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Feature: Gabriel Ananda [Interview + Podcast]

34 min read

The idea to do a 9 to 5 job, even going to school gave Gabriel nightmares already when he was a very young boy. His passion was always bigger than his discipline and his dreams were even bigger. He wanted to be really good in something and a little famous which would solve a lot of wishes like Independency, beeing loved by everybody, especially girls and money to have a good live.

Thats why his passion for science, philosophy, electronics, sports and music often lead into complete obsession  in one of these things.  At the age of 15 he wanted to win the tour de france and cycled 60 to 160 km every day after school but ended his racing career after the first race, which ended up being too violent in his opinion. Then he wanted to take Richie Samboras place and ended up playing guitar for 2 years - 5 hours every day - but it didn't do it for him either. Then he finally discovered his passion he would stick to for longer: Electronic music.

Hi Gabriel, thanks for joining us, tell us where in the world you are today and what’s on your agenda?
Hey, Progressive Astronaut! First of all, let me thank you for inviting me to your great podcast series. I´m actually recording this interview on my way to Nuremberg, where I´m going to play tonight. 2018 already started with some intense shows in Asia, Australia, Russia and India. Next week I´m going to head over to the US for my first official North America tour, with shows at Spybar in Chicago and Sound Gallery in San Francisco. Later on the festival season starts and we also have some things coming up in South America, Scandinavia and Africa. It is not that this wasn´t in discsussion, but 2018 seems to become a World Tour, where I will be presenting my music on all continents. It´s always special and really intense to experience a new country and a new crowd, so I´m looking forward for the next months.

Looking back over your discography can you pinpoint a track that really set things in motion for you and if so why? Would it be 'Süssholz' or perhaps something which came after it?
Career way  “Süssholz” was the most important track for me, as this one made everything going from zero to one 100. Before I was making music for a very long time, without having success, but this track really changed my life. In general I have a lot of tracks, which really mean a lot to me, because they landmark important personal situations in my life.

Your productions have always been very musical, how important is it for aspiring artists to study music theory in today’s landscape of electronic music?
I think it can be really helpful to have knowledge about some basic musical rules, as if your abilities are bigger, you can be much more creative and express yourself in a many more complex and skillful way. But I think it is not absolutely necessary. Most important is, that people are creating music, which really means something to them, which really reflects their emotions, or which has something spiritual. Just doing music which is only functional, or which sounds like the common mainstream trend, is  not very authentic or interesting for me. Because if you create music which really reflects, who you are and what you feel. This is what brings you in resonance with the listener. Through authentic music the people can experience themselves, their own feelings and their own deepness. That is what music is about for me.

How much of an influence is music outside of electronic spectrum?
It influences me a lot. Especially real tribal music, classical music or actually all kinds of music. Also pop music is very interesting for me. I think if you are a real musician you should be able to deal with all kinds of styles, which are out there and which you like. You should be able to understand them, copy them in a sense, so that you have it in your tool box, to create your own style and making a fusion of everything you know, and the more you know, the more interesting it can be.

What was the first synth you bought and is it still with you today?
My first synth was a Novation Bass Station. I wanted to be a musician in electronic music in 1995, and I thought I need a synthesizer, and I bought this Novation Bass Station and I really had no idea how to use it and that I need some drums. I really didn´t know anything. I actually sold it a few years ago, which was a bit weird, but sometimes you have to say goodbye to old stuff, you don´t need anymore. Later on, for the first time in my life, I asked my Dad to support me, because I had no money and I needed a really good synthesizer and he bought me the Virus, which I still have and with which I made all my hits, like “Süssholz”, “Doppelwhipper”, “Ihre persönliche Glücksmelodie” and so many things. This synth was definitely a game changer for me and it is still a very good synthesizer, because it has its own soul and sound and it´s really nice to use and you can create so many different sounds out of it. The digital analog converters are a little bit low-fi, but that also gives it a nice edgy strong sound, which is not super warm and soft, but can be sometimes a bit metallic, but goes really well into the mix.

You recently collaborated with John Digweed and Nick Muir on 'Tachyon Dream', tell us how that came about and what the experience was like.
This collaboration really happened natural. I always had John on my radar and he also always had my productions on his radar. After I released one of the first tracks on Soulful Techno Records, he played the track and we got in contact and thought about doing a collaboration. We mailed us some unfinished material and so the collab began to move on and “Tachyon Dream” was released. It was a lot of fun and we are already working on the next collab. 

It would also be hard not to mention your bootleg of Hans Zimmer, the original is such an emotive piece of music and you translated it perfectly for a modern dance floor. Was there any special inspiration behind that project or did it just come from the original piece of music or movie?
The story behind the Hans Zimmer bootleg is actually really really big. I had a time where I was not feeling very well. I was watching the movie and was actually crying. It touched me a lot, and I really liked the movie and also the music was amazing for me. It’s about losing someone I guess and that you are forceless against this. My girlfriend told me: “Hey, why don´t you want to make a bootleg out of this track?” and I thought like “Yeah, okay, why not”. And right away I was sitting at the instruments and two hours later, it was finished. It was so easy, it just happened super natural and I can´t really explain how it happened, so it also has some magic for me.

So you had Basmati Records for about five years, the last release was in 2014 and then after a two year break you started Soulful Techno Records. What was it that made you let Basmati go and take a break? And did you have the intention of starting something new eventually? or did Soulful Techno come from another place? And will Basmati ever return?
Basmati stands for a certain kind of sound I had in mind and the concept was really strict and every record was kind of the same planet. I realized that dealing with other artists is so much work, so much emailing and calling, that I didn´t want to do it. I also didn’t feel myself to continue at this time, so I finished working with it and I started the Soulful Techno podcast. A few years later it became really big and we thought that it really made sense to also start a label under the same name, which is now run by Ana Mismas, my girlfriend. Now it is about time to relaunch Basmati, with an actually wider concept of sound. It´s gonna have all kinds of styles and I´m really looking forward to it, because Soulful Techno is a little bit getting old for me. It is also a very close concept and I really love the emotional music, it´s still going to be my baby, but I need something new, something more free and innovative. I had an experience some time ago. I was in a Tally Weijl Clothing Shop and I figured that the music which plays in fashion shops for kids, is more innovative than the music that I listened to in club and festivals. It really got me thinking, and it proved my boredom which I really had, that it is really the music which is so repetitive. This inspired me to a new project and also to relaunch Basmati.  So let’s see. I don´t want to tell too much, as it´s going to be a surprise.

What advice would you have for artist hoping to get signed to Soulful Techno?
Soulful Techno Records features a lot of young artists and we really don´t care about a big name or anything. For us it is only important that the music is real and authentic, so that we can really feel the artists through the music and they can also deliver more than 1 or 2 tracks,  so that they can send us over a longer period a constant output. It is also important for us that we have a good connection to the artists, as you work so close to them, there is so much communication, and it is important for us that the artists understands that if we don´t like something or want to change something, that this is going to take some time to make a record. That´s basically the point.

You’re a regular on the summer festival circuit which is just around the corner. How different is preparing for an outdoor gig and potentially much larger crowd to that of a regular club gig?
Playing open air on festivals is really what I love the most so far. I do club gigs, but sometimes I really don´t like to be up all night. Preparing for an open air gig with a big audience is different because everything has to be bigger also in the music. First of all, everything sounds softer and slower and less energetic as on a small stage, so I play faster like 127 bpm. I pick the tracks which make big atmospheres, opens spaces, have a lot of energy and which also take time, also in the breaks to gather all the people together, because when you play in front of a lot of people, and you make a break which only lasts 10 seconds, they are not going to see it. You really have to make everything slower and bigger.

We’ve read one of your favourite gigs of the year is the Rainbow Serpent Festival, tell us how 2018 was and what it is about this event that makes it so special for you?
Rainbow Serpent is really my favorite Festival. I really feel good and at home there. First of all it is beautiful, it is colorful, it is in the dessert and the people are also so beautiful and amazing. Everybody is in costumes and all kinds of things. The people there really express themselves in a special way. They show sides of themselves, which they usually don´t show off. This is maybe not so special, on all festivals, people are going to express themselves in special ways, but it often ends up in pretty nasty drug abuse, drunkenness and fake spirituality. The Australians are really laid back and they can handle this going over the border so well, that the atmosphere is so welcoming and inspiring that it is also good for me as a 40 year old techno grandpa :D :D

Your collaborative work with Domink Eulberg has been quite amazing, both the productions and b2b DJ sets. What is it that connects you guys together so well? Will we see more projects from the two of you in the future?
Dominik and I met at a really early stadium in our career when really nothing was going on and we did like all the growing together, from zero to well-known DJs and since over ten years we talked so much on the phone about everything, about every tiny emotional detail of our life. It was like a pep talk and we got really best friends. We know each other so well and when we have something difficult in life going on, we support each other a lot. So we also, of course, thought about making music and actually we spent so much time together or on the phone but made so less music together. As if two different people with their own vision of music clash together, its super difficult. So we are probably not going  to make so much more music in the future together. Maybe a track here and there, but not too much, because it is just difficult in a personal way. Dominik and my style seem to be similar, but in reality for us it is very different.

What are the biggest challenges that you currently face in the industry as an artist?
I´m happy to have a management, so I don´t have to deal with the industry so much. I hear that it is a big problem, that some of the leading artists are taking so high fees, that there is not so much  money left for the midfield and that the gigs for like the normal people get much less, as all money is gone for the huge acts. But I don´t feel it so much and to be honest I don´t care so much, as I think things will fall in place naturally. As if you are doing a good job as a musician and promote yourself in a good way, you will always find place to perform and people shouldn´t worry about these things. I think they are externalizing their frustrations on the market, because in reality the techno market is by far the easiest music industry to make money. As a band or anything else, it´s so much harder and the fees are so much smaller, so we shouldn´t complain about that. We should concentrate on music and on quality and originality. If people just try to copy the mainstream, and hope for being ab big artist one day and get frustrated over the industry, I think that is a little bit funny to me.

You’ve recorded the latest episode of our podcast, which we absolutely love, and has been on repeat several times already! please tell us a bit about the mix.
I recorded a for me special mix for you, it is not a Gabriel Ananda standard DJ set or a Soulful Techno copy or so, it is part of my first musical vision I had for Basmati. This deep techno music, which consists out of grooves and atmosphere and takes you away in a tribal natural way and leaves you a lot of room for your own imagination. I got really inspired by Richie Hawtin in the early 2000s and he was playing a little bit like this sound and I had the most intense experiences in his sets even though the music is not so expressive like melodic techno or something. That’s really interesting and since I really have a bit too much of melodies, I decided to make a mix in the style and I had a lot of fun. I was listening to this mix a few times and I really enjoyed it myself, so that is a very good sign, and I hope you can enjoy it too.   

Lastly, what else can we expect to hear from you in 2018?
Next month I´m going to release a remix compilation of my track SMASH, with a lot of great remixes and the original on Soulful Techno Records. I also just finished a remix for 10 years of Einmusika which will be out end of May. Another remix for Baal is coming on Ritter Butzke Studios. I´m working on the above mentioned follow up collaboration with John Digweed, a new album is coming and a new podcast is planned, but I don´t want to tell to much… It will be different and exciting.

01. RE.You - very very (Butch Remix)
02. James Zabiela - X Ray (Original Mix)
03. Heart2Soul Inc. - Sacred Music (Original Mix)
04. Dusty Kid - Crunch (Original Mix)
05. Gregor Tresher - Inhale (Atoll Remix)
06. Gregor Tresher - Substance (Original Mix)
07. Gabriel Ananda - Sphere (Original Mix)
08. Camilo Saniemente & Golan Zocher - La Luna (Original Mix)
09. Roland Klinkenberg - Bounce & At (Original Mix)
10. Zoo Brazil - Soucialism (Original Mix)
11. Daniele Di Martino - Framework (Original Mix)
12. Betoko - Foreverness (Gabriel Ananda Remix)
13. Mugarriantz feat. Napoka - Iria (Dave DK Remix)

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