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R O N A [Interview]

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RONA is an electronic music producer and vocalist and label owner of the MANTRA imprint based in Israel.

Inspired by iconic producers such as Above & Beyond , Armin Van Buuren and Hans Zimmer, at the age of 7 Rona developed an interest in vocal trance and classical music, which she ended up studying later. She grew up listening to the all-time greats, such as Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson, Nirvana, and Beyonce, to name a few, which serve as her inspiration to this day.

At the age of 20 Rona started studying music production, and over the years she has developed her own unique sound and direction, which she is perfecting constantly. Her approach is independent and she does it all on her own. Her vocal tone is soulful, which envelops in her melodic productions to give a uniquely beautiful sound to her music.

The content of her music speak of consciousness, sound, and the ability to connect with yourself in spite of difficulties. There is a spiritual statement with a danceable sound - an interesting and entertaining combination that definitely delivers her message of connection to the self through the vibrations of sound. Her music got supported by some of the biggest DJ's of the industry: Above & Beyond, Adriatique, D-Nox, Eelke Kleijn, Hernan Cattaneo, Mind Against, Miss Monique and Solomun.

This week sees RONA releasing her much-anticipated 'Lost In Space' single, a project which quickly follows her cover of 'Can't Sleep' by Above & Beyond. Progressive Astronaut caught up with Rona to learn more about these two releases, her musical background, studio process, future plans, and more. Enjoy.

Hi Rona, thanks for chatting with us again, how has your year been going so far and what are your plans for the week?

Thanks for having me here :) I’m doing great.

Do you consider yourself a DJ or producer first? And which do you enjoy more and why?

First of all I'm a Singer - this is my instrument ,secondly Producer and then DJ - BUT and there's big but here - you have to be good with all those 3 fields to be professional. That's why I study each of those fields carefully and separately in my 20’s but the beauty happens in the dancefloor when you combine all of those things together  - that’s why I see myself more as a Live act when I’m playing because I’m DJing and combining my Live Vocals with my music.

What are some of your best memories from first going to clubs? Were there specific nights or sets that really made you feel you wanted to pursue electronic music?

Actually it didn’t happen from the dancefloor and clubs.it happened from the pure passion of singing and creating music .I've been in music since I was 7 years old 🙂.I grew up on Pop music (Michael Jackson, Beyonce), Classic music (I study classical music) - Movie Soundtracks (Hans Zimmer, Howard shore), Video games Soundtracks (Gustavo Santaolalla, Nobuo Uematsu) ,Rock (Pink Floyd, Nirvana, Muse) and Electronic music (Armin Van Buuren, ATB, Air, Royksopp). I also start to perform on stage when I was 7 years old - if it was singing competitions, Choir and also in gymnastics and went into gymnastic competitions because I Like to dance and I was strong sporty kid - so all of those things mixed together as I see myself artistic in my soul and I was performing from early age in variety of things - it also helped a little bit to grow my confident because I was shy and quiet kid.

DJ Sets that I enjoyed and remembered - I enjoyed “Keinemusik” at their gig last summer in Israel - I really like their vibe , energy and their sound - and the Israeli crowd adore them.

I was also in Anjunadeep open air in last September at London and it completely changed me deeply in a good way - I felt at home there, the crowd was more mature, and the DJ’s were playing all those nostalgic tracks that I grew up as a kid - so it was amazing experience for me there.

“Black Coffee” gig in Israel in 2017 , “Monolink” famous set at “Burning man”.

Couple of events that I was at ADE 2018 as well.

If you were a tour-guide for nightlife in Tel-Aviv (or Israel), what would be the clubs you’d take the people to see and what local DJs do they need to hear?

Well, things are changing all the time but big places in Tel Aviv that I recommend at the moment are “Gagarin” (I played there couple of months ago in event alongside “Ben Gold” and “Ruben de Ronde”) , “Artclub” and “Maze”.

Also, there's a club in Tel Aviv called “Bavel” - I play there as well - really cool place and vibe - it’s not just a club, you can also chill at the Bar outside and the music that is playing there is diverse.

Also, new place in Tel Aviv is “BOR” if you like more darky sound.

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

In my daily job - I have my own business of graphic design - so I spend my time between music and graphic design.(by the way I design all of my Artworks in my label :) )

I also like to dance hip hop. I have been painting and drawing since 3 years old - maybe if it wasn't music I probably took that direction because painting is very easy for me and I have lots of imagination, I like to go the gym as well - it is important to me to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

When you were first getting started in production did you have someone help you or are you completely self-taught? And what would you recommend new producers do to help with the learning curve of production?

I started my first steps in the industry 10 years exactly, first it was at “BPM College” - of Production and Sound in Tel Aviv - I study there electronic music production - actually the owner and lecture there is “Yariv Etzion” AKA “Stereo Underground” - and were in contact ever since and he helped me whenever I needed consultation.

Then I went to study Sound Engineering at “Sapir College'' in Israel for one year. I lived there in a Kibbutz for the first time so the experience was positive for me and I was surrounded by nature and simple life.

And from there I took private lessons in Mix, Vocal lessons and DJ lessons with Private teachers throughout the years.

I Study also from my friends and other producers and also from the net.

I don’t have one source that I took. I study from a variety of sources and now I’m independent in everything that I do.

I recommend people to find a variety of sources to study and there isn’t one way to learn but find what works the best for you!

You’ve had a couple of big releases land in the last month, first of which being a cover of Above & Beyond’s classic track ‘Can’t Sleep’. Tell us a bit about why you wanted to cover this specific track and how you approached re-creating it in a modern context.

Well, “Above & Beyond” are one of my biggest inspirations and their classic track “Can’t Sleep” still moves me even today and I grew up with this track, there were couple of remixes that released throughout the years but no one did a cover or remake for this track so I thought a remake would be cool idea and it’s my interpretation as a singer and producer on this track so I wanted to make it more melodic deep version.

And, most recently was your single ‘Lost in Space’ which has been received as one of your thematic tracks to date. What is the story behind this track and where did its inspiration come from?

“Lost in Space” EP is very important to me - this is 100% RONA and my world.

Actually the first glimpse of inspiration came after I heard “Monolink” track “Otherside” and I decided that I wanted to make a track more focused on the vocal and building similar to Pop music songs but the sound is still House music.

I also did a Club mix version that can fit to the dancefloor so the DJ’s could play it.

The story behind it is that - I'm a spiritual person and I felt like I was channeling this track,  here in this track I can express myself freely, the content is about different civilizations, Pleiadians, Consiousness, discovering new planets when you are flying millions of lights in the galaxy, it’s about our life here on earth and about connecting to yourself.

I will also release the Music Video that I shot for this track pretty soon.

UK artist djimboh also provided a remix of ‘Lost in Space’, what made him a good fit for the track in your opinion?

I discovered “djimboh” from “Paul Thomas” Sets and “Mango Alley” releases, and I just like his sound - he has this elegant progressive sound that I like and I actually support and play his tracks in my gigs and sets in the last 2 years.so for me he was perfect choice to this release and of course he delivered excellent remix.

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?

I believe in a more direct approach - once you know your sound, you know what you like - choose wisely your tools, your VST’s because I remember in the beginning I had so many Plugins and It pushed me away from the creation process and I was confused.

Choose a couple of Plugin’s and work with them - it’s like you have so many Vst’s and synthesizers in the studio it doesn't make you a better producer it’s what you do with it.

And when you have so many toys sometimes it keeps you away from focusing on the creation process.my fav vst’s that I work mostly are “Diva” and “Analog Lab”.

Let’s talk about production a bit more for a moment. Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you’re satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practice? And who is someone you share your new music with first for feedback?

Hmm…well, I can’t never know when the muse will come. sometimes it is from the drums, sometimes from the vocals, sometimes from the pads.

What I do feel is this “Feeling” like a goosebumps, like this is “The track”.

And honestly all the basics of the tracks take me an hour or 2 to write it - the main work and hours is the building and mixing. But the main idea is coming really fast.

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

I like to build the drums section and the melodies, in Mastering - I prefer to send it to a Sound Engineer  - in the last year and half I work mostly with Cid inc - he is mastering all of my tracks.

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?

I just do what I feel, I don’t like to follow trends, I don’t need to think like that because I know I have my own thing if it’s in Producing music or Djing.

Also, I read the crowd, I feel the vibe and I play what I feel is right at the moment but I am also Loyal to myself and my music and as I said I’m Live act because I sing live - it’s like one hand holding a microphone and second hand on the mixer :)

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?

Of course, until I didn’t DJ I couldn’t see how important intro and outro is. It also affects my creation process now especially on intro and outro and sometimes I create EPs with Let’s say more Extended versions that fit the clubs and DJ’s.

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

Hmm…maybe a studio near the beach?

Current top five tracks?

Nox Vahn & Marsh - Come Together (Dosem & James Grant Edit)

William Orbit - Starbeam (Dosem Edit)

Röyksopp - Impossible feat. Alison Goldfrapp (&ME Remix)

WhoMadeWho & Rampa - UUUU (&ME Remix)

GMJ & Matter - EXT 135

Marsh - All Night Long

Marsh - Another Planet

Kostya Outta - Falcon

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

“The Last of US” Series on “HBO” - this series is video game adaption and I was hardcore gamer and “The Last of Us” is video game that I played in 2013 on PS3 and it became one of my fav game because it gave you so much emotions like you are watching a movie - so the Series was really good and I was impressed by the results and the production - I think it is one of the best video game adaptations. The game was a big hit in 2013 but now because of the series it got a bigger audience who are not just gamers so it can show that there is a lot of art and beauty in video games.

What does the remainder of 2023 hold for you in terms of releases and gigs? Anything you can share with us?

We're in the middle of 2023 so this year will definitely have more releases than my previous years, there will be another big cover , and I also got to work with D-Nox on new music this year.

My closest gig will be in June in “BPM College” rooftop in Tel Aviv - I will warm “Khen” and “Eli Nissan” - for more news stay tuned in my instagram :).

'Lost in Space' is available now via MANTRA: https://bit.ly/4358LgD

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