Arty On 'Glorious,' Together We Are, New Anjunabeats Projects [Interview]
For Russian DJ, producer Arty, musical stardom seemed destined. At a young age he was put in front of a piano by his grandmother and practiced several hours a day. He didn't like doing this as a young Russian kid living in the rural town of Engels, a couple hours outside of Moscow, with dreams of being a professional soccer player. However, when recollecting back on those moments and listening to his music, that early training in piano has been crucial to his ear for harmonies and melodies.
The 26-year old got his start early on, releasing his first single at the tender age of 18 before becoming one of the hottest new acts on Above & Beyond's Anjunabeats and around the world of trance and progressive house. After releasing EPs and singles all of his career, the producer, DJ has finally unveiled a brand new album Glorious, which he says is "the last two years of my life was just printed there like a stamp."
We had the chance to catch up with Arty during a busy press day in New York City before his upcoming show at Webster Hall and an album preview session at Sirius XM. We chatted about the album, his radio show Together We Are, which has been hiatus for the past two years, but is coming back very soon, upcoming projects with Anjunabeats and more.
Music Times: What would you say in the central concept or theme of Glorious?
Arty: Having a line that you could draw from the track is really important because while I've been working on the album I had this thing in my head that the album should be as one piece of music. It has a great background, it has a story. That's the great part about it, the last two years of my life was just printed there like a stamp. I've been doing a lot of different things, challenging things and I'm just happy how it sounds right now. It's definitely what I was going for, the sound and how it feels.
MT: It sounds much more organic than what you've done in the past. Was that a conscious effort?
A: It was definitely a conscious decision to make it organic, it's an organic process at the same time. That's the coolest thing about the album. It's a lot of tracks and if you want to send a message, the message should be pretty particular if not your just going to have a bunch of tracks that sound the same. It's way easier to send a message with an album then with just an EP. Some of the labels only put out two or three tracks so it's definitely easier to send an exact message with the 14 tracks than with the 3.
MT: Did you feel freer in the album format?
A: Way freer. I was able to do music I had never released before on Anjunabeats and Spinnin' Records. It was just piano tracks, instrumental parts that had some tracks in between. There's so much more pop-oriented songs because I wanted to try it out. There's a 120bpm track that sounds like progressive house but it's not progressive house and I can release it again on Anjunabeats. There's an 85 bpm track. I don't even know how to describe it style wise because the album is just so different. It has so many different styles, layers and different genres because I was so inspired and influenced by singers that are out now. 2015 was so amazing, people don't care about the styles anymore. They just love what they listen to. If they don't like the record it doesn't mean "what genre is that." As long as you're making good music that's all that matters.
RM: Did you seek out these different styles to make or did that just come naturally to you?
A: Definitely came naturally because I have been listening to so much different music. I have been listening to The Weeknd's album and I think it's amazing. For right now, that's the greatest piece of pop music, but it doesn't mean I'm going to go in the same direction, though I can get a lot of inspiration from it.
MT: How did you choose your collaborators for the album?
A: The record label would suggest songwriters and we would get together in the studio and see if it works or not. The thing about working with a songwriter is there's one way to go which is you can send an idea and songwriter would send you something back. You can be like "Yeah I kind of like it, but it's not 100% what I wanted to have." We decided to do the proper album the regular way. So we got together with the songwriters in the studio and I shared some of the ideas that I have for the song during the studio session. We would pick one that satisfies both of us.
So you have songwriters or singers interested in the melodies or harmonies of the record. I want to be interested in the lyrics that they write so it's been a really mutual process of us writing something together. I want to be part of the songwriting as well even though English is not my native language. I love the fact that I was part of the songwriting because some of the lyrics in the verses and choruses I actually wrote.
MT: Do you feel more comfortable working with songwriters and writing vocals?
A: I don't feel like it's more comfortable, I just feel like it's another musical part where I can express myself as an artist. I used to just work in my bedroom studio with my two speakers and I would do the tracks top to bottom without any vocals. Now you have this idea and you have to get a studio session and get the vocal. After, you have to realize what kind of shape it should have in terms of how it's going to sound.
It's much more of a creative process and it's way more work. It's not something you can do in two or three days obviously, it takes way more time. To make a final product of the songs it takes more time but it's more challenging and more interesting. It's a totally new dimension for me as a musician.
MT: You said you were doing a remix in three days.
A: It's still happening. I had an unfortunate situation in my place because they turned off the electricity for the night so couldn't use the time to finish it. It was on a Monday and on Tuesday I had this 5pm flight to New York that was going to take me 5 hours. I was working on the plane, like the whole time. I nailed the idea on the plan now I have to finish it and probably I have to do it on my laptop which I hate. I have to do it in the hotel, which I hate a lot, but that's how it goes.
MT: Who is it for?
A: I can't tell you right now, if I'm not going to finish it for some reason in the next couple of days they're going to be like "man that's really bad that you didn't finish it, would have loved to hear it." It's like when you're making different versions of one track and you make them both and people start to complain, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter how much better the second version is, they are always going to complain. That's one of the reason's I don't want to tell you the name because people are always like "where's the track."
MT: It's like "When I See You"?
A: "When I See you" was different, that was a misunderstanding.
MT: Is the original ever going to come out?
A: No, I'm not sure about that. I'm not sure what they're doing with the original. Maybe they're going to do a giveaway at some point. I can't tell you about that, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to finish this remix in the next couple of days. It's going to take me a little more than two days because I want to have like a really good final piece of music that I'm not embarrassed to share with the fans. It's going to be hit or miss because such a crazy environment like planes and hotels especially in New York when it's so loud out here and you're trying to finish the record, you get something insanely good or a complete disaster.
I think I have a great idea for it, which was pretty surprising because I did it on a plane. I didn't think that it would work out that way, but it worked out. I can give you a hint, it's going to be for one of the people that's a part of my album, one of the singers.
MT: What's going on with your radio show?
A: We took a break to finish the album. We were figure out what it's going to be, what kind of direction we should take. Should we be rebranding? I think that our final decision was Together We Are is such a stable brand for people, like for my fans they know the radio show pretty well.
It starts in November, on Sirius again. I'm excited about that because I've missed spending days at the computer with headphones trying to find new music. You go on radio and you hear something weird and you Shazam it and go "Oh yeah that's the track that I need." That was the best part about doing Together We Are because it's unexpected music. I'm playing everything. I think it's a really good platform because we can share different things with people. I'm down for everything and that was another message for the album as well, I'm not the person who's only able to do 120bpm or 160bpm music. It's going to be really different.
MT: What else do you have coming up besides the album?
A: I actually been thinking when I finish the album, just submitted the masters, that I'll be a free person. It's been like 2-3 weeks since I did that and I'm busy with everything. I'll barely have any time for games that I didn't finish before. I have like 2-3 remixes that I need to finish before November. I'm actually moving to a new place in Los Angeles. I have some really dope and interesting projects with Anjunabeats that we are going to work on together. Kate (2015 Version) is just really small portion of what we are going to do. I have such a great fan base and we are going to keep it going because I miss those guys. You never know what's going to happen. All the guys that work at Anjunabeats are lovely, so it's going to be exciting.
MT: And the song with Axwell?
A: The song with Axwell is probably something that would never happen. The first version we did in 2012, now I have like 15 versions of the same song that we were working on. Nothing has really satisfied both of us. One satisfied me a lot, but it's hard to satisfy Axwell, he's really picky about what he's doing. Maybe it will happen at some point, or not. It's been so much work trying to finish it and making another 20 versions just doesn't make sense.