Andrew Rayel, one of trance community’s biggest names, sat down with OneEDM in Miami for an exclusive interview. The DJ spoke about his record label, classical music, and keeping up a healthy lifestyle on the road. This 25-year-old from Moldova is no stranger to big festivals, as he will be playing Ultra Music Festival for his fourth year.
OneEDM: Welcome! I know it is not your first rodeo. I mean, you look like you have not seen the sun in a very long time!
Andrew: It is strange, I had a long Indonesian tour, six shows, two weeks. It was very sunny and very hot. I got burnt in 30 seconds, and then I never got out.
OneEDM: And I know you must be excited for the 20th anniversary.
Andrew: The 20th anniversary of Ultra Music Festival! It is absolutely incredible even though it is only my 4th year playing here, so I have missed 16 years. But back then I was too young, very young. It definitely is a legendary time that will be remembered for years, and you got to play something special. Got to play exclusive music, and that is what my plan is for Sunday. I am going to throw in some ID tracks so people can talk online, “what is it what is it?”
What do you have up your sleeve?
This is probably one of the first times I will play new music, and it is not really safe because you want to rock that crowd. People would not know the tracks I am playing because they will be new. So, if they at least put up their hands, a little bit, I will be happy. Obviously, I am going to give them a little bit of the tracks they know. “Warrior” always works, “One In a Million,” people like to sing that so I will drop that too.
Do you prefer playing a bigger crowd like Ultra and Tomorrowland, or smaller intimate club settings?
I love both in different ways. I love small clubs because there is a certain amount of people I see, I know, I can see your face, and I can bring their emotions from their faces. It is very close; the connection is very intense.
But then you do not get a big production. Usually those kinds of places you do not have SFX because it is a small place and not safe. Compared to big festivals, you do not see faces; you just see one big mass of movement. Lots of people, lots of SFX, massive energy, things like that. So, there are pros and cons for me for each type of venue.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I used to have, not like a ritual, but a bracelet I used to wear to every show. I had it for three or four years, but I took it off once in a hotel room, and it got left there. Never found it after that. So far that is it. I will go, check out the crowd, check out the vibe.
See if it is more of a commercial crowd, trance crowd, or fans of myself. Sometimes in Vegas, you get fans, then you get people just going clubbing not knowing who is playing. That is why I have to adapt. I throw one of my songs to get them into my world. So, it is always a balance.
So you read the crowd, that is your main thing?
You have to, and if you pre-program your set, obviously I know what songs I have on my set list. I would not know when or what, maybe except a couple of shows like EDC main stage or Ultra Main Stage. I have a specific amount of tracks I want to premiere, and I only have an hour, so I have to make sure everything fits in. Then I have to think which one I play first, which one I play second.
In life and music, what would you consider your biggest struggles?
The biggest struggle is probably to stay healthy. To eat healthily and maintain a healthy lifestyle, because of constant shows, constant no sleep. You get to the room, you are hungry as f*ck, and the only option is room service. It is 6 am, and you eat whatever because it is like just bring me something!
Most of the time it is unhealthy foods. You get sick, and there was a point in my career that every time I went back home I had to go to the doctor. Every time I went home from tour, I would have to call my parents and tell them to schedule me because I do not feel well. They said, “Do you realize that every time you call us, every time you come back, you tell us you have to go to the doctor.”
Who and what inspired you to go down this path of music?
There were different people throughout the years. One of the first ones were Tiesto, Armin van Buuren, and ATB. I was learning music in school, specifically piano, and creating my own melodies. Obviously, I could not record, but I would make notes. With a melody that you compose on a piano, you can do anything. You can do rock songs, pop songs, trance, whatever. They used to play a lot of Trance DJs on the radio station I used to listen to. I fell in love with the music, and I told myself, “Okay, I want all my melodies to go to that type of sound.” Through the years, one of my biggest inspirations was Hans Zimmer, who has lovely, amazing, genius sounds. It is a combination of things.His music in Interstellar is good, but I still love earlier stuff like Gladiator and Pirates of the Caribbean. You have to check it out. It is beautiful. His perception of music is incredible, and not just “I am going to go make something.” He never just sits at a piano without having the concept in his mind already. Zimmer can explain every single note in his music and why did he does it. Because he knows it already, it is very like chilling.
InHarmony started last year, and it is targeting the young, up-and-coming DJs of our days for tomorrow. How did you get your big break?
I cannot say there was a specific big break. My whole career was based on different steps, and I was improving myself, my music, and everything related to me more and more every year. It is not like I was a no one and then overnight, everyone knows me. One of my biggest breaks was Armin discovering my music. He started playing my music and inviting me to ASOT shows. That was not even close to why I am here, and there is so much more to create. Two studio albums, doing a solo tour as a trance act, last year nobody did that, a solo tour. Last year the scene was a struggle, and I was probably the only one that did a big solo tour in America, Europe, and Asia as well.
Those steps make you. One of the steps is definitely releasing my own label, where I can show to the whole world. Some of the songs I get are good, really cool, almost there, sometimes really close to the result, but still not there. So, then I have to take them into my studio and finish those 30 percent, sometimes 20, sometimes 1 percent. I work with them very closely, and I mix them myself and remove everything that does not sound good. I add what needs to be added in my opinion, and I always send it back to them to see if they like it. Most of the time they do!
That is the growth since September 2017. Now, what would you say is your high point and where do you see yourself with InHarmony?
Probably the biggest and highest point is now. We started slow. The first releases were by myself. I wanted to attract attention with my name. I wanted to sign bigger artists like David Gravell, Mark Sixma, and Emma Hewitt who are also very well known in the scene. That was the whole 2017, very known names people can relate to. Then in 2018 when the name got established, you have to bring a lot of new names. Then we have the ‘Moments EP’ which also brought a lot of attention because songs from this album are remixed by different newcomers.
The third one is actually coming today, or tomorrow. I do not know I am lost in time. There is a really good remix by Super8 & Tab for the track “I’ll be There.” Absolutely one of my favorites is Estiva’s remix of “Tacadum,” very techno and deep. I played that through the whole summer in Ibiza and people were loving it. There is my remix with Alexander Popov of my track “Moments,” we do that sometimes to confuse people. I will do a remix of myself with someone. I asked him to do the remix, then he was like, “Okay, I got stuck here maybe you can help me.” So, we ended up doing it together.
When you are not making trance music, what genre of music do you listen to?
I listen to everything, I was just telling the other interviewee, if you look in into my phone I have everything from Celtic Woman, beautiful singers, alternative, pop, rock, soundtracks from old movies, even Ghostbusters. Like everything, ending up with Beyonce, Taylor Swift, and everything to electronic music. A lot of classical music like Chopin, Mozart, and modern classical. When I listen to music just to relax I tend to not listen to electronic music, I prefer something else, so I do not think about work.
That about wraps it up, is there anything else you would like to talk about?
Make sure to check out my set at Ultra Music Festival this Sunday. If not I am definitely going to upload it to my YouTube page the week after. So, all those new ID songs will be available to everyone.
Those who cannot make the sold-out Ultra event can check out Rayel’s set on Ultra’s Live Stream.
Connect with Andrew Rayel
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