Since its inception, Crosstown Rebels hasn’t stopped turning heads. With a family fold of artists from Maceo Plex to Art Department, chief Crosstown Rebel Damian Lazarus knows something special when he sees it. Just one of the new artists shaping the face of the label this year is Iranian/Canadian DJ/producer Amirali, an incredibly fresh body of talent with no previous releases to date until Crosstown came along- his debut ‘Beautiful World’ EP on the label left us wanting so much more. Amirali drops his debut rebel album ‘In Time’ next month- a deserving accomplishment that puts him on the live stage of Room One this Saturday for the outrageous Rebel Rave return. Read on as we get the scope on his live set, new album and life in the Crosstown camp.
Over on Amirali's facebook page today, we’ve been hotly tipped for the first announcement of his ‘Falling Down’ track available to download exclusively for this week and as Amirali tells us below, he’ll be busting it from our sound system Saturday night.
DOWNLOAD: Amirali - Falling Down
Hi Amirali, good to meet you. Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Hello, good to meet you too. Well, I’m an Iranian who grew up in Canada. I was about 16 when my parents decided to move to Toronto but I live in London now and I just finished my architectural degree. Talking about my personal life, I love to cook especially when I have a few friends over. I’m a movie fanatic too. I’m really fascinated and obsessed with space. I see space as a mystery and mysteries are endlessly fascinating. I love reading and learning new stuff about it.
Musically, I started taking piano lessons when I was about 5, playing classical pieces and gradually improved in that direction. I was always into making music even before getting my head into electronic music. My dad is an architect but he is also a music freak just like I am; he has a wide variety of music from Classical and Jazz to Blues and Rock n Roll and I was always listening to his collection growing up. I think listening to 80’s and early 90’s pop music had a great impact on me as well. Listening to all those various styles and genres from an early age was an absolutely magical and inspiring experience for me.
Can you tell us how you hooked up with the Crosstown camp?
When I finished my college in Toronto I decided to transfer my studies to London. Other reasons for my move were obviously because of the music scene and my girlfriend lives here so I wanted to be close to her as well. I knew Europe was the place to be if I wanted to pursue my career in music and think about it seriously. So I came here setup my studio and finished a few tracks; after some time I was introduced to my current management team through a very dear friend, then we decided to send those tracks to a few labels that we had in mind. That was basically how I met Damian; as soon as Damian heard those tracks he told me to start working on an album for Crosstown, which took me more than a year to finish. I can’t wait for its release in May and I’m super excited about the whole thing.
What’s it like having Damian Lazarus as a mentor, what sound music advise has he given you of late?
Honestly he gave me such freedom when making this album and I think that’s why it turned out to be special for me. But his presence was definitely a good thing; having someone like him as a mentor is great. We were always in touch during the making of the whole album and his comments along the way helped me to make some improvements. It’s been a great pleasure working with him, he has a great vision in what he does and I truly respect that.
What artists do you truly admire and take inspiration from?
There are so many great sounds and talents out there that affects me in many different ways; for instance, I could listen to a new unknown band and love them for that day; But if I really have to point out some names, then I would say Depeche Mode and Radiohead are the two bands that are truly inspirational for me.
Tell us about debut artist EP "Beautiful World" released on Crosstown Rebels in January. In what ways does it give listeners a sign of things to come from you for the future?
That’s a tricky question. The tracks that I produce are very different from one another, that’s why I can’t really predict or say what my future work will be like, the only thing I can say is expect a lot of variations. That’s what keeps me going, to not have to look back at my previous works. I have lots of ups and downs in my music, which makes it very interesting for myself and I hope for others as well. I like to keep things fresh and always push boundaries. “Beautiful World” is just a glimpse of what I was into and felt right about while I was working on the album. I’m sure you can get a better idea of what I’m trying to say once you listen to my album
Can you tell us about the track you’ve so kindly given us?
‘Falling Down’ has got a very dark and mysterious feel to it. I’m definitely going to play it at my Fabric gig. I think it fits perfectly with the space and atmosphere of room1. I finished this track last winter and I usually work in winters and that’s when the dramatic and dark theme pops out of my production. I think it just has something to do with my true feelings and mood at the time.
Your bio says your sound is similar to that of ‘Depeche Mode jet propelled into the 22nd century whilst being chauffeured by Art Department & Underworld.’ Can you elaborate for us?
Yeah, just like I mentioned before, I have always been listening to different genres of music growing up and Depeche Mode have always been one of my favourite bands. I can say some of their songs have been hacked in my mind since my childhood. I have always been amazed by their music and performances; they’re so unbelievable on stage too. So yeah they have been a great influence for sure.
I listened to Art department and a few other cool artists who released albums a couple of years ago and I came to this conclusion that one must follow their heart in music and do what makes you happy. That’s when one is truly successful.
I can’t say that Art Department and I share the same tastes but what Kenny and Jonny did and accomplished was definitely a good wake up call for me. I also had a chat with Luca from Audiofly last year before all this happened and I can say that he really opened my eyes and gave me some good advice and I want to thank him for that. I can say this past year a huge evolution has taken place within me and Crosstown was definitely a big part of it. Damian was really open about the whole project and he was totally up for doing something a bit more different to his label.
When is your debut album ‘In Time’ due out? How has the album-making process been and what were the main challenges you faced in the studio?
‘In Time’ will be out on May 14th. Fortunately, the album making process was easy and smooth. There were no obstacles really. I had enough time to complete it because we didn’t have any set deadlines. Making this album was a period of self-discovery in which I got to know myself at a deeper level. In Time was basically an experimentation of my sound, and myself, which consists of 13 tracks. Each track has a different story to tell and is a reflection of my past.
But the main thing is to feel it, giving you the chills, making you cry or even smile. It was a great experience and I hope to repeat it all over again soon.
We’re looking forward to your debut live show for the Rebel Rave extravaganza this Saturday. Can you tell us about it, how you’ve been developing it and what you enjoy most about the live experience?
It’s been developing very naturally and I’m surprisingly happy with it because I had never done anything like this before but I love doing it now. I’ve prepared a one-hour live set; I’m going to play some of the stuff from my album and also some other materials, which is not on the album. I want to provide deep, thrilling emotional experiences in the human mind. There’s also going to be live keys and vocals.
What other live shows have you seen of late that have left you a little speechless?
I haven’t been out that much lately because of my super tight school and studio schedule. But one of the last shows that I went to was Apparat which was really cool and also Amon Tobin; it was very interesting and different to see such a performance, it was a combination of sounds and visuals.
In what ways are you looking forward to your fabric debut alongside Damian Lazarus, Maceo Plex and Subb-an? We can hazard a guess but how much fun do you have on the road with these guys?
I just can’t wait for it. It’s going to be one hell of a night. We all hung out in Miami last week at Electric Pickle for ‘Get Lost’; it was an amazing party and everyone had so much fun. Damian, Art Department and I also did an Australian Tour in early March and we had such a crazy time there too. Not to mention that I fell ill when I got there because of the flight and everything, but we had so many laughs on the road, regardless. Oh and Lee Burridge was with us too, that guy is hilarious.
Finally, what's your weaknesses in life?
One of those questions.. haha. Well, don’t they always say turn your weaknesses into strengths? So I actually think that some of my biggest weaknesses are also my biggest strengths.
I would say I’m a perfectionist, which can sometimes cause problems for me, but also it has helped me not to settle musically with something I'm not happy with.
I definitely over analyse, and I can drive myself crazy over thinking things about every aspect of my life, but at the same time it has helped me to make the right decisions to reach this current point in my life.
Finally I am quite a shy person when you first meet me, sometimes people can think I'm being moody, but it’s just shyness, but once you get to know me you see I'm just a freak like everyone else.