is not renowned for chill-out labels so when Aleph Zero set up there
it was the start of someting truly special. Nigel Photon spoke to
Shahar who also set up isratrance.com about the label he co-runs
with Yaniv of Shulman fame. Interview was in Summer 2006 issue
have been around a long time now, give us a brief history of your
work with Isratrance (dates) and behind the Israeli scene?
though I discovered trance in 1990 in a party on top of Masada,
and went to few parties during the early 90s, only in 94-95 I
really got hooked on it when partying in Thailand and especially
in Australia. As I'm quite obsessive with music I started buying
CDs madly, but couldn't find info about releases- there was no
one writing about trance that I could find of. So I turned to
the Internet, and there I found it all, starting with the old
TRiP site. I also joined some mailing lists among them a small
Israeli one. I think that was 97. I wrote a lot about trance,
I knew a lot, I had a lot of music- So one day about 8.5 years
ago, I get this Email from a guy named ShivaS who was on that
small mailing list and he says- look we have a site about Israeli
trance, you seem to know a lot- maybe you can help? I was then
studying full time plus working three jobs and partying every
weekend- so of course I said- no, I don't have time. But if I'll
write some review or something- you can use it. About two weeks
later I found myself running Isratrance :-). We then had less
than 50 visitors per day- and now, well, after 1000 we've stopped
But these days, I must say I'm not really involved. Maybe it's
a good place and time to announce that I'm moving on. My involvement
with trance music has gone back mainly to dancing, which is the
best party anyway. I can say that there's a good new team that
will pick things up from where I leave. I'll still be involved
a little, but only in the background. I am very proud of what
we did with this website, and all from love for the music and
culture and for no profit whatsoever. I think it is something
special. It has changed and levitated away from my original vision
in many ways, but that is life. You gotta let things go their
us why and how you decided to set up Aleph Zero - the first Israeli
I drifted slowly to more downtempo realms, and Yaniv started his
own label for the Shulman releases. He offered me to join and
I agreed. We knew each other from before, but not deeply. Once
we met for a musical session that was it. It turned out we're
a good combination.
Musical vision. That's for me is the sole reason for a label to
exist- to be able to project a musical vision unto the world. To
find the music that you think can make a change for people, in people,
and the people who can make it. Support and nourish it and them,
spread that musical message around.
We also want to show people that this place has so much more to
offer than what most people see on the mainstream media. Music is
the best way.
sounds do you hope the label becomes most associated with?
music! Also fresh, innovative, different, interesting, emotional,
ever-changing music. Amalgamation of different sounds, of electronic
and live instruments, of old and new, of east and west- you get
are renowned for having Bluetech and Shulman - as co-label founder
- on the label. Are there any other artists we should know about?
we're working with quite a lot of artists. I'll name a few:
a very special Swedish musician and our next album release- Dream Wide
Awake. You can expect a very special and different music- a lot of vocals,
a lot of musicality, a lot of live instruments, but still very much
atmospheric and hypnotic; Vataff Project -
An amazing Bulgarian artist working on an album for us- he makes some
of the most psychedelic music I've ever heard, and in a very special
way. I can promise it's like nothing you've heard before; Hibernation
- a new and different project from UK based Seb Taylor (Shakta/Kaya
Project/Angel Tears etc.) - Seb's gonna take you there to more experimental
and un-chartered musical territories; Agalactia-
Another Israeli artist with tons of talent.
We're also working on some very special compilations and projects. First
will be the second chapter of the Natural Born Chillers series with
all these names and a lot more surprises.
are the up-and-coming Israeli chill artists who you find the most exciting?
And in terms of the world?
artists that really do it for me
Well, I mentioned Agalactia &
Vataff Project. Another name to look for is Fredrik Ohr. Apart from
that I must say I'm a bit bored from the new things coming out, they're
not new enough. New artists are more then welcome to try and surprise
and excite me.
the Israeli downtempo scene is very much alive and there's quite a lot
happening - Shulman is here of course and J.Viewz. Both offer a real
live show with a full band. This really pushes the music forward. There
are other artists like Eastern Spirit, Kukan Dub Lagan, In Depth/Depth
of Despair, and more. There's also a lot of downtempo that has nothing
to do with the trance world- check Faction, for example. Israel has
a lot of calm, despite what you see in the 'news'- you'll find it in
the music if you just care to look.
so many people in the wider world aware of series like Cafe de Mar as
barometers of quality, how do you think more underground chill can break
into their consciousness or be represented at festivals like the Big
good music and work hard. Innovate. A lot of the commercial chill stuff
is just pop. Our music is different - it's deep, it's challenging, it's
more a continuation of 70s psychedelic music the way I see it. It's
listening music, not background music. It lasts longer. Pop dies fast,
it doesn't leave an impression. I have no doubt that if you release
good music and work hard pushing it, it'll get out there and get recognition.
It's starting to happen to us, and we're just starting. We'll get into
the big venues as well, this music has the potential to appeal to so
many people in so many so called 'scenes'.
It's a shame that the thinning and spreading of quality that is a characteristic
of the trance world is carried by it into more downtempo realms. Tons
of releases with no quality control. People who release music without
listening to what goes around them first. Cloning and formulas. But
that's the way it is. The good stuff will float, it just makes it all
a bit more difficult.
reviews in the New York Times amongst many major outlets, how do you
see the label developing?
but relentlessly. We believe in quality and not quantity. Time is never
a factor in our releases- only excellent music. I think that is why
after such a short period of existence we're doing so much better than
we expected. We're trying to reach out to new crowds. The musical arena
we've chosen makes that possible for us. Bluetech getting reviewed in
the New York Times, Shulman getting reviewed by Eastern Eye and Ethnotechno-
It's a beginning- it's a huge world out there - we just need to give
them a chance to listen. It's a lot of hard work and it's not financially
rewarding yet, but we look far ahead - we think big, hoping to be able
to have no limits in our musical saying.
As a chill-out DJ, what do you try and bring
to your sets to make them special?
diversity and variety, an interesting story, sonic adventures. I always
try to play very long sets and I use music from different eras, regions
and styles. I combine elements of ethnic music (from Mongolia through
India to the Balkans), psychedelic pieces from the colorful past (from
Pink Floyd to Ozric Tentacles), diverse electronica, and a lot of spacey
dubby beats. No limits really. The biggest fun when moving from 4 on
the floor dance music to playing in chillout zones and chill rooms and
downtempo events, is that you suddenly have endless freedom. Your only
limit is your imagination and musical knowledge. This is great fun.
That is why I love to play very long sets (8 hours is my longest so
far)- the story I tell my listeners can be so complex, a long long journey.
the best thing is when people come to me and say: 'hey, we just
came to chill for a few minutes, and we got stuck here for all
your set!'. I also love it when people dance in the chill area
- there's so many more possibilities in dancing as well with this
music - I often play much more trancey music than in the main
stage. People just need to open their minds. Not an easy thing
to do, of course... But rewarding, something I recommend.