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Interview: Sha-ullo

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Hailing from Israel, Shaulli Hararri aka Sha-ullo has a near decade long career in electronic music. As one half of the Las Salinas duo, Shaulli achieved remarkable success in the trance arena, landing releases on the genre's premiere imprints, most notably Armada, Anjunabeats, Vandit, and Ultra. With little left to achieve in genre, the Israeli artist was in search of new challenges. Upon meeting fellow countryman and Plattenbank boss Guy Mantzur, Shaulli fell in love with music once again and began his journey into the world of progressive house. September of 2019 saw the release of his first solo production, a contribution to Plattenbank's 'Secrets #5' collection, appropriately titled 'A New Beginning'. A subsequent EP for the label along with a contribution to 'Secrets #6' have highlighted 2020, setting the course for what has been a great year. Now continuing this new and inspired journey, Sha-ullo debuts on Belgium's EDGE with 'Rebirth'. We had a chance to catch up with the Israeli artist for an exclusive interview just prior to the release. Enjoy!

Hello Shaulli, thanks for joining us. What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to? 

Hey, thanks for having me! I feel great. I was recently looking for some inspiration for a new piece, so I went back and listened to "Involver" by Sasha. In addition, I listened to materials by Nils Frahm, Trifonic, and Moby.

What are your plans for the coming week?

Surprisingly, I am a pretty routine guy, especially during these pandemic times so no special plans for this week. My wife and I have a planned visit to Billie's dog trainer – she had been naughty lately and ate our balcony flowerpots.

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

Israel is a country with a very high tempo in which most people are constantly looking for that instant thrill. I, however, do not share the same crave. My passion for music initially came from my dad. As a child he exposed me to different genres and styles, and particularly shared his excitement and passion with me. As a teenager in Israel during the early 2000s, I got exposed to Trance music and felt this music just completes me. The melodies hypnotized me, I felt like I found my true calling and purpose in life.

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

  1. Vincent De Moor – Sunflowers

My all times favorite. I remember I listened to this track for the first time and felt my whole body was filled with excitement.

  1. Moby - Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad? (Ferry Corsten Remix)

This combo of Moby, who is the artist who influenced my melodies the most, and Ferry Corsten, who I consider the father of Trance, is amazing.

  1. Plastic Boy - Silver Bath (Original Mix)

A masterpiece by M.I.K.E. Push, from which I learned a lot back in the day. I consider him to be Ferry Corsten's deputy.

  1. Guy J - Dizzy Moments (Original Mix)

Guy deserves a Nobel for this track.

  1. Sahar Z & Navar - When We Face Reality (Khen Bronzed Re-Edit)

I would like to share a short memory regarding this piece. Guy Mantzur made a double dream come true for me – not only he played the closing set at my wedding, but also, he played this wonderful track in it. This was one of the top three moments I remember from the wedding.

Previous to you recording as Sha-ullo you were part of the Las Salinas duo, who released on Armada, Anjunabeats, Vandit, and Ultra. What was it that led you to pursue a more progressive oriented sound going forward as Sha-ullo?

Together with my partner Israel Bicher, who is my best friend to this day, we have had a career filled with memories and achievements in the trance industry. When we got a bit exhausted from the musical genre, we also felt the same exhaustion in our careers, and that is why both of us decided to grow ourselves in other areas outside of music. After a three years break, when I barely listened to music anymore, I started listening to Guy Mantzur, Guy J, and the whole wide circle of Lost and Found. I had felt I rediscovered music!  I had that same infatuation feeling I felt when I just discovered Trance music as a 13 years old boy. It felt like a perfect fit, a fresh new rhythm, a fresh new groove, and lots of melodies that reminded me of trance. Musically speaking, I feel I owe a lot of "thank you"s to the Israeli gang from the Progressive scene, who reinvigorated my spark and passion for music.

How do you see yourself continuing to evolve as Sha-ullo in the coming years?

I must say I feel the drive to prove to myself every single day, and I am still in the process of learning this new genre. I sense a great deal of respect for the people who had developed this genre for years now, and I want to feel I am able to bring myself into the genre while still maintain their guidelines. So, my first achievement would be to feel like I am a legitimate part of this amazing genre. Once I reach this destination we could sit and talk on my next goals to be achieved 😊

You have a new EP out now on EDGE. Tell us a bit about the release and walk us through the production process on the title track.

This EP feels super diversified and yet, I believe the tracks in it complete each other.  Shani, my wife, was one of the main reasons I got back to creating music. That is why I named "Mamish", which is her nickname. It is one of the first pieces I had completed in the studio after my comeback to music.   In this track, I had thought of creating old-fashioned melodies, classic Trance. It was important to me to keep the sound in an old-school vibe but still be loyal to this new musical style that guides me today. To my eyes, the melodies I had put together in this piece are the most beautiful melodies I have ever created.  Next, I worked on "Rebirth" which was a totally different piece. I had a finished track in my hand, with a kick, baseline and groove. However, something felt wrong, and so I decided to conduct a test. I had muted the rhythm section and baseline off but kept the melodies. I then came up with this idea to create something out of the box, with a different groove and rhythm, and yet keep it playable for clubs. After playing with this idea and bringing it to life - "Rebirth" was completed.  Lastly, I was able to complete "Mind Reader" in just a few days. I do not understand how, but I came up with the idea of creating a kick and baseline that reminded me of the oldies by Ferry Corsten, and this felt powerful and special. From there the process of finishing it was super easy.

Where does your inspiration come from? And was there anything in particular which inspired you to write this particular set of tracks?

I think that my advantage and disadvantage at once is that I do not work with reference tracks while I create music. Fearful of sounding like someone else, I am reluctant to work with references. I say that this aspect is both an advantage and a disadvantage for the reason that I sometimes feel that I am a strange bird in this genre, and I can only hope that there are people out there who can relate to this unique style.  My inspiration is very general and revolves around many music styles I had absorbed in my life, and of course, the mood I am in during the process.

You had only released on Guy Mantzur’s Plattenbank up until now, what made EDGE the right home for this new project?

Guy Mantzur was the first person who had helped me and gave me direction in this genre. He is just an amazing individual whom I am thankful for being my side. I feel I owe him a lot. Meeting Eran after following his label and music was a great opportunity. I highly related to the agenda he outlined to the label. Once I had met Eran personally, I discovered a true professional and a very friendly person, and that helped us connect in a personal level. He was very generous with his expert tips and I could learn about myself through these tips. I feel so proud they both loved my music, and that my first EPs came out in such high-quality great labels. I do not take that for granted and feel super grateful.

How much road testing or friend feedback is done before you’re ready to say a track is finished? And who is someone you share your new music with first for feedback?

I don't have a specific time frame for this process, it can take a while, or it could be brief. Generally speaking, I am a person who is motivated by his emotions and this is obviously reflected in my music as well. Once I have a feeling that the piece is complete, it is done on my behalf. I am however very opened to receive the advice of the label owners, and happy to receive new perspective on things and follow their guidance, as happened in the past. The first human beings whom I allow to listen to my music are my wife Shani and three of my closest friends. The first one, Omer Dror, has no background as a producer but adores and related to the genre, so I treat him as potential audience. The second one is my ex-Las Salinas partner, Israel Bicher, who always understands me blindly. The third is Elad Efrati who is one of the most talented people I know. He understands music and production and had produced the trailers of Games of Thrones, Thor, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close to name a few.

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

My studio is very modest, and to be honest I am the greatest technophobe you will ever meet. I had been working with Logic Pro since forever, and I would always use Uh-e, Soundtoys, Fabfilter and Waves.

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

Overall, I think I am coping quite alright, considering I did not hug or kiss my family in almost a year now. Personally, COVID-19 had focused me, it gave me a chance to invest my energy and time in the studio and build my musical future. I am sure that when this pandemic is over, it would make me a stronger person.

What is the current situation with the pandemic in Israel? 

Israel had been in a pretty decent state during the pandemic in terms of blocking the spread and public health. Economically, socially and mentally, I am yet worried to the future of the population both in Israel and in the rest of the world. I hope all of us could start a fresh new balanced path. No doubt this world needs some balance.

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

From what I see and feel around me, the beginning will be ruthlessly uncontrolled. People will look to party as hard as they can, and the more parties - the merrier. After a while, I hope things will get back to normal.

What have been some of your favorite tracks over the quarantine period? 

Guy J - Day Of Light (Original Mix) [Lost & Found]

ADHM - Stay With Me (Original Mix) [Souksonic]

Nohan - Road to You (Eli Nissan Remix) [Hoomidaas]

Stereo Underground - Reset (Original Mix) [Beat Boutique]

Hermanez & Eran Aviner - Aria (Original Mix) [Edge]

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

In second place after music, food makes me the happiest person alive.

What does 2021 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

It would be great if someone up there could give me the answer for this question.

'Rebirth' is out now via EDGE: https://bit.ly/3mZYwVP

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