Shlomi Aber on Be As One, Israeli EDM: "The Political Barriers Can't Be Resolved by Music"
Israel is by no means lagging behind the electronic dance music capitals of the world. In particular, the coastal city of Tel Aviv -- known as the "city that never sleeps" -- boasts a world-class nightlife and voracious appetite for electronic beats. It's no surprise then that Israel would spawn one of the global techno scene's biggest stars, DJ-producer Shlomi Aber.
Counting releases among top international techno labels like Cocoon, Cadenza, and Ovum is impressive enough for any producer -- and it's definitely gotten Aber his share of record sales and industry accolades. But perhaps most significant is his own Be As One imprint, conserving the Detroit techno legacy through output from pioneers like Kenny Larkin and Stacey Pullen, while pushing the future of the genre via homegrown Israeli talent like Gel Abril and Itamar.
Ahead of tonight's headlining performance at FDR Lounge at the Delano for the Notes from the Underground party, Crossfade caught up with Shlomi Aber to chat about the Israeli EDM scene, Be As One, and his upcoming projects.
Crossfade: How did you first get drawn to electronic dance music? Were you exposed to much of it while growing up in Israel?
Shlomi Aber: The Israeli scene used to be really hot in the late '90s to beginning of the 2000s -- probably one of the best places in the world for clubbing back then. I got into the circuit somewhere around the mid '90s. It was that long ago that I hardly even remember why, but I do remember I knew straight away that that's who I am and that's what I'm going to do for the rest of my life.
From what we understand, the Israeli EDM scene has historically had a very strong taste for psy-trance, influenced by the scene in Goa, a popular travel destination for Israeli backpackers. Was there resistance from locals to the Detroit-style techno you were playing in the '90s? What was the scene like in Israel when you first started playing out, and how has the scene evolved since?
That's true that the psy-trance scene used to be massive in Israel. After all, some of the world's most famous psy-trance DJs are from Israel. But it never really dominated the local scene, at least not at the clubs. Most of the trance parties used to be taking place in open nature -- they still are, actually. We used to have a big variety of clubs and musical influences here in Israel -- we all found our places and our scenes. Unfortunately, when the political problems started in the early 2000s, the scene really collapsed. It took some time, but now it is up again big-time, and it's become one of my favorite places to play.