Truancy Volume 172: Elias Mazian

In an interview from a few years ago, Elias Mazian describes the house paradigm as a playground, as something that reminds him of the excitement and escapades from his childhood. A genre that allows for endless exploration where the music comes and goes, and wanders into directions the listener wouldn’t necessarily expect. This analogy perfectly describes Elias himself as a DJ, even though he regularly ventures outside the markers of house. As someone who has seen him more times than one could count, his DJ sets are never predictable, always ooze with a certain curiosity while being extremely warm and danceable at the same time. Elias’ Truancy Volume is exactly that – an uplifting mix going through a selection of tracks by the likes Aurora Halal, Telephones and Sterac, transferring the listener to a dancefloor somewhere in a sunny locale.

The platform that brought you the aforementioned quote is that of Trouw, the now defunct nightclub in Amsterdam where Elias used to be a resident. Currently, he’s a resident at De School curating a regular night with heavy-hitter DJs like Palms Trax, Shanti Celeste and Tama Sumo. Outside of his club nights, Elias has a regular show on Red Light Radio called Private Hearts where he plays the songs he wouldn’t necessarily be playing on a dancefloor – going through the realms of Vangelis, Domenique Dumont and Paul Simon. Outside of playing records, Elias has been spending a lot of time in the studio producing two releases of his own following his debut Future Times on Voyage Direct (2014). We had a brief chat with Elias to find out what we can expect from these releases, his motivations behind the mix and his different ways of finding inspiration: in the city, from his peers and through movies and conversations.

Hey Elias, thanks for taking the time to make the mix for us and taking the time to speak with us. How are you doing and what have you been up to recently? “I’m good, thank you. Very motivated actually. In January I travelled through Bali with my girlfriend and in those three weeks, there obviously was a lot of time to think and evaluate. I realised that for ideas to have meaning they need to get out the cage that’s my head. It’s just one step but for someone like me, that step was hard for quite a while. I carry that notion with me around now and it made me a happier person. I also stopped smoking. That made me happy too.”

What can you tell us about the mix you’ve done for us? “I was a bit bored with making mixes containing 60 minutes of club tracks. That’s why I started my radio show Private Hearts (Red Light Radio). I felt the need to play beautiful songs again. But as all things come in cycles my love for mixing club music returned with a vengeance. The mix starts Australian with tracks by House of Dad (Andras Fox) and Fantastic Man, two very interesting and versatile producers. There is also some new stuff in there by Shanti Celeste (on her new label Peach Discs), Tracey (new project of Dutchman Tom Ruijg on Voyage Direct) and already one of my favourite tracks of the year by DJ Normal 4 & Bufiman. Can’t wait to hear that out at a nice festival. Of course I didn’t forget the classics so there is a Sterac track from his magnum opus Secret Life Of The Machines somewhere in the middle. :) But the best to way to find out about the mix is to just listen to it, right? “

What I love about your sets is that it blends all sorts of tracks, I remember you closing a headier set with The Power Of Goodbye last year. What consists of a satisfying club session for you, both as a DJ and on the other side of the booth? “Well, as a DJ I love it when things just happen. When there is no time wasted on thinking things through. Time flies and before you know it you’re having a drink and dancing to the DJ after you. Tracks just seem to follow each other in a natural way. You’re completely focussed but at the same time there’s no barrier anymore between you and the people on the dancefloor. Like a mutual trust.”

Speaking of club mixes, we met through De School about a year ago. For the uninitiated, could you talk a little bit about your involvement with them? “I used to be a resident at Trouw and when that closed a group of people that used to work there started a new project that eventually became De School. Luc Mastenbroek commenced as the programmer and he asked me and a group of other DJs like Job Jobse, Makam, Tom Trago to be part of this new family. I am super grateful he did that cause it gave me a new home and a place where I could evolve and learn.” What are your stand-out moments from your residency so far? “It’s only been a year and there have been so many memorable nights. The first one with Shanti was great because the club had just opened and I still didn’t really know how the sound and the room would react. It was a first experience for both of us that resulted in a super fun and hazy b2b until 8 in the morning. I’m happy to have her back on the 31st. Another nice memory was my daytime set during the ADE weekender. Playing for 4 hours in the afternoon while the club had been open since the day before was an exciting perspective and it turned out so good. People were so in the mood and zoned out in the best way possible. The sense of freedom I experience at De School is so encouraging and joyful. I can’t state enough how amazing that place is.”

You moved to Amsterdam a few years ago, how does the city nurture your creativity? “To me, Amsterdam is it at the moment. As a small city we’re blessed with so much talent and musical knowledge. Institutes like Rush Hour with Antal, Hunee and Interstellar Funk or Red Light Radio and Red Light Records are doing an incredible job at preserving the musical identity of the city. Every weekend you can go to clubs like De School, Shelter, Claire, Radion and so much more. I couldn’t be more at ease.” On a broader level, who are the most important people to you in nightlife/clubbing and why? And for you personally as a DJ and producer? “The funny thing is that a lot of my friends and people that are dear to me work in night life or are DJs. We’re all in this nice little bubble together, haha. People like Job Jobse, Tom Trago, Luc Mastenbroek and Juri Miralles. They inspire me, motivate me but are also people I love to hang out with.”

Where do you draw inspiration from outside of music? I know you’re a big movie buff. “Yeah, going to the cinema can really give you insight in the human mind or in a world you didn’t know of before. That’s really refreshing. Sometimes when I’m in the studio and out of ideas I just go out to see a movie alone. Sitting there in the dark all by yourself makes the experience a lot more intense. If the movie is good of course. I also love listening to people having conversations so podcasts are also a nice way to get inspired.”

You have a second EP coming up this year, what has the process of making it been like? Can you talk us through your set-up? “In the period I made the music for the Duplicate EP I started buying/borrowing stuff like the Juno 106, Yahama DX7/DX24, MPC 2000 XL, a mixer, some guitar pedals and more. I combine Ableton with the recording of parts out of those machines. So it made it a lot more fun for myself. My studio changed a lot in the last years. I love just fiddling around and playing stuff live instead of using the mouse to draw things in the computer. Playing chords on the keyboards or using the sampler to make loops helps me focus more. If I only use my laptop I get distracted so easily. Before I know it I’m reading meaningless articles about a still to be found Bigfoot skeleton.” Is your production process more of a social or solitary activity? Are there people you bounce ideas with or rely on for advice? “The social side of the production process is an ambivalent thing. I adore the idea of being alone in the studio and just losing yourself in the creative process. At the same time it can be super frustrating to be in a constant self reflective situation. When I’m in the studio with someone like Tom Trago, it goes a lot faster because you have to make decisions all the time. There is no time for procrastination. And it’s nice to have people around (that you trust of course) giving you advice or helping you out with a bassline melody or some eq’ing.”

Will your second EP be released on Voyage Direct? Can you tell us a little bit about how your relationship with Voyage Direct and subsequently Select came about “Voyage Direct is the label of Tom Trago, who is a great friend and someone who helped me a lot in my development as a producer. So it was a logical step for me to release my first EP on his label. And now it’s time for my second. The Voyage Select agency was created with the idea to put all the artists that released on the label or are affiliated with it in the same roster. People like Interstellar Funk, Jasper Wolff & Maarten Mittendorf, Awanto 3, Deniro are connected in a way because they are trying to create qualitative and forward thinking electronic music. So then Jorn van Elden & Tom decided to represent them all in a one agency.”

What else can we expect from you this year after the EP drops? “I’m already working on a next EP that’s hopefully coming out later this year and playing some nice gigs like Sub Club in April and Concrete in May. And a special thing that I’m involved with at de School in Spring…”

Last one, what’s your favourite Prince song? “I have a lot of favourites but lately my jam is I Love U In Me. A hauntingly beautiful love song that gives me shivers every time.”

Tracklist:

House Of Dad – Hard Working Man
Fantastic Man – Acid Martin
Young Wolf – Kabuki Spiritual Version
Sterac – Secret Lifes Of The Machines
Aurora Halal – Shapeshifter
Shanti Celeste – Loop One
Tracey – Earthrise
Telephones – Untitled (The Party)
DJ Normal 4 & Bufiman – Wind Spell (Bufi Version)

Elias Mazian: Facebook, Soundcloud, Twitter

Soraya Brouwer
Soraya Brouwer

LONDON / soraya @ truantsblog.com / @sorayea

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