Israel born and based Shlomi Aber is one of the most influential tech house players of recent times. As well as being a revered producer in his own right, who to date has released on go-to labels likes Cocoon, Desolat and Ovum, he also heads up his own label Be As One. For almost a decade now Shlomi has been serving up chart topping, floor slaying and DJ friendly tracks and the latest of these comes in the form of Tel Aviv Garden Remixes on Saved Records and a new two tracker, Helter Skelter/Behinds the Curtains on his own Be As One.
With plans to head off on tour around the USA in October and South America in November and after spending the summer as a resident for the ever-popular Tribal Sessions at Sankeys where he recorded a special Radio 1 Essential Mix for Pete Tong before picked up a nomination in the Ibiza DJ Awards it’s fair to say that this is a man on fire at the moment. We caught up with him for more.
You’ve been in the industry for over twenty years now, what would you say the main differences are in terms of what falls under the category of house music or even deep house?
Things have definitely shifted around in the past 2 decades. In a way things used to be simpler when categorizing music whereas now it is all mixed into a salad of sounds and influences but that I say in a positive way. Things have to move and cycle to get better and to keep things attractive and interesting. Personally I don’t think we even need to categorize music at all. There is good music and bad music. Basic definitions if any are all that’s needed… rock, pop , dance etc.. but all the sub mini genres just aren’t relevant anymore in this new age of mixture. I mean who really cares if it’s a tech-house record or a house record?
Well said. We’re always interested in different local scenes and we thought you’d be able to school us on Tel Aviv and Israel with both seeming to have quite a history when it comes to electronic music. Tell us a bit about what the scene there…
It used to be one of the best scenes in the world during the 90s when it influenced me a lot and shaped me as a musician. We used to have this special magic in the air back then that is very hard to come by this days, not just in Tel Aviv but in general. We were very innocent and full of passion but in time things changed alongside the political situation although there are things still happening Musically in Israel and there is always something special about playing back home.
Did you find your upbringing there inspiring in terms of your music?
In a way , everything I’m doing, I’m doing as an Israeli . As I’m not religious in any way and I like to see myself as one of the many sons of the free world, I get my inspiration from everything surrounding me, be that food, people, art or anything else. These we have in full in Israel; there is a special atmosphere that cant be explained in words in that little country.
You’ve got some Tel Aviv Garden remixes coming up soon. Tell us a bit about the track itself.
It had been originally released somewhere in 2006 and was one of those records that really put my stamp on things back then. I always felt it was a very special record for me, perhaps because it kinda defined my sound for in years that came after.
I remember producing this record in Guy Gerber’s studio while he was traveling somewhere and from his old Tel Aviv house you could see big part of Tel Aviv and the daily life of a very busy area of the city. So between producing sessions I took some time to relax and look upon the city from this spectacular viewpoint. It was then the name just jumped right up out at me.
Nic Fanciulli who is a dear friend and begin a big fan of the original remix of that record then randomly came up with the idea to issue a series of reworks in an airport meeting sometime last year and we just rolled with it .
Cool. Do you think Israel has been affected by the soar in popularity of electronic music or “EDM” in the same why that Europe has?
Of course. Israel is a very western country, well developed and connected to the world. In this age of social media and internet things are spreading very fast, especially trends. Israel will always have a culture of music that’s open to any kind of music and we’re happy about that as its one of many gates and bridges that can connect different people and cultures.
What do you think about the commercialization of electronic music?
I think it’s fantastic. It brings many new opportunities into the circle , many people think that when things go commercial it basically marks the end of a scene as a special thing , but its not really effecting the music itself , as good music will always remain good music. It’s never about commercial or underground, it’s about the product and if it inspires you or not.
In addition to being a DJ, you’re a producer and run your own label. Do you find it hard to balance all three?
Not at all. They are all connected and stand as one and it actually helps you to get better as working with material from artists as a DJ encourages you to examine different approaches and brings interesting new perspectives to the table. After so many years I cant see myself doing one without the other, studio time is my therapy and needed for my soul more then anything else whilst DJing has and always will be my biggest real passion. It has been that way I was 12. And the label? Well, just an umbrella for all these things. Something to help others to get somewhere a place for me to feel like home. Luckily I’m surrounded with a very dedicated and amazing team who runs the label, the agency and all the back office. I obviously couldn’t do it without them, especially as some of them have been part of this project since day one and I appreciate their opinions very much.
Everybody needs a good team behind them. You say that DJing was you’re your first real passion is this the endeavour that you tend to put above everything else?
In a way DJing is the thing that starts all, so it is basically the force that drives everything I do. I remember as a 12 year old kid at my bar mitzvah that during in the celebration the only thing I could think of was that “those are cool speakers” before speaking to DJ and asking him to show me how it all works. I was thinking about DJing when I should have been concentrating on lighting up the candles!
DJing on the brain! How important do you think it is for DJs today to produce their own music as well as play the work of other peoples?
I don’t think its a must , but I do think it helps to understand the music better and helps you to appreciate it in a special way. As a musician , I think you need to be able to produce, even if its just for fun, but there is something in sitting in the studio and listening to the same loop for hours that deeply connects you with the music and sees you developing a special relationship with yourself as an artist.
At which point did you decide that you would launch your own label?
It was at some point during 2005 when I was producing records that I just couldn’t fit to any label in my head. Although if you can fit them in to a particular outlet it means there is already someone who is making the same music you are making and what’s the point in that ? We having our own signature as a label which is not so obvious taking into consideration how open minded we are as an imprint that releases many different types of house and techno .
So what does the future hold for Shlomi Aber?
There are few projects that I’m very excited about, firstly my next release on Be As One ” OD/Helter Skelter. Those are 2 tracks I’ve being playing for months now and I’m looking forward to finally getting released and then I’ve got a mixed CD for one of my favorites clubs in the world coming up which we will announce in the upcoming months but for the most exciting project I’ve have at the moment is the small baby on the way I’m going to share with my lovely wife Noemie. Now, that’s real excitement!
Shlomi Aber’s Tel Aviv Garden Remixes is out now on Saved Records