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Interview: Choopie

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Agnosia Black relaunches with an updated set of mixes for ‘Chilling Moments’ from Choopie & Shmuel Flash. Originally released on Bedrock Records and a favourite of John Digweed two decades ago, Agnosia now updates this progressive music classic with new interpretations from some of the genre’s current stars in GMJ & Matter, Kamilo Sanclemente, Golan Zocher & Choopie and Dabeat. We had a chance to catch up with Choopie for an exclusive interview just prior to the release. Enjoy!

Hi Choopie, thanks for joining us. What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to?

Thanks for inviting me.

My actual current mood is great, I’m in a very creative mood in general.

The last piece of music I listened to is by David Broza, a well-known International-Israeli singer-songwriter. His music mixes modern Pop with Spanish and oriental music. I was watching him preforming live in Dubai, accompanied by a huge orchestra – the event itself and the mixture of sounds were refreshing and optimistic (current peace between Israel and the Emirates).

What are your plans for the coming week?

This coming week I plan to work on the design of new covers for my next release, do some work in my studio (new stuff in the making) and work on my new set for Bonzai’s Progressive radio show ““Bonzai Basik Beats Radio”.

Talk to us about growing up and living in Israel, how has it affected your musical taste and the music you make?

I was born in the 60s, a flower boy, a family of music lovers and parties, we use to dance together after Friday Night dinner, vinyls were always spinning in our house.

I grew up in a young quickly developing country of many different cultures, an ingathering of varied music backgrounds, a region of mixed sounds from Asia to Africa, oriental to modern. Israel

The tense everyday Israeli open way of life – a modern young yet old and ancient country vibes affected the more progressive music side in me with middle eastern elements.

Tell us about your record/music collection, where do some of your early influences lie?

Going back, I was first fascinated by the way that Pink Floyd (the way they integrated electronics into their music) then Kraftwerk, especially their album Computer World, they are both defining musical moments and great inspirations. Kraftwerk’s pioneering innovation in electronic and Avant Garde music – both sound and dance, captivated me and I have followed their work ever since.

In the 80s I was more of a New Wave Dj on the electronic side, Prodigy, New Order, The Cure and many more. I used to fly to Amsterdam, Belgium, and NYC to shop for records and bring new sounds to Tel Aviv. I discovered my lifetime passion for electronic music at a very early age. Then came the Acid House Era – Moog Bass and the TB.

I became the pioneer of the Electronic Dance Music Scene in Israel in the early 90s – it was recognizable through my unique hypnotic melodies and seductive grooves and sounds that I brought to the Israeli music scene. I used to travel regularly around Europe and spend time in Ibiza and Amsterdam and was connected to all the electronic scene.

In those days there wasn’t any electronic music in Israel, no scene or any kind of place to be exposed or platforms to buy or hear this kind of music.

What are your favourite venues to play or attend an event in Israel and why?

By far Allenby 58 was my favourite! I had played in many clubs before it was established, but they were underground clubs, but Allenby was the real break through from underground venues to one of the top ten clubs by DJ Magazine, I was the resident for 7 years – the leading Thursday night – I use to regularly host top international djs Little Louie Vega, Judge Jules, Tiesto, Brandon Block, Dave Simmons and so many great ones.

 There are many amazing artists from Israel, particularly in techno, psychedelic and progressive house, is there anything you would attribute that too?

Sure, there are many amazing electronic artists from Israel, this country has amazing creative and talented people.

Being modest though, I do think I was a kind of source of inspiration and influence for many of them I’ve been called many times “The Godfather of Israeli Djs”.

And would you say the country has a dominant sound at the moment?

The dominant sound in Israel is techno, psychedelic, and progressive house.

 This week sees the relaunch of your Agnosia Records imprint with a special set of remixes for ‘Chilling Moments’. Tell us about the release and how you went about choosing the remixers you did.

The relaunch is actually Agnosia Black, which is the progressive sublabel of Agnosia Records.

I am very connected to the heavenly vocal of Chilling Moments on a personal and emotional level. The original progressive Classic track represents a lot of moments from over the years.

I originally produced the vocals in the late 90’s at Agnosia Studios and in the early 2000 culminated the project together with Shmuel Flash (from the Flash brothers) which was originally released on Bedrock recordings via Agnosia records/songs in 2002. The track was hammered by the likes of Sasha, Hernan Cattaneo, Nick Warren and John Digweed, among others, this was a true ‘Progressive House’ classic from this Golden Era.

I decided to release the track again especially for its 20th anniversary (first produced in 2000) and chose the Remixers together with my Columbian Israeli partner and friend Golan Zocher

It was important for me to have leading producers remix this great track and as part of the launch of Agnosia Black sublabel. Each one of the Remixers took the “Chilling Moments” track and created with their own musical style from mellow spiritual deep house edits to Deep and punchy progressive versions as well as ambient chill out vibes. Very grateful to each one of them Dabeat – GMJ & Matter – Golan Zocher – Kamilo Sanclemente and Sharkieboy.

This track owns a special place in the history of progressive music. Originally released on Bedrock Records in 2002 with Bedrock remixes in fact. It was perhaps most famously played by John Digweed on the Delta Heavy Essential Mix during the Miami Music Conference in 2002. You were responsible for the spiritual vocals that ran throughout the track,  tell about how this iconic production was made.

The vocals production was made when I was looking for an oriental voice from my origins. After my previous success in 1998 with my track “Yim” (Im Nin’Alu – Ofra Haza).

“Yim” (Multiply) the first major release by Jez & Choopie which made the UK Top 40 and was licensed to over 20 countries and signed to Sony uk publishing

The idea was to try to replicate the success, and I was searching for ethnic spiritual vocals with singers in my studio. Until I found the right singer and got to the exact sound – with a bit of reverb effect I got the sound I was  looking for, for awhile it was in my archives files but while Shmuel Flash was working as a technician in my studio he started to work on the production. And all the rest is history.

Why was now the right time to relaunch Agnosia Black and why was ‘Chilling Moments’ the perfect track to do it with?

This is the perfect time to launch my new sublabel Agnosia Black with ‘Chilling Moments’ remixes 2021 for the new year, and as I mentioned before, it is 20 years since it was originally produced and thought this would be the perfect track to start launch with. Hoping to get a lot of exposure with the help of this release 🙂

Will there be any more remixes to come and what are your future plans with the label?

Yes more remixes to come in the spring. I have lots of future plans with the label and intend to release lots of new music of mine – as well as vo. 2 of Chilling moments remixes.

 Will you be taking demo submissions and if so what advice would you have for someone hoping to get signed to the label?

I am always open to hear new tracks and am mainly concentrating on my own studio productions with other producers.

 How have you been dealing with COVID-19? How has it affected your daily life, music production and overall inspiration to write new music?

We might be in lockdown as professional djs but as producers we can use this time to really focus and work on loads of new tracks, actually on the creative side it was been a very fruitful period.

I am focusing on picking music that has a really positive message to help people forget about everything for a little while.

Covid-19 has been able to give me a timeout – a quite time to really create – being a lot at home on the top floor of my building with a view of Tel Aviv city and sea front from my studio has greatly inspired my recent music sounds. From sunset to sunrise – I am having fun.

What is the current situation with the pandemic in Israel?

The COVID-19 pandemic in Israel is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease. We have had several full lockdowns – numbers are changing all the time, high infection rates, politics as usual affect other decisions made. The economy like everywhere around the world is in trouble. Nightlife doesn’t exist – lots of confusion with regulations and restrictions

What is something you do now (regularly) that you did not before COVID-19?

A lot of order in my paperwork and equipment in the studio (things I would usually put off) – More quality time with my family – I spend much more time in the kitchen – And most importantly more time with my parents who during this period are very much alone as they are in the risk group.

My regular things but I just don’t leave the house.

 Is the government in Israel doing anything to help artists and nightclubs for example?

ZERO NOTHING!

 Once nightlife eventually resumes globally what kind of effect do you think this period in our history will have on the clubbing experience?

It will start from Social distance and open venues, but it will some point explode – cause music connects people and people long and miss that kind of connection. It won’t go back to what it was, this period has bankrupted a whole scene – but it will have a different shape to it.

What’s a piece of gear or software that always gets used when you’re writing a track?

Ableton – Live software, Moog The Rogue, Juno-106, Roland Sh 101 are always in use.

 Is there a movie you would have loved to have produced the soundtrack for? And if so why?

I love national geographic kind of things or One Giant Leep – would love to write a soundtrack for something like that – world electronic music

Current five favourite tracks?

The Organism – Serotonin (Original Mix)

I Trance You Gypsy (Choopie_Remix)

Alex O’Rion – Komodo [Replug]

Kamilo Sanclemente, Zalvador – Falling Skies [Plattenbank]

GMJ & Matter – Gauntlet

Böhmer – In Memoriam (Tim Green Remix) [Anjunadeep]

 What does the remainder of 2021 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

2021 I hope to be releasing lots of different kinds of music – I am aiming this year for a different kind of production more instruments and oriental sound tracks that have longer timelines. And also intend to work on others interesting progressive stuff.

‘Chilling Moments’ Remixes Vol. 1 is out now via Agnosia Black: https://bit.ly/2Nj5bNV

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