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August 23 , 2019
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Interview with Violet Vision

First, introduce yourselves. Who are you and what do you do?

Both: We are Shay Raviv and Jonathan Dagan, 22, living in the north of Israel. Together we are Violet Vision.

Your last interview for Isratrance was on November 2001. What has changed since then?

Jonathan: Shay has a girlfriend.

Shay: Yeah, I have a girlfriend.
We also released a lot of stuff, performed a lot and changed our style many times. Now we're more or less clear about ourselves and what we do. Then, we didnít know what we wanted to do, trance, chillout or break beat, and now we know.

Jonathan: Now itís a style. We see bands that mention Violet Vision as one of their influences and itís really cool. Weíre making break beat. Not necessarily the kind of break beat you know from other bands, but our style. We are starting to have our own sound, we know how to reach the sound we want, something that we didnít know before. Technically speaking, itís another world. We've reached higher levels of production and methods of working together. We know what we want. There's a closed work dynamic which you can only get with time.

How does this ďdynamicĒ work?

Jonathan: Body movements. We're sitting in front of the computer, and Shay is like: ďGive me! Give me!Ē. After a while I say: ďWait a secondĒ. Itís our own thing, we know how to work together. We know what we want to do. You canít really explain it. We got there with time and now we know how to work and thatís it.

Is it some kind of maturation process?

Shay: I have hairs on my chest, look! It wasnít there three years ago. Look (pointing to his ears), in another three years Iíll have testicles just below.

How do you define your new music?

Jonathan: Itís the closest to break beat, but we already have stuff that is more influenced from our old material than from other artists. As time passes, you can be influenced from your old material instead of being influenced from other CDs. There are also a lot of rock and break beat influences. Right now we also have house influences but Shay doesnít like to say it.

Shay: No. It doesnít happen. Itís more like electro.

Is it fluffier?

Shay: No way.

Jonathan: Never.

Shay: At some point, after youíve gratified all your fantasies and matured musically you understand thatÖ I, for example wonít do a 17 part track like we did in First Sign of Communication because this is not how my head works right now. I think of something completely different. I see a one ďunitĒ. With changes of course, but it doesnít fly from one side to the other. I donít ďspit upĒ things out like I used to. I think before I do so.

Jonathan: Fluffy is the last thing that you can say about Unfold. Itís more complete, more united. Then, we would have started a track and would just be having fun. There were sounds that we heard for the first time and turned us on, taking us to other places. Every track started in one place and ended in a totally different one. Now every track is more like one unit and it becomes more like songs. It could sound as if itís fluffy but itís really not.

Shay: For trancers everything that has lyrics in it is fluffy because vocals are fluffy. Samples are not fluffy. Thatís how it works.

How do you define the CD in and of itself?

Jonathan: Itís a CD with a message in it. Every track has a lot of feel in the lyrics and the music. Itís also very very intense. Style-wise, every track has itís own direction. But everything is more or less break beat, or similar to it (Thereís a lot of big beat, for instance). Not just throwing in tracks. We did things that, from my point of view, are very strong both in meaning and style.

How is your live show done?

Shay: I take out vibrators. Jonathan is walking on the ceiling with a little ball in his mouth, playing the xylophone and the crowd slaps him all over while I try to shoot vibrators at him. But I donít really shoot.

Jonathan: Shay, disguised as Miss Piggy, takes a synth, hugs it, jumps to the crowd and says ďPLAY ME! PLAY ME!Ē.

Jonathan: Weíve had many versions of our live show. It began when we performed with a drummer who was into jungle and it was very good for us because in that period we had a lot of drum and bass influences. So we had him, and a vocalist (Noa Lembersky). Thatís how it was in the beginning.
We had a couple of performances with Michel Adamson and after that a few more with the drummer and now we are performing on our own. Sometimes we bring Noa for a song or two but generally itís us, laptops and keyboards (I also sing two songs).

What is a real live show in your opinion?

Jonathan: Itís a problem. In electronic music, a real live show it to take all the devices you used in the studio, connect them in MIDI to the soundcard you used, connect everything to a mixer and do the mix live. I donít think there is an act that does that. However, there are acts that perform with ADAT: 8 channels are routed to the mixer and once in a while they play with the mix and turn the effects on and off. In our live show thereís a playback and another laptop trough which we add vocal parts, all kinds of sequences, etc.
It all happens live. Sometimes we have mistakes and thatís really cool. Well, not exactly mistakes, but sometimes things are not exactly in sync with the rhythm. This is the essence of live! Live is the stuff that comes out and you don't really mean it and it wasn't planned in advance. A real live show means bringing a lot of musicians. Itís an ideal that every electronic musician has, but itís a money sort of thing. In the beginning that was our goal.

Shay: Still, when we brought a drummer and a singer, it was hard to bring them because organizers donít always agree to pay more money on more equipment and a soundman.

Jonathan: When you perform abroad it means two more flight tickets so itís not really possible until you sell a lot of copies and people are willing to pay you enough so youíll be able to pay the players and everything. I hope weíll do that sometime.

How is it to work with other musicians together?

Jonathan: It depends. Itís a good question. When you bring people that know how to play an instrument, sometimes they do exactly what you say and sometimes they improvise on it (and thatís cool too). But sometimes things don't work so well... never mind...
Mostly when we bring musicians they simply come and play. We know more or less what do we want and they improvise on that a little. We donít work with a lot of musicians. The people that we work with are people that we know their abilities and that theyíll be able to do exactly what we think.
Weíd like to take the opportunity and say that we're really grateful to have had the chance to capture in our recordings great talents (both in singing and lyrics writing) of vocalists like Noa Lembersky, Kfir Basson, Michele Adamson, Duvdev and Avital Sivan. These guys really made the difference, between ordinary electronic tunes, to some 'breathing' songs, especially on Unfold.

Do you feel inside the trance scene?

Shay: Socially, weíre inside the trance scene. All our friends are there. Music-wise weíre not there but in my opinion weíre there because of our friends, the way we think and our label (BNE).

Is your new music aimed for the same audience?

Shay: We want to get to everybody whoíd like it.

Jonathan: Of course, it will be easier to understand for people who know break beat and all that stuff, but if trance people like the material itís cool too. We donít aim for a specific crowd but it appears to me that break beat fans would understand it the most.

You performed at the TLV (a posh mainstream club in Tel-Aviv, Y.B.), which is not exactly the place that suits your music the most. How was it there?

Jonathan: The TLV was very surprising. I really had fun on that performance. Shay wasnít having so much fun but I was really swept away. I was sure that when we'll start the performance people would go home. But we started it, and at least the crowd that I saw was very enthusiastic and it didnít look like it was alien to them. On the first track it looked as though they were trying to understand whatís happening and then it just flowed. The singer came, did her thing and people were very excited about it. Later I read reviews on the internet which said the exact opposite but I didnít get it there. I really liked it and house people simply got into the music. Once in a while itís nice to perform in such a place but generally itís not for us.

Shay: Itís not that I didnít like it. It was OK, it wasnít bad.

Jonathan: I think I was in a movie. Afterwards I told Shay that ďdamn, that was our best show!!!Ē. Maybe because a few people came to me after it and I saw some people during the show. Later I understood that there were people who were sitting in the back. But the place was packed and it was cool.

Where else did you perform?

Jonathan: Our first performance at the Sofabeat was really cool. On that performance I realized that we can have an audience in Israel, because this club is only for break beat people and I wasnít there before in my life. We performed there and it felt like home. Also, people were totally amazed by it. The warm up DJ was playing break beat and the DJ after us was also playing break beat and that was splendid. Most of our performances are in places that are characterized with trance music and bring us to ďeducate the crowdĒ. A lot of people say it, but itís bullshit. We donít come to educate anyone. Also, our first performance in the Q club (in Be'er Sheva, Y.B.) was really good.

What makes a live show ďgoodĒ?

Shay: The crowd. When the crowd goes insane.

Jonathan: If the beginning of the show is good you have fun. Then, the crowd sees that you're having fun and they enjoy it too, the music is better and everything. Also, our last performance at the Dinamo Dvash (a now-deceased underground freestyle electronic music club in Tel-Aviv, Y.B.) was splendid. The stage was pretty fucked up and the place was packed. People had a lot of fun. In the end of the show I looked at Shay and realized that heís going crazy on the keyboard. I calmed him down so he wonít turn the whole stage upside down. It was a show that built up slowly and when we got to the last songs the whole place was totally sweating.

Shay: Yeah. The Dinamo was the best club that in Israel, ever. Write that down!

Jonathan: It was fun and the crowd was open minded. We performed there three times and that was our last time. Weíre not used to karahana and total madness, we move with our music. On the strong parts we dance like thereís no tomorrow, but in the Dinamo it was a bigger karahana than any techno party Iíve ever seen.

Shay: There was a party in my toilets. I put fish in there and equipped them with small headphones I made especially for the occasion (water resistant of course). I put music and they danced. There were small bubbles in the water.

Jonathan: TLV was the best for me, I just had fun, really. The show at Goldstar festival in Tel Avivís promenade was also very nice.

What does the cover of Unfold mean?

Shay: Our friends, Guy and Lior are very talented painters and they made it together with the graphic artists.

Jonathan: For us it fits well with the name of the album. The drawings also suit the lyrics.

What are your musical influences?

Jonathan: It always changes, at least for me.

Shay: There are a lot. There isnít something that make you go ďEH! This is our influence now and let's do something similarĒ.

Jonathan: It could be a bassline from a Britney Spears song that you heard on the radio and youíre influenced by. All those small things. We donít have bands that we look at and say ďoh, thatís where we wanna getĒ. We found our own way and itís between a lot of bands. We donít hope to be like someone else.

Howís it like to sit so many hours in the studio, together? Is it aggravating?

Jonathan: Not at all. Lately Iíve been spending here a lot of time because I have a lot of work so it does irritate a little. But itís cool, itís funny. Weíre spending a lot of time together and we have our own things (jokes) as you can see. Thereís that trick we invented that we can do while driving. We drive a lot to BNE (which is located in Tel Aviv, 100km from where they live, Y.B.) and we get really bored in the car so we just entertain each other- we fart and lock the windows so they canít be opened. It's hilarious, and totally fun. Sometimes, when we have a schedule and we have to sit inside the studio all day, it pretty much sucks. But that doesnít happen a lot.

Shay: I like being stressed. Because that way feel that I find the time to do everything as it should be done. I feel good to just do things. Itís fun to be busy.

How do you approach a remix?

Shay: When we remix a track we know more or less what weíre gonna do but the result is always the opposite of what we wanted in the first place. For example, if thereís a vocal part that we like we take it.

Jonathan: Generally we take the ďhookĒ of the track or some other primary line. Right now we finished our remix to Infected Mushroom's Cities of the Future. Before we got the files of that track we were working on a track for our next album so we tried to paste the parts from the track we were working on to the remix, without any relation and it simply matched so we continued from there.

So, a good remix is a remix that takes the ďhookĒ of the track and turns it to something else?

Shay: If it comes out good, itís good.
Jonathan: In my opinion a good remix is one which is far from the original and stands by itself without relation to the original.

What do you think about Mo Shicís remix to Your Voice?

Jonathan: Itís good, in his style. I donít understand this style. I know that he got responses but itís a genre that Iíve never really connected to. Sometimes, in parties, when I donít notice I start to move to this music. But he really played with it well, he took it very far from the original and thatís good and important. And, he did it good. Heís a master in his own domain.

Do you sing by yourselves?

Jonathan: Lately yes. Shay also tried to do a few takes here.

Shay: I didnít succeed. Iím really bad.

Jonathan, tell me about J.Viewz.

Jonathan: I started J.Viewz when I had a lot of free time. When we finished working on Unfold we had much less workload and started doing things on our own. Itís pretty much Chillout, but not exactly Chillout. Not dancefloor material but still Chillout. It combines a lot of musicians, a lot of singers, piano, trumpet, etc.

And what else do you do?

Jonathan: All sorts of production which are not related to my material but to other peopleís material. I also wrote music for National Geographic and Fox Kids.

Can you live off studio work?

Jonathan: You canít live off studio work only, but you can live off work in music which means performances, production, writing, all sorts of stuff.

Howís it like working alone? Whatís different?

Shay: It has advantages and disadvantages. The main disadvantage is that when you are working alone you lose the special ďtouchĒ of the other person and the main advantage is that when you work alone you donít give a damn about anybody, you can take your time. Me and Jonathan complete each other.

Jonathan: Specifically, our chemistry is really really good. Sometimes I pull towards one direction and Shay is pulling towards another and it meets where me and Shay could totally not have done something that even reminds of Violet Vision. Not in terms of music nor ambition.

Shay, tell me a little bit about Gray Matter, your solo project.

Shay: Gray Matter dates back to the days when I was on MDMA Records. I released a track on Under Construction 2, very long ago. My second track as Gray Matter was released on Mo Shicís album and the third in Life is... Creation.

And Style wise?

Shay: It doesnít have a definition. One time itís Chillout, the other itís trance. Whatever I feel like doing at the same time. Could be Greek Polka, also.

You worked with Yakov Biton as Surreal. What do you remember from that period?

Shay: It was when I only started making music. Now I wouldnít think of making such music. It doesnít do it to me anymore. I listen to it and understand that I had lots of fun, but still. It was all MIDI-like. A completely different period of my life.

Is it still fun to make music?

Jonathan: Itís fun that the line of influences never ends. Itís not like you have a repository of muse and you ran out of it. Every time we go somewhere new. Thatís whatís cool. In Violet Vision weíre not obligated to one style of music. I mean, it wouldnít surprise you if we made a hardcore techno track or something like that. We were successful in retaining ourselves the freedom to create how we want, to whatever direction we want (for us and as far as BNE are concerned). Thatís what makes it fun, weíre not limited. Weíre creating all the time and keep doing new stuff.

What is good music?

Shay: Music that does something to you. That arouses youÖ music that you want to hear once again.
You canít say that good music makes you feel, because sometimes you just feel like hearing the snare and say that itís great. For me good music is music that I want to hear once again, and if I like it I wonít stop listening to it over and over again.

Jonathan: It seems to me that good music is music that doesnít demand anything from you. Itís not necessarily a good track, but depends on the timing youíre hearing it and feels right. Music that gives you, doesn't take from you or bother you, or anything like that.

Shay: Yeah, there is something to it. I think our first album demands too much from the ear. The second also demands a lot, but with something specific, not another thousand things. It demands some sort of feeling. It doesnít flip you over on countless times and tires you.

Jonathan: I think that good music is authentic, and thatís my final answer. Doesnít matter which style, sometimes you can even hear the singing of the gypsies and itís good, and youíre really not into that style. Or hear a house track, totally house and... thatís good music. Good music is music that you hear that was done from the heart, that you hear itís real and feel it in the music.

Then what is psychedelic music?

Shay: Unfold is psychedelic, but itís a different kind of psychedelic, you see. For some people psychedelic is pips, all kinds of effects that go like ďchooooĒ and that sort of stuff. Psychedelic can be some sort of emotion. Thatís how I think it is. Itís a feeling that you feel when you hear it. Thatís how it is with me. I can hear a Simon Posford track which has a lot of pips and plug ins and it's supposed to be psychedelic but in my opinion it isnít psychedelic at all.

Jonathan: In the 70's there was a lot of psychedelic stuff which is incomparable to trance. It just grasps you, without effects. Donít know how to say it, somethingÖ surreal.

Shay: Thatís a thing I never understood about trance. GMS, for example. They say itís psychedelic, but I still didnít understand why. I mean, it has scratches and everything and itís a little disturbed, but itís not psychedelic in my opinion. It doesnít have a feel of psychedelic.

Jonathan: Itís name that doesnít suit for what it is. When you do a ďahhhhĒ with delay itís not psychedelic. Psychedelic can also come from a guitar line, etc.

Shay: Jimmy Hendrix was really psychedelic. Heís just flying with the guitar.

Jonathan: Totally. And you hear it. Sometimes I hear Mediterranean style Israeli music, and think ďWhat the hell is it? Itís totally out of this worldĒ. This is Mediterranean Psychedelic :).

Shay: In trance music what counts as psychedelic isnít psychedelic for me and what doesnít count as psychedelic is psychedelic in my eyes. Itís the exact opposite. I think that in the trance scene people are hardly making psychedelic music. People are much more into build ups and balagan. For example, Slinky Wizard and Process who come from a completely different places. They donít think like ďOK, Letís bomb the partyĒ. They can put a track with a horrible kick, without bass at all, but youíll listen to it and understand where they come from. Thatís how I started loving trance. If trance was where it is today, I wouldnít have started liking trance in my life, you see. Once, trance was different. It had a different vibe, some sort of temperance. Everybody were doing what they felt like. It was beautiful and I liked it. Today, even though Iím not such a big fan of trance, I hear that music and say ďdamn, itís fucking geniusĒ. Where has it gone to? Those people are still geniuses in my eyes.
I really like Ticon. They totally make me dance.

Youíre only 22. People your age in Israel barely start university. How do you feel about it?

Jonathan: It rules. When I think about it, it feels very good to me. I found my own way. I didnít go through army, university and that stuff. For me and Shay it was obvious that itís our way and thatís what weíre gonna do with our lives. And itís cool. Now we are starting to get acknowledgement and money from it and itís a really good feeling. All our friends are either just finished the army, started higher studies or are still traveling. Weíre in another place. Itís a good thing, not a bad thing.

And being famous in such a young age?

Shay: Itís fun. For me itís totally marvelous. Itís cool that you do something, people hear it and like it.
Itís like... you throw something to the world and you get a feedback. Itís not about how you look like or something. Itís just something you gave from the heart, you get a good feedback and it totally rocks!

Jonathan: Weíre not making music because of it and we didnít think about it in the first place, but now receiving all this acknowledgment and respect has a great influence on our motivation nowadays.

Does it affect the music?

Jonathan: No, it doesnít, because we, as a band, do what we want to do, so to speak. From the beginning we werenít into pleasing anyone and peopleís opinions donít affect us that much, not in BNE and not in general. We do our own thing. There are people who understand it and there are people who donít, but their responses wonít change the music. We have our own way and we do it in our pace and if we were affected by reviews we wouldíve made our first album a trance one. Itís a hard way, especially in Israel, to do something that isnít trance and to be inside the scene and everything. Itís not easy, but itís really interesting. If we were into the easy way we wouldíve made trance and wouldíve been totally in another place today.

You didnít do the matriculation exams, do you regret it?

Shay: When talking about ďnormal lifeĒ, I donít regret doing (or not doing) anything. And I donít think I ever will. The only thing I regret is that I didnít learn music theory (Shay has been playing the piano for many years, Y.B.). Now Iím learning it. About education, itís better to watch National Geographic.

Jonathan: We felt like we were wasting our time. On the 12th grade we started working together all the time. We barely came to school. But the little time we were actually present at school... we think that maybe we shouldnít have come at all.

Shay: I canít study. I canít sit and read a book in history or math. I didnít pass one math test since the 7th grade. Even one!

Jonathan: On the 12th grade I was about to do the final math exam and my teacher was nice, liked me and everything. She told me: ďYou have potential and youíll do the examĒ. I studied with her, she gave private lessons at school for free and I knew the material very well, but I just didnít wake up the day of the exam. It sucks. I mean, it sucks that it didnít happen, it doesnít suck that I donít have a matriculation certificate. There are better ways to study than with a matriculation certificate.

Shay: Talking about fears and normal people stuff it's, like... rare. We took the uneasy way and in a young age. We didnít do the exams, we didnít serve in the army, things that make integration in the real world very hard.

Sometimes there are moments when youíre low on muse, when you say ďdamn, whatís gonna happen now?Ē

Jonathan: Yeah. That happens too. It happened to me a month ago. Iíve had those two weeks when I said ďI canít go on anymore. Thatís it, Iím gonna start learning a serious profession. I'm too tired of the responsibility". Thatís what I felt. When you choose the path of being a musician you donít have some institute that supports you, pressing you to submit papers on time and gives you a diploma that allows you to get into places. Itís only you and your talent, without diplomas. There are diplomas in music but most of them are not what Iím talking about.

Shay: That's the point of any artist who isn't incredibly loaded with money. Even for an artist who is loaded, the point is what you get for the soul from the piece. For me, if I don't get it for some time I can't function, you see, I don't have any fun, if I don't play or don't create, if I don't enjoy it. There are times that I create, but it's meaningless and, then it's "Well, I better not create at all".

Jonathan: I was just talking to some guy on the net. I started bitching about all the work I have and everything and he says: ďcome on, it looks like your life is one big vacation. You make money, and you make music tooĒ. Lots of people think that the thing with music is like you have luck and an easy life.
Of course Iím lucky, Iím very lucky. To live from music, to even start living from music is already fucking great and you should thank god for that. But still, it demands a lot of responsibility like every profession in which you are self employed, freelancer, all that stuff. There isnít someone whoíd come to you and tell you what to do and tell you how much money you get in the end of the month. It all depends in the quality of your creation, in what you do. But fortunately for us it goes really well. We go after our hearts music-wise and do succeed and itís really, really great.

Whatís next?

Jonathan: We didnít work together for a lot of time, since we finished Unfold (very long time ago), so only two months ago we started working together again. We started working on an album. The goal is to perform a lot, to spread the word, to make as many people as possible hear it, to reach as many ears as possible. Thatís the aim: perform and release more stuff.

Howís BNE?

Jonathan: On artistic terms, theyíre great. They donít intervene in our music.

Shay: They are progressing.

Jonathan: Yeah, and theyíve grown in the last year. They brought us pretty far. Sometimes we get along, sometimes less. But basically out of the Israeli labels this is where we want to be, and weíre there.

Any lasts words?

Shay: It was a great interview. Usually I really hate interviews but that was real fun.

Jonathan: Yeah, totally.

 Interview by TiMMY
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