Behind The Beat | Anjunabeats’ freshest talent ilan Bluestone
A Fresh New Sound
I’ll never forget the first time I heard “Capetown” on Trance Around The World. I kind of stood there mystified staring off into space as beautiful sounds filled my ears. I remember thinking to myself, “Who is this? Who does this sound like?” and the answer was no one. I instantly logged on to twitter for the live tracklist and read the name ilan Bluestone. It was a name I would not soon forget.
I can say with complete confidence that I am one of the biggest Bluestone fans on the planet. Every single track and remix he released in 2012 and 2013 (Namaste, Capetown, On My Own, Sinai, Under My Skin, etc) and thus far in 2014 have instantly became favorites of mine. Why? Because there is something so interesting and rich about each and every one of his productions. There’s something about his music, the textures and layers of sound, that I instantly connect with.
ilan is a forward thinking producer who’s constantly pushing the norms with a sound that is not only rich with emotion but experimental and cutting edge in design and structure. The fact that he consistently releases beautiful, innovative and moving music tells a seasoned EDM listener like me that he is here to stay and has successfully begun carving out a legacy for himself amongst the greats.
So with that I invite you to dive into the genius mind of ilan Bluestone…
Experimentation, Innovation, Dedication
OTB: Are you mixing for Anjunabeats Volume 11?
IB: Uh, there’s no comment on that. What have you been hearing out of curiosity?
OTB: Well you’re known as Anjunabeats wonder boy and I feel like there’s been a bit of a buzz around the web, plus my friends and I always talk about how cool it would be if you mixed for it. So maybe it’s wishful thinking?
IB: Well to be honest I’m very happy with the way things have been going, it’s been very intense. It’s just blown me away this past year, the response from everyone…
OTB: Absolutely. I’ve read that Maor Levi took you under his wing and then you became a part of the Anjunabeats family. Can you explain how that happened?
IB: Well originally I was looking for my sound, I wasn’t sure if it was dubstep or…
OTB: Wait, you’ve made dubstep?
IB: Yeah it’s on my soundcloud it’s kick ass! Haha no I’ve just made some dupstep-y projects, most of it’s pretty much cheese from what I’ve done in the studio. I met Maor originally on Myspace years ago, so literally when he was getting started with Anjuna we were starting to be friends on MySpace. Maor’s sound was big I could tell the kid had a shit load of talent and Maor was really my first inspiration.
I’ve always been interested in Anjuna and Tiesto, all the big guys, since a very young age and I wanted to express my sound and experiment. One day Maor and I decided we wanted to make a track together so Maor came to stay with me at my house. He stayed with me for a couple months and then I went to stay with his family. We’re really close friends, more like brothers kinda thing. We started producing tracks together, learning from each other and then I sent a demo off to Anjuna and they really liked it.
My first track was “On Our Own” with Maor then I did “Namaste” which was my first solo track. So yeah, Maor was the one that really encouraged me to bring out my sound and I’ve just been trying to push boundaries – combining like house, trance, dubstep, ambient, kind of like crazy sounds into one.
On Our Own
OTB: Absolutely! I think you definitely are pushing boundaries and it’s really exciting to hear the music that you’re producing and follow this direction that you’re going. I know that you mentioned the “big guys” inspired you but can you speak to more about what inspires you now? Maybe walk me through your production process…
IB: My production process is like hanging out with my friends and constantly listening to the things around me. Listening to the music they listen to, listening to what my parents are listening to – kind of like taking feeds of everything around me, I’m always listening to music. Whether it’s trance music or house music or garage or what have you I feed off that, whatever I like and take it in. Then I’ll go and sit down in the studio, experimenting with sounds, sound design. I could sit there for hours and hours and hours just making crazy bass lines or twisted or sophisticated pads or just sit there and tweak it and play the same chord for hours and hours and hours on end until I get the right sound. Then from there it develops into the next step where you start with the melody or the groove. I’m working on some new stuff at the moment…Yeah this year has been crazy, like surreal…I was chilling in my garden and I get a call from Armada and they ask me if I want to come over. Then I got to meet Armin and we went on a boat together…
OTB: Oh yeah I remember that picture of you and Armin!
IB: Yeah that was pretty insane… But yeah I’m really inspired by Hans Zimmer. I got to meet him in 2004. Also I can see that 138 and 140 BPM trance is really coming back in but I’m trying to look beyond that and come up with something fresh using those elements. Most of my sound right now is trance slash kinda Swedish house in a way, you know like big room kinda sound at the moment, and then take some old school trance sounds and bring that in to and then chop it all up and make something out of it.
OTB: Definitely. Something that I’ve noticed is with your music is you can totally get lost in it. I would love to know the inspiration behind “Spheres” and also you have some really exciting collaborations coming up with BT and Jody Wisternoff I would like to hear about…
IB: Actually one of my mates named Spheres. Originally the way I started with Spheres was I was working on the breakdown and I didn’t have a beat, just the breakdown and I had like an arppegiated sound repeating itself, kind of going in circles the whole way through out. So I wanted to take that sound and create a circular motion, sophisticated arpeggio over the strings and the break down and through the whole track with the sound still there. I wanted to take that melodic, emotional break down with like high-end vocals to create that lift of euphoria and sub basses and things like that. On a good system it sounds sick, in my room here it literally shakes the whole house.
Then with BT, he took a crazy next level microphone and stuck it into a piano – an open piano, then stuck his finger in there and started plucking with this fingers and he recorded that and then he sent it over to me and then I created a melodic breakdown. It sounds really good I can’t wait to play it for people. It sounds very cinematic more than anything. BT’s doing a lot of film scores at the moment and I based my melody around his break down and together it sounded like…take Flaming June and take me and shuffle it all together. Yeah and now I’m doing a track with Jodi Wisternoff.
OTB: So ilan what’s in store for you in 2014? That you can tell us…
IB: I’m hopefully going to be djing in a lot more places. Hoping to come over to the US this year and Canada as well, Brazil…Yeah there’s quite a lot of booking inquiries which is great. I’m looking forward to the future, I’m very hopeful. I’m just producing as many tunes as I can but quality tracks – I’m very fussy with my own productions. I’m always looking to improve my production and learn from others. I’m always scouting for new music and when I do hear music then I learn from that and take it all in.
OTB: What is something you’ve done or learned that has greatly improved your skills as a producer? It sounds like you do a lot of experimentation which I think is really great advice for producers – can you speak to that a bit more?
IB: I’m constantly playing around, dipping my fingers into different tracks, into different ideas. At the moment I’m trying to write an album…
OTB: That is exactly what I’ve wanted to ask you! I’ve even bugged you about writing an album on twitter!
IB: Yeah, I’m looking into writing an album this year. I’m really excited cuz you know I don’t just want to do trance, I want to do ambient stuff and like crazy experimenting. I have so much shit on my computer I want to let people hear. I’m going to be playing lots of twisted disco funk with a bit of strings on it with a bit of electro on it – that’s my aim. I’ve already got quite a few tracks but they’re not all finished. It’s all about finishing my shit off and carrying on.
OTB: Have you thought about sending out previews?
IB: You know what record labels are like, the minute you give away a bit of information about one track it does lose its value. What’s amazing about Anjuna is that they really know how to control their records and that’s why they’re so exclusive. Some of the artists that I listen to like Arty and Mat (Mat Zo) are producing such amazing shit at the moment and even A&B have some big tracks coming and I can’t wait for people to hear them. What’s amazing now is that trance has developed and there’s a lot more sound experimentation. You can do anything really and it will sound acceptable if you make it in that tone which everyone wants to hear.
OTB: So piggybacking off that idea of how trance has evolved, so where do you think trance is going? People have a lot of freedom correct?
IB: Yeah there’s a lot of freedom. The thing is…trance is developing, it always has been. I’m trying to bring back a lot of crazy synth sounds that aren’t really around today, people are afraid to use them and I want to bring them back except morph and twist the shit out of them. A brand new take on sound.
OTB: So in thinking about your album and having this goal of creating it – were you initially struck by an overall theme that you want it to have or have you been pulling pieces and songs together? Is there a theme that you know of right now?
IB: I’m not really running on a theme I’m kind of going on the whole like movie theme you know? I’m trying to make my tracks speak as a movie. When I’m writing my pieces I just want it to be really epic to the point where people can close their eyes and have it speak to them. I’m trying to create a movie with my tracks especially on the breakdowns very like Hans Zimmer. You know like when you watch a Hans Zimmer film there’s so much emotion, they’re not always the most amazing movies but it’s the music that makes it. So that’s what I’m trying to do with my music – make it more movie like, cooler trance you know? Kind of like a film within itself.
OTB: That’s amazing. Something I’ve always been curious about is the dynamic between the Anjunabeats family? I know that at ABGT 050 Above & Beyond dropped “Spheres” and “Big Ben” and your remix of “Fire Fire Fire”…
IB: I have to say I was there and didn’t expect Above & Beyond to play more than two of my tracks. I was standing there in the audience with my brother because I wanted to hear how my track(s) sound from a crowd perspective and analyze it and then I realized they were playing “Spheres” and I just got really emotional. Everyone was tapping me on the back saying, “Well done! Well done!” and I was just like “Wow” standing there with 10,000 people hearing my track.
Fire Fire Fire
OTB: That’s so incredible. I remember listening to the live broadcast and being mesmerized by “Spheres” and being so happy they played so many of your productions. So where do you see yourself in five years? What all are you hoping to accomplish?
IB: My big aim is to develop and create my own channel on YouTube where I’m filming everything myself and editing everything myself kind of like where I am traveling to…sort of like what Myon & Shane are doing but I want to take it to the next level where I am filming it all myself and making it all look very cinematic. Above & Beyond’s videos are very inspirational the way it’s edited and the way it’s filmed so I kind of want to bring out my music with pictures as well you know what I’m saying? That’s hopefully the big aim of having music and image together, hopefully I want to film everything as well and carry on writing as much music as I can.
OTB: I think your idea of telling your own story of combining sound and combining visuals with your music would be amazingly moving. I know what your music means to me and how it makes me feel but I think it your music would reach a whole new level if we could experience it through your eyes.
IB: I listen to my own music while driving. I love driving and have a huge passion for cars. I like testing my stuff out in the car – it’s all about the car test they say. Every producer loves to put his foot down and listen to a bit of good music.
OTB: Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration between “Sinai” and “Namaste?”
IB: I had a great gig in India, in Bangalore and it was for 3,000 students celebrating the Indian Independence Day to see these 3,000 who weren’t drunk or taken anything knowing the words of just gibberish which is what “Sinai” means… it means literally nothing, there are no lyrics to it whatsoever. My friend actually sang it in English and I twisted his voice to sound Arabian or kind of like that Egyptian sound, it was just experimentation. He sounded like Backstreet Boys and I said “Dude this needs to sound really next level not like NYSNC or something…” and it got to a point where I was playing around with his voice and it sounded insane and we both looked at each other like “Holy shit! This is epic” especially with the chords. His voice just fit and it was like a perfect combination and that’s how “Sinai” was born.
In terms of “Namaste” I had a friend come round and listen to it. At first she was just kind of bobbing her head to it but then when the breakdown came she started crying.. I asked her why she was crying and she said because it was “fucking emotional” and I didn’t expect it because she’s not the kind of girl who’s really into trance music. She’s more into like jazzy or new age stuff and she said that it sounded amazing. I asked her what it sounded like and she said it sounded like an Indian temple, it sounds like I’m in India right now and I said, “Well namaste dude,” and then we were like oh wow that’s a good name.
Now with “Capetown” it was more of an experiment. I started off with the groove and then I did the break down – I just wanted to add some vocal behind it, chop it all up and make a scrambled egg out of it and all of a sudden I got this crazy, twisted kind of African sound and I thought “Ooh this is very tribal…” so I tried to put as much emotion into the chords and break down as possible to bring out that vocal. It sounded really over compressed, warped and like it sounded really big and kind of effed up but actually really cool. You know like if you listen to Andrew Bayer his stuff is kind of choppy and I wanted to experiment with that. Do something different, so I did that and that’s how it came back. Producing it was so fun and every track I produce I try to make something very different but using elements that people are used to, you know? To me it’s about taking a song that you love and bringing it into the project you’re working on, comparing them and seeing what you can learn and see how you can improve your own track.
About four years ago a did a remix competition for Anjunabeats years ago and I just knew my sound wasn’t there yet. So literally every day I listened to more and more music and improved my soundscape by constantly experimenting and making different stuff and just constantly trying to find ways to make better grooves.
OTB: When did you know that you wanted to make music?
IB: When I was about nine years old I picked up my cousin’s guitar, he showed me one chord and I started playing around and he left me in the room and went out. My Mum walked into the room and said, “Where’s your cousin?” and I said, “He’s gone out.” To which she asked, “Well, who’s playing the guitar?” and I said, “Me” and she went out and bought a guitar for me the next day.
Then when I was 13 I decided to get myself a keyboard – just a shitty little Yamaha and my brother and I used to jam out with a drum set and what not. Eventually it got to the point where everyone was downloading this program called “Dance DJ” – literally a program where you can take sounds that were pre recorded to make a mix out of it. Then I got myself involved in tracking – the first type of production on PC, it was really basic. I started producing psychedelic trance on that, I was really young and didn’t really know what I was doing.
OTB: Was that when you were living in Israel?
IB: Yeah. I used to live in Israel for a few years when I was young, my parents are both English, but I was born and raised there so obviously being brought up there really influenced my music. People were listening to garage music when I was in my teens but I was listening to trance because everyone in Israel was listening to that. That’s how I really got into music because they really loved that music out there – Paul Van Dyk, Tiesto, Armin, Above & Beyond – Above & Beyond are like my all time favorite.
OTB: Thank you so much for taking time to chat with us. I just want to let you know what an impact your music has had on me and so many of my friends. There are so many of people that love you here in Seattle and around the world.
IB: Thank you, that means so much. Everywhere I go I try to make time for absolutely everyone – talk to as many people as I can. It’s always fun to constantly be able to express myself and see how people feel and how they connect with the music. I’m always thinking of new ways to give people eargasms you know?
OTB: Absolutely. I can tell you two things. One is that I’ve never met anyone that says, “Oh yeah…ilan Bluestone he’s just okay…” I just want you to know that all of your fans LOVE you. The second thing is that you’ve personally inspired three of my friends to start producing. They all three said, “Tell him we love him!” So just know that you’re inspiring others.
IB: I’m glad. To hear that obviously that makes me really happy because that’s how I got involved – listening to other artists and being able to express myself in exactly the way they did. It’s always been a dream of mine you know? I love producing, I can’t stop, it’s like a drug for me. I’m always in my room, I don’t go out anywhere, my friends bug me to go out but I can’t be bothered I just wanna make beats. I have a lot of stuff in the pipeline.
OTB: We can’t wait to hear it.
It’s very obvious to me when listening to ilan Bluestone’s music that I am indeed experiencing expressions of his soul. His music is authentic art. He makes music because it’s his passion. He’s not in it for the money or fame – he’s simply following his heart. To me it’s incredibly inspiring to encounter those few humans who have discovered their life’s passion and are actually pursuing it. They serve as examples to us all to do what we love and love what we do.
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