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Amirali [Interview]

18 min read

Amirali is an Iranian artist currently living in the UK, and he is an accomplished producer whose style orientates around indie dance. Blending chunky basslines with melodic chord progressions, Amirali’s music has been released by record labels such as Damian Lazarus' Crosstown Rebels, Ellen Allien's BPitch, and Eelke Kleijn's DAYS like NIGHTS. He is also a skilled DJ who has performed everywhere from China to Brazil, including prestigious nightclubs such as fabric in London and Panorama Bar in Berlin. Amirali is a classically trained pianist and singer-songwriter who has applied his talents to electronic music, and he recently released a new single called "Whispers of Deceit,” which is out now via Amirali’s record label Dark Matters.

Progressive Astronaut caught up with Amirali to learn more about the release of “Whispers of Deceit,” his background, downtime activities, DJing and much more. Enjoy.

Hi Amirali, could you start by talking through your music style, and what inspired you to start creating electronic music?

“Sure, my musical journey began at a young age with piano lessons, surrounded by my dad’s music collection. As an avid music fan, he had a wide variety of music in the house, from classical and jazz to blues and rock ’n’ roll, which profoundly influenced me. During my teenage years in Iran, I discovered the sounds of The Chemical Brothers, Kraftwerk, Massive Attack, Depeche Mode, and a diverse array of influential artists. This was when my fascination with electronic music and music production began to develop.

I've explored various sonic realms throughout my journey as a musician, diving into dance, IDM, and more experimental avenues. This eclectic journey is partly fuelled by my experience with severe ADHD, which compels me to continually refresh my creative process and environment. Viewing music as an art form, I thrive on injecting novelty into each project.

In the past, I struggled with overthinking and perfectionism, but I've since embraced a more fluid approach. Rather than fixating on perfection, I prioritise creation, completion, and sharing. This shift has enabled me to avoid creative blockages and embrace the spontaneity of the creative process.

My recent tracks, like “Whispers of Deceit,” blend elements of disco, electro, and post-punk. I also find enjoyment in exploring higher tempos, venturing into more energetic and trance-infused territories. I've also been writing and producing for other artists whose music leans towards the leftfield. My production spans a wide spectrum, from slower-paced solo piano compositions, to high-energy tracks clocking in at 160 BPM. Ultimately, I embrace diverse influences and ideas without inhibition.”

Tell us about a typical day when you’re not travelling, what does your average day look like?

“When I'm not on the road, I'm usually in the studio. Making music is my passion, and it's where I feel most grounded and fulfilled. It provides me with extreme satisfaction and a sense of sanity in this crazy world we live in.”

In your own opinion, how important is it for an artist to try and follow current music trends, and is this something you’re conscious of at all?

“As an artist straddling the line between mainstream appeal and experimentalism, I consider music trends periodically. However, my primary focus remains on enjoying the creative process in the studio while ensuring that my music reflects my identity and style. I've consistently explored various genres, even venturing into drum and bass, reflecting the significance I place on dynamism and evolution in my musical approach.

Ultimately, regardless of whether you're consciously following trends, the key is to find joy in the music you make. When you're passionate about your work, others are likely to connect with it as well.”

Talk me through your live performances, and if you prefer to DJ or play your own music with synthesizers and drum machines etc?

“While I've primarily focused on live shows, I also find immense joy in DJ sets. For live performances, the setup varies depending on the show. Typically, the computer serves as the main engine, accompanied by a couple of synths, a drum machine, some pedals, and live vocals. The scale of the show determines the setup; for larger performances on other continents, I've even taken half of my studio with me. I enjoy both approaches—whether it's live or DJ sets—but recently, I've been increasingly drawn to DJ sets. I intend to reserve live performances for select shows or album tours.”

Dark Matters is your own record label… it would be great to know more about the imprint, and what made you start the label initially?

“Dark Matters is more than just a record label; it's a platform for artists who resonate with our vision. I founded it as a means to release music freely, without external influence dictating its structure or style. Dark Matters is a passion project, driven by a genuine love for music. We are very grateful for the incredible artists who have contributed to the label over the years.”

What’s new in your release schedule, as I understand you have a single out on Dark Matters, and I’d love to know more about that track?

“I've got a new single, “Whispers of Deceit,” set to release on Friday, May 31st. This track carries a poignant political theme that resonates strongly in today's turbulent climate. Touching on societal failures and governmental corruption, it reflects the pressing global issues we face. Initially, I made this for fun in the studio, but the feedback from friends encouraged me to release it. Despite its serious subject matter about societal issues, the track maintains an upbeat and aggressive tone, blending serious commentary with suspense and raw rhythm.”

The subject of mental health is complex and nuanced, and it is an issue to which those working in electronic music are especially susceptible. It can be deeply rewarding but it is also competitive, fast-paced, unpredictable and hedonistic. Talk a bit about the pressures of what you do that fans may not be totally aware of, and as a prominent artist how important is it for you to raise awareness on subjects like ‘mental health’?

“Having navigated various phases in my professional journey, I've experienced first-hand the complex and challenging nature of the electronic music industry. It's an environment that can take a toll on mental health if not managed properly. While deeply rewarding, it's also competitive, fast-paced, and unpredictable. Irregular working hours and frequent isolation, coupled with hedonistic temptations, can take a toll on mental health if not managed properly.

The pressures of this industry may not always be apparent to fans. It requires resilience and toughness to endure the highs and lows. Despite its challenges, staying focused on the work and minimising distractions can help maintain mental well-being. To some extent, ignorance can be a form of bliss in this regard.

Raising awareness about mental health is crucial, particularly in an industry where it's often overlooked. Seeking help is essential for those struggling, and fortunately, there are organisations in the UK, for instance, offering support to musicians at no cost.

In an environment where drugs and alcohol are prevalent, it's vital to remain determined and prioritise self-care. A genuine love for music can serve as a guiding light, helping artists navigate the obstacles and emerge stronger. It's important to never lose sight of, and always remember, the initial motivation that sparked this journey.”

If you were not a DJ/producer what do you think you’d be doing instead?

“Music occupies such a significant place in my life; it's constantly on my mind, and it's what gets me out of bed each day. I owe so much to music—it's given me a sense of purpose that I truly cherish. Without it, I'm not sure where I'd be or what I'd be doing.

In another life, I might have pursued architecture, given my background in that field. But there's also this dream I've held onto for years—owning a farm in a serene place like Mallorca. I imagine producing wine there and even running a restaurant. It's a dream I'm still holding onto, hoping to turn into reality someday.”

When you are not DJing or socialising in a bar/nightclub, what other weekend activities do you find enjoyable/relaxing?

“I enjoy spending quality time with my family and friends. Occasionally, I enjoy painting, a hobby I'd like to explore further in the future. Also, being a foodie, I always enjoy trying out new restaurants, whether in London or wherever my travels take me.”

Aside from music, what makes you happiest?

“My plants, I have lots of them.”

What else is coming up in your schedule, anything you can share with us?

“I have a series of gigs planned for the summer, along with new releases in the works. Plus, there's an announcement on the way about a remix I've been working on. It’s a special one!”

'Whispers of Deceit' is available now via Dark Matters, buy the release HERE.

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