It’s taken Yotam Avni a little while to get to his debut album; almost a decade, really, since his debut 12”, “That’s What The World Needs”, on California’s Seasons Limited imprint. During that time, the Tel-Aviv based producer has refined his productions, tightening the groove and paring everything back to bare essentials; the power in an Avni cut is its combination of piston-pulse propulsion and a deep, but gently applied, musicality. This combination gives his techno productions added heft on the dance floor, but also a lyrical sensibility that places him squarely in a tradition of techno legends who somehow manage to make the four-to-the-floor a space of poetic intensity, of rigorous joy. Following the recent release of his debut album ‘Was Here’ on Kompakt, we sat down with the man himself to find out more…
Hey Yotam, great to have you! How are you?
I’m very well, nice to see you guys again.
First things first — huge congratulations on the release of your debut album ‘Was Here’. What is the key concept and message behind the project?
Five years I’ve been releasing singles on different labels in different genres. But a year ago I spoke to Michael Mayer who was the first one to suggested me to a whole album. Kompakt Records are well-known for their creative freedom, so I immediately said yes. I wrote and recorded tracks inspired by Detroit Techno albums I loved in my teenage years, mixed with Jazz and World Music motives and Instruments as my own extra favorite flavor to add. I thought about classic Techno studio albums in the 90s that were somewhat less apologetic in the difference between dj-tool, sound experimentation and home listening. I pushed myself to experiment by trying to do a whole track with no kick drum, using musical instruments as percussion’s, flirting between electro and acoustic music in different ways.
How long did the album take to create from start to finish?
4-5 intense months of work.
Can you talk to us about some of the collaborations on the album and how they came to fruition?
I had a great time meeting and working with Jaw and the mighty dOP, and we became great friends since. Georg Levin (Jazzanova) is someone that I truly grew up on his music, working on a track with him was something I always knew I’d like to do. Greg Paulus (No Regular Play) plays Trumpet and a handful of local Israeli friends helped with Percussion’s, Vocals and weird soundscapes.
Who were some of your biggest musical influences growing up? Were they a big inspiration when creating the album?
There’s a piece called “Thoughts” that sampled the first second of Eviatar Banai song, it was meant to be a hidden messaged joke to my friend and mentor Ziv Matushka who passed away this month. Its a shame he couldn’t hear it. Ziv was a famous music producer in Israel and a dear friend of mine. Besides that i’d say that Detroit Techno with mainly Carl Craig and Kenny Larkin were the main influences from the electronic side. On the jazz note i’d say ECM Records and Erik Truffaz were influential to this project
What is it about techno that you love so much, compared to other genres of electronic music?
Derrick May said once that Techno in Detroit hoped to formulate a sophisticated genre of dance music. That’s the main thing that attracted me to it in the first place.
If you had to pick one defining moment of your career, what would it be and why?
Beatboxing with Bobby McFerrin on stage, getting remixed by Joe Claussel and working with Stereo Mc’s were some of my happiest moments so far. These are all true musical heroes of mine since childhood.
You’ve performed at many venues all over the world during the course of your career. Are there any locations that hold a particularly special place in your heart? If so why?
Turkey and Belgium are two countries where my music is being played the most. I play in those countries more often than others and for some reason I got great connection with the crowd there.
What do you like to do when you’re not making music? Smoking weed and listening to rap music.
Finally, what can we expect from you after this album? Any big plans for the rest of the year?
A 5 Year compilation of tracks I’ve released in different record labels over the years and another single with Jaw (dOP), which is a bit more housey.