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Feature: Eli Nissan [Interview + Premiere]

21 min read

Hi Eli, thanks for joining us, how are you today and what are you up to?
Hi to all of the music lovers on Progressive Astronaut, I’m in great creative shape drowning in my studio & gigs and planning my next steps.

Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you discover electronic music and what led you down the path of wanting to be a producer and DJ?
Well as many of you know I started as a singer & a guitar player when I was 14 years old and a few years later I started a funk-rock-pop band named “PORTRAIT”. The band had a huge success and became one of the most popular bands in Israel off all time. When the band stopped I went back to my other youth passion and started Djing in the Tel Avivian underground scene, quickly finding myself back in the studio but this time with the influences from house music that started to rule the clubs in the city.

Where do some of your early influences lie?
My early influences are an absolutely crazy mix of genres from early music heroes’ like Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley along with James Brown, David Bowie, Prince, the, Doors, Beatles and at the same time, I was deeply into bands likes New Order Kraftwerk and Dark 80s I never put any boundary to my ears.

You’ve been in the game for a long time, what are some of your most prized records? And how big is your vinyl collection?
Actually, to be honest I don’t have a big vinyl collection of house & electronic music most of my records are from rock & prog artists that I mentioned here but still I got some house classics vinyl such as Danny Tenaglia - Elements, Sasha & Digweed - Northern Exposure and also pieces from Masters At Work Faithless Leftfield and more.

Many newer progressive house fans might not be ware but you had releases on labels like Alola and Addictive pre 2010, although now defunct they were premiere imprints at the time. You took a hiatus from the scene around 2011 though only to return in 2015. What led you to step away for a while and what brought you back?
Right, my first releases were in the last decade I was along with Guy Gerber one of the first pioneering artists (from Tel Aviv) that released house music. In those days the Israelis were known for their trance music all around the globe. I had a very nice vibe around my releases and I began to get very good response from the industry. I still thought I wasn’t there all the way and in parallel I worked with big Israeli artists as a musical producer and artistic manager for their albums and projects. It was very intense, and I was very busy to handle both careers. Along with the fact that I became a young father and back to the studio with Portrait to make our no 4 Album so I just drowned into so many other projects and slowly found myself out of the scene for a while … but the passion was always there and during 2015 my brother & mentor Sahar Z push me back to the studio and its was very easy for me to find my way back to my real love !!!

Your productions always carry a great musical quality, not overt but subtle and very emotional, is this something you strive for in the studio and what do you want your music to convey to the listener?
Yes, I like music in my tracks and melodies always moved me. I’m also in love with grooves and beats and the combination to create both worlds. As I see music, I want the listeners to remember my music not just as a “dancefloor track" and I hope that something will stay with them as an inspiring music.

Tell us about Tel Aviv, how has living there shaped your sound and career?
Tel Aviv is A “villa in the Jungle” amazing and inspiring city in any way (culture, music, night life, etc …) we have a huge electronic scene that is well known all over the world and the community is getting bigger and bigger every day. You can go out here almost every day till morning and hear techno vibes in almost every place in the city. For me it’s perfect to live here but of course the political situation is very hard and sad and the fact that we have a city like this in the crazy middle east is a miracle!!!

It’s obvious from your social media you are a great husband and father, how do you balance family life and music?
It’s easy for me to say that my family is my biggest inspiration. My studio is in my home, so they are living the dream with me every day. It’s amazing how they support me and love what I’m doing. There is no doubt I couldn’t make it without them they are my anchor!!!

You’re part of a very tight crew there in Tel Aviv, Chicola, Sahar Z, Khen, Guy Mantzur, Roy Rosenfeld, Stereo Underground and more are all part of the burgeoning progressive scene in Tel Aviv. How does having such a great group of guys around you affect your productions and inspiration?
All the names you mentioned here are my second family. It’s amazing the kind of magic that we have with each other. Every soul here is priceless. They are all extremely talented and off course along with our biggest inspiration and musical phenomenon, Guy J. I think it’s unique & special in any way I feel blessed to have these friends around me and it’s obviously a huge inspiration for all of us I believe we listen to each other’s music and consult a lot for advice. It's definitely a gift and I hope it stays like this for good

You have an amazing EP out soon on one of Belgium’s finest imprints EDGE, tell us a bit about the tracks and how they came together as an EP on the label.
Thank you. I’m glad you like it. I knew EDGE from the high-quality events they produce, and I love their musical choices since they started their imprint. So, when Eran Aviner ask me to make an Ep for the label it was easy for me to say Yes!! We chose the tracks for the Ep together from 7or 8 tracks that I sent to Eran. We discussed it a lot it to find the right combination, which wasn’t very easy. I strongly believe that we chose well in the end and hope the listeners will love it much as we do. For us there is no lead track, it’s an A side EP

Walk us through the production process on the lead track ‘Old Glory Late Romance’.
“Old Glory Late Romance” was actually produced before I played my debut in Budapest with Guy J, Chicola & Guy Mantzur at a special Lost & Found showcase. I wanted to come to this gig with brand new music. This track was one of 4 tunes I made for this show. I can’t say much about the process in the studio, it’s one of those tracks that just came out of you in some spiritual moment. That moment when you know everything goes in the right mood.

Is that a typical process for you or is every track a different journey in terms of the creative process?
Yes, I’m glad you noticed and asked this question. For me defiantly every track has his story & journey. I’m always looking for the “g spot” of every track to make him a standalone and unique track. I think it’s a must these days when we have so much music that gets released every day.

Was there ever a discussion on a possible remixer on the release? And how do you feel about your work being remixed in general?
Yes, at the beginning we discussed about remixers. We had two tracks and started asking artists we thought that could suit. In the end we decided to make a personal EP and to add another original track to the package. Generally I like remixes, it's always exiting to hear another artist’s interpretation to your music and therefore enjoy to do a remix once in a while as well.

What are the biggest challenges you face as an artist in the industry right now?
It’s a big question …for me the main goal is to make my next big step in gigs around the globe. It's already there and I need to pay more attention to it. I already have a highly important studio project for 2019 that I already started thinking about how to make it more special and with an exciting new sound from myself and no, I can’t say what it is.

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?
To be honest I’m not a big fan of social media’s but unfortunately it’s part of the game these days. I’m trying to make out the best of it. it has two sides like everything in life …
I heard lately a nice tip from Maceo Plex "secrets to making music?" Work more on your production and less on your Instagram” - totally agree!!!

What would be your most memorable gig thus far? Is there one that stands out? Lost & Found ADE 2017 perhaps?
indeed … Lost & Found [oct 2017] ADE showcase was outstanding a definitely night to remember.

- Desert in me [ May 2017] Buenos Aires (the best crowd in the world)
- Freedom beach party [ June 2018] Tel Aviv (200’000 ppl)
- Tel Aviv open air street party with John Digweed (100’000 ppl)
- Aquarium Budapest with Guy j Mantzur & Chicola

You’ve been on some of progressive music’s finest labels, Lost & Found, Sudbeat, Rumors and more, what are your future goals?
First, I would love to stay in this warm neighborhood plus, I really love the stuff from microCastle, All Day I Dream, Diynamic, Pampa, Kompakt & more it will be nice to feature my music there as well

Where can fans hear you in the coming months and what new music can we expect before the end of the year, anything you can share with us?
For this question you will have to keep following. Really good thing are coming up soon … it’s a promise !!!

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