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ARTN [Interview]

27 min read

Juicebox Music's 61st release sees ARTN, aka Aly Nahleh, making his inaugural appearance on the Indian imprint with a 2-track EP featuring "Blue Frog" and "Lopos". Currently based in İzmir (Turkey), the Lebanese-born artist surfaced his ARTN project on AMPISH's label 'Sidra' in late 2019 and has since added more label associations along time - such as Mango's 'Mango Alley', Amber Long's 'Modern Agenda', Jelly For The Babies' 'One of a Kind' and Bondarev's 'WARPP'. Infusing an amalgamation of cinematic scores and exciting grooves to create his musical identity, ARTN's latest offering through this EP perfectly represents that vision. We had a chance to catch up with Aly for an interview leading up to the release. Enjoy! 

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

Hello PA! Thanks for having me. i’m doing great, hope you are too. The last piece of music I listened to was “Fly Away on the Wings of the Wind” (Prince Igor)

What are your plans for the coming week?

My plan for the coming week is Sound design and production sessions.

Can you name five tracks that were important in your musical development and why they are so significant for you?

5 tracks that were important in my musical development: ‘Jon Hopkins - Sun Harmonics’, ‘Jon Hopkins - Form by Firelight’, ‘Jon Hopkins - Colour Eye’, ‘Kasper Koman - The Blind Navigator’, ‘Subconscious Tales - Magnectares (Kasper Koman Remix)’. These tracks really inspired me alot and helped me develop my sound.

You were born in Lebanon but relocated to Turkey (where you currently reside), what was growing up in Lebanon like and what affect did it have on you pursuing a career in electronic music?

I’m currently living in Izmir City which is my favorite in Turkey. Growing up in Lebanon was really hard because of economic and government problems but thank god it didn’t affect my passion for music. What I'm pursuing now is to create music for the rest of my life.

What prompted the move to Turkey and how does it compare to Lebanon in terms of nightlife and electronic music in general?

As I mentioned earlier, I moved into a place which I really like and find myself comfortable and feel like home too! It always reminds me of Lebanon because of the similarities in mountains, seas and nature.When it comes to nightlife in Lebanon, Beirut is known as ‘one of the best party cities in the world’, But in Izmir they are more into beach parties because of its gorgeous sea. So every city has its own advantages.

When you were first getting started in production did you have someone help you or are you completely self-taught? And what would you recommend new producers do to help with the learning curve of production?

Well, when it comes to production I grow up learning something new everyday and I was self taught. What I would recommend to new producers is to learn something new everyday because it's a never ending process.

You have a new EP ‘Blue Frog / Lopos’, out this week on Praveen Achary’s Juicebox Music, tell us about the release and please walk us through the production process on one of the tracks, whichever you like.

Yess! Im very excited for this release, "Blue Frog" was really fun working on as it took me a while to compose the bassline. The groove is made up of multiple elements which alternate greatly with each other. On the other hand, the name of the track reflects my mood at the time, I had mixed feelings about something in my personal life and that was my way of expressing them in this track. It has very nice feedback so far and I'm really looking forward to it!

This is your first release on the label, what made it the right home for your original material straight away?

Juicebox is one of my favorite labels out there, I am stoked to be part of their catalogue. Praveen has always supported my art and this release has been in the works for a long time now, and I still remember when I got the first feedback from him was amazing and made me want to go for it!

Let’s talk about production for a moment, where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play? And was there anything that inspired the tracks which make up your Juicebox EP?

Great question! Inspiration has a lot of impact on my productions, I actually get inspired by many things like nature, people talking as a question and answer, video games, and of course music. My EP on Juicebox Music was inspired by all of these!

What does your set-up look like? Do you favor physical gear over digital? And what studio tools featured heavily in the writing of these tracks?

In the meanwhile my set-up looks pretty simple, a MIDI controller and APC 40 MKII. and what I use heavily is Ableton’s Wavetables and Pigments by Arturia which I used a lot while writing these projects.

For you to get started on a track do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called ‘visualizations’ of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?

When I start a project the first thing I start working on is the groove, if there's a solid groove then there's a solid track, so I always focus on that and it's my favorite part to work on. After that I try to balance between melodies and harmonics to fit well in the mix.

Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?

I don't remember that there's a production session that went without a coffee, it puts me always in the right mindset for creating.

Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite, I think. What marks the end of the process for you? How do you know when a track is done?

You'll know it's finished if you're able to experience the song in its entirety, just like your audience would, rather than listening for individual parts and picking apart every little detail. There's a magical moment in music production when the song starts to sound like more than the sum of its parts.

And to add to that, how much road testing or friend feedback is collected to help make that decision? And who is someone you share your new music with first for feedback?

Not many, in the end you have to trust what you do, but i always like to send to Alex Mango first because he gives trusted feedback and it always helps. Most of the time I'm showing a new track to a good music listener or a fan who has a good music taste because they look at them in a fan's view and that works well for me.

What is the task you enjoy the most when producing and what would you prefer someone else to do?

As I mentioned before, For me the most enjoyable part is working on grooves.

What would be a musical extravagance for your studio you would pay for, if you were very wealthy?

Never really thought of that, I think it can be a new pair of monitors.

If you could set up an event with a line-up of five artists of your choice, who would you book and what set times would you ascribe to the artists?

Kasper Koman
Guy J
Jon Hopkins (Closing Set)

In your opinion, what’s the biggest risk you’ve taken and what made you do it?

Basically, my life has been a string of many risky decisions that I make. I feel as if I am going through a rebirth that I also work on a lot. Of course, it's not easy but with the support of the loved ones it is much easier to follow the path.

What’s a book you’ve read or film you watched that has left an impact on you, and why?

It's an album actually, "Immunity" by Jon Hopkins. This album means a lot to me, when i first heard it, it touched my soul.

What is one superpower you would like to have and how would you use it?

I would say a happy mindset.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

Spending time with family, friends and watching football

What does the remainder of 2022 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

Releasing more music and hopefully reaching a few goals. One thing I can share is, believe in yourself. There will always be people telling you what you can't do, or putting you down. But all you need to do is listen to the inner voice you have and you can achieve anything. Thank you for the interview, it was a good talk. Cheers!

'Blue Frog' is available now via Juicebox Music: https://bit.ly/3SQZ1lj

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