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Now that you look back, did your style and tastes evolve in 2022?
I’m the type of person that tends to run away from a trend when everyone around me starts doing the same thing. Over the 2.5 decades that I have been redefining my sound, I feel like I have been at the forefront of future sounds: The sound of tomorrow -. I believe that is a big part of our electronic rave culture. So when I finally see the majority catching on and my sound is being replicated within my community, I quickly lose interest and abandon ship. I look for the next new thing that hardens my nipples! So, ya you could say my style and taste has and shall always evolve on an annual basis.
What have been the highlights of your long 25 year career?
Storytime: My first tour in Mexico many many years ago started as a disaster and ended in pure glory. The promoter promised me a tour and it began by booking me for a big sold out show. But then, with an entourage of escorts by his side, he decided to DJ an impromptu, never-ending, drunken, opening set of electro BANGERS and lost the whole crowd. Let’s just say we parted ways real quick. Luckily I had professional friends who respected my work at the time and helped me score some substitute gigs. One of the referrals was at a trending venue called Bar Americas. The club gave me a chance, and I guess you could say, it was a right-place-right-time situation. I won them over so hard that the owner, Ramon, asked for me to return the following weekend and do an encore set. That was the start of my skyrocketing fame in GDL + Mexico. I later went on to become the international resident DJ at the prestigious Bar Americas and I blame this marvelous club for my frequent Mexico tours. Mexico is my biggest fanbase and I have only my brother Ramon + my wonderful family at Bar Americas to thank. I could list hundreds of highlights, but this one means a lot to me.
And the hard parts, or the lowest moments?
The beginning. I don’t come from a rich family. We lost everything as refugees when we abandoned our beautiful home in Tehran, Iran. My deaf parents, brother and I lived in poverty in Madrid Spain as we waited for our visas to move to North America. In the early 90s in Canada I was a little kid with a deep passion for spinning records and vinyl was DAMN expensive. I opted out of meals and cut back spending on both luxuries and basic necessities so I could buy a record or two to play on the weekend. It was really hard. I would duct tape the holes in my shoes, but at least I could get new tunes. I KNEW in my soul that if I never gave up there would be a brighter day. Well… You should see my shoe collection now! … Today I not only make a good living, but a really good living purely off of the love of MUSIC!!! Can you believe it?
What do you know now you wish you had known when you started out?
I had this blind faith, you could almost say an innocent view of how this business worked. I believed that if you worked hard and showed great talent that this would be enough to bring all the success. Well that’s still true… to a point. Now over 25 years in the game I’ve come to learn that there is soooo much more to it. Talent and hard work is only a small part of the big picture. To become a noted artist is one thing but to be able to maintain relevancy over decades of time is a whole other monster. This is where you must get wise to the business aspect of the game and adopt a team. Without the aid of disciplined professionals behind you to help manage the different elements of the business, simple talent and hard work will be a fart in the wind. Even a savant genius couldn’t stretch his talent across the vast span of this business to make a career continuously successful.
How has the industry changed for the better or the worse in that time?
I wouldn’t say it has changed for the worse or better. I simply think it has evolved. Let me give you a visual: We’re at a dinner party back in the 90s, all discussing our careers. If I told people I DJ raves, the most common reaction of the people across the table was for them to stop everything with their jaws dropped. “Like how does it work?”, “How does someone get info about these things?’, they would say. What I did was very rare back then. It was truly “Underground” a secret society, a secret culture of people uniting under one roof for a common cause. Today… At a dinner table, when our jobs come up and I make the mistake of saying I’m a DJ/producer… Wow! I will have to sit there and hear “Me too, bro” (like 6 times) “I got this controller last week.” “I only play Romanian Tech House.” “I’m teaching my cat to spin for Tiktok”… You get the point. My precious secret isn’t so secret anymore. Today dance culture is being sold to the masses, so we have a new 21 year old Instagram DJ every week promising to gobble up all the mainstage festival gigs. Dance music is more popular but the entry skill level is much lower and attention span is even less.
Tell us about running your label You Plus One, why you do it, what the challenges are, what makes it worth it?
To be honest, I don’t really like running a record label. It’s too time consuming, and there is alot of desk work to manage. I would rather travel and play shows or make music in the studio. But there is something deeply rewarding about being the label boss of You Plus One. It is representing my country of Canada in the global underground community and birthing unique world class music to people that will withstand the test of time. It feels amazing to see that I am helping my underrated country put a mark in the history books of dance culture.
You worked with Pig & Dan recently for Get Physical – how did that come about?
Piggy and I have been instant friends for a long time. With a next level type of bond. He is my family; we are brothers from another mother. I had a fear of sitting in the studio with him because I idolized Pig&Dan music for 20 years. During the pandemic we decided to give it a go at my You Plus One headquarters. My space is one of a kind and uber inspirational for music. We instantly had chemistry in the studio. We were able to marry his extensive techno background with my groovy melodic vibes harmoniously. We inspire each other so much we challenge ourselves to complete a song per day during his visits. Once we exhausted our ideas we would send it to Dan where he has this gift of mixing down and adding and removing bits with a godly touch. Our 3 way combination has all 3 of us making tunes that we have never made before alone. I absolutely adore this project and it is something I see us doing for decades to come.
What inspired the tracks you made together?
It could be an old sample from my encyclopedic knowledge of golden era hip hop. It could be a wicket drum groove that Igor comes up with. Even a quick break in the shower helped me come up with lyrics. I ran out while still wet, sang in one take, and slammed the SD card on the table, “That’s the vocals, don’t ask how.” I have never had more fun nor learned more than while working with Pig&Dan on music, pulling inspiration from each other.
What else are you working on?
I’ll try to make it short… Expanding our You Plus One events brand. Launching a very tight and jam packed release schedule with the You Plus One label for 2023. Launching a new large scale project in Los Angeles that I will be announcing this year. Setting up another world tour in the summer as per usual, but this time choosing a select few favourite destinations as I have a lot of work on my plate!