Behind the Beat: Catching Up with Andrew Rayel

Andrew Rayel made a stop off in New York City playing a special extended set for Christmas Eve. Before his 3 hour set at Marquee NY, we discussed a bit about the future of Rayel’s music, his latest single “Winterburn,” and his New Year’s Resolution. Check out the interview below!

[OTB]: How does it feel to play a show on Christmas eve? I don’t suppose you’re going to be able to make it home for the holidays?

[Andrew Rayel]: Hah, yeah well it’s been three or four years since I’ve been home for the holidays and every year, either I’m playing or flying to a show on Christmas or New Years Eve. It’s pretty special this year because I’m doing this in New York and I’ve got a lot of fans over here and as a gift to them, I’m doing a special extended set. I’m playing three hours for them. And that’s a little special because I don’t do that everywhere. It’s just really really nice and fun to play on Christmas. It’s more of a happy holiday. A lot of people stay home but I was really surprised to learn that our show here is sold out and a lot of people are going to come out.

[OTB]: That’s great news to have that many people here, celebrating Christmas with you essentially. Do you have any plans for tomorrow?

[AR]: Well tomorrow I’m playing Marque in Las Vegas. I’ve got a long tour and a show on pretty much every single day. I don’t have the time to enjoy all these holidays properly, but I’ll be enjoying my free time at home after this tour.

[OTB]: Well for the upcoming new year, do you have any New Year’s Resolutions?

[AR]: Well my New Year’s Resolution would be finish the album I just started, finishing it by the end of next year, release it and play it for the people. That’s pretty much it.

[OTB]: Well for your extended set tonight, do you have any favorite tracks or surprises you’re gonna give us?

[AR]: Of course! I’m going to play a couple new songs from my album. One of the tracks will be my collaboration with Sylvia Tosun called “Winterburn.” I’m really looking forward to see how people are going to react to that because it’s been a while since I’ve released my last single which was the collab with Mark Sixma called “Chased.”

[OTB]: I know you’re a big collaborator with all different kinds of artists, like Mark Sixma or Sylvia Tosun, what do you find to be the most challenging aspect of collaborating with someone?

[AR]: The most challenging thing would be being able to combine both sounds of both people because every artist has got their own sound. So usually, when we collaborate with someone, the track would sound like his track or my track, so it’s very hard to make it sound like something in the middle. Usually someone is doing either the bass line, or the synth, or the melodies, or something like that, and it’s very hard to compromise and have it sound like a REAL collaboration; like a real sound in the middle of both. So that’s a big challenge.

[OTB]: And last time I spoke with you, we had discussed maybe working with Hans Zimmer as maybe a dream collaborator. I’ve also read that you’re a huge movie soundtrack fan and you’ve sometimes done scores or soundtracks for movies, but you keep them to yourself. What movies do you have alternative Andrew Rayel scores for maybe?

[AR]: Well, there’s not like any scores for any particular movie. But I would definitely go for anything that is emotional, any love story, or action, I mean I did have a bunch of ideas, but I’d definitely say I’d do a soundtrack to anything emotional.

[OTB]: Is there any movie that you wish you could write the soundtrack to?

[AR]: Oh yeah, movies like Interstellar or the latest Star Wars, I’m a big fan so, why not? I mean, the soundtrack is absolutely brilliant, I can’t even think what I would do to alter it.

[OTB]: So, like soundtracks, you experiment with lots of different styles of music, and I know that you’ve mentioned in the past perhaps doing a purely classical album in the future.

[AR]: Well you know, I don’t want to reveal too many things, but I do have an idea like that. I’m thinking maybe next year I should do something, maybe release a bunch of classical versions of my songs or some of the songs I’ve already written, like the classical ones, and maybe put them together for a classical album or something. I’m just saying. I don’t know if it’s going to happen, but I’ve been thinking about it for some time.  Could be, could be…

[OTB]: Do you have a favorite classical piece that you go to often?

[AR]: Well ‘m always listening to Hans Zimmer, that’s obvious. I like all the soundtracks by him, like Pirates of the Caribbean.

[OTB]: Now a complete change, not classical necessarily, but I heard you were a big fan of Linkin Park back in the day.

[AR]: Yeah, Linkin Park and Nightwish.

[OTB]: I was a huge Linkin Park fan too. Do you have a favorite Linkin Park track?

[AR]: I really liked “Numb.” I think the first track that made me fall in love with EDM was called “In the End.” I haven’t listened to them in a long time but they have amazing music.

Andrew Rayel's Extended Set at Marquee NY

Andrew Rayel’s Extended Set at Marquee NY Photo Credit: Chris Lavado

[OTB]: So you put together your first full length album “Find Your Harmony,” and I understand you were happy to be able to tell a story with it. When you say that, what story were you telling with that album?

[AR]: A lot of people, when I released the “Find Your Harmony” album, they thought it meant to find your harmony in music, you know, to have the right chords and everything. But what I was actually talking about was not the harmony in music, but to find your harmony in life, like find your love, find your peace, find your home, all of these elements which make you be in harmony with yourself, with nature, and with the universe. That’s basically the main idea behind the album.

[OTB]: And that’s a very classically based album as far as musicality is concerned. I get a very classical feel in a lot of it.

[AR]: Yeah, I use a lot of classical harmonies. And even the last song, “The End at Pianoland,” I used a lot of strings and a piano there. In each song, there is something classically inspired.

[OTB]: And I know you can play piano very well since that’s your training, but I also saw that you don’t enjoy playing piano publicly. Is it different to perform as a DJ rather than a pianist?

[AR]: Well as a DJ, there are not as many things you can mess up. I mean even a 4 year old kid can be a DJ now. But as a piano player, there is way more to mess up, and to train for, and people that are playing live, like pianists, it takes a lot of years for their training. Nowadays you can teach a DJ to be a DJ in ten minutes or less.

[OTB]: I’m guessing now when you take these massive festival stages that you go on that you’re not really nervous as a DJ now? Or is that wrong?

[AR]: I’m always nervous, but not because I’m afraid I’m going to mess up something or the technical aspect, I’m more nervous like how are people going to react to my songs.

[OTB]: So when you’re playing these festival crowds, I’ve seen, particularly at Tomorrowworld, you were really touched by the unity that was felt there. You see all the different flags and the people. Do you think there is anything more the dance community could do to help unify or heal the hate that you see in the world.

[AR]: They can raise funds and stuff like that. I know a lot of DJ’s do that. And if people can do that as well, they can share money for any kind of benefit. I mean there are so many possibilities that the fans can do, there is way more than just unity.

[OTB]: The dance community as a whole has definitely evolved, whether it’s doing charity work like you’re talking about, or just the new global aspect of the community. Do you think the presentation of dance music will change? Right now we see the DJ with the lights and the lasers, but do you think there is something that can be done to change how we consume this music?

[AR]: Yes definitely, the sounds are evolving so much too! Nowadays we have lasers and LEDs and stuff like that, but you see Eric Prydz already going to holograms and all that. I mean, you never know what the technology is going to give us and there is always a way to use new technology in the shows. You can see Armin using the bracelets on his arms controlling the lights and stuff like that. I mean, I believe a lot of new DJs and new artists will implement new technology when it is available in the near future. I’m going to try and do that as well.

[OTB]: Hopefully you’ll be one of them.

[AR]: Yeah hopefully! Pretty soon it’s going to look like magic. DJ’s will be able to appear and disappear on stage and it’ll be a whole magic show.

[OTB]: What can we expect from you this time next year do you think?

[AR]: Well, hopefully by this time, the album will be ready and released and the show concept will be developed too. That’s the goal, to have the album and the show ready.

[OTB]: Any last words for our readers?

[AR]: As always thanks for all the support and love you’ll be sharing with me. I’ll do my best to finish my album and give you as much new music as possible!

Featured images were shot by: Chris Lavado

Alex Blake

Alex Blake

Passionate audiophile, shameless gourmand, and attorney, Alex is part of the NYC team holding it down for OTB on the East Coast.
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