Behind The Beat | Maor Levi Interview
Since springtime has finally heralded its arrival, it seems that more DJs are flocking to the Big Apple, and we party people are jam-packing the venues to hear the beats and bass we all were forced to listen to at home during those dismal snowstorms. One of the hottest tickets in EDM, Maor Levi, graced Santos Party House’s weekly Electric Beach party last night, and I was lucky enough to sit down with him just before his 2+ hour set.
OTB: Maor! I was really surprised to learn that you are just 24 years old – you have such a command of so many different genres of EDM. Tell me about how your sound has changed and how you would describe it currently.
Maor Levi: When someone asks me to describe my sound I usually say “EVERYTHINGSTEP” because there are so many genres of EDM. I like everything and I used to divide my name and make different genres under different project names, but I decided I would do everything under one name because I want to keep it basic. I want people to know my sound when they hear my name and that it changes a lot.
OTB: You’re wrapping up your first North American tour with this show. What’s the tour been like for you?
Maor Levi: It was awesome! I had 10 or 11 shows over the 2-month tour. It’s been amazing because it’s my first time in the US and playing to different people in each city, different kinds of hospitality in every club. It was a brand new experience and I always wanted to come here [from Israel] and do this, and it was amazing.
OTB: One of my all time favorite ambient trance tracks is “Reflect.” What do you think about the state of trance currently (as in the genre, not Armin’s radio show)?
Maor Levi: The reason that I don’t make tracks like that anymore is because if you look at the genre now, it’s recycled. I get promos in my email and I listen to them, and sadly I can’t find anything that sounds mindblowing. Everyone just wants to be someone else and it’s just being recycled. I remember the good days of trance – like 2004 and older. There are still trance producers now that are holding it down, but a lot of the others are just recycling. In general, I never produced trance. I always liked it and listened to it, but I never produced it – it was more my foundation to learn how to DJ. I just hope it will be different in the future – less recycled.
OTB: You’ve been DJing since you were 11 years old, and I hear that old school Tiesto was one of your big inspirations. What were some of your favorite works of his?
Maor Levi: Tiesto’s Magik 7: Los Angeles. Every track was different and it was so refreshing. But the whole Magik series and the In Search of Sunrise albums got me into making this music.
OTB: Which artists would you say inspire you currently?
Maor Levi: Skrillex, Mark Knight, Myon & Shane, Above & Beyond, Andrew Bayer, Boom Jinx, Michael Woods, Norin & Rad; there’s so many. I love so many artists from so many genres – deep house, progressive, techno, drum and bass… so many.
OTB: You just mentioned a bunch of Anjunabeats artists in that list; what’s it like being signed to their label? Your new song with the Anjunabeats legend Boom Jinx, “When You Loved Me,” is a lovely track. Walk me through how the collaboration came about and how the song was created.
Maor Levi: I signed my first record with Anjunabeats when I was 16 and we still have great harmony. I’ve been a massive fan of all the Anjunabeats artists and now I am part of the family, wow. Working with those artists is amazing. The new record with Boom Jinx started with him sending me the idea and I said, “Hmm, okay, let me see what I can do with it.” Ashley [Tomberlin] and I are good friends, so I sent it to her and she loved it so she put the vocals down on it. It sounded amazing, so we came together and said, “Okay, this sounds like an album track.” We had been sending it back and forth, adding things for I think over a year, so it’s great to hear it done and receive the reaction it’s getting. I admire Boom Jinx so much, so I told him, “Look, it’s your album so you can just build it, I will give you the steps and I trust you.” And here it is!
OTB: Let’s talk about MOAR BASS, your podcast, which at only 6 episodes in has certainly climbed fast up the ranks in my favorite podcasts because it is just so high energy and creative! Walk me through the process of selecting songs and putting together the podcast.
Maor Levi: I check promos every time I can and I especially love finding tracks from new or underground labels. I love all the styles, as I said earlier. So I start out going from deep house, to techno, and then from progressive trance, progressive house, then electro, then trance, and then a classic, and then a guest mix. I try to test some stuff out and try to find new names.
OTB: Okay, last two questions before I let you go take the booth over… What is the worst part about being a DJ and what is the best part?
Maor Levi: The worst thing is to not please the crowd, and probably also to mess up at the peak of the set. The best part about being a DJ is the crowd, no doubt. You know, the good crowd, good vibes, people just like going crazy over my own tracks and I can test my own tracks and just see people going crazy.
It’s hard to go wrong with EVERYTHINGSTEP; if you love good music, you’ll love Maor Levi. Keep an eye out for his mashups, collaborations, and remixes, and be sure to catch him at a club or festival near you!
In Trance We Trust.
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