Behrouz is the guy that when he tells you about the message he wishes to spread, you listen. His numerous times at events like Burning Man has opened his mind and soul to a point that he has realized the true human desire to receiving humility and acceptance. And that is exactly what he strives to achieve through the sets he shares with anyone willing to listen.
His heart and soul is poured into his music, and in our conversation, he shares these intimate details.
You had a birthday recently and got to play in Miami at Do Not Sit On The Furniture. Happy Birthday! Any special memories from that night?
Thank you. This was probably one of the best birthday parties I've had. We transformed Do Not Sit into a Moroccan Oasis with a Moroccan tent outside in our garden which was decked out and designed by my wife. We also decorated the club, and people came dressed up. Just having all my close friends around, and having me play from open to close, and building up the night properly was fantastic. I do a once a month residency at Do Not Sit where I play from open to close and everyone gets to go on a special Behrouz journey!
Having spent a lot of time traveling, DJing and meeting so many people, what do relationships with friends and family mean to you? How do you maintain these friendships with such a busy schedule?
Well, traveling over 20 years around the world has allowed me to develop great friendships with people all over. I've kept in contact with many of my friends. And those who know me know how much friendship means to me. At the same time, traveling does take a toll on my private family life. Having gigs every weekend out of town and sometimes during the summer for weeks or months at a time is stressful. As a husband and father, you have to get creative. I like to take my wife and daughter on trips with me during the summer or when I play in NY or San Francisco. I take them with me, it's like little mini trips for us. It's part of my life and we have to learn to balance things as a traveling DJ.
There are many artists that make their way to Burning Man, but it seems to hold a special place in your heart. What does it mean to you?
What makes Burning Man so special is the environment. You are in the middle of the desert. Us humans, we hardly spend any time in nature. What makes it so special is the fact that you are without your cell phone, your computer, and you are going back to basics. People become nice because they don't have to protect themselves. At Burning Man everyone is the same. You respect nature, you respect people and show them your love and respect. It's one of those places in the world that could change the attitude of people. It made me become better and I am always trying to learn more. It's a magical place. Whatever you ask the universe you shall get.
At the same time DJs like Lee Burridge and myself have helped jump start this big movement in the US and abroad with this sound that's referred to as 'desert music,' and it's grown like crazy. It's beautiful music that you can dance to and touches your soul.
Pure BEHROUZ nights are known throughout the world for being multi-genre, masterful sets unmatched in the industry. Can you tell us about the evolution of Pure BEHROUZ and what led to it?
It started as a night I did at one of my long running residencies back in San Francisco where I would play from open to close and I would take my listeners on a journey of different genres of music. I don't like to pigeonhole myself to one sound, and it's a reflection of my history of playing in one of the best cities in the U.S., San Francisco, for over 20 years. I grew up listening to disco, acid house, garage, drum & base, techno, jazz and so much more. I feel like if you just play one sound, it becomes boring. You have to learn how to educate your crowd and take them on journeys of music. It's like being in class and opening your mind to something different and exciting.
Can you tell us about your time in San Francisco back in the day?
I lived in the best era of San Francisco, I believe. It was, and will always be, a city full of so much culture and art on so many levels. I grew up going to the best clubs, listening to legendary DJs at the time. I played two amazing residencies at the best clubs at the time. Eight years at DV8 and eight years at Release at 1015. It will always be my favorite city in the world!
As someone who has been in the music industry for some time, and experienced a lot, what are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned along the way?
Just always be yourself and no need for an ego to get ahead in life. You go up and down in this industry, so always be humble and nice to everyone! Also, I've always played from my heart and with passion, and every day I wake up thanking God for allowing me do what I love the most. Spreading love through my music.
Event info and tickets here.
Atnarko is a small locality in British, Columbia in the south of Tweedsmuir Provincial Park where you can see moose, coyotes, foxes, eagles, and bears. It is also a river in the same area in Canada where Atnarko Bear Ross was born. The now American-based DJ and producer mesmerized Atlanta on April 22 at Alley Cat Music Club.
His influences include the dirty south, Swamp house, George Clinton, Afrika Bambata, Freestyle - among others. Atnarko dropped proper house, funky, deep, and techno beats that made the ravers, including myself, dance all night long.
The night started with a set from Ernesto Cardenas, an Atlanta resident who has been working in the underground scene in Ibiza for the last few months. Cardenas was followed by the well-known local artist, Tocayo, who hopped into the booth a few minutes past midnight. Hernan Piraquive, aka Tocayo, set the grooves for a merry-go-round of house and techno rhythms. Meanwhile, Atnarko shared the vibes with the crowd, made new friends, and talked about life experiences before he treated us with what he does best, music.
Once on the decks, Atnarko delivered a groovy set with a very careful track selection that kept us dancing from beginning to end. During the three hour set, party goers experienced a bit of what he called “hypnotic house music,” a mix of deep house, underground and hypnotic sounds indeed.
This Feeling EP, his last work released under Viva Recordings, includes two original mixes, "Before Sleep" and "This Feeling." Atnarko Bear has also joined other recognized labels such as Noir, Lazy Days, Robsoul, 2020Vison, Faceless, and Motek.
By Kristin Gray
Photos by Sara Vogt
I return to Alley Cat after a stint of time, and the changes this venue has made in those few weeks are completely transformative. The DJ booth now sports their feline logo, giving it a legitimate, tasteful look. Ramzi opens up the night, his set begins with a transcendent mixture of desert vibes and instrumental tracks that set a beautiful scene for us early birds. As the set transitions, we begin to hear nice bassy notes that get our heads bobbing and feet tapping. The beat picks up, the bass drops. The enthusiastic little crowd swells, enjoying this wonderful beginning to such a fine night.
Tocayo steps up to the decks, ready to keep the party going strong. He keeps up a steady beat and the crowd remains pumped. As the venue packs out, I escape the crowd for a bit to have a chat with Clarian, our headliner for the night. His intelligence, desire to find the deeper meaning in things, and love for sci-fi make this conversation a special experience.
Welcome back to Atlanta! How do you tend to handle the cold winters of snowy Montreal versus your summer getaway city of Berlin?
I think I handle it pretty well (laughs). I’m actually going next week to Berlin. It depends on shows. I try to travel as much as I can to play shows. The world is a big place out there, so it’s hard to jump around all over the place randomly so you try to organize it a bit. But generally speaking, you’re right. I spend most of my summers in Berlin. I like the cold winters though, getting to wear my snow suits.
As a lover of sci-fi, would you say this is a big influence in your music, or is it the other way around?
I like that question. Techno music is like this future dystopian thought of machines, and the sounds of industrialization. I think that they’re intrinsically locked together. I’m really interested in finding the link between the future of sound communication that electronic music seems to have as a platform. Other forms don’t really have as much liberty or freedom to explore future sounds. In my view, and from my experiments, from what’s exciting me in finding the music that I’m finding, a musical sequence can actually open up a portal into another gateway that can create space travel. And as ridiculous and absurd as it sounds, looking for patterns of unlocking the universe, maybe there are connections that we haven't even discovered between music and sound. I like to think about stuff like that.
What first got you into producing your own music, and how did that effect your life at the time?
I started producing music when I was a teenager. My brother had a studio and I used to steal myself into it when he wasn't around. He had a mixer and guitars, I grew up on instruments. I was just trying to figure it out, and I loved recording so I tried to write songs on the guitar and piano and then take it to the studio. Without formal training, I intuitively would notice that if I took a vocal take, and then I doubled it, and took another one, then I played with the timing, I could create interesting phasing. I was doing all these things not knowing that the hell that I was doing. That whole world of producing is its own universe. That’s generally where I'm most happy, when I'm in the studio.
There is an interesting story to your EP Mission to Bars involving an Astronaut, his voyages, and his longing for whiskey. Can you tell us what inspired it?
I was in South Korea for a week, I was touring in Asia. I was by myself and I was pretty broke. I couldn't afford whiskey at one point at this bar and I was trying to write, I write sci-fi stories as a hobby. I was writing this story and then I got into this idea about this space man, and he was in his space suit. He could be on some strange planet but he could also be a delusional regular schizophrenic dude walking around downtown with a space helmet on, you don’t know. But the whole thing with this character is, he's an alcoholic obviously, and he wants to have a whiskey but he can’t have it. He orders it but he can’t drink it, so he doesn't know what to do with it. He can’t take his helmet off because that’s what is keeping him alive in his mind. So he just pours whiskey over his helmet in this sad attempt. It was so ridiculous and pathetic and amazing. I was laughing about it to myself like an idiot in this bar in Korea. Since then, I have been writing more stories about this space man. I have another story I finished recently where he's in a hydrogen depository, or that could all be in his mind, he could just be at a gas station. He's thinking about whiskey and meanwhile holding up the line. He's just pissing off all these strange creatures because he's so lost. The tracks that go with it are very dreamy and trippy. It’s called Ankh.
You gifted us with a special mix, NOCTURAMA, a few months back. What was it like bringing to the surface unreleased productions and collaborations from the past eight years?
Oh yes. It was good (laughs). It’s like digging through your journals or diaries, going through old essays from school. I have tons of that stuff in hard drives and disks, on recorded tapes, on floppy disks. Weird recordings and experiments that I try my best to keep track of because I travel so much and things get lost. I think most producers have tons of music that are these gems but for whatever reason the pieces get lost. Maybe they resurface years later or people find the outtakes, or even the demos but the demos are so good that they become hits. So you're always treasure hunting and I was putting all these together to make a mix. It was kind of cool for me, it tells a story, like sketches. If someone wants to see where my heads at and what I’ve been up to and trying different things and ideas. The last track on there I wrote eight years ago, it’s a ballad I made on a synth in this studio. It was the first track I wrote after Utopia. Each track signifies a point in time, they’re like the shadows of my music.
Your music seeks to explore the edges of space and time in an imaginative way. What have been your biggest challenges and joy with this exploration?
I’m trying to find connections with music as I get older. You know you get into all these scenes when your younger to find yourself, when you have the liberty and freedom to exist in these communities that don't ask to invade upon who you are. That’s what I think is beautiful about electronic music, about the culture of it. This movement that we do, that we've created. It’s a revolution in itself. At my point now as I'm getting a bit older I'm wondering where I'm going with my whole life. If I want to try to keep doing music and traveling, which I like and am so thankful for. Either I have to take some time off and try to make more of a contribution to the world beyond just the fun stuff, or find a way to do something a bit more original that I can provide to this community. It’s a hard question, but it’s a fun question. It’s the shit. I love coming here!
What can we expect from you for 2016?
I made another synth pop album, it’s very spacey. It’s more of a celebration of the style of music that I've been very obsessed with over the past ten years. I've realized it’s kind of like NOCTURAMA. The sound kind of evolves in my mind so when I did this album I did it last summer in Berlin. It’s a lot of Footprintz stuff that I've been doing and it has a lot of newer sounds that I've been patching and working on and creating. It’s very celebratory. Like an ending. Hopefully, I can get it out in a presentable way. That’s what I've been working on to find the right label and find the right way to put it out and make it special. That hasn't been easy yet but hopefully that will come together. Then I have the other Ankh EPs and Tiga’s album, which drops in March. I had the honor and privilege to work for such an amazing legend. That was maybe the most challenging and rewarding experience in the past few years. Working with people on that level. It’s awesome to work with guys like him. His album is called No Fantasy Required and it’s really sick. It’s really amazing.
And as a fellow sci-fi lover, I have to ask - what is your favorite show or movie?
Recently I've been really into the Expanse. I particularly love it because the character’s name is James Holden. I also love Logan’s Run. I love the old classic ones.
We return to the foray and Clarian takes his place behind the booth setting up his Mac and prepping. Tocayo finishes out his set and welcomes our guest of the night. As Clarian begins, the crowd pauses unsure at first what to do. This music is dark and heavy, a complete mind trip in all the good ways. The dancing becomes vigorous, the crowd is humming with energy - bouncing together in a frenzied wave of movement.
Clarian’s music sends us on a galactic journey through the darkest folds of space, time seems to stop. The sound from his deep notes and other worldly synth create a frenzy in the patrons as we seek to entrance ourselves in this exploration. For a moment I completely forget about the world outside. This is a type of music not often heard in Atlanta and I look around to smiling faces of glee and disbelief that music can have such a guttural affect.
This set was as much of a physical experience as it was a mind experience and we relished in it. Though more of an experimental sound. I witnessed tonight that Atlanta is more than ready for this addition of musical pleasure.
By Clara Goode
Photos by Sara Vogt
My initial impression of the Alley Cat Music Club was one of trepidation. It shares a well-lit street corner with several boarded up buildings and what appears to be a convenience store. I cross paths with a group of young people who are laughing and chatting animatedly and I follow them through the doors. An underlit bar with a green flow immediately to my right, while an open path to my left leads to an outdoor patio.
I walk straight back toward the main room I am struck by how cozy the space is. The room is filled with dry ice which envelopes everyone in a glowing haze and, at times, obscures the DJs themselves completely. There is no stage, which sets the tone for a more intimate show, decreasing the distance between the performer and their fans. The club is still under construction, the hall to the restrooms glows with an eerie red light that highlights the broken concrete and dingy bathrooms, but somehow the grunginess of the exposed beams and unpainted walls adds to the allure of tonight’s show.
The crowd here is different than what I have previously experienced. The majority of conversations taking place around me are in Spanish and people are more interested in interacting with their companions than they are getting lost in the music. The openers are setting the scene however, with simple, catchy rhythms and people are definitely feeling the music.
There is a very strong sense of community among the patrons of this club. At other shows the crowd has consisted of numerous small groups who seem to isolate themselves and rarely interact through the course of the evening except to fumble past each other as they make their way around the venue. Tonight the place is filled with large groups of people who seem to interact freely and comfortably, even with complete strangers. Each person seems entirely at ease both with the crowd and with the artists playing.
I sat down with Randall M. before his set. A polite young man, very easy to talk to.
You were classically trained in piano and violin. Was there one instrument you preferred over the other?
I took lessons (as a child), but was not classically trained. Probably piano. I stopped violin lessons when I was four. Really, I prefer drums over anything.
What kind of influence does that training have over the music you produce?
It definitely helps with my ear, mixing things in key and choosing certain songs to go with others, I think it all comes back to that.
Is your family proud of you and your accomplishments?
They’re very supportive of it. I’ve been DJing for twelve years. It’s really all I’ve done and in the beginning they were very supportive. Actually, they’ve been supportive the whole time. There came a point where, you know, they were kind of questioning if I was going to be able to make a sustainable career out of it, but the last three or four years I’ve been able to do that and they’re very proud and supportive of it. I feel really lucky about that.
Your love for your pups on your IG page is pretty apparent. Tell us about your fur babies.
I have three dogs, two are ten and eleven that I’ve had since the beginning of college. They live with my ex-girlfriend, but I still see them when I come back home and stuff. Then I have like, not a puppy anymore cause she just turned two, but a Cocker Spaniel as well. I’ve always loved dogs. I’ve love animals. I grew up with a Labrador and I just really love dogs. I wish I could have at home in Berlin but with the touring schedule and stuff it's just not practical. But someday I would like to have a little farm and have like five or six dogs on it.
What are some of your favorite albums you own on vinyl?
Well I have to say it’s not an album, but my favorite records, one of my favorite tracks from The Rolling Stones “Miss You” they did like a disco extended edit. It’s quite rare and my dad had it growing up and he bought me a copy a few years ago. So that one is pretty special to me. It’s all pink, it’s like 12 minutes long, and it’s amazing. Then my original hip hop stuff like Tupac’s On Death Row, Outkast, stuff like that. I love my techno records but the others just stick out for me. Also, I guess I’d have to say Efdemin, Chicago as well, one of my favorites.
What are some upcoming projects you have planned for 2016?
I have my own vinyl label called Thirteen. It’s coming out, the first release is in March and it’s something I’ve been working on for about over a year now and it’s like my baby you know? It’s basically my way to really showcase the music I love from people who I’ve come in contact with. Not only making good music, but cool people. It’s kind of like a friend group and we all share music and now I’m finally releasing some.
As the evening progresses, more and more people are distracted from their socializing and make their way to the dance floor and as Randall takes the stage the main room is packed to overflowing. Randall M uses deep, syncopated rhythms to keep them bouncing then adds a softer, melodic overtone. His lifelong experience with music is made evident by the diversity of sound, multiple instruments can be heard dancing through the layers of percussion in patterns highlighted with timed silences. His underlying rhythm is at a constant tone, not too low to be uncomfortable and not too high to be harsh. The perfect sound for continuous listening.
The ease with which the crowd interacts is evidenced through their relationship with Randall. He is not simply leading them as many DJs do, they are openly connecting with him. Chants spring up during certain sequences, people sing along with repeating melodies, there is a constant interplay between artist and audience. This is an appreciated contrast to many shows in which the DJ seems very separate from the crowd, manipulating them, sometimes in an aggressive way, to feel what they want them to feel.
The number of people on the floor changes constantly. Even with fewer people on the dance floor the ones that are dancing are fully committed. Many stand to the sides, nodding to the music and chatting, but it is not out of boredom. None are eager to leave or disappointed, there is simply an equal desire to socialize as well as dance. He keeps their attention to the very end of the show.
Toward the end of the night, I venture out onto the patio. The air smells sweet with cigars and lighter flames flicker between the faces of those gathered for a cigarette break and small talk. The music is still loud and one must speak loudly to be heard over it. Tomorrow our voices will rasp, and our clothes will smell of smoke and sweat, and we will accept these as fond tokens of an excellent experience.
What can I possibly say about the magic that happened at Sound Table Saturday night? Bobi Stevkovski warmed up the crowd with his energetic vibes. Winding my way to the front of the dance floor, I staked my claim for the coming night full of promise and excitement. As we get into the groove and start to feel the music, Bobi’s set took several intoxicating turns throughout the night. From smooth jazzy tracks with a deep, thumping bass, evolving into a desert tempo with a bit of a jungle undertone that put us in a land far away. The sounds emanating from the speakers rooted me to my spot, nobody dared move away from the floor as we danced there, completely and utterly lost in the music.
Though there was a slight delay in bringing up our headliner due to some technical difficulties, the fine people of Atlanta lent their support as Bobi continued seducing the crowd. You could actually feel the excitement from the people around me as we patiently awaited Matthew Dekay’s debut.
Matthew Dekay’s infectious smile and joyous energy instantly set the mood for what was to be one of the most beautiful sets I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. Based in Berlin, Dekay’s sound was tinted with a German grunginess that mixed in perfectly with the ethereal sound that is characteristic of the All Day I Dream label.
I can speak for all the patrons of Sound Table when I say that we were taken on a beautiful journey words cannot possibly describe. As I turn to friends and strangers alike, I can see the emotions playing across their faces. There were many times when all you could do was close your eyes and let his music take you with it on the adventure he was weaving for us. For lack of better words, Dekay’s music hit us right in the feels.
Talking briefly to Dekay after his set, he expressed to have been able to play longer for us, but was genuinely happy to be in Atlanta and experience the rapidly growing underground scene. This was a man with happy energy and a sweet personality that only added to the already obvious talent and music prowess. We will await your return Mr. Dekay and cherish the magic created that night.
Photos by Kayode Lowo.