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Feature: Chicola [Interview]

25 min read

Chicola began his journey into electronic music in the mid-nineties, at Tel Aviv's renowned 'Allenby 58', DJing alongside Laurent Garnier, Carl Craig, Danny Tenaglia and countless other top international talents. Releases on Guy J's Lost & Found yielded some of progressive music's most iconic tracks, most notably 'Childhood' and 'Yoav'. Now returning to the label for a remix of Tantum, we catch up with Chico in this exclusive interview. Enjoy.

Hi Chico, thanks for joining us, how are you today and what are you up to? What are your plans for the week?

Hi Guys, thanks for having me. I am feeling good. I'm having some quality time with my family, we are on a holiday at the beautiful north side of Israel between the mountains of Golan Heights for the next few days.

Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you discover electronic music and what led you down the path of wanting to be a DJ and producer?

As teenage boy I used to listen to the local Radio Shows every day after school. I think it was like a magnet for me, those days we didn’t have internet or any other means of information for new music except those radio shows. I remember hearing the early 80’s music from Yazoo, Duran Duran, Eurythmics, Depeche Mode, The Cure, The Smiths, Pet Shop Boys, New Order, Yello and so much more.

All those bands used to play with what we consider today vintage synths like the Prophet 5, Moog, 808, Juno and I think that sound was mind-blowing for me at the time and this is where electronic music started to me.

I was 12 years old and a friend of mine managed to get me into a local club, as I was too young, it was a local DJ and he played stuff like Yello 'Bostich' and New Order 'Blue Monday‘. Immediately I was blown away, from that point on I tried to go as much as I could and back than just to be able to have a sneak peek at the DJ booth meant everything to me. From that point I started to play at school parties and from there I eventually started playing in small local clubs and after that when I was 20 I worked my way to bigger clubs in Tel Aviv.

During the early days I always made special edits for tracks. I used to edit on minidisc and then on some of the early software like Acid and Soundforge. This was around the early 90's and from that point I started to develop my skills into the original productions.

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

That’s a great question!

I grew up in musical family, not musicians but all my family was really into music. My grandmother used to have an amazing collection of vinyl that included Chick Corea, Stan Getz, Astrud Jilberto, Julio Iglesias. While my dad had used to play me The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Greek Music and I still remember those moments. Magical times no question about it. I feel it was my base for everything that came after that.

I think as a DJ & Producer I love so many genres and while growing up in Israel I worked in record shops and to be exposed to so many great musical styles, from jazz to hip hop to classical music and rock and of course all the electronic genres, had a big impact on me and sometimes when I produce a track I can hear some influence from my musical journey.

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

1. Get Dacor – Passion

This is Balearic Ibiza at it's best, atmospheric classic house. For me its also one of the best-known works of early Progressive House. Its amazing this track was released in 1992 and still sounds so good today.

2. Robbie Rivera – Feel This

This is probably one of the tracks that had the biggest influence on me. Those big percussive sounds with the heavy drums at the bottom. Mama Mia I can still hear Junior Vasquez turning Twilo in New York upside down when he played that.

3. Guy J – Stay Cow

This one is special to my heart. Many People will walk in and out in my life but only true friends will leave such a footprint in my heart.

4. Danny Tenaglia – Elements

One of the biggest tracks in the history of electronic music, this one made huge impact on every club around the world when it was released around 1998 on Twisted Records.

5. Kings Of Tomorrow – Finally

I used to play marathon sets at the legendary Haoman 17 after party's in Jerusalem with my very good friend Sahar Z. I used to play those after party's from 8AM till 2PM and sometimes even 6PM, every time I dropped that record the crowed screamed.

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

This is not an easy time for all of us and Covid 19 does not skip any house. Everyone experiences something in their own way. I think someone in this universe decided that we humans need to stop for a moment the marathon we live in. It's very sad to see all the severe casualties of this pandemic and backwards also what happened in Beirut that left so many people homeless that it's really sad.

I think there are also a few beautiful things these days. It's a time when we're all back to our sources for the basics, for conversations, for dialogue, for good deeds, for helping others, for me personally we as a family are much more together, it solidifies the foundation of family, countless special moments with my wife and children. I also have quite a few studio hours and lots of inspirational moments,

What’s something that you do now (regularly) that you didn’t before COVID-19.

Sports. I always loved sports but now I have much more time, I love to do long walks and playing more squash.

What is the current state of nightlife in Israel?

The main clubs in Israel were shut down back in March and for the now they are still closed. There are some small places that opened for around 50 people max.

You have a new remix of Tantum out via Lost & Found this week, tell us a bit about it and please walk us through the production process on it.

Guy called me and asked if i wanna do a remix for Tantum’s debut release on Lost & Found and after i heard “Vor Augen“ I had few ideas for what to do with it. I started to make a solid groove and play with melodies with my synths and started to build the track around that groove. I used the Roland Jupiter 6 for the main melody and really wanted to keep the great vibe that the original had. I also used the Poly Evolver for more sounds and some pedals for effects. After I finished the whole track I went to Khen’s studio to do his mixdown magic tweaks and than the final mastering was done by Steffen Muller.

What was it about the track which made you want to remix it? And what do you generally look for when deciding on remix projects?

If I think I can bring an additional aspect to the original with my sound I would do it. I always think about what I can bring. When I heard Vor Augen I felt the magic in the main melody and there was my inspiration.

I think for a lot of artists music allows you to write a sketch of your own personal universe in a way; your travels, life experiences etc. Is this something which is true for yourself? Where does inspiration come from?

Totally agree, music is a muse and when you write music you are using your feelings, your emotions, your memories, sometimes its sweet and mesmerizing and sometimes its a samurai sword, sometimes its about joyful moments you had in a club and sometimes its about something sad that happened in your life.

How much road testing or friend feedback is done before you’re ready to say a track is finished?

In general I use road testing a lot to determine this. I play a lot of unreleased originals in my sets and its also something that is very important to me. I like to bring the crowd at my gigs something special to that specific night. I also like to share some of those unreleased tracks with my friends.

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

I write my music on Cubase and use a lot of synthesizers. I think the ones I use the most nowadays are the Jupiter 6 and the Prophet 12.

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?

That’s very true. I like to dig very deep in Spotify. I like to discover many artists in many genres on Spotify. I also search on Beatport, Juno and Bandcamp. I am a true music lover and music is a central part of my life so I really love to search great music wherever I can find.

Looking back over your discography, what release or track holds the best memories for you and is there a correlation between that track and how successful you are today?

Thank you for that. In full modesty I truly believe that each track is special for me and each track had his own impact of where I am today. It's all about being honest with your work. With that being said I had an amazing memory working on my next EP 'La Nina Del Mar' which I wrote about my daughter and of course working on 'Childhood' was a blessing and Yoav with his beautiful melody and my remix of 'Hide U' which made it to #1 on Beatport last year.

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

Cinema Paradiso. masterpiece of classic movie .

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

It’s all about the family.

Current five favourite tracks?

Tantum – Vor Augen (Chicola Mamba Out Remix)
Chicola – La Nina Del Mar
Sebastien Leger - Fibulae
Khen – Born Out
Roy Rosenfeld – Lift Of Love

What does the remainder of 2020 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

I have my debut EP on Sebastien Ledger's Lost Miracle which is two beautiful tracks La Nina Del Mar & Belladonna. Both tracks were very big at the last We Are Lost Festival in Argentina.

Tantum – Vor Augen (Chicola Mamba Out Remix) is out now via Lost & Found: https://bit.ly/31IvAcE

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