Born in Nis, where he still lives, Antela’s involvement in music is the result of pure love. For him, DJing was a natural consequence of the circumstances of his desire to share music with the people around him. Over the years, genres have changed, touring the entire spectrum from ambience to psytrance. In his search, three things remained key: emotion, melody, dynamics.
At the end of 2017, as a law graduate, he found more time to dedicate to music. Then he started with his first performances in Nis bars, and a year later he started production. The fruit of his work are performances outside his city and publications in both domestic and foreign publishing houses. The result of his work was also noted by Hernan Cattaneo, who twice included a remix of his track ”Deep Within” in the weekly Resident podcast he hosts.
At the beginning of this conversation, let’s present to readers your development path into the world of electronic music. How did you discover this genre, what attracted you and when did you start doing DJing and music production?
First of all, thank you for the invitation!
The older brother with his friends that drew me into the world of electronic music is most responsible for the development path. Back then, that were mostly commercial tracks, on the basis of which I continued to explore a full range of genres, from ambient to electro, house, to the other extreme to psytrance. For all the genres and all the tracks I heard, the main motives I was trying to find were emotion, melody and sound dynamics. Different genres achieve different results according to these parameters, some are good on the one hand while on the other hand they’re missing some element that, in my current taste, would complement them to get a 10/10 rating.
If my memory serves me well, I have been actively listening to electronic music since I was 14 years old. At the age of 18, I went to a Tuborg party in the Nis Fortress, where Hernan was a guest with the support of Acim and Funkie Junkie, and today I am a little bit sad that I did not understand that music then to the extent that I understand it now. Of course, I was hypnotized that night and the rain only intensified that feeling. I’m pretty sure it was a crucial milestone for me in my quest for what fulfills me. The years that followed were varied in terms of musical taste, but the basics remained the same – emotion, melody, dynamics.
For DJing is primarily deserved my older brother who installed VirtualDJ on my computer many years ago, which I was initially skeptical about, and then I started to personally experiment with different songs and fit them. It was interesting, and it was something new for me. There are a lot of things to pay attention to in the process as well as knowledge of the music I plan to put into the mix.
That development path became professional at the end of 2017, when I bought the first mix that could be considered professional music equipment and under the stage name Antela had a performance for the first time in front of an audience that came to hear what I really wanted to play. Until then, there were a few birthdays, other private celebrations, some performances in cafes that were not crucial for my musical taste. I used them as much as I can to practice DJing as a skill, and to develop in myself a sense of mutual harmony of the two tracks that I need to combine in the mix. After that first performance, the most active search for myself started, and for the sound that could best tell what is happening in my head and heart.
In my opinion, logical order of circumstances was to stick to the progressive, not because it is not over-represented in our area, but because it received a grade of 10 in all the fields I am looking for. The general diversity in the genre itself, the melody and emotionality of the tracks, which are getting better every day, and the fullness of the sounds were a winning combination for me.
I started producing about a year later, learning production techniques and also looking for myself. That development is constantly going on, from release to release, hoping that I will convey to my audience the emotions that are hidden in me. My first edition, ”Fields of Sorrow”, is a good indication of that.
What were some of the main challenges and goals when starting out?
Finding a place where I can perform. Finding audience. All I want is to share the music I listen to with the people around me. Certainly due to the current situation we are not able to accomplish anything we have imagined. Finding a place in the world where I want to participate and whose part I want to be. Support from people close to me. Deviation from the norm that life should be straightforward and that I can’t deal with multiple things at once. I speak in the present because I mostly think that I am still at the beginning, as I can say – unaffirmed.
Goals? Dedicating more time to music. Multiple editions. Finding myself even more intensely. Comprehensive fulfillment.
There’re a lot of new developments going on around new technology, and making music no longer seems to be a privilege only for a limited number of talented people, but also for young kinds who know how to play with presets sounds. What is your opinion on this trend?
I support any expression of creativity, tastes and skills. It is not crucial whether I personally like something or not, it is important for me to see the effort and desire invested in something that a person creates. The wide availability of programs for production of music and sounds has drastically opened up opportunities for self-expression.
The fascinating thing is that the same track can sound completely different when played by two different DJs in their sets. What is your opinion, what is it about every DJ that turns music into something new?
Probably the fact that every DJ has a different direction in which he wants to go the message he wants to send to the audience. Track sounds different because of the way it was introduced into the set and because of the track that preceded it. Set should be viewed as a chain that does not have the weakest link. Just the message the DJ wants the audience to hear.
How much do you plan in advance during the set which track will you play next? What makes two tracks a good fit?
Tracks I think about the most are the ones I will use to start the set and finish it. What will happen in between is entirely based on the subjective feeling I have gained through the experience so far. My opinion is that two tracks fit well if they have similar dynamics.
Do you remember your first performance, and can you briefly describe that experience to us?
Like it was yesterday, December 15th 2017, ”Dvoriste” bar in Nis, hidden and small place, a dozen people close to me, and music to enjoy. The local is not in a traffic location, which means that only people who were informed came. It’s a small number for someone, but I was overjoyed that these people took their time to support me. That forced me to continue DJing, the next performances were mostly better and better, and opportunities opened up for new places and working with new people. In short, I was very pleased.
Progressive music seems to be in a good position at the moment. Where do you see this sound going in the coming years?
There are more and more young producers who have a fantastic sound and who contribute to the scene. I hope for even greater variety, emotionality and melody. Even stronger messages that tracks send. Even stronger self-definition.
Today, there are more and more social networks and various applications through which people around the world can get to know someone’s work, when we talk about music. How much are you present on them and how much time and energy do you devote to maintaining your social media?
Social media management is not my strong side. Being overwhelmed with other things in life doesn’t give me much time to keep tracking of everything I’d like to keep track of, and the same means for my profiles. In order for my profiles to be updated, I need material to fill them out. Without a lot of time for new material, I don’t have much choice.
Is music production a typical process for you or is every track a different journey in terms of the creative process? Do you have a study routine?
Whenever I think I’m in the mood to create something new, the first step is to open up synthesizer programs and search for a tune. When I confirm to myself that I have done something that suits me, I start with the other things in the track. It can happen that I set everything up and then completely change the melody to sound even better!
Ideas are born outside the apartment/studio. Something I would recommend to everyone is to try to reproduce the sound they have in their head, record it on the phone and then make the certain sound in the program based on it.
I always work on only one track, slowly and in detail. Too many little things I pay attention to sometimes deconcentrate me from the main plan, but at the end of the day I get back on track and keep working.
There is no explicit time in the day when I work on the track, there is no specific time period that I need to fill in to feel like I was working on it. There are also days when I don’t do anything and that’s perfectly fine – not every day can be the same as the previous one.
Recently, to everyone’s surprise, track in collaboration with Ognjen (Hobin Rude) “Deep Within” in a remix by Christian Monique was played twice in Hernan’s Resident. How did you feel at that moment?
I woke up on Sunday and saw 5 notifications on Facebook. At first I felt really weird. Like, it’s impossible that Hernan played something that Ognjen and I are responsible for as the creators of the original idea. It must be a joke and I didn’t saw good because I was still sleepy. I’m checking again. No, I check 5 more times. Someone else throws out the Resident tracklist and tags us. The gradual realization that the result of our creativity was on the list of one of the most influential faces of the progressive scene is, simply said, unrealistic. My whole day was full of euphoria. It’s both Ognjen’s and my third edition ever! I was proud of what we did.
The second time it happened, I believed it was a mistake. It must have been a mistake, because so far I haven’t seen it happen with any other track. Maybe it is, I can’t guarantee. Certainly, I was euphoric and proud all day again. An amazing feeling and it would be nice to experience it someday again.
How did your collaboration came about and who would you like to work with in the future?
We talked on Facebook about our previous releases, ”Hare Hare” and ”Hope In You”, how they both received nice support from Suza and beyond, exchanged impressions, advice, generally talked about nonsense, touched on the topic that we could one day make a mutual track… A month later, I reminded him of that deal and we set out to make ”Deep Within”. And with that project, there was an initial version that we peeled off and made the track we know today.
As for future collaboration… I’m not sure. It didn’t occur to me. Now that I think about it, I believe I would do something really good with Eric Lune. His melody absolutely suits me. I also think that I would get along great with Andre Moret, his dynamics are extraordinary to me.
What are your plans for the next period? Can we expect more frequent releases now?
As for the music, the only plan I currently have is to find a record label for my freshly finished track, and to start another one in the near future. There is a huge enjoyment and pleasure in creating something that I can say is mine, and I plan to experience it again. So yes, there will be more frequent releases!
Do you have any advice for young producers or DJs who are starting their journey into the world of electronic music?
Be persistent in what you love and someone will appreciate it sooner or later.
Thank you so much for this wonderful conversation. We wish you a lot of success in your future career.
Thank you too, to the people of Progresivna Suza, and just keep going this way!