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Exclusive interview with house legend Behrouz before he headlines Cielo

This Saturday January 18, internationally acclaimed DJ and producer, Behrouz will be headlining Cielo’s 11-year anniversary party with an exclusive, underground mix of his legendary, grasping sound. Known for his boundless sets that transport fans through a myriad of genres, the renowned artist has spanned the globe captivating audiences with his melodic journeys that can only be described as, “Pure Behrouz magic.”

Behrouz headlines Cielo's 11-year anniversary party

In an era where DJs become pressured to cater to “Top-40” and “mainstream” demographics, Behrouz has remained venerable in upholding principles that both define his music and portray his character. Never once veering into the spotlight to create fabricated music or to achieve fame, in a twenty year span, the artist has cultivated a growing fan-base and preserved the underground music scene in both its cultural and artistic forms.

With much respect and admiration for the artist, NY Electronic Dance Music Examiner had the humbling experience of speaking with Behrouz. Please see below what the artist had to say about his career and reaction to EDM hitting mainstream America. Don’t miss out on Behrouz’s performance this Saturday, January 18. For tickets and more information about Cielo, please visit the nightclub’s link here.


CIELO’S 11th Anniversary:

  • Date: Saturday, January 18th
  • Venue: Cielo
  • Address: 423 West 14 Street, NYC
  • Dress: Trendy/Casual
  • Phone: 212 645 5700
  • Cost: $20
  • Age: 21+

A recording of this interview can be found at the author’s web-page, using the following link here. Please visit EDMunplugged for more information, announcements, and event news in the electronic dance music scene.

The one thing that I personally admire when I come out to see one of your sets is that you take your listeners on a journey. Before you perform a set, do you usually have an idea as to what that journey will be? Do you plan ahead for what kind of set you are going to deliver?

“Never--none of the sets are pre-sets. I spend basically a lot of hours before-hand just listening to music, and then every one of my sets is different because it all depends where I'm at. If I'm in New York, I may use some of the tracks that I like, but at the same time, everywhere is different. I play many different tracks it all depends [on] what country, what city, and what the vibe is like. but it all depends, whether [the venue] is big or small...Usually I try to gather all of the tracks that I like to play, but in a way I kind of do a freestyle, I kind of move to just basically make magic...jam actually.”

So you just feed off the energy.

“Exactly--I will see a friend, or I follow the people [or] the crowd on the dance floor. For example, I just played at the BPM Festival, and the people that were playing with me were these amazing Romanian DJs, called RPR and they play very different. They play very great underground, dubby, so the way I had to play was to accommodate what they're playing as well. Because otherwise, it's too predictable, and that's why I don't like to play on the computer. You know what I mean? because you’re just relying on and presetting what you want to play back to back and sometimes there’s no magic when you do that though.”

Yea and you make magic (laughing)

What or who inspired you to become involved in the house scene? It's interesting, because you've been in the industry for so long, and I’m sure your influences have changed.”

“Well I think I was always the one that inspired myself. I always think that you're the captain of your own ship. Basically what inspired me are the record stores we had in San Francisco. There are so many good record stores. And my style always evolved, and yet I’ve been in the business for so long, but I like to play cutting edge music. Sometimes, every once in a while, I [will] throw something old on that a lot of the kids don't know. You know…so it makes it interesting.

I mean, growing up in San Francisco there were so many good DJs. There was a club called, Studio West. There was a DJ named Cameron Paul. I used to always go listen to him--amazing DJ, and there were so many great clubs. Later on, when I got into the business, there was a DJ from New York. His name is Danny Tenaglia. He's always inspired me. He's a great friend and a mentor to me as well. And you know you always find inspiration from everyone, you know? To me, to this day I still go listen to a lot of DJs, because they might play a record that I like or I haven't heard for a long time. That could inspire me. To me inspiration is all over the place.”

I was going to ask like who are your influences now? Is there anyone out now that maybe inspires you?

“Inspire me? Well a lot of the young guys, the way they play, some of them, it's nice. I think you always have to have an open mind as a musician, or as an artist or as a DJ. Once you think you're too good, then that's the day I think that you will go down. You always have to be humble, and have no ego, and say, "Okay, this is great." Everyone can do something very special. If you have that open mind, it will help you, because then you're open to everything. If you think you're the best, and you think that you're the only one who's the best that's not good. There's a lot of guys that I hear that I like, or some producers. What they're doing, I think is very interesting. That kind of hits on what was going on before, and they add their own taste to it, which is interesting to me. There's a lot of music in my head, so I try to always keep it that way. Some of the guys I like you know the Romanian DJs like Raresh and Rhadoo. Those guys, their philosophy of DJing, and trying new music, and the way they play, I like that. Young guys like herb of us? I like them.And there's so many other ones.”

It's like countless.

“Exactly and talented….I'm always open to somebody who plays good, you know, and talented and also puts the effort.”

And you can see it. You can hear it too.

“For me, it's like I spent 16 years being a resident DJ at two clubs, eight years each and I paid my dues for that. A lot of these days, you see DJs are playing because they made some records. Yet, they never even had a residency, or they can't play more than two or three hours. I think to me, a good DJ will take to be an amazing DJ…10 to 15 years. It's really hard to play music and know how to control the room.”

Yea, because I've seen you perform for hours seriously. It's amazing.

“So some clubs that I play for example, Stereo in Montreal, I play for 10 hours, from midnight to 10 in the morning and sometimes even more if I don't have to catch the flight the next day.”

Laughs-that's crazy! How do you stay up? You just vibe, right? You're in your zone probably.

“You get lost in music.”

I love it--it's great.

“Sometimes you may not even go to the bathroom.”

It's a beautiful thing right? {laughing} That's awesome.

“It's like a formula. That goes in my head that you know try to play music sometimes in keys and kind of hit different genres and take people on that whole, well you were telling me, it's a journey. It's so emotional, and sometimes you try to do that in two hours, it is very difficult, but still you can do it. You know, it's all in your head. I am very blessed. I love what I do.”

For being in the industry as long as you have and experienced house become the genre called “EDM,” did you ever think that it would be as big as it is today, being that it is now mainstream? What is your reaction to its rise in popularity?

“I really like that you know six, seven years ago moving from San Francisco to Miami I saw that was going to get bigger because of the influence of the kids and the Internet. But that whole EDM thing, it's not what I like to do.

You keep it real.

“What I stand for, for me, I like to play music that I search, and people don't know about, not something that people already know something that I'm playing. In the old days, they used to call it “top-40,” very commercial, and that's not my style. You know, not that I don't respect it, it's just not my style, and I think that's different. It's like being a fashion designer, and somebody makes clothes for K-mart, and some guys make limited edition clothing.”

That's actually a really good analogy, yea, totally you get it.

“So we like to make limited edition pants.”

(Laughs) Who doesn't want the limited edition? You have been to so many parts of the world, you probably have so many crazy stories. Is there anywhere in particular that you always look forward to performing?

“That's a tough question, because each city is different. I love New York. To me, New York it's like I go to New York at least 10 to 15 times a year. I have so many friends there, and I love the people. I mean, it feels home to me. I should have moved to New York instead of Miami. I think will do that after.... and there are so many nice places; it just depends on the crowd. It's tough I mean for everyone. Ibiza used to be a special place for me. Then it became... it lost its charm because it became something a little bit more “EDMish,” commercial. It became about the money versus what it used to be. It was all about the passion of the people, the vibe of the people and energy. You can go there and express yourself. Now I get that remember I told you that you are the captain of your own ship, and you find inspirations in places? At the moment, I find that at Burning Man. When I play at Burning Man, I usually do Robot Heart the day of a burn and to me, that set is special because uh, it just hits it right there. It hits my soul. I love it. It keeps me doing what I want to do and inspire me, so certain places...

You know I am very glad and happy. For years, when the whole underground thing went down in the US, and it became so commercial, it was really sad. Because certain clubs that I used to go play, they were completely commercial, and they wanted me to play commercial music, and I didn't. You obviously lost a lot of gigs, because you couldn't play in those clubs because they all play commercial music. And I'm so happy now that the underground music is becoming more popular and that makes me happy. It makes me really happy.”

Yea, I think that now that so many people are exposed to the EDM thing, more people are trying to find that underground music too.

“The only bad thing and negative side to that is that you know a lot of people don't listen to music, they go by the perception. They will go," Oh my god! This guy is great!"

Yea, because everyone else says it… (laughing)

“Because everybody else says they're great. They don't go listen to music. They just think because of the way they are playing, and a lot of these guys that are playing, they're not really DJing, a computer is playing music. I have no problem with that again, but yet I still think that you should know the skill of mixing. You see guys that are playing unable to live, not even their own stuff. I mind people playing unable to live as long as they are their own material unable to live. But if they are DJing [and] unable to live, I think it's cheating. Guys are playing on a computer, four tracks all synced, playing piano, and they think they're doing something interesting. Yet, no I want to see those guys on four decks at the same time, and see how much if they can scratch their head. It's interesting. so, but that's a problem I have sometimes, guys that come up and are like, “Oh my god; this guy is amazing!"

And he's not even mixing it.

“He's not even DJing. I mean I wish they would make it in a way that other clubs will ban the computer,either you can play vinyl or CD. People need to see people DJing.

Do you still rock the vinyl? Because I remember you used to spin vinyl, but I haven't seen you spin in a while. But do you still do vinyl?

“I actually play vinyl. I still play vinyl. Well almost right now, you know everything is in a cycle. A lot of amazing music still comes out on vinyl for the whole, true underground scene. Basically, they make a really special record, and they only press 300 copies. You know that they're not going to make any money, but they'd rather make it as an art, so you find these vinyls, you buy it, and nobody else will have it.”

That's cool. That's actually a really cool concept.

“So the music becomes priceless, and it's a form of art. Places, certain places I do play vinyl I take it mostly, and set up like that because it adds kind of a little bit of analog flavoring when you're playing in the middle of your set, so that makes it special.”

Wow! That's crazy. Did you ever think that you would be spinning for as long as you have? You've had such an illustrious career.

No, you know what? No, never—I never thought about it that way….I start[ed] collecting records since like I was eight years old. And then, you know, being in San Francisco, we used to have amazing record stores because of the gay scenes and everything else. I started going out to these record stores every time I had a little bit of money and [bought] records. I never thought about it that way, honestly. It's a blessing.

You know, it's sad because the record stores go out of business.

“That's another subject we can talk about, because back then it was a community that people always talk and you always find new music but you cannot do that right now sitting in front of the internet.”

What do you think has made you become so successful?

Have a passion, work hard, you know don't give up. You've got to work hard these days. You have to learn how to music, and you have to learn and how to practice. You got to have a passion for this…You know, honestly, I started DJing, and it wasn't because of the fame. Because back then, it wasn't you know? I did it, because I loved it, and you've got to love what you do, and you got to stand behind it. The key to success is: just think about what you do, not make it as a competition and seeing what other people are doing. You know, just focus on yourself. And yet, you might have a world record. You might be the fastest runner out there, but you don't even know it yet. That's the beauty of it. The key to it is always be[ing] humble. I think that when you lose that, when you lose that humbleness, then the creativity goes down the drain. It's always like that with arts. You see bands, actor, actresses, musicians, when they're poor and they have no money, they're doing amazing music or amazing art. Once they become big and society makes them big, they think they're the best. Then, they go down the tube. The key to it is always be humble, and do it for the love of it, for the art, to try to express yourself, and that's it. And I'm saying being humble, not meaning sometimes you can be too humble, and people take advantage of you.

(Laughs) Yea, you don't want to be a pushover.

You've got to have a little bit of an ego, so people don't take advantage of you. That's the thing. I mean, I've learned that myself. Nobody taught me these things. I managed to somehow stay floating in the water. So, hopefully some day when I am gone, people will remember or may not.

You're music is amazing. I can still remember some of the sets when I first saw you.

So in the future, what can any fan expect from you, even in the future?

There's so much. There is so much that I want to do, that I have not done yet, honestly.

What are some things?

Make the most amazing track in the world. Put out some really good records. Defining more and more my sound, [and] getting better at it every day. I don't think it's over. I mean, I've always tried to work at my craft. I've tried to always make it better, as much as I can I mean. You know, I don't think that I'm the best, but I try to make it better. I always think that there is more that I can do. There is so much. You know, I'd like to create a nice album. I'd like to make some really good music, really quality music and do some collaborations with some good people that kind of think like me. That's it

The Yoshitoshi label that you were on was awesome.

Yes, that was the golden days.

Yea, those records were great. Those are classics. I have them in my classic mixes. You've done some amazing stuff. I have to say.

I look really forward to be[ing] at Cielo. Cielois one of those places, also, that kept it real. You know because there's so many clubs in New York… like being in meatpacking area...And they kept it real, like Nicolas and the whole crew of Cielo.. That's what I respect about that place and the management. It's really interesting. I look forward to something special.

I'm so excited! Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me, and best of luck to you on all of your endeavors.

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