Arty doesn’t just make tracks, he builds entire songs. Through his lyrics, his instrumental elements, and the passion he pours in, he creates a listening experience for his fans that is virtually unparalleled. He’s also an extremely chill guy. So sit back, enjoy this awesome interview, and blast some Arty musical brilliance to complement his thoughtful words. For the die-hard Arty fans, don’t forget to check him out at this year’s No Sugar Added Festival in Nikki Beach! (We’ll be there stalking him, as per usual).
You’ve been busy with performances all over the world, but where do you call home right now?
I would say that my home is where I was born, since my family and friends are still there, but I recently moved to L.A. like a year and a half ago, so I’m moving back and forth between the two locations. Whenever I go to my hometown or to L.A. I’m all set up and I have a place to say, so I would say my home is both cities.
So how do you find living the nomadic DJ lifestyle?
It’s easier right now because I only live in Russia part-time, in a small city where there aren’t that many flights, and it’s a pain in the ass to always have to take two extra flights to get home. I was getting really tired of it, and like two years ago I was travelling a lot and I still didn’t have a place in the United States… It was pretty painful. But the cool thing about L.A. is that you can be based there and you have the chance to travel all over the world through direct flights. There are direct flights to Asia, Europe—you can fly anywhere, so it’s the perfect location for being on tour.
Do you ever do shows in Russia? Or do you make a point to disconnect from your career when you go home?
Not really! Unfortunately, there’s not that much happening in Russia. There are a bunch of clubs in Moscow, but only one big one that’s actually functioning right now which is not really typical in Russia because it’s more like VIP bottle service for Moscow society. There were a bunch of festivals all over Russia, but they shut them all down, so there’s only a big franchise right now called Alfa Future People. It’s a big festival, pretty cool, there’s a lot of money behind it. They had an amazing lineup last year, it was like Skrillex, Avicii, and a bunch of other guys.
So how would you describe the electronic dance music scene in Russia?
The thing is, the fans are really passionate. Like the crowd is insane; I would compare it to South American countries because South Americans go crazy about the music.
More so than anywhere in North America?
It’s hard to compare, but the thing about Russian people is that they’re so open-minded and passionate, so if they’re into something they just go absolutely wild. When I’m performing there, which unfortunately isn’t that often since there isn’t that much happening, it’s really a blessing to play for the people.
Do you miss that passion now that you live in L.A.?
I’m trying to get back home and see my family as much as I can, but it doesn’t happen that often because the tour is pretty hectic right now. Like, every week I’m playing in North America or South America or even Asia a couple of months ago. I actually had the chance to spend time with my family in January. It was pretty cold, but it was amazing because my friends are there and my family’s there.
You rarely release instrumentals—nearly all your tracks are accompanied by vocals or are remixes of songs with an emphasis on vocals. We love it, but we’re wondering about the thought process behind the preference. What do you think vocals add, and what do you think pure instrumentals lack?
Well, it’s only been like that for the past couple of years. But I think that if you combine instrumentals and vocals in a good balance, they will fulfill each other. The thing is, you can say a lot with the instrumental tracks and you can say a lot with the lyrics as well, because if you actually sit in the studio with a songwriter and a singer and you’re actually writing the lyrics about something that’s really important to you, where there’s a message you want to say to people, that’s different. That’s what I did for like 95% of my upcoming album, I wrote them with the songwriters. It’s just been like a really creative process; you can say so much with the words if you do it right. It’s amazing how much you can achieve with the meaning. I find that it’s way easier to send a message to your fans with the song lyrics rather than just with an instrumental piece of music.
Are there any other details you can give us on your upcoming album?
It’s cool! It sounds really cool. It’s almost done right now because I started working on it in late 2013. We probably wrote about 40-45 songs, and now it’s just the time to decide which ones make it in the album. It’s probably going to be around 10 or 12 tracks. We released the first single in July 2014, and after I had a cross-single remix for One Republic. It worked out pretty well for me and it’s still on the radio in America, which is pretty dope. We’re ready for the second single right now. I can’t tell you the details because we’re still working with the vocalist who’s going to perform on the final version.
Considering the importance you place on vocals, are there any singers you’d like to have on one of your tracks?
Definitely Ryan Tedder, he’s one of my favourite songwriters and singers. Also, there’s a really cool English band called Years & Years—they just got signed by Interscope—and they’re going to be huge in like the next year. The lead singer has an insane voice, so I would definitely kill to write with Years & Years at some point.
When we prep for interviews, we essentially listen to every track the artist has ever released. Looking back on your earlier releases, and comparing them to what you’re putting out now, it’s undeniable that your sound has evolved quite a bit. Where do you want to take it next?
Where I’m taking it right now: it’s kind of a really melody-driven thing, and it’s really just me back in the past with a reinvention of the elements I use in my tracks. It’s really emotional, and it makes some sense in terms of what kind of music I do, like I write together with songwriters and singers. For example, what I’m trying to put out is like my remix for One Republic—that’s the direction that I’m taking with the album.
What are your thoughts on streaming music? A lot of artists get discovered thanks to websites like SoundCloud or Beatport, but at the same time they might hinder profitability.
I think Spotify is getting way bigger than everything else right now, and I think it’s amazing. The streaming services will make you a lot of profit if you’re doing it right. There’s a lot of money behind it. The music streaming services will take over everything—they are taking over right now—but in the next 2-3 years it’s going to be so big that I’m not sure anybody is going to sell the music. Everyone’s going to make the money on the actual streaming, because you still need to buy the rights from the publishing company and stuff like that. There’s a lot of money involved so it’s still like producing some amount of money that artists can make for themselves.
Does the fast-paced evolution of the industry scare you or drive you?
I think music evolution needs to make a little stop because it’s going too quickly in a direction that nobody really understands right now. That’s what I think.
Interviewers: Alex Levy & Tatjana Dimock
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