On his latest single, the melodic house fave picks up the mic for the first time ever, to address the hot topic of climate change
While he's only really emerged onto the international scene over the past five years or so, Gadi Mitrani has been around for a lot longer than that. In fact, he's been a mainstay of the Turkish club scene since the early 00s – and as he explains below, he's actually been DJing for 30 years, ever since he was a teenager and house music itself was still wearing short trousers.
Latterly, he's gone on to become a firm favourite in progressive/melodic/organic house circles, playing alongside the likes of Lee Burridge, Guy Mantzur, Hernan Cattaneo and Guy J, cropping up on labels such as All Day I Dream, Sudbeat and Kompakt, and playing at global festivals including Burning Man and OFF Sonar.
One thing he's never done, though, is release a vocal track – until the arrival, that is, of his most recent single Out Of Time, a slice of dreamy, floaty, Balearic-leaning prog whose lyric addresses climate change and the impending environmental apocalypse. The single dropped at the end of Aprl, while a remix package featuring rubs from Vincenzo, Death On The Balcony and Alex Daniell landed in stores just a few days ago.
Which seemed like a good reason to have a chat with him and find out a bit more…
Can you start by telling us a little bit about your background, and how you got into making/playing electronic music in the first place?
“Thank you so much for this interview! I am based in Istanbul, Turkey and I've been a music lover since a young age. I am 43 years old now and I started DJing when I was 13, playing house music. During college times I started clubbing, and buying synths and other equipment, and then my production started.”
We're talking today because your single Out Of Time is about to drop, which is a song about global warming. You don't use a lot of vocals in your productions normally, so was it in any way daunting to come out with a vocal track now?
“This was actually the first time I tried to sing a song! I love to challenge myself when I'm in the studio: I don't like to do the same things and repeat myself, and every time I do that I learn new stuff, whether it be sound design or a mixing technique, it really helps a lot for progressing. The vocal thing was not easy, I am not good at writing lyrics but I wanted to force myself and go out of my comfort zone.
“I have a good friend called Umit Kuzer, an amazingly talented musician who produces for Turkish pop, rock and hip-hop artists all of the time. I sent him the track and he told me he loved my voice, so we decided to record the vocals at his amazing studio (Virus Studios), and he really pushed me to sing better. It is really hard to hear your own voice from a speaker, so it is a good thing to have a friend who teaches you how to sing.”
The track definitely has an introspective, broody kind of feel – is it fair to assume that's a result of the “year indoors” we've all been having? And has the pandemic/lockdown affected the music you make or the way you make it, in any other way?
“Well, we had a really tough year in every way. In the beginning of the pandemic, I got so depressed that I could not do any music. It just paused for a very long time. Then I decided to change my mindset and just focus on what I love instead of what is going on in the world, and I closed my mind and soul through the music. During the lockdowns, I watched lots of documentaries about our planet, too.”
There's much talk in the dance music community lately about advancing progressive values but it's mostly looking at issues WITHIN our community/culture – should club music also be addressing broader social/political issues, do you think?
“Well, electronic music is one way of doing art – and yes, any art can be addressing broader social/political issues.”
If dance/electronic music truly IS to be a force for environmental change, then there's a lot we're going to have to look at, isn't there? The amount of flights DJs take and the carbon footprint and waste generated by festivals, to name but two obvious issues. Where do we start?
“I think we should not look at this problem on a small scale, like in our community. We should not separate it within an industry, in fact, every human being has to do something about it. You know if a DJ travels a lot for his gigs then maybe he or she can change their diet to plant-based, or recycling in their home.
“Anyone can do something, we are all different from each other so what we will choose to change should be our own choice, but whatever we decide we have to change some of our habits without forcing others, just try to explain that it will be good for all of us.”
In light of the above, what steps have you personally taken to reduce your environmental impact, and to encourage others to do the same?
“I changed the way I eat, I reduced the animal diet pretty much, and recycling is very important. The amount of water we use at home is also reduced.
“I encourage people to watch all the documentaries, like David Attenborough's A Life On Our Planet, Conspiracy, Seaspiracy, An Inconvenient Truth, Before The Flood, Shark Water and whatever they can find. It really gives you lots of ideas about what to do, or what not to do.”
I know there's a remix package coming up, but I haven't heard the remixes yet… so talk us through them!
“The remixes are beautiful. I am really honoured to be remixed by these names. Vincenzo did an amazing job, I am very happy that he has remixed my track, I've been a fan of his for many many years. Death On The Balcony, as usual, did a beautiful groovy deep organic remix. And Alex Daniell's ambient intro is so good, I think it will be played all summer. Big thanks to Alex Kentucky who made it all happen.”
Finally, apart from the single – what else is going on/coming up for you right now that iDJ readers need to know about?
“Well, I am waiting until the pandemic is over, because we still have lockdowns in our country. I am always in the studio doing new music. Since I have my own label now, Love And Above, I am working on new releases. We have some really good unique stuff coming out. Also, my new release Mele will be out during the summer on Wold Records.”
Words: Russell Deeks
Out Of Time [The Remixes] is out now on Be Adult Music