Reza Athar is a name that has been snapping the necks of the club elite for quite some time now, so it seems. However, his quick rise actually started just over a year ago. Starting with his Horizon concept, in which he invites artists that needed to be introduced in Holland, he quickly got recognized for his diverse style and infectious DJ sets.
Reza’s style is very diverse. He can dive into some italo, head over to post 80’s house and head on to techno, and he can do all of this in under ten minutes. The unique aspect about all of this, is that even though his love for music crosses many genre borders, he is always on point with telling his story, and blending all his records into a single piece of music.
“Searching for music I don’t really have specific characteristics that I’m looking for, but when I look at the music I bought afterwards, I can discover similarities. In the wide range of music I want people to hear from me, I always try to incorporate a little bit of “Reza”. I don’t do this with genres, but more with the feeling of a track. My music is dreamy, atmospheric, has funk in it and has a strong link to the 80’s en late 70’s. That is the music I’m automatically drawn to. Besides that I tend to skip the songs that have been played out by other DJ’s already. I have the feeling that those song already reached their audience. So it would be better for myself to focus on the songs that haven’t done that yet. There are exceptions of course, like Boot & Tax’s “Dancin’”, but other than that I can be quite a pain in the ass about that. ”
Besides that, what are your ways to select music?
“I also like to select songs that haven’t been made for the dance floor solely, and turn them into dance floor hits. Songs that haven’t been made for a dance audience can be the more fun and interesting ones, and this applies to the producers as well. Some of the dance-oriented bands or artists that I really like have their roots outside of the dance scene. They’ve played in bands, or have done something else, and had gotten into dance after that for some reason. They don’t necessarily make music with a club setting in mind, and that is what attracts me.
Tracks with a clear formula don’t appeal to me that much. They have a clear effect, but are not as fun to play out as tracks that originally weren’t only meant to be played in the type of settings I play them. Music that comes from different disciplines can be more interesting, and can have a different effect, in my opinion. Take Red Axes for example: they used to be in psychedelic bands, and after seeing Ivan Smagghe they decided that the dance scene was something they wanted to be a part of. It is a blessing of these times, because there seem to be coming more and more people that play out music in the nightlife that wasn’t made for there, and it works.”
Next to DJ’ing, Reza has two different nights he hosts in Amsterdam: Horizon and Mind. Both concepts are platforms for new and inspiring artists. Horizon focuses more on new talent, or DJ’s that haven’t been in Holland very often, and Mind is more focused on the DJ’s that have made a career with DJ’ing.
“Often I get asked by journalists and other people when I’m going to start producing, but I don’t think this a logical order. I don’t think that, in order to enlarge your audience or success, you need to be a producer. I don’t like the mentality of doing something to create something else. I don’t want to be a producer in order to get gigs to play as DJ, and that applies the other way as well.
Nowadays it seems to be the path to take, but I really like how we are defying this with our concept Mind, and for myself I would love to make it purely on how I do my DJ’sets, and not by how popular my songs are. I’m not saying you’ll never see me in a studio making music, but for now I don’t feel the urge to do so, and if I don’t have that, I think it would be wise to lay of it a bit longer.”
Reza Athar has made quite a few podcasts in recent times, varying from home listening music to live sets, and we’re thrilled to have him aboard for our series as well.
“I’m going to do the podcast in one take. I’ve done them in multiple takes in the past, but I’ve noticed that I lose energy when I do that. I want to be motivated when I record a podcast like this, and for that I have to force myself to record it at once. I already have a selection in my head of how I want it to sound, which gets me exited as well. You’ll hear psychedelic tracks that I currently like, and also a couple of techno tracks that I’m really into at the moment. There was a time that I hated techno, because it was too functional, lazy, non-creative and without any imagination in my eyes. Thanks to labels as Minimal Wave/Cititrax, L.I.E.S., Hotflush and Phantasy, to name a few, techno got its soul back again. These recent discoveries have made me enthusiastic about techno all over again, and that’s what I hope you’ll hear as well.
In terms of making a podcast and playing at a club there are different factors to consider. The thing I like when making a podcast is that mostly, I can lay out a larger variety of atmospheres than in a club. I can showcase a wider range of myself there, which is also possible in a club, but more limited, because you have a party, and party people to entertain. I don’t have to work the audience here, and I can start with a clean slate, so to speak. Of course there is an audience for my podcast which I have to think about, but podcasts are often listened in a different kind of setting, say at offices, at home, in a train or to get warmed up for a party. In the past I’ve been asked by promoters if I really play live as I do in my podcasts, (which really isn’t the case) and I had to explain them that podcasts and live dj mixes are totally different things in my eyes.”
As we’ve said, things have moved rather fast for Reza Athar. Before his night at the Natte Cel in Trouw last year he had been paddling in the clubbing pool, and not long after that evening his popularity took a steep dive in that same pont. This puts a lot of pressure on someone, and things can seem escalate quickly. Reza managed to stay calm, and enjoy every bit of it, and when we spoke him he was already bearing quite some experience.
“I’ve done quite a few things before I started DJ’ing. I’ve worked at a call centre, I’ve been a doorman at the Stadsschouwburg in Nijmegen and much more, but this is the first thing that is giving me so much satisfaction. I try to be a DJ for everybody in the club, but at an evening there will always be people that don’t dig the musical path I’ve chosen. In the beginning I tried to regain the confidence of those people as well while I was playing, but I noticed that it didn’t work out for me. I lost myself, and the people that where actually liking what I was doing. I don’t do that anymore. Of course, I want everybody to have a great time, but I have accepted that it is okay to lose ten or twenty people that don’t like it, and stay with ninety people that are really into it.
That is something I learned by doing, but another thing I learned is that I’m totally depended on the interaction with the crowd. It is something that I’m really looking for, and I need that feedback from the people in front of me. I want to share my music with everyone, and see the same enthusiasm that I had when I first listened to my records, and I don’t mind sharing it either.”