Hi Zombi, please present yourself in a few words for those who donít know you?
Zombi: Hi, my real name is Eli and Iím a professional DJ for whole my free life (after army and university). Iím 30 years old. I love cooking and I really like eating after cooking. I have been DJing for 8 years now, and in those years I had opportunities to be resident at popular clubs, I had a chance to organize my own events for hundreds of times, and I performed in quite a lot of places around the world, including special places as Japan, Brasil, Russia, Mexico, China, Ukraine and many many more. My activities are DJing, party promoting, artistsí management, music scouting & producing. I love my life and the most I love my son Eko which is a very clever 10 months baby boy.
Why Zombi, btw?
Zombi: For those who know me there isnít a question, for those who donít I canít really explain.
Can you share with us important stops in your musical journey that got you to where you are today?
Zombi: First residency- Club Q; First compilation- Inspirazzia (Very Progressive, 2005); Gigs at Universo Paralello and VooV Experience festivals; Residency and running for 4 years Progressive Thursdays @ Maxim Club, Tel-Aviv; Compilation- On the Decks: With DJ Zombi (Plusquam, 2007); Tel Avivís real clubs recognition; Anything You Want EP (Sprout).
When did you decided that you want to be a professional DJ and what did you do once you made that decision to actually get there?
Zombi: After few first gigs I think something changed in me, my graduation as economist never looked so boring and my motivation to become a professional DJ was really on top of my list. So I started spreading demos all over, I mean all over. Israel and outside, a lot of demos. As well I (as always) spent a lot of money to get new music, even when the amount of my gigs was still kinda small. Also I helped/worked for organizations that deal with music, be it party promoting or CDs selling, any contact with ppl from the industry helps for the future.
Bedroom practice during free hours went on for first years as well. And then at one point I understood I can live from my DJing, then it was a wonderful day, I felt like a bird that learned to fly.
What makes a good DJ?
Zombi: Ability to interplay with a crowd on mental level and charisma that makes you able to actually make sure that what You play is what everybody wants to hear. There is no right music for right moment, there is always many ways, you just need to find your own and make sure you really believe in it. Endless practice and daily music update process is important too, of course. DJing is not for lazy ppl.
One important advice to beginnersÖ
Zombi: Take your head out of your ass and think when you do things.
Youíve compiled few compilations already, can any good DJ compile a good compilation, or there are other skills needed?
Zombi: If the DJ is good so he must know how to tell a story, or in other words arrange the tracks in the right order. But you need to find tracks, and here to be a good DJ helps, but is not all you need. You need to make producers believe you are the right guy to give his creation to, which means it is better you talk nice to ppl when you compile a CD, etc, etc. The compiling process must combine good DJ work with good relationships and office work Ė something not every good DJ surely has.
How does the process of compiling works for you usually?
Zombi: I get request from the label and we discuss details like budget, amount of tracks and all rest of the relevant questions. Then I take a day off and spend it thinking what kind of concept I want for this time. Then I send messages to artists I wanna see on the tracklist with explanation of what Iím doing and what are the conditions for releasing on this compilation, and artists that are interested, start sending me demos. Then after a while when I have 2-3 tracks I love, I can start seeing the common feel of these tracks, the thing that can translate of the main idea of the compilation. So the next tracks I look for have to have something to connect them to the tracks I already signed. Then when I have 5-6 tracks signed, I check what parts of the story are still missing (intro, cheesy hands in air tune, middle power groove for the after intro track etc. etc.), and then I complete the puzzle with last signs. Then all rest of job is processed by label and not by me. I just make sure all artists got their money and everybody happy, because I believe even in business ppl from all sides must be happy.
Youíve just release a new compilation- Sabotage- with Blue Tunes- can you tell us about it?
Zombi: This is my 5th compilation and as always I was looking for special music. Iím pretty much happy with the result and can say its deeper and more mind-playing than my previous compilations, so all those who like travel into their brains please check it out.
Many people will say you donít even DJ trance music, yet you play mainly in trance parties & festivals. What are your views on the music played in trance parties and about the distinctions between genre and its importance?
Zombi: Many ppl are always right ;-) I donít DJ trance music, I actually never did. I play music.
As a professional DJ I take care of making ppl dance and having fun, thatís what I do. I barely stop and think for a moment what style and sub genre the crowd wants, I try to find other keys which can be described by terms that are more real Ė warm/cold, relaxing/intensive, hypnotic/happy etc etc. These are my genres.
Also it seems you are not so updated about my gigs map, because actually I play only like 30% of the time for trance connected events (and even those will be the progressive or techno oriented trance promoters), and rest of my shows are on stages of proper Tel Aviv clubs such as Shmone, Helenís Keller, Zizi Tripo, Maxim, Music Room and etc. It took me 2 years of hard work to change my ďauraĒ and pull out the old sticker I had on my back. I needed to start from the beginning, come to club owners and present myself, but now I can smile big time because Iím one of rare examples of DJ that gets booked to all kind of events (and play his own same style on all of them)- Techno, House, Trance- I play at all of them and it canít be better because this is what it is about for me, not to be tagged as a DJ for specific style but to been known as DJ that will make a crowd enjoy the moment.
You have released compilations on many different labels. I know you have business experience and have been running a business not related to music for a long time. So why not run your own label? Why work for others?
Zombi: When I compile a CD I donít feel like I work for others, I think that I work for myself. After all itís my own success if the CD will be popular and people will be looking to come and hear my sets. My life in the last years is already very busy with many different activities that just donít leave me with enough time to concentrate on such a thing as a label, and Iím not used to make things under pressure or without having enough time to put real effort into them. I also feel honored to present my ideas on many different (and usually top notch) labels and I donít see any reason for now to add one more label to the industry.
You have collaborated with few artists to release some tracks (Perfect Stranger, Astronivo)- can you tell us about this experience and do you have plans to start producing on your own as well?
Zombi: Since I have no musical education and no computer education and my life is kinda busy in the last years, my only way to create some music is to collaborate. I sure do it only with ppl I love, ppl I feel comfortable to be with and I respect as musicians. So Yuli and Astro and Nivo are the ones who I did it with. I enjoyed working with both, but with Astronivo itís much more serious as we already released 4 tracks on labels such as Sprout, Vapour, Tribal Vision and Blue Tunes and we have more plans for the near future too. Our Sprout EP- Anything You Want, became kinda of a hit and we just released another- Cooling Down- on Blue Tunes. About a solo project Iím not sure now, but I guess it will come later in life.
Your dream DJ set- where, when, with whom, how long?
Zombi: I love after parties in nature spots. So- Brazil > waterfalls > Sunday > 300 ppl who already partied hard the night before > 6 hours set.
How long are your sets usually? How long do you like them to be? When I started dancing, DJs were playing very long sets- that was the norm. It seems today 1.5-2 is the norm- why do you think it's like that? Are the DJs even able to play longer?
Zombi: I think the average length of my set is around 3-3.5 hours, which is longer than usual now, but its explained by fact that I play in clubs which dedicate nights to one DJ, so I play 3-4 times a month 5-6 hours sets which compensate on 1.30-2 hours sets at production that fill the line up tight. I think good DJ must play more than 2 hours, because to really get into it takes some time and then when you catch the place, it is better to keep it there for 2 hours to boil at least (itís my cooking side talking now). So the minimum length must be around 2.30-3 hours in my opinion (and so it is in my own events).
So why it's not happening much? It'll be better for the crowd (if it's a good DJ), be cheaper for the event organizer, and better for the DJ (if he's a good DJ)?
Zombi: Because the average promoter is sure that more DJs in the line up must mean more dancers on the dancefloor, which means more bucks in the bank on Monday.
Is he right?
Zombi: Does its matter? He is the promoter of his own party, I let ppl do what they think best and concentrate on what I do best.
Please give us one track, one producer and one DJ that made an impact on you in 2008 and tell us why.
Zombi: Producer that very much attracted my attention in 2008 was Daniel Portman. His simple but wonderful progressive house is so right! I played all his tracks during the year and itís always works so good on the dancefloor and makes me smile. The DJ that I loved the most was D-Nox who is still the best for me, nobody can do it so to the point as Chris does.
Any last messages, links or general wisdom to share?