Satori’s one of the rare artists that’ll take you on an off-the-beaten-path journey through his music. He’s known for incorporating his organic musical influences into his deep electronic sets. His enchanting live sets defy genres and limitations and are a sonic delight for any meditative music lover by provoking a spiritual journey through sound waves. Being my favorite artist, I sought to dig deeper into his brain and explore the human being behind that genius.
1. We know that you were raised in Netherlands which is known for its lush music scene. How did that contribute to your music?
To be honest I don’t really feel like part of the Dutch scene; I try to take distance from it and don’t really follow it actually. I like to spend my time in the studio and work on my music instead of going out.
When it comes to inspiration I like to focus on artists who can transcend genres or scenes. I like to follow a musical identity – someone who makes music out of authenticity is way more inspiring then a scene.
We cannot ignore the fact that we musicians make use of the listener’s brain as part of the process. In the end, it’s all about the type of interaction between my music and others.
If you start to see it as an interaction, it frees you from a lot of boxes you are trapped in, and can even set you free from predefined genres. Seeing music as an interaction takes music beyond the so called scenes or genres. It’s an understanding of how the aesthetic of music can communicate with the listener.
2. You have mentioned to us that Ali Farka Toure is one of your idols. We have heard a lot of world music in your tracks and live sets. Can you name some more artists that have made it there?
Tinariwen, Mercedes Sosa, Violetta Para, and Goran Bregovic. Besides the well-known names, I just visit a lot of music stores to find music that can be incorporated in my live set.
I like using samples from people that inspire me or really resonate with my core. In my live set, I used a sample of Violetta Para and Mercedes Sosa because these 2 songs define my childhood, so I have a very strong memory of them. When I play the set, my soul can dance to it.
We are facing such a fascinating phase in music, which is that the modern electronic instruments give us the flexibility and power to combine everything with everything. You can combine many genres or inspirations. So what to do next? Something as essential as our musical identity is now becoming a matter of choice. But, as Barry Schwartz says in the “Paradox of choice”, we lose ourselves in the amount of choices. You can go to Beatport, download some dance floor bombs, you can rip some nice flutes from YouTube, or visit a record store and sample some folklore music from Bulgaria, the trap is that you lose yourself in the amount of choices and the possibilities that it results in; an enharmonic set or a set full of nice music but lacks story telling.
Therefore, I think it’s very important to start from you DNA and move from there. Create a combination of your DNA so that your choices are coming from a core. At the end you are a result of the DNA combination of your father and mother. I like to see music like this.
3. Your music combines sounds from the future (techno and house) with ethnic sounds preserving the heritage of the past. How did you find that balance in your signature sound?
I started making music with my sister and we made country music, and I was raised with African and Serbian music. In the end, this is folk music – African, Serbian, and Country music are all folk, made by real people from the fields. When I was 20, I discovered techno music from the like of Dave Clarke. I was really overwhelmed by the intensity of the genre, and above all, the obsessions of the crowd to dive into the sets. So I tried making techno music myself, and I had been on the road as a techno DJ for a while, but got a bit bored with it in the end. I missed a bit of humanity in it, not that Techno misses humanity, but I missed my humanity in it. So in ended that, and what I did is that I made a bridge between the folk music I was brought up with and the love for electronic music that I have. It feels like I’m on a quest to make electronic music feel more human.
4. We really love your stage name and what it represents. How did you choose it?
It comes from the ZEN Buddhism; Satori means a short moment of enlightenment, a feeling of complete oneness with life – for a very short moment life is just perfect. I was really fascinated by this concept, because we all experience this from time to time. Music can have this effect on you. Sometimes you are at the perfect place, with the perfect music, with your best friends, dancing all together, under the sun or stars and for a very short moment you feel this oneness, and you are totally in the moment.
5. You get the privilege to travel the world and play music to different people with different vibes. What kind of personal experiences do you collect from life on the road?
I learned a lot from playing for different cultures and seeing how the crowd responded to my music. The way the crowd responds to music tells me a lot about the culture of where they come from. When I play my music in Paris, the energy of the crowd is totally different from the energy of a Zurich crowd. There is no good or bad here, it’s just different, and that is a very interesting idea to think about, because it kind of reflects the essence of the country where I am playing.
For example: playing in Mexico, the crowd there is always super happy, positive and dancing. It’s like they celebrate life when they are dancing. It’s also a super musical crowd and they have quite some funky dance moves in their hips, so you can see that they’re raised with music. They have a huge musical culture.
On the other hand, while playing in New York for the ZERO events, the crowd connected more on an intellectual level with my music. They dance their socks off, but also connect with my music on an artistic level. It’s like they understand what’s going on in the music. I always have these amazing conversations after my set about music with these New Yorkers. And it makes sense because New York has a big intellectual Art culture. These are a few examples how the interaction with crowd taught me a lot about their culture.
6. Tell us about the day you found your calling in life and became a musician. What would you have been if you weren’t one?
I have been making music my entire life. Like I told you before, I was 12 when I was making country music with my sister. So music is my alter ego! When I am touring a lot and am not able to be in the studio, I always feel kind of useless. It’s like I need to make music to make some meaning to life. I am happy that I can live from making music, in the basic that means I earn money with it, but being a musician doesn’t mean that you need to earn money with it. So if I wasn’t able to pay the bills with my music I would do some simple job, less hours, only to cover the cost, so I would have enough time to be in the studio making music and feel useful in life.
7. If you meet a time-traveler from the 50s, how would you explain your music to them?
This question is super cool yet so hard. How can I tell them that I am modulating samples when modulation didn’t exist in the 50s, or at least not in the way I do it now? I think I would tell them that my idea of my music is to create world peace, in a musical way. A lot of countries that are in war with each other are working together in a musical way in my set. Playing a Syrian guitar and combining that with Turkish vocals means that in my world, in my music, those countries are in perfect harmony with each other. My idea is to let the listener experience a world journey where all countries are embracing each other.
Do you think someone in the 50s would understand that?
8. Your tracks and sets are always groovy, enchanting with a flow building up throughout taking you on a journey. Tell us about your creative process? How do you build your tracks from the ground up?
What I basically do collect musical ideas. I don’t wait for inspiration to come, because it won’t. It’s not going to look for you, you must force it yourself, by listening to a lot of music, watching YouTube tutorials, reading books, watching movies, etc… From there on, I just absorb a lot of ideas, write them down, and make voice memos. When I have enough ideas for a new potential project, I go to the studio and try to make all these ideas work together. I am trying to find a bridge between my ideas and trying to find a groove in them. Working with the most random ideas always give the most ‘out of the box’ results because you put things in a bottle that aren’t supposed to be together. 9 out of the 10 times, it’s totally ugly putting the wrong things together in a bottle. It can create poison. But suddenly, there comes this one attempt that is very interesting, a combination of things going on that really move me, stay in my mind, and enslave me to work. When it’s there, I start composing…
9. You have a new album coming up? Can you tell us what to expect on that?
I recorded this album in January. I rented a farm in the forest of Belgium and locked myself up, disconnected from the world, and was totally alone for a whole month – only me and my music.
I didn’t want to make “just an album” with some cool beats and add some world music samples on it. It must be an experience. I want to invite the listener to step into a world and make them stay there for a while.
I came up with this idea about the Arabian Night, better known as the “1001 Nights”. The tales are a collection of fairytales from all over the world. It’s not a product from the Persian Empire, but actually a product from all over the world. It’s really a literature’s treasure of which all cultures have had an input into.
As a reader, you step into this 1001 Nights world and you experience such a richness of stories that make you want to stay there for a while.
The 1001 Nights are hypnotic, mysterious, nightly, adventurous, sensual, and cultural. I realized that my live set was instinctively focused on these elements, but until the forest of Belgium, I never realized that I was doing some 1001 Nights electronic live sets 🙂 So this became the main element of my album.
The music and grooves are based on Malian Desert Blues, but the theme and sphere is 1001 Nights.
10. You hosted a secret stage at Georgie’s Wundergarten 2016 with a bunch of friends including our personal favorite YokoO and many others. How did that idea come together? And what went down that day?
The crew at Georgie’s asked me to host a stage and bring out the people that I meet in my tours, the people that have inspired me. So I was happy and privileged to set up a stage with all these amazing artists. Daniel Cowel from New York, a really great DJ that provides a lot of warmth through his music. Then, not only your favorite but also mine, Yokoo. His music really reflects his amazingly sweet spirit. I love this guy.
Then I was so happy to bring SORA to Amsterdam for the first time. He’s one of the best DJs from Paris, and my dear boom boom brother. The crowd really connected with his set, he got a lot of love letters, and they’re well deserved. Sora, with his deep bassline grooves and oriental themes, was perfect to make the crowd come alive.
Then my buddy from Amsterdam, Some Chemistry, who at this moment is Amsterdam’s best DJ. He doesn’t make a lot of concessions with his music choice; he plays what he likes so he can go a bit all over the place, but in a super harmonic way. It’s really hard to do because the trap is that your set becomes a mess, but the way he does it makes it diverse with a great line. And besides that, every time I see him I keep laughing because he is always in a happy mood.
And finally my personal favorite, if I were a woman I wish I would be like MIRA! She is simply one of the best DJs I know and one of the coolest chicks alive! Her grooves are so fucking cool!
11. Bonus: We heard a rumor that you’ll be in Beirut this year. We hope to get to meet you in real life for a quick hug and chat!
Yeaah my first time Beirut will be on December 17th at Uberhaus with Dixon! I am super excited to play my music for you all and let’s definitely hang-out!