Following the critically acclaimed collaboration with Berry Sacharoff and three ground-breaking albums, Infected Mushroom, one of Israel's leading psy-trance acts return, with a double album, Converting Vegetarians. Yours truly has gone out to meet the pair in a stormy, gray and gloomy Wednesday, to learn some more about the new album, the attrition in trance and more.
Amit: It's a double album, one which we've been working on for some time now. On one hand, it's got the trance side, our original style, and the second CD contains more freestyle music. When I say freestyle, it means it's music which lacks definition. It's all kinds of styles we gathered during the passing year which was collated into one project.
It has some underground-ish appeal to it, doesn't it?
Amit: Some of the tracks there are extremely commercial, and some can be named 'underground'. Some tracks are even hard to listen to, and that's why there's no definitive direction to it. It's more a collection of tracks done over the past year.
Are you tired of trance?
Amit: It's not that we're tired of trance. It's just that in this time, after three albums, we decided to do some other things as well as trance. The idea, at first, was to do an exclusively freestyle album, but by the by, we created enough material which sufficed for a trance album as well. That's how the idea for a double album actually came to pass.
Do you still see yourselves playing and creating trance five years from now?
Amit: Look, me and Erez, we're always trying to develop our music. I believe in trance we reached a lot of certain boundaries and we even crossed some. There are always new scenes. We are trying to succeed in different areas, so as to show that we know how to do other things as well, and not only trance. It doesn't mean that we will stop creating this music. A good track is still a good track. Right now we are at a hiatus after this album is being released. Soon we start a round-the-world tour, after which we will start working on the next project. I can't tell you what it is yet, because those are the sort of things that develop over time. I can tell you this next album will not be a double album. Work on that project has been extremely difficult. We always wanted to write a movie soundtrack or even take a Playstation game and write its music.
You two are performing massively these days, and on top of that, you have the increasing, constant pressure of supplying up-to-date, current, contemporary music. Doesn't that wear you out?
Erez: There is the usual wear and tear, but it exists mainly in the Israeli crowd, which is being opened to new sounds and styles all of a sudden, and who are tired of listening to infected. Yet, there are a lot of teenagers who just now are discovering this music, our music included, and you see this boom mainly abroad.
Speaking of the young generation, what do you think about the new trend of young, computer-wielding artists?
Amit: There's an upside and a downside to this. The upside is that today it's far more easier to write music on the computer than it has been a couple of years ago, and the results are very good. That's how a lot of young artists are embarking these days, when several years ago, they couldn't write this music because of financial constraints. The downside of this is that more and more young artists are rushing out to sign a deal and release a track, but only the ones with true quality gets signed. Today's kids aren't aware of music that came out 2-3 years ago. They don't know who X-dream are, they know who Astrix and Alien Project are. That's the way it goes. There's no past in trance. Only future. If you don't supply up-to-date music for the floor, you disappear. It's always been that way in this scene, and that's the way it should be. You have to advance with the young generation in this music.
During your activities, you've also worked with Israeli rock artists Berry Sacharoff and Eyal Shechter. What was it like to work with people who don't necessarily use a computer to write music, and who aren't really recognized with this type of music?
Erez: First of all it makes the musical process very diverse. Both Eyal and Berry have used electronic means in their music.
Amit: It really depends on how open the musician's mind is. In both cases they were very open and enthusiastic about it. The moment a rock musician comes along and says 'ok, I want to do this', and he's committed in open, it's much easier to work. There's always a case of a musician coming along, without Berry or Eyal's commitment, and he'll say 'I don't like what I hear', than it won't work. In both cases, it was a very fluid process.
How do you feel about the way the media is constantly connecting trance music with drugs?
Amit: The situation is much better today. There are reports, articles, interviews and all sorts of coverage. Today we receive a less-harsh treatment than say 3-4 years ago, and we are no longer treated as leaders of a drug scene. It may have been the case before, but now it's different. We are being booked to play at kids parties, students' days etc. The Berry Sacharoff crossover has put us in a muddled position, one which we've never been in before.
Moving on to a harder subject, lately, a close friend of yours, Avihen Livne (Cosma), was killed while on holiday in India. How do you do the separation, when one day a close friend is killed and the next day you have to perform in front of 3,000 people?
Amit: First of all, it was really a hard thing to take, a great shock when we first heard about it. But you must understand, in our line of work, even if I am sick with a fever, there are 3,000 people who paid to see us and we must go on. So even if you don't want to go and you're not in the mood, you come on and play. You've got to be there. We're going soon to a party in London, a party where Avihen was supposed to play with us. So we're going to give homage to him and his family. I've got to go. It's sad, but I'm sure others would've done the same if something were to happen to me, god forbid. What can you do?
Erez: There's not much to say about it. It's a hard thing. Avihen was a good friend. What you can do is buy and play his music.
Do you play his music in your sets?
Amit: Today we play a lot of his tracks in sets, at least 4 tracks. We go to launch parties for his albums, promoting his music. We do the things we can do for him.
Erez, you've helped produce some of Israel's leading electronic acts lately, such as Yahel, Violet Vision, Dark Soho, etc., are you considering taking this role onward, become a full time producer?
Erez: No, it depends. There's always a new artist starting his way in music, and we always try helping him out, giving him tips, secrets from the studio, everything, just to keep this scene alive and full of artists. Violet Vision actually did most of the work, I simply helped where I could. It's not like I did anything special.
Last question, current affairs: the war in Iraq.
Amit: I'm not terribly excited about it. People are always asking us about Israel when we're abroad. It's not an easy place to live in, sure, but both of us live in a pretty sterile environment. We're quite content living here. It's very cool here, and we try ignoring the situation out there as best as possible, and we live. Besides, I wouldn't change this place so fast.
Erez: Actually I'm pretty cut out of current affairs, to be honest. I don't watch television or read the papers. But I don't think there's anything to worry about.