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Interview: Rona (IL)

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RONA is a talented Singer / Producer / DJ & Label owner “MANTRA”. She sings from the age of 7, started studying production and sound at the age of 20 , and over the years she is just progressing and developing as an independent artist who does it all on her own. Rona has a special soulful vocal tone that she envelops in her melodic and afro productions that gives a perfect balance between the singer and the producer. Her contents speak of consciousness, sound, and the ability to connect with yourself in spite of the difficulties. There is a spiritual statement but a danceable sound – so that makes the combination here interesting and unexpected. We had a chance to catch up with Rona for an exclusive chat just prior to the release of her ‘Become’ single. Enjoy!

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

Hi, Thanks for having me in this interview 🙂

I’m currently chilling at my studio, I was listening to ‘Monolink’ – he’s someone I’m learning from because I like his combination of singer-songwriter side and producer side but he’s doing it in such a smart way.

How were your holidays and what are your plans for the coming week?

At the holidays I was relaxing at my home, working on my new material mostly.

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

Here in Israel it is mixed cultures living together – I guess what was mostly affecting me is the ethnic music we have here.

I have ethnic side as well in my music and in my voice but it is not 100% – it’s a mixture.

Mostly, I grew up on pop music, vocal trance of the 2000’s , movie soundtracks and little bit of rock and classic music.

Name five tracks that were most important in your musical development and why are these pieces so significant for you.

Well the first one is easy – definitely

1. ‘Delerium ft. Sarah McLachlan – Silence (Tiesto Remix)’

This track is classic for my ears still today.

I remember when I was a kid (Think I was 7?)singing and dancing to this tune and in this track I discovered electronic music and from there I just wanted to sing and create those tunes – it’s like the perfect combination of deep vocals and content with danceable beats.

2. “ATB – Ecstasy“,“Reflekt – Need to feel loved”, “Above & Beyond – Can’t Sleep”

I Had to name all of them 🙂 since they are in the same category for me – they are pretty much the era of 20’s for me – that nostalgic pure sound with melodic synths and beats and dreamy vocals and this is my childhood

3. “Royksopp – Sordid affair” – they influenced me a lot with their album “The Inevitable End” – kinda melancholic ,mature, analog warm sound. Every track tells a story not just in the sound but also in the content – it’s like ‘Royksopp’ could give me that quality basic sound and the Dj’s could just take it and make brilliant remixes for the dance floor.for me they are classic

4. “Black Coffee – Buya” – this is opening doors for me for Afro-house music – from there i just start to produce more Afro house tunes.i liked the “minimalistic” afro deep production with the soulful vocals

5. “Ben Bohmer – Dive” – I just like his work, especially on this track – it is deepy and ‘minimalistic’ but still danceable – again everything here just in the right proportion.

You have a new single out now on your MANTRA imprint. Tell us a bit about the release and walk us through the production process on the track.

Well, I think every artist can relate to the content of the track. You can be a DJ/Producer/Rapper/Singer/Dancer or any other artist – it talks about the process of becoming what you want to be. It’s like you are being , you are living – you are already what you want to be but it is a process to get there.it is on consciousness level – you need to build it, the real work is inside but with actions with no shortcuts. Clearly I’m talking about me and my journey but still it is a process that everyone goes through – I really wanted to make some statement with the message here.

With the production – I really was focusing on the drums and the percussion – this is the thing in this track and that’s my favourite part on afro tunes ,I like to build it – so I started with that , when I found it I went into the vocals and then it just flow to the synths.it was pretty fast process.

There is also a remix from South African artist Demented Soul, tell us why he was someone you wanted to re-interprete the track.

Well ,with Michael (aka Demented Soul) – we were working on some new stuff together – then I sent him the track ‘Become’ – he liked it so from there he took it and make his approach with this release and it just fits well since I was also looking for more “Afro” approach to it and my original mix it is mixture of deep,melodic and afro house.but with Michael remixes – he took it to more “Afro” sound so it complete the EP.

Where does your inspiration come from? And was there anything which inspired you to write this particular track?

The inspiration is simply life – it comes from everywhere – it can be a movie, a sound, a DJ set , visual art or from singing – it can be anything. I see it in everything in life.

On this track – I remember I was listening and seeing Black Coffee DJ set on Tomorrowland – the vibe was amazing and I remember after absorbing this energy I just went straight into Ableton and from there it just born – I mean the basic of this track, the production took me a hour or two – the basic was really fast process – the mix took more time though. when it comes that fast – for me it’s a good sign – it’s like I channel it – that’s how I feel anyway.

What’s a piece of gear or software that always gets used when you’re writing a track and what featured heavily on this track?

Ableton for sure! – I don’t have lots of gear – I don’t think we need that much gear to make music – since I’m more digital than analog for me it works.

You’ve recently launched your Mantra imprint, with this being the second release, tell us what your vision for the label is and what advice do you have for artists hoping to get signed to it?

The vision of this Label was created for freedom musically for me – I also was looking for a name that could relate to my world and mantra is perfect! Mantra is like a healing sound that you repeat over and over again and It has an impact on you.it vibrates you. So let’s say consciousness and sound are the keywords here.

When you finish a new track now how do you decide whether or not to look for a label to release or put it out on your own?

I think it’s about finding proper home for my tracks. labels also have their own selections and sound and sometimes it’s not 100% there.and sometimes I have tracks that I don’t think will fit to the labels but I still want to release them. music is music – it is what you are going through.

For me MANTRA is a home – I can still be “Rona” and have my sound but at the same time I want to go in different directions sometimes.

This is a perfect solution for me – if I believe in curtain track and I think with my label it can get a better job so be it.

Where do you see your work fitting into the electronic spectrum? And what do you want your music to convey to the listener?

I guess that I’m doing it all alone – the singing ,the production, the mix – all the vision together.

The content and lyrics are also important to me. It is about consciousness and sound.

I guess I also mix things together – I grew up on pop music so I have a part from that too but I’m making house music and the sound is different so it’s kinda those two worlds mixing together.

Shortcut: it is the voice, the content, the vision and the sound of course.

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

I think it affected everyone. My daily life has pretty much changed – I work from home mostly –  but for me it’s good because I have more time.

I miss the dance floor mostly, DJ’s sets live ,feeling the people – it gives me inspiration immediately .my brain works really good after that.

But it didn’t change my muse to write music.it still the same – but I’m constantly changing.

What is the current situation with the pandemic in Israel?

Here in Israel – we are on lockdown but not fully lockdown. We are pretty much on half lockdown since September.

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

I don’t know honestly, but I do feel that when it will return eventually – I think people are so craving and missing it that it will come big time.

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

Big shoes but I would have loved to produce or be part of “Gladiator”.

‘Gladiator’ soundtrack is the classic music of our days. ‘Hans Zimmer’ did a brilliant job there. I would have loved to add something of mine

Maybe on the vocals, maybe to add more ethnic percussion.

I also grew up on video games so I would have loved to be part of this too – it also suited me in some way.

Because I have that fantasy mind , I draw mostly fantasy characters. And I remember when I was teenager I was collecting soundtracks of video games. Collecting sounds.If it’s a piano piece or strings – I felt a little weird as a kid that I was collecting those things that most of the people wouldn’t listen or care about but I was connecting deeply into that.

Good example is the composer “Gustavo Santaolalla” – he did an amazing job on “The last of us”.

Right now I’m pretty much into cyberpunk things. I really like it – would love to do something like that in the future because I see ourselves in the future through that.

What have been some of your favorite tracks over the quarantine period?

hmm.. I guess my fave was

“Nox Vahn & Marsh – Come together “- this is pure art – I mean ‘Alan Watts’ lecture on meditation, consciousness and sound it is so my world- great message there with beautiful synths.

“Nox Vahn  ft Mimi Page – Dream of love” – just liked the vibe ,the vocals, the arrangement and the sound.

“Volen Sentir – The great escape” – great chill track – just gives me a positive vibe.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

Dance makes me happy – It brings out a different side of me.

I also paint and draw if I have some time off

‘Become’ is out now via MANTRA: https://bit.ly/3sKG9ra

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