Assaf Naftali interview

Assaf Naftali on the decks 2B Continued

Assaf started DJing at home when he was 12 to the sounds of electronic music Later he felt that the time is right for self expression, so he went out to perform in local Jerusalem bars and clubs. At 15 he started to give shows that weren’t dictated by others, but articulated his inner truth and self expression.

In present, Assaf (27) is play at the Constantine in Jerusalem He runs a line called Electric Avenue where he’s hosts the best club DJs in Israel,(Saar Fogel, Eliran Osadon, Roy Brizman a.k.a. “Gel Abril”). While doing that, he maintains a unique colorful tune and a motto that is beyond music.

Above all, he is a creator who walks his own path and he is not a trend product

Assaf had played on the leading terrestrial Radio IBIZA SONICA in Ibizat on the show Monday Deep Session with Amir Groove who all ready host names like Terry Lee Brown Junior, Robert Babicz, Aki Bergen, Alex Niggemann, Johnny Fiasco, Fakir.

lately Assaf & Lee Amsalevski host Shlomi Aber in Jerusalem.
this days Assaf Playing in all the leading clubs in Israel: Supermarket, Penguin, Constantine, Helen’s Keller, Bass, Roof, Culture.

Assaf have a perfect selection ears, devotion, altitude & music which characterized him as a true artist, which stands out from all other Djs

Q: Assaf Naftali, when and how did you enter the electronic world?  When were you exposed to the electronic genre that is so special?
Assaf: at the age of 12 I started djing by myself, at home, after I heard electronic music for the first time. At the age of 15 I started playing techno on a record player (Vinyl).
since day 1 I shared recorded sets on CDs through the net. I started playing in bars in Jerusalem at age 16.    I still get hundreds of electronic singles every day, but maintains only a very small part of them, which I choose carefully to maintain my unique musical style.

Q: When you began your way, what distinguished you from others?
Assaf: Since I started to touch the Djs’ equipment I felt I wanted to break free. I felt that this special music should not remain hidden behind the walls of my home. What separated me from many others is that I was not ready to surrender to the demands of promoters, producers and the audience. I decided that they will not dictate my style, meaning that the audience does not choose the DJ’s music; on the contrary, the DJ creates a specific atmosphere and takes the audience where he desires. I did not perform so much at that time like many others, but when I did I only went according to my will and style.

Q: At what age did you first perform as a DJ in front of an audience and what was your feeling after that event?
Assaf: My first gig in front of an audience was at the age of 15 in a huge bar in Jerusalem. It was one of those moments I’ll never forget! I played in front of an audience that was older than me in about 6 or more years.

Q: which producers affected or affect you most?
Assaf: It is divided into periods. Around 1996 to 2000 I was very influenced by the material of Laurent Garnier and Francois K. At the period of 2000 to 2004 until today one of my biggest idol is Trentemoller.

Q: What style of music defines you and what message do you want to bring to the audience?
Assaf: It varies between live sets and recorded sets. When I record a set I usually start with electronics, Chill out or even Acapella, anything that provokes my ear but doesn’t over load too fast. I like to stimulate the ear with long and slow developing material at the beginning, so the listeners will be eager for more. When I play live it is most important for me to know my audience, the scenery and what the DJ before me played.

Q: What is the importance of a set? Meaning that, anyone can take some pieces, record it on a CD player and create a set! What individualizes you as a Dj?
Assaf: It’s true you’re right — Anybody can record sets, yet; not everyone can mix them in a smooth way. There are lots of things to know about proper building and creating a set, in addition to knowing how to listen to it. “I tell myself that I envy the ones who are going to listen to this music”.
When I record a set I usually prepare in advance several records. I am in a dark room no alcohol or other influential drugs. I arrange everything in my head and hook up to my equipment. Although the music is written in a frame, I change it by my imagination, on the spot, depending on the development of the set. I can switch to break bit in the middle of it, just because it feels right at that moment (and you can hear it in my earlier sets). I don’t like rules and order, I prefer to adjust myself, and in my mind I imagine a long and slow love making.

Q: Is the audience in Jerusalem your favorite and does the night life scene there is what you have expected?
Assaf: Well… Jerusalem has a lot of audience that is connected to this type of music. The only problem is that it is hard to find it. As opposed to Tel Aviv, it is less noticeable. But here, when you manage to gather an audience, it is definitely an exclusive audience which I would expect to see again. In the past, Jerusalem was more involved in the club scene and a lot of quality underground music was played here. Nowadays, I can count on one hand the number of places that play it. It’s a shame, and I think that people should be more exposed to this kind of music in clubs and bars, so it will draw their attention. After all, it exists, but you need to reveal it.

 “I like to stimulate the ear with long and slow developing material at the beginning, so the listeners will be eager for more. When I play live it is most important for me to know my audience, the scenery and what the DJ before me played.”

Q: What is your view about electronic music and the entertainment culture in Israel with regard to nightlife in other places around the world?
Assaf: I think that we have some of the leading electronic artists in the world. I personally know a few artists that already in the beginning of their careers were able to release singles and Eps’ under the names of leading labels. For some years, Israel had released intense material around the world, and many DJs all over the world play their sets. Although Israeli music is growing and becoming worldwide, nightlife is lessening in recent years, especially in Jerusalem. Let’s hope it will get back to what it used to be as soon as possible. People here don’t just come to listen to the artist and his mixes, or to admire his ability. They don’t listen to the flow of the set from 12 at night until he falls from his DJ’s post. Sadly, people will get drunk and return home with not even a tiny amount of culture. As for big shows of underground electronic music; it doesn’t happen because it is very difficult to bring the right audience; the one that is eager for quality music. Also, the media in Israel is not a big fan of this kind of music; therefore, it doesn’t get enough if any publicity.

Q: Internet accessibility, sites that provide exposure to music, digital formats, tools for finding new materials on the network and available audience are the reality today. How does all of this affect you as a DJ?
Assaf: I prefer to play vinyl material. I have no problem with investing in a lot on imported materials to Israel, but there are a few problems like sites that send the packages very late, which is enough for the material to be not relevant when it arrives.
Most of the clubs or bars in Israel have no record players, which mean that records rarely get to be played.
There are many music materials today that are being released only on digital files and you cannot get them on records. There are also a lot of blogs where you can download music, but it is common and most of the stuff that I buy from sites is much more serious.

I also think that it’s not right that the material is exposed to anyone who wants to download. Artists have worked on their music for hours if not days, and it is precious to them. However, we can do nothing against that; I admit that I also download lots of free stuff. Today, there are many materials that are easier to download than to purchase.

Q: Tell us about your early career in Israel. How did club owners treat you?
Assaf: At first I did not play a lot because of the lack of publicity. The lack of support that I received in my early career was just shocking, but over the time I started playing in more places, and I believe it will get better and grow. In fact, I don’t want to be considered among the DJs who succeeded because they had some connections; I want to be regarded as someone who did it on his own. I am a kind of DJ who loves to explore things, and I don’t like to come to a club owner and beg him to play or listen to my set. On the contrary, I think that club owners should ask and search for the DJs.

Q: Where in the world do you want to play and in front of what audience?  
Assaf: With no doubt – Berlin! Actually techno scene had started in Berlin. The nice thing about this town is that techno will never die there! The crowd and Djs  know how to preserve the music in levels which cannot be described; only when you land in this town you start to understand how much quality there is in it. In my opinion, the biggest challenge for a DJ, is to play techno in Berlin in front of a crowd dancing, hearing, eating, sleeping and living techno.

Q: Where can I hear your sets or find your materials?
Assaf: All my sets are presented on Facebook under Assaf Naftali Dj Sets. All downloads are free and you can find updates and news.

Q: Where does Assaf Naftali see himself in a few years from now?
Assaf: I wish to play some more music and I want to travel abroad and perform with artists that I mostly play their material.

Help in this interview: Rami Tamar.


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