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Vhaera [Interview]

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Fresh of the release of her 'Harmattan' EP via Almar, we catch up with Israeli producer/DJ Vhaera. Based in Tel Aviv, Vhaera has been touted as one of her countries fastest rising electronic music talents, as she delights crowds at Israel's trendiest venues such as The Block, while enjoying extended stays in Beatport's sales charts with her dark progressive sound. We had a chance to talk to her about her musical background, inspirations, Israeli nightlife, her production process, studio and much more. Enjoy!

Hi Vhaera, 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 am pretty happy at the moment since I just released My new EP and finished working on a few new tracks, unique colabs and also released my first remix to the Dan Marciano track 'Till Now'. its sunny in Israel and the summer just started. The last piece of music I listened to is called “Corroded Mind by Radeckt" Love this one.

How’s your year been so far? And what are your plans for the coming week?

So far, my year is kind of amazing I got to perform at a lot of cool productions and did my first live set at the "Boiler TLV". I was blessed working around the clock and got a little time to connect to myself. I am a very spiritual person but that kind of was pushed away because of all the stress and tight timeline of evets and releases so now that I released my 2 Ep's and one more finished is on the way to be released with a few singles and collabs I kind of planning taking a few days of this week off and just focus on myself in the aspect of healing and being at the moment and enjoy it, Now that a piece of my heart (harmattan EP) is out. I can let myself enjoy it after all the hard work. But I'm kind of a workaholic so I hope I let myself these few days off.

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

Wow. This is the toughest question which I get asked a lot! I was a producer way before I became a DJ. At first, I became a DJ just out of the desire to let my tracks get heard on the dancefloor, you could say that other DJs can do it for me. But the truth is there is nothing more exciting and euphoric than see people rave, dance, and love your own creation in front of your eyes. these moments are the happiest moments for me, this makes my heart explodes with love. I create my music from love, every track is a small piece of my heart so getting some of this love back. There is nothing better than this. So, the answer is they tied at each other but if I had to choose I would choose to play my creations to the crowd. I am an adrenalin addict. Its all about the energy.

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

I am a third generation of music engineers and DJs, so music has always been a part of my life. I never thought I would become a DJ, but I always knew I would engage in music one way or another. I love living here We live in the best part of the Middle East. I live 20 minutes from the beach surrounded by warm and loving people.  There is a depth in the Israeli people that cannot be explained.  An unparalleled degree of truth and I love truth and depth and that is what my music is based on. Living in Israel is quite variable because of the security situation it is not simple but what is amazing about the Israeli people is that we manage to balance it and not let it stop our lives and continue to live, enjoy, and fulfill ourselves despite the precarious situation. Growing up & living in Israel affected my music, but I was more affected by club scene here and less by my culture sounds, until now. My new EP 'Harmattan' was the first time I let myself connect to my roots and create by it. I always paint new worlds with my sounds but this time I was looking at the beautiful and powerful culture I came from. I needed that. Needed to get out of my head and connect where I am. I think it's important as an artist.

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?

I fell in love with the clubs the first time I entered one.  I will never forget the first time. it was at the age of 12. Yes! so early. in my country (and in the jewish community) we celebrate bat mitzvah for girls at 12 and a bar mitzvah for boys at 13. This was the first time I entered to a party. the dancefloor, the music, this feeling of freedom, this inexplicable joy, the sounds, that filled me with happiness.  I knew in that moment that it was a feeling I would never give up on and that I would pursue it all my life.  I always loved thrills I am a very emotional person I loved the music the atmosphere and the escape from reality.  I went through a lot in my life, so it was always a place of escape for me, my place to just disconnect from everything to take a deep breath and look at life in a different perspective.  And just enjoy the moment.  And that's what I'm trying to convey in my music.  For me music was the lifeline that helped me lift my head above the water. And from there began my love story with electronic music and club culture.

Electronic music is well known for being hugely popular in Israel, how did your country become the genre’s mecca over the last 10-15 years? What would you attribute that to?

It's true electronic music in recent years is something that has dominated here in the country especially techno music.  I think that what precedes it is the open mind of the Israeli people to accept and absorb from different cultures, accept the trends in the world with open arms and develop it.

The producers here in the country are very talented and unique. That’s what I love about the producers here we always trying to find the next new sounds and unique ways to make tracks in the genre and sometimes even create brand new genres in the electronic music.

You have a very unique artist name ‘Vhaera’, tell us how you ended up with that and does it hold any special meaning for you?

This name has some personal meanings for me. What I can tell right now is that the simple meaning of the name is a gift from God, and music is my gift. Something I will always be grateful for, that I have been given the ability to create and be connected to music in such a way. On the day I chose this name I was the first and only one in the world with that name.  And so is my approach to my creations and the sounds I create that will be unique and one of a kind.

You’re a resident at Boiler TLV which is a new venture, tell us about that and how you got involved in it.

I'm proud to take part as the leading resident DJ of the Boiler TLV.  Which aims to create events in the atmosphere of a boiler in the simple of the word, hot, dark and unifying. The goal is building underground community of dark techno in Israel. The amazing idea behind this project is to give artists a place to get out of the box and build sets and performances from a place of real creation. With no boundaries, no rules, and no lines, just a quality dark techno from the opening to the end. we can go crazy and create the set in unconventional ways.  For example, in my first set I worked with an amazing violinist named Shai Erez who together we created a live remake of amazing tracks that I am very attached to and inspired by (one of them was 'Asura' by Charlotte De Witte) and an opening that imagined a power outage. I built the set in a way that would give people an experience of a journey in my world.

What have been some of your favorite venues to perform or attend events at in Israel, and why?

The two places I most enjoyed performing were 'Reading 3' and 'The Block' in Tel Aviv.  At 'the block' especially.  As soon as I entered the place I fell in love.  The atmosphere there was so dark and intimate.  It was a special night.

 How do you feel about coming up in a country with so many new and talented producers? Is it inspiring? Challenging?

I'm proud to come from a place like this it is inspires me. Each one is special in its own way and in its own creations.  It does not challenge me because I like to see talented people fulfill themselves.

You have a new EP ‘Harmattan’ out this week on Almar, tell us about the release and how it showcases your sound.

As always in this EP my music is based on fun and high energy combined with innovative sound design, only this time I took inspiration and explored the Middle Eastern sounds combined it with personal story and sounds along with my unique fingerprint. The main EP idea was a desert sandstorm and 2 of the tracks are named after the biggest sandstorms that have been to date.  The purpose of the tracks is to sweep the crowd just like a sandstorm does. The tracks are already a big success at the dancefloors so I am very excited to finally release them.

Almar is a relatively new label with this being their seventh release, what makes it a good home for your music?

That's true but I'm proud to release my EP there for a reason that behind Almar is IAMT Group. That is one of the most valued groups in the genre.  In addition to the fact that I like and connect to their way of working, one of the criteria I had for choosing the label with which I will publish my music, especially this EP, was a label that I know cares about the artist growth and the release success and invests time and resources in their releases. It’s not all about the big name for me it’s about support and hard PR work behind it. Something that most of the labels expect from the artist to do alone.

What does your set-up like? Do you favor physical gear over digital? And what studio tools featured heavily in the writing of this EP?

My set-up is a control keyboard, two monitors, computer and a sound card that I did not compromise on, "SBL".  My set-up is pretty basic and that's enough for me.  I currently prefer to work with digital synths and plugins on Ableton.  We are in 2022 and have quality plugins and synths at such a high level. I would like to have physical gear in the future but at the moment I don’t have the need to have it and I enjoy exploring and creating digitally. The main studio tools I used writing this EP are Diva and pigments plugins.

 Please walk us through the production process on one of the tracks, whichever you prefer.

I am very organized person. so, all my tracks work process are always the same in a way. The first thing I do when I start creating is to search for inspiration or a general idea that I want to lead the creation.  It could be a story or a sound I heard, even a painting I saw, mostly art, art inspires me the most.  Once I have inspiration and a general idea from there it all starts and sometimes when I am not inspired, I just go looking for an interesting sound that will catch my ear and then I start playing with it and synthesizing it and editing it until I get the perfect sound that lit the whole idea. it all starts with a special sound. Then I build it from the beginning and telling the story.

What’s the task you enjoy the most when producing and what is something you’d rather have taken care of by somebody else?

Its Hard to choose which part of the production process I like the most because I love all the creative side of it and its important to me to be involve in all of it. but I think the task I enjoy the most is the mixing, the balances between all the sounds I think it is the most critical stage of the production process that can upgrade the track and determine its character. The only task I would prefer to be taken care of by somebody else is all the PR side.  I like dealing with the whole artistic side of the track from the cover, choosing its name, finding sounds.  But when it comes to the more formal side, I enjoy it less and do it because it's part of the job of being an artist in order to success. Luckily, I have an amazing team and manager who take a big part in it, so it makes it easier for me.

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?

At the beginning of my career as a producer I would do a lot of road testing and share it with all the people I love around me such as friends, family and of course my boyfriend, in addition to testing it a lot on the dance floors at my gigs.

Now I'm in a place where I do not feel the need for the whole process, and I am very confident in my ideas and productions.  So, when I finish a track today, I play it two/three times at events to get feedback from the audience and feel the how's it affects the dancefloor. so far this has always helped and gave me the final confirmation that the track is a success.  When I produce, I think from a dancer perspective in addition to being artistic. My goal is to make you all enjoy it's not about me.

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?

What a fun question, this is totally something I want to do in the future. it will be Dark sounds, high energy Rave as I love.  My line up will be

Rezz                             22:30-00:00

A2Z                              00:00-1:30

AGUSTIN GIRI           1:30-3:00

T78                              3:00-4:30

Marie Vaunt                4:30-6:00

My dream Rave.

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

Defiantly Genoqs Octopus Hardware Sequencer.

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

I do not remember the last time I saw a movie but books I try to read whenever I have free time even if it's a page or two.  The book that will impact me the most is "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz.

I think it's a must - read book for any person.  It is a book that has changed my life and my perception of the environment.  I am very sensitive and too empathetic.  So, the second and third agreements affected me greatly and made a big change in my life. For example, I used to make a lot of assumptions that turned out to be completely incorrect. I've discovered that the harm you cause yourself and others by forming an inaccurate assumption is significant. It's so simple to simply ask rather than assume. Also, taking things personally puts you subject to other people's manipulation. Since I trained myself to either forgive or disregard everything spoken about me, I've found amazing freedom.

What’s a superpower you wish you had and how would you use it?

Omniscience, it's the ability to have complete and limitless knowledge of anything. I think that way I could help a lot to everyone around me. Knowledge is the best power and I live by it.

If you could travel anywhere for one day, all laws and limitations void, where would it be?

The moon. To see this beautiful earth from the outside I think it will literally take my breath away, but same time will be the most powerful and meaningful experience I can choose.

In your opinion, what’s the biggest risk you’ve taken and what made you do it?

To Choose to be a musician. I could have a degree go and learn and do anything else, but I chose music. I do not see my soul letting me do anything else.

on the other hand, I think it is the biggest risk I have taken, to entrust my future in such an unstable profession that depends on the audience mainly and less on me and the efforts and hard work I do.  Let myself to be fully exposed for reviews of my art that is the closest thing to my heart, I think it's a hell of mental risk.  But it's totally worth it for me.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

Love. There is nothing better than knowing you are not alone in this life Roller Coaster.

What does the remainder of 2022 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

Lots of new music and new colabs.  I work hard to create music full of new sounds for you and hopes to touch you with it in new ways. For me, this year is all about art.

'Harmattan' is out now via Almar: https://bit.ly/3KkBdRu

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