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Hassan Maroofi [Interview]

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Born in Iran but now calling Costa Rica home, Hassan Maroofi first emerged a short two years ago with a contribution to Buddhabrot's 'Constellations' collection. Immediately recognized for his nostalgic progressive sound, the San Jose resident would go on to showcase his music via 3rd Avenue, Nature Rec, RYNTH and The Purr across the next two calendar years. Also highly regarded as a DJ, Hassan has been a fixture of Costa Rica's nightlife for well over a decade, performing alongside top international talents such as Guy Gerber, Hernan Cattaneo, Marco Carola, Satoshi Tomiie and more. This week finds Hassan making his debut on Musique de Lune with 'Sepia', an EP co-produced with fellow countryman David Charpentier and already receiving play and support from Armin Van Buuren, Lee Burridge, Mariano Mellino, Nick Warren and Sasha, amongst others.

Progressive Astronaut caught up with Hassan to learn more about the release of 'Sepia’, his background, nightlife in the Costa Rica, DJing, and more. Enjoy.

Hi Hassan, thanks for talking to us today. How has your start to the year been so far and please tell us something interesting about your day today?

Hi guys :) thanks for having me, it’s such an honor for me to be interviewed. The start of the year has been great so far, I’m just coming back from Mexico and enjoying the summer in my city.

Take us through a typical day when you’re not traveling, what does a day in your life look like?

I usually wake up around 6:30 am, go to the gym, have breakfast, and work at a software company. In the afternoon I take my 2 dogs for a walk, which is always a nice break and later I grab some snacks and head into my studio to listen to music, learn new stuff, get inspiration, and work on new tracks. Studio time is like therapy for me.

Looking back on 2023 what gigs of yours have stood out and why?

In 2023 I decided to spend more time in my studio and focus on creating new music. I had the opportunity to test and share my music at some nice events and local clubs in Costa Rica such as El Garito in Tamarindo Beach where it also coincided with the festival season.

You were born in Iran but now reside in Costa Rica, how long did you live in Iran before moving and in which country did your journey into electronic music begin?

I moved to Costa Rica at the age of 7 and grew up here. It was in Costa Rica that my journey into electronic music began.

How did discovering electronic music there influence your music taste and direction? Or did it all? And who from your home country first inspired you and why?

I started listening to electronic music in 2004, by that time the scene in Costa Rica was very small (considering that it is a very small country) so it was challenging to find venues dedicated to electronic music and explore new sounds. Luckily, some clubs were emerging by then, one of them an iconic one called Club Vertigo which used to bring international DJs very often and allowed me to explore new sounds and shape my musical taste.

I’ll be always grateful to Fredo and Club Vertigo for opening the doors to me as a clubber and as a Dj years after, where I could play for several years alongside many talented and renowned artists.

My inspiration to become a DJ came from Deep Dish, whose Iranian roots resonated with me, and Hernan Cattaneo, after discovering one of his CDs in 2006 in a local store. Both have significantly shaped my musical direction.

You have a new EP in collaboration with David Charpentier entitled ‘Sepia’ for Musique de Lune, tell us about the release and what sort of vibe you guys were going for on these tracks.

We are very excited about this release; our goal was to craft an EP with progressive sounds that could transmit good vibes and make you dance at the same time. ‘Sepia’ features optimistic vocals from a speech while ‘Lumina’ offers a deeper, emotional vibe.

Which of the two originals on the release have gotten the most play in your sets and do you have special moments from playing either one of them?

We have been playing the full EP at several gigs and we are very happy with people’s reactions to the tracks. It's difficult to choose one since each evokes different emotions and energy.

The fact that we can communicate emotions and feelings through our music is very special, and it serves as a huge source of motivation to continue creating more.

This is your first appearance on Musique de Lune, what makes the label a good home for your music?

Jordan and JFR have been so nice and welcoming to us since day one, making us feel at home, and I want to say a huge Thank You! for that. I strongly believe in the importance of good relationships and partnerships in the music industry, and the label shares this mindset so I’m very happy about Musique the Lune being Sepia's home.

Let our readers inside your studio for a moment, what is your current setup and what studio tools are featured heavily in your recent productions and more specifically your ’Sepia’ EP.

I use 2 Yamaha Monitors, an iMac + Ableton Push + NI Maschine + Komplete M32 keyboard + Beyerdynamic 990 headphones, is very basic honestly. In terms of Plugins I use a variety of tools but the main ones used for Sepia EP are Hive2, Repro5, Omnisphere, Solina as synths and some Fx/EQ bundles from Arturia, waves, and Valhalla.

You’ve been working with David since last year, how did you guys initially meet and eventually decide to start collaborating on music together?

David and I have been friends for 15 years, and for almost 12 of those years, we've been performing together as a DJ duo under the name 'Hassan+Charpentier.'

My journey into music production began first, and it naturally led us to start collaborating creatively. We kicked things off with a remix, which then opened the path to working on original tracks together

As one of Costa Rica’s most well known organic and progressive house artists and DJs, you’ve had quite a lot of high profile gigs this past couple of years, playing alongside Hernan Cattaneo, Guy Gerber, Sharam and more. Please tell us your approach to DJing, and how you go about programming a set.

I try to put myself in a clubber’s shoes and ask what I would like to listen to or experience during my set time, then I select the tracks that I like and believe will achieve that. So it really depends on the event, each one is unique and requires a customized approach (opening, peak hour, etc.) but I always strive to be very authentic and transmit my essence. Always using melodic, deep, and groovy sounds.

Now that you’ve been on the circuit for a while, how has DJing to larger crowds influence your view of music as a producer?

That’s a great question. I believe DJing and production are different worlds, but each can complement the other very nicely, much like the relationship between being a clubber and a DJ.

Having been a DJ for a while has given me a deeper understanding of which sounds and frequencies work best on a dancefloor. I've noticed that I now pay more attention to details I used to overlook, such as track structure, sound quality, transitions, mixing, etc. These are aspects I consider more carefully when selecting tracks.

Where do you source the majority of music for your gigs? Is it primarily from producer friends or promo mailouts at this point?

It is a combination of Promos, music from friends, and artists that I follow. I feel that I’m very lucky to have several friends who are incredible artists and create amazing music so it is very easy for me to find top tracks for my gigs.

How much prep do you put into the sets you play, or are they spontaneous for the most part? And how does feeling the crowd's energy affect your selections?

I select music that I think could work (potentially) for the gig, but I don’t like to plan it out as a playlist, etc. … at the end of the day, that’s what makes Djs different from Jukebox machines :P

Feeling the connection with the crowd through our music is priceless. It's the essence of being a DJ—sharing music that we love, hoping it has/creates the same reaction in people that it does in us.

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?

Tough question because there are so many Djs that I would like to add but here is my top 5

Simon Vuarambon
Guy J
Hernan Cattaneo
Deep Dish
Adriatique

As for the set times, it would have to be a festival so each can play at least 4-5 hours and I’d extend it if they want to play more.

Current top five tracks in your sets?

• East Cafe – Este (Extended Remix)
• Jamie Stevens, Zankee Gulati – Low Tide (Original Mix)
• Michael A – Reason (Alto Astral Remix)
• Leaman – Mark l (HAFT Remix)
• Hector Cortes, Hassan Maroofi, Jaime Garza – Shine The Light (Andres Moris Remix)

If you were not a DJ/Producer what do you think you’d be doing with your life? (Something not music related.)

I’m a big fan of sports, so I would definitely be doing something in that field. Whether it involved playing professionally, coaching, or working behind the scenes in sports management.

I’m also a big fan of everything related to space, so if being an astronaut were an option, I’m in.

What’s something we do not know about you?

I have a younger brother who is a photographer, and we have the same birthday. I mean same day with a 5 year difference.

If you are not DJing or socializing at clubs, where do we find you? And doing what?

I spend most of the time at home, I love nature, so it is very common to see me hiking around waterfalls, volcanoes, or mountains. I also enjoy going to the cinema to watch movies, heading to the stadium to watch soccer, or attending a music concert.

What are some of your favorite TV series? Both all time and recently, what have you been enjoying lately?

I usually don’t watch series, watched Dark and loved it… also liked The Walking Dead but missed the last 2 seasons.

I love movies, and my all-time favorite is 'Gladiator.' I have a particular attraction to movies related to space like Interstellar, Gravity, and so on, but I enjoy all different types, from animated to suspense.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

Spending quality time with friends and family, being in nature, and playing or watching soccer.

What does the remainder of 2024 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

Plenty of music on the horizon, both solo projects and collaborations, stay tuned! 😊

'Sepia' is available now via Musique de Lune: https://tinyurl.com/58ef2n47

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