the most important thing is delivering good music, since that is what it's all about. Once you have a good variety of strong tunes (dj or live or whatever), you can be flexible with which ones you actually choose to play according to the venue, the crowd and so on. What I'm trying to say is, it doesnít matter if you're in a club in your home town or in a festival on the other side of the world, good music will always work. Either that or get a lot of naked chicks to back you up, thatís good too.
What are your future releases, and what are the labels you're currently working with?
Shahar: For now I have a few releases planned for MikellaBella Recs, including a few E.P releases and a lot of remix work. I nearly have another full album ready, which already has quite a few surprises inside, and focuses more on the electro side of things. I can't talk about where it will be released just yet, but I am very excited about the music that's in there. Most recent release is an electro remix I did for Nadav Agami (israel's Maxim club resident) and next on the horizon is the "Sunset Blvd." E.P which is mostly electro-house and should be out very soon.
Shahar: The net in general is an excellent place for musicians, if you can get past the spam and all of the crap that's circulating. A site like Myspace is just huge in terms of feedback and networking, and there is no limit to what you can get from there. Myspace for me is a place to have all of the quick updates, for letting people know about gigs, releases and such. Besides networking and promotion, it is also a great place to find new music and a lot of semi-naked girls. My website (www.indepth1.com ) is not meant to be Myspace #2, but more of a place where you can get info about my different projects, read interviews, articles and stuff like that.
What do you think about people sharing music through mp3 instead of buying it?
Shahar: I think that Mp3 sharing is a reality that the music world has to learn to adjust to. It's not a new reality either, since it's been here for nearly a decade. Mp3 sharing might hurt CD sales, but it also obviously means a lot more people are hearing your music, So I suppose every side in this industry needs to see what effects this has on him and what he can do to make sure he can still make a living from music. Artists are not necessarily directly hurt by Mp3 downloads, since live shows are the main income for them in most cases. I think that if you hear something you like, buying the album / track is a good way to support whoever's involved in it and to increase the chance of seeing more albums from that artist in the future, since obviously record sales are not exactly amazing these days. In a small scene like ours, where most releases are struggling to break even, I think its also important to have more quality control as to what is being released, so that the market will not be saturated with things that sound the same: there are pretty interesting discussions about that right here in the isra forums. I suppose in the future we will see some sort of a model that will re-structure the way the music world works, whether itís an all-you-can-download subscription or something else.
Thanks for the interview. Any last message or funny comment?
Shahar: Thank you dude for the lovely interview. And see you on the dancefloors!