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Moonbeam [Interview]

27 min read

With Moonbeam's new 'Gabriel' single out now via Topgun Prime we catch up with the storied artist for an in depth interview. Enjoy!

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

Hi there! I'm feeling great, just got back from a Thai boxing training session and scouting new releases for my New Moon podcast. Right now, I'm listening to the track "Tal" by pølaroit - I think it would make an excellent opening track for my next episode of podcast.

How has your spring been so far and what are your plans for the coming week?

I have amazing spring full of travel and adventure! Over the past two months, I visited Goa, Vietnam, Bali, and Thailand, and even tried diving for the first time on Flores Island in Indonesia. I also got to see Eric Prydz perform in Bangkok and have plans to attend a Sasha gig in Bangkok and travel to Hong Kong on the coming weekend.

There have been quite a few amazing electronic music artists to emerge from Russia like yourself, what was it like growing up there and who were some of your local heroes? Who did you look up to and why?

At the time, we were listening to international bands, such as Daft Punk, Chemical Brothers or Massive Attack - these were names with their own unique sound. We were searching for our own sonic fingerprint and experimented a lot, our first works were at the intersection of minimal techno and trance.

You’re currently based in Bangkok, Thailand, how long have you been there and if you were a tour-guide for nightlife there what would be the clubs you’d take the people to see and what local DJs do they need to hear?

I recently moved to Bangkok in March of this year, prior to that, I lived in Phuket for and traveled a lot. I'm just starting to get familiar with the nightlife in Bangkok, but I've already had the opportunity to attend the Together Festival, where Eric Prydz performed. My first performance in Bangkok will take place on June 10th at Mustache Club. I also recommend checking out Sing Sing theater. And definitely don't miss the biggest festival of the year, Wonderfruit, which will take place in Pattaya in December.

How has moving there affected your creativity and passion for music?

Traveling always inspires me. I love to travel and occasionally live in different countries. I lived in Montenegro for over 4 years. Discovering new spaces, visiting new places, and meeting new people are the main sources of my inspiration. New ideas don't come if you sit in one place. Over the past 20 years, I have traveled with tours, as well as just as a digital nomad to over 40 countries.

You’ve achieved alot of success over your career, support from a who’s who of progressive trendsetters, along with releases viaArmada and Blackhole. If you look back over your discography, what release or releases had the most impact on where you are today and why?

I would highlight three main releases that have had an impact on Moonbeam's success today:

The first vinyl record on the techno label Traum: Moonbeam - Eclipse/Sunshine, which was released in 2007. This was the first serious label that we signed with, three years after creating the Moonbeam project.

“See The Difference Inside” being featured on the famous Tiesto compilation: In Search of Sunrise, which took Moonbeam to a new international level.

The remix of Rachael Starr's "To Forever", which became the most significant track for Moonbeam fans in Russia and Ukraine. I end each of my performances with this track, and fans know the remix by heart and sing along during shows.

You have a new single ‘Gabriel’ out this week on your Topgun Prime, tell us about the release and how it showcases your current sound.

Gabriel is the second track in the series of the concept based on Archangels, which I planned to release this year.

The first release, 'Azrael', dropped in March to great acclaim. This strong melodic techno track is inspired by the archangel of death. Thank you Progressive Astronaut for Exclusive Premiere of 'Azrael'.

'Gabriel' who is of divine purity, holiness, and a patron of music and art - aims to bring light and inspiration into our lives.

Through the year, Moonbeam will release 6 more tracks, aiming to promote unity, as a message of peace, inviting us to celebrate the rich and diverse cultural heritage that unites us all.

Tell us about your current studio setup and what tools featured heavily in the writing of ‘Gabriel’?

Since I travel a lot, my equipment setup is quite simple: MacBook Pro with DAW Cubase 12, Uad Apollo Twin audio interface, Native Instruments A49 MIDI keyboard, and Sennheiser HD 650 headphones. Additionally, I rent studios when staying in different cities. When creating the track "Gabriel," I used the Diva and Serum synthesizers, as well as synths from Arturia.

Let’s talk about production for a moment, where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play? And was there anything that inspired ‘Gabriel’?

My creative vibes in 2023 draws inspiration from travels and encounters, and is shaped by two distinct paths: The Full Moon, characterized by hypnotic and melodic techno and grounded beats, perfect for the dance floor; and The New Moon, featuring soul-stirring and melodic House and sounds that facilitate spiritual regeneration.

I also read a lot of fiction literature and biography, one from my favorite is biography of «Moby». A couple of years ago, I wrote and released my own book «Moonbeam. Inside of the Music Business» in Russian, which will be available in English this year.

How much road testing or friend feedback is collected to help make that decision? And who is someone you share your new music with first for feedback?

I always send my initial demo tracks to my friends from Russia, Ukraine, France, and the USA. Their feedback is very important to me, as it helps me understand whether I'm heading in the right direction with the track. For example, when working on the lyrics for my next track "Samael," I had a lengthy discussion with the writer about the song's lyrics, and I tried to convey my feelings as accurately as possible during the track's creation. "Samael", inspired by the archangel known as the adversary. This track will remind us of the strength within us to overcome any challenge.

What is the task you enjoy the most when producing and what would you prefer someone else to do?

I enjoy the creative process of making music, experimenting with different sounds and instruments and finding unique ways to combine them. However, I prefer to delegate mixing and mastering to other professionals who specialize in those areas. These tasks can take a lot of time and require a lot of technical knowledge, so it may be more efficient to work with someone who can handle these responsibilities, while I as a producer can focus on the creative aspects.

Your Topgun imprint has been running for two years with great success, what advice would you have for producers hoping to get signed to the label?

The Topgun label (incl. sub-label Airis) was created by my partner Roman and myself, who lives in the USA. We receive a large number of demos, but I recommend to producers not to copy material that already exists in large quantities, but to strive to create their own unique sound. The label has already formed its own family of artists, whom we release every month. We strive to work with emerging artists who have great potential for development. Our label actively promotes releases and fights to ensure that the music is heard by as many people as possible. Some of our main artists include Safinteam, Surmillo, Sensetive5, Slow B, and NAASA.

What would be a musical extravagance for your studio you would pay for, if you were very wealthy?

I would purchase a Modular synth wall which allows a musician to create and modify sound signals by connecting various modules, creating unique sounds and effects. Modular synth wall provides a wide range of settings and possibilities for experimentation and the creative process.

Now let’s talk about DJing for a moment, it’s a unique discipline at the border between presenting great music and creating something new with it, between composition and improvisation to an extent. How would you describe your approach to it?

For me, DJing is primarily about creating an atmosphere on the dance floor and being able to control the energy of the crowd by feeling their desires. A DJ performance is an exchange of energy between the DJ and the dancers, and the more accurately the DJ can feel this energy and tap into it, the more successful the party will be. It is important for every DJ to be able to catch this moment and use music to control the mood. Of course, the technical side of DJing is also important, and I still fondly remember playing on vinyl records. For a long time, I couldn't switch to flash drives and used vinyl and CDs until the very end. But the main emphasis remains the ability to control the dance floor.

Can you tell me a bit about how your work as a DJ has influenced your view of music, your way of listening to tracks and perhaps also, your work as a producer?

I listen to a large amount of music and clearly divide tracks into two moods - Full Moon music for the dancefloor, which are explosive and set the dance floor on fire, and New Moon music for the mind, which are usually played at the beginning or end of a set as a kind of start and finish. However, this is not always the case. When creating my podcasts, which are released twice a month during New and Full Moons, I try to stick to these two moods. These two moods also influence me when creating music. There is the birth of New Moon and the maturity of Full Moon. Also, I don't just listen to electronic music, but also to India pop and rock, which expands my musical horizon and gives me many ideas for experimentation.

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?

Thank you for the interesting question.

I would invite:

22:00 PM LCD Soundsystem

23:30 PM Deadmau5

01:00 AM Daft Punk

2:30 AM The Chemical Brothers

4:00 AM Aphex Twin

What’s a book you’ve read or film you watched that has left an impact on you, and why?

My favorite book is "The Green King" by Paul-Loup Sulitzer, and I've read it three times. This book has always inspired me with new ideas and helped me move forward.

My favorite movie is "Dogville" by Lars von Trier,as it always makes me reflect on the true nature of humanity.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

My son Robert is 16 years old now and soon he will move to Bangkok to start his new adult life. Besides music, many things make me happy, such as traveling and literature.

I always try to have an open-minded view of the world and work on various projects. Currently, I am working at a music distribution company called Sundesire Media Worx, and together with Roman, I run my own music publishing company called Topgun Music (among our clients are artists and labels such as Morttagua, Timeless Moment, The Organism, Aiwaska, Rasster, Roman Messer, and others). And I also teach copyright law at a business university.

I also engage in sports, and recently I started practicing Muay Thai. There are so many interesting things in the world, and I never miss a chance to learn and experience something new.

What does the remainder of 2023 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

This year, I plan to release 6 new singles - 6 Archangels (Total 8 singles) I will have more performances in Asia and will be working on developing a visual show for my performances. Currently, I am working on video content as well. Additionally, I will release the book "Moonbeam: The Inside of the Music Business" in English.

'Gabriel' is available now via Topgun Prime: https://bit.ly/453XcHZ

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