Home Interviews Feature: Brlee [Interview]

Feature: Brlee [Interview]

27 min read

DJ & Producer Brlee comes from the small Slovenian town of Velenje, a town in the heart of Europe that gave a home to a talent who's name is now well known in the world of music. Challenging oneself to concur music, makes this man's life force an impressive one. One that made Ibiza his second home, balancing out one's life with, the probably, best world-known destination of life celebration and dreams.

Brlee's work has been recognized by some of the finest names of the music business, who without much consideration accepted to collaborate with Brlee's peerless skills. It is always said that 'it takes one to know one'. So there is no surprise that 12 new songs include collabs with big names, such as Magdalena, Marc DePulse, Several Definition, Marc Grabber, Purple Pill & Cajhen, who have all taken part and are a vital division of Brlee's impending 'Visions' LP. We had a chance to catch with Brlee just ahead of the release in this exclusive interview. Enjoy.

Hi Brlee, thanks for sitting with us today! Tell us where in the world you are today and what your plans for the week are.

Thank you for the invite, I'm very happy to answer your questions. I am in Slovenia at the moment, I'm my hometown of Velenje. Just another typical week ahead, time in the studio, a bit of recreation, and as always – some nice food.

Tell us more about your story. How did you discover electronic music and what led you down the path of wanting to be a producer and DJ?

Music has been with me since I was a kid, but back then I was still too young to understand it properly. My first contact with the gramophone and my beginnings with music mixing that is worth mentioning happened after a tragedy, in which my best friends brother lost his life. My friend was left without a brother but inherited a pretty big LP collection and a few record players, and so we started mixing and selecting music.

The wish to produce music was a result of the lack of music genres I loved the most, underground/house music with a strong melody presence. For years it seemed like the beat took over the entire production, and the melody suffered and wasn't given much care. So because of that, I started doing my own productions with a want to play music I love, at parties and such. Off course, today the music scene is saturated with melodic techno music. But even with that, only the best performers get to stand out in the crowd.

Tell us about your record/music collection, where do some of your early influences live? Or can you name a few tracks that were influential in your musical development?

I grew up with the early rave culture, mostly techno. As you probably know, Slovenia became the birthplace of European techno thanks to Umek and Valentin Kanzyani, so that too had a substantial influence on my work. With the later mixing of melody and techno, I was hugely inspired by artists like Tale of Us, Dixon, Maceo Plex... And that led me to step into that world.

How have you been dealing with COVID-19? Have your daily routines changed and are things normalizing where you are?

I don't think anyone had this coming or was ready for this. I wasn't. Off course, some changes occur and make you change your perspective of the world, but thankfully it seems things are slowly going back to what we were used to. Slovenia was one of the first EU countries that ended the lockdown. I managed t take some positives from all this, I devoted more time, probably than I normally could, to getting the album out and promoting it. That would be much more difficult and time-consuming without the whole COVID thing.

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

I do more sports now, which is also one of the bright sides of the pandemic.

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

It is very human-like, that you first need to lose something to realize how much it's worth, and how it is taken for granted, from all of us. I think everyone now realises the weight and importance of being able and free to go out, relax, give yourself to the world of music. I am certain this will have a positive effect on the world of clubs and clubbing, once we get to the point of it being safe and allowed.

Your album “Visions” was recently released on Overload Records. It’s a stunning collection of music. Tell us how it began to take shape? Was there an initial goal of writing an album from the beginning or did this happen organically in a way?

“Visions” was my first track for Overload Records back in 2016, even though I wasn't yet aware it would be the beginning of a new album. I think every artist or performer has that wish, of someday releasing and album, and mark the period of ones creative genesis for all times. The idea for an album came up after the tune ''This is the place'', which was recorded in Ibiza and had a significant influence on my later creating. I found it hard to believe that it would take as much as five years for the release of a record... But when I look back at everything now when I am to get it out there, I feel immense pride and I now see all the efforts, and all the things I had to give up in a way – were all worth it.

I get a modern sensibility from the album. From a compositional perspective and also design-wise. Tell us what studio tools featured heavily on the LP.

Thank you for that, I am very glad you noticed that. We have a lot of talent under this label, we do almost everything ourselves, starting with music production, the videos, organizing the events, the designs... I constantly keep up with what's new in the world of music, and not just electronic music or the genre I'm in. The album itself is very multi-everything, it varies in genres and sounds, so it is very difficult to stick to one part of the equipment. We bought a lot of new stuff, equipment and programmes, but let's say from the analogue syths I used mostly Virus, and Arturia and Waves from the softwares.

How did you end up with the final track selection and how did you go about cutting stuff out? There must be a point where it becomes quite difficult letting go of certain pieces?

No, it wasn't that difficult actually, since the album had been created over a long time and during different phases of my life, so the best tunes kinda stood out on their own. I think this album has it's own very particular story, and every song is exactly where it's supposed to be.

How difficult was it deciding on the flow from a listener’s perspective?

When I finished all the tracks, I listened to all of them over and over again, gave a lot of thought into how to arrange them in order. This I must admit took way more time than I initially thought it would. But at the end I think I got a pretty good ''flow'', I think the album works pretty well as a whole. And also with the remixes, with placing them at the end of the album. That way they also serve as bonus tracks.

You’ve elected to include some remixes from Magdalena, Marc DePulse, and Several Definitions. Was this always the plan from the outset or was there ever a thought to release them separately?

The remixers I mostly met over clubbing events, where we played together and they liked my work. All the remixes either already have been, or will be released separately. I included them in the album because, as I mentioned, this album is, an overview if you will, of my creative phase that lasted for the last four years of my life.

I would guess the writing of the album was a long process. Now that it’s done and out, what are your thoughts reflecting back on the process?

Yeah, now when I look back at everything, I have to say it's been a series of ups and downs. I really had to give a lot of things up in order for this to work, and believe me I tried a lot of combinations in order to get the best possible result. All in all, a long process which in the end resulted in a music collection that I hope, is here for all times.

What made Overload Records the right home for his album?

I had a few offers to release this album with some more renowned labels, but I think releasing it under my own label was the only right move, because of all the hard work that went into it, both from me and from all the people that worked on it. So, I feel, Overload Records was the only right way to go.

Tell us about the four videos that accompany the album's singles.

The first video ''Visions'' was made in my homeland, even if I didn't know at the time 'Visions' would be the beginning of that whole vision of mine. The three other videos were made in the last year of album production, and were imagined as a form of a trilogy made on three continents; Africa (Marocco), Europe (Ibiza) and the Middle East (Tel Aviv and Jerusalem). I must add we are really happy with the feedback we've been getting for our visual works.

Describe how satisfying it is to see a dance floor unite to something you’ve written.

I think that is that one moment when you feel everything paid off when you stand at the mix-table really proud of what you created. All the positive feedback gives me self-confidence and inspires me to keep on working. I can surely say that all the ''Visions'' tracks get a good reaction from the people on the dancefloor, and that does make me immensely happy.

The industry and how fans discover new music has changed dramatically in the last 10 years or so. How do you discover new music nowadays?

It's more or less receiving promo-materials from labels, but I am normally in a constant search for new tunes and regularly keep track of what my favourite performers and labels do. I must say that looking for music today, can be quite confusing and complicated in a way because of the huge amount of stuff being released. Maybe even more because of that, great joy comes from finding some new talent or label you like that you weren't aware of before.

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

I would love to do music for the tv series 'White Lines', that was shot on Ibiza which I like to think of as my second home, where I spend every summer. I go through a lot of emotions when I watch the show, I go back through a lot of memories of my Ibiza. I believe I could create something interesting for the series.

There are a lot of factors which affect the perception of an artist other than his music these days, social media for one, how much emphasis do you put on stuff like this? And what are your thoughts on the current state of the industry?

I think that the renascence era for music, and for the importance of music, took time and place way before I even started doing music. Now we live in different times, where you can get music, buy music, and steal music ''at every corner''. But I hope for vinyl to have its comeback, so the releases of higher quality have a high-quality vector in a way. Off course, if people would encourage LP sales and with that ensure the artists get a piece of the cake, seeing as they do deserve it.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

Uh, I am a big snowboarding fan! And now since the whole COVID situation, I became a pretty good gardener, planting fruits and veggies in my garden for myself.

What can we expect from you for the rest of the year? Any releases or special dates you can tell us about?

The album is out on June 24th. I think I will take a little break from production, at least for a while. But seeing as we cannot plan life, I obviously can't plan studio hours. Whilst we were all closed inside during lockdown, I created and produced more than I had planned, so I will say I will have some new releases. I am mostly looking forward to shows and album promotions. But as it seems now, we might have to wait until autumn for that

At the end of the day – I do not have to look for music. Music always has a way of finding me.

'Visions' is out now on Overload Records, you can purchase the release here: https://bit.ly/30WfXOS

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