It's a pleasure to get to sit down with artists like Andrew Rayel, unjaded by the fact that he has, unofficially, been anointed as the best (if not one of) of the next generation of trance music producers. Rayel still likes to remember everyone he meets, and is humble and thoughtful about his musical talents – a sign of a great, enduring musical talent. After playing an extaordinary inaugural show in New York City to a an unprecedented sold out crowd at the iconic Cielo, Rayel continues his journey with the announcement of an artist album coming out next month. We've been given clues to what the album is, now learning its name is Find Your Harmony, and that in Rayel's own eyes it's a work of passionate art. Check out our interview with the Moldovan producer below during his first tour around the US. And if the behavior of the crowd last week at Cielo is any indication to how fans are reacting to Rayel's first trip here, he will be back very soon.
EARMILK: Welcome to New York! Is this your first time here?
Andrew Rayel: Yeah that's right, this is actually my first US tour. The first time I was ever in the states was two weeks ago in Miami, which was the best start ever, better than I ever could have imagined: my first gig in the states was at Ultra Music Festival. Of course I played a few smaller pool parties with Armin [van Buuren] like at the Surfcomber, at the Sirius XM Lounge, but of course the big one was at Ultra, the best possible start.
EARMILK: I mean, the A State of Trance tent there is truly amazing. What were you expecting, what did you think?
Andrew Rayel: Of course, I always knew about the A State of Trance 650 New Horizons stage in Miami at Ultra. I was always watching online via YouTube because they usually have the live broadcasting. I was really preparing myself for this one, because Miami and Ultra are such a huge place to debut. So I prepared a lot of remixes, bootlegs, a lot of tracks from my new album, so I was so happy to see on Twitter that people are saying that my set from that day is on repeat for them all day. That's when I know I did a great job.
EARMILK: I remember last year when Armin opened up his big ASOT set in Miami with your remix of Zedd's "Clarity."
AR: I sent that remix over to him two hours before his set. And that was the second time things happened that way – the first time, the year before also in Miami I sent him my remix of his "Serenity" also two hours before his set and he played it. And so the same thing happened this year in Miami with "Clarity" and he started with it, it was really incredible. I remember Zedd was even standing there when he played it.
Stream: Zedd & Foxes – Clarity (Andrew Rayel Remix)
EARMILK: How did you get into music?
AR: When I was around 8 or 9 years old, I was constantly moving my fingers on the table, tapping them. My parents noticed and though "What is that?", realizing that it was a little bit close to playing the piano. So that's when we went to the music school that I ended up going to and I had an audition, and they even said I was good. So I went to learn classical music and to play piano there. During all of my studies, I was never really a big fan of learning how to play other people's music. I always had my own melodies in my mind and was composing all of the time, but I never knew how to actually record these melodies. So I would compose these melodies, but then come up with new ones and forget the first one I had. But I found the recording program Apple Studio, started to use it, and got into it, putting in loops, beats, melodies, and through the years I was getting better and better at it. I eventually moved to another software, a more professional one, so when I was like 17 I had my first release on a label, which was a big thing for me and it all started with Armin. My team sent a promo to Armin, he loved my track, it was "Future Favorite" and "Tune of the Week" on his A State of Trance radio show, and then after that it just started coming and I kept getting support from more and more DJs, and here I am now.
EARMILK: Did you know that trance was the direction you wanted to go into?
AR: I used to say "I didn't choose trance, trance chose me." I think it just happened, I was just "doing music" and probably after that I realized it was trance. But of course back then I listened to a lot of classic trance music, like a lot of Armin, Tiesto, ATB, I played it all the time and heard it on the radio. I didn't actually know that it was trance, but I just loved that kind of music. Of course I was young and didn't know much, but I was learning constantly and I knew what I wanted to do and for whom.
EARMILK: When you found out Armin had chosen your track as a "Future Favorite," what was that like?
AR: It was one of the most incredible things. I actually used to listen to all of the A State of Trance episodes back then, all the time, but the actual episode where he played my track was one that I missed the live broadcast of because I was out with my friends. But I used to always listen to it live with my brother, and of course he was listening without me and he called me when it happened. I was standing in the corner with my phone in my hand all red in the face and I was so overwhelmed that didn't realize what was going on!
EARMILK: Now what's your relationship like with him?
AR: We're great friends, we did a collaboration together called "EIFORYA." We had planned to collaborate together for a long time, but we didn't actually get anything special together and didn't want to just get something together to say we did so. We always wanted to have something special, and this special idea came to us this past January. We worked on it really fast, I think it took two weeks. We spent a lot of nights in the studio and it was really really fun.
EARMILK: You're probably in New York for a very limited amount of time, but is there anything you'd want to do while you're here?
AR: I really want to go to Times Square, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, but I don't think we'll get time to do all of that stuff! I've seen all of the city in the movies and stuff, and I'm a big fan of France where they're all saying "all of the action is happening in New York," so this is a pretty legendary city for me. I'd love to have one week to go all of the places.
EARMILK: So what can you tell us about your new album and other projects coming up?
AR: The best thing that's coming up is really my album (of course). It's coming out in May, but I can't tell all of the details just yet – soon! It's a really great album with a lot of history behind it – every song has something special. Every song is so different from one another. I really wanted to do it like that to get the whole spectrum of sound on the album, and there are a lot of experiments on the album that you might not expect from me. I'm not talking about house or anything, but some really diverse stuff. I can't wait to share it with the people, I've been working for one and a half years on this and finally I can just give it to my fans to hear.
EARMILK: Do you ever pull inspiration from a specific place? Is there anyone you look to for inspiration, whose career you admire?
AR: I think that would have to be from soundtracks – I'm a big fan of them. Hans Zimmer has a lot of genius, "Now We are Free" is a good example from Gladiator. These songs really inspire me every time I listen to them, they really give me the chills. I would love to do a full soundtrack for a movie or be featured on one. That's my plan – maybe when I get old and get sick of touring, traveling and sitting in the studio I'll produce only melodies and orchestral music. You never know.