I talked to Hatikwa about his new album „The Second Narration“, New Horizons & Social Media
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My first encounter with Hatikwas goa & psytrance music took place in Sin City. Unfortunately, only figuratively speaking. „Sin City“ was the name of a Hatikwa release that certainly not only drew my attention to the psytrance producer from Northern Germany, but also many others. At least, if one had missed his unexpected success „Lonely Forest“ until then somehow, that was uploaded to YouTube by one of his fans in 2009 and spread very, very fast in social media. Basis of his success today. Now his next release is ready for takeoff: The Second Narration. And it definetly will! On May 02, 2017
A great opportunity to meet Hatikwa for a small interview. Of course it’s primarily about his new album and his first steps as a dj und producer within the goa scene. But Goazin would not be Goazin, if I did not ask again for some background information and let the artist betray some secrets.
So jump directly to Hatikwa Interview or just read something about his musical history before.
Hatikwa is one of the „next generation“ producers who owe their success mainly to „Likes“ & „Shares“. I am glad to see that social media, which has definitely also brought many negative things into the scene, can sometimes produce good. Hope, in the truest sense of the word. Or, in Hebrew: haTikwa. Hope, born in the lonely forest. Literally.
By the way, his breakthrough had simply been named after the „Lonely Forest Project“ from Hamburg, which Hatikwa owes his first booking as a live-act in 2009.
Minimal Trance, Proggy or whatever…
I like that Hatikwa keeps this whole Psytrance & Progressive Trance thing simpel and not as pompous and bpm-focused like many other producers nowadays. Although his artist name, Hatikwa, is inspired by the Hebrew word Hatikva, or Hatikvah, what means „Hope“ and which is also the name of the Israeli national anthem. And as far as I know, most of the Israeli Psytrance acts like Upgrade or Vini Vici are anything but simple. Maybe it’s because Thomas simply does not come from Israel but from Northern Germany, which is known for it’s minimalism in all spheres of life. So he made his acquaintance of psytrance at the Fusion Festival 1999 and in Hamburg, not in the Negev desert and Tel Aviv.
He chose the word simply because of its meaning. And to be honest, Hatikwa sounds much better than hope. At least if one is not an EDM Act. After his first walk over the airfield in Lärz in 1999, which was not yet comparable to today, he decided to travel around the globe with some friends and to join and enjoy a lot of our gatherings for 3-4 years. He simply was infected with the virus. In doing so, he gained a lot of experience before he finally decided to become a musician. At first, just for himself and some friends. Lather, for the whole scene.
At the beginning he was surprised how hard it actually is to make and produce good music. Thomas, in an interview with radiOzora, very clearly mentions that he definitely never wanted to have success with music.
That’s why he had interrupted his musical carrer and went after a „normal“ job & life for some years. However, in 2009 the desire to transform all of the experience he made so far, on events like Shiva Moon („Crazy time“, as he says), into new music was back. Only temporarily for some years. But with success!
Like already mentioned, it all began in 2009 with the Lonely Forest Upload on YouTube. Working with the Netlabel Multiplex Records later, spread the viral range of his music again. Followed by more tracks and digital EPs, we nowadays can’t even imagine numerous sets of other goa & progressive trance djs without. In 2013 there was his album debut „Point of View“ on Magical Sounds Records. The Result? Bookings for the Progressive Trance Hotspots like Denmark, Germany & Switzerland and Thomas managed to form a solid fanbase.
From Business Studies to Hatikwa & Feng Shui
There are few artists who wanted to become artists since theire birth. And even less, which ultimately succeed. Hatikwa also studied and worked quite normally, even after 2009 and the „Lonely Forest“. Until 2013 he kept his options open.
In 2013 he chose music on the basis of numerous bookings abroad that Thomas had already had at that time. That was no hobby anymore which a 9-to-5 job was made for. So he left security in favor of music and self-employment. An unexpected but good decission, in view of the fact that Thomas never really had a heart for the risk.
Today he loves self-responsibility, freedom of choice, and sometimes even the uncertainty that is associated with an artist’s existence, especially in this scene. This, of course, has to do with the fact that his decision worked for him so far. Not least because of his innovative productions.
Feng Shui – a word that he uses in his artist biography to describe his sound works very well indeed. When it comes to producing his music, Hatikwa is a stickler for details. But without love for complicated, overloaded arrangements. Minimalist, but not boring. Just like a spatial environment designed according to the principles of Feng Shui, Hatikwas sound creates an intense feeling of flowing harmony and effortless power – a highly energetic audio experience that can best be described as deeply psychedelic. While the minimalist elements convey a feeling of „back to the roots“.
This only works if you give enough space to each sound, so that it can unfold its entire vibration. Maybe several months will have passed until everything works in the right way for him. Per track. But that’s ok. And all the better that the date for his new release is definitively established already – 02.05.2017.
By the way, at home Hatikwa likes to hear artists like Headroom, who he especially loves for the track „Sweet like a Lemon“. He also mentions Deviant Species from the UK, if you ask him about his favorites. Just sayin‘.
Because there often are distribution problems with innovative concepts, Hatikwa founded his own label „Xonica Records“ in 2015, where his new album will also be released.
In his Interview with Goazin he talks about the long and way to finish „The Second Narration“ and unique experiences and music. At the end you find some links to Hatikwas accounts in the www.
Interview with Hatikwa
Hey Thomas, congratulations on your second album. How long did it take for a stickler for details like you until „The Second Narration“ was finished and how much time did you spend in the studio?
„Hey, at first let me thank you for having me. Well, there are tracks on the album, which I started producing years ago. Some were also finished years ago. At least I thought so. But then I had the general idea for the new album at the beginning of 2016 and when I thought about which tracks would fit together the idea to use „older“ productions – but re-arranged and mixed – was born. Over the past few months, I have also created completely new and rather untypical tracks, especially for the album. But since we have a much better sound quality here than 2-3 years ago, I had to improve the older tracks again. An eternal cycle, which one must also sometimes terminate.
But if I had to name a number, then I would say: the album reflects ideas and influences of my last 3 years as a music producer and as a human beeing. But I really do not know how long I sat in the studio. Sometimes I’m surprising myself and a song is finished in 3 days – even finished in the sense of „Ok Thomas, that definetly works. No changes anymore.“. But usually a production takes weeks. So there is unfortunately no „average production time“ for me.“
Who supported you and gave you company in the studio?
„Of course I always get a lot of support from my Family, friends and fans. Thanks a lot for this! I must highlight the project Atacama from Berlin. Two guys who really know what they’re doing. Maybe it’s unusual for a solo album to feature another project several times – but I like unsual things. I was also impressed by the French artist Electit last year at an event in Lyon – a cooperation was unavoidable. Also the cooperation with the mastering studios always was and still is very helpful. Unfortunately, they sufferd from my pedantry – Sorry guys!
But in the studio and during the production stages, I am always alone. As soon as another person enters the room, I am rather distracted. Cooperations with other artists are only working by sending soundfiles around the globe. Just a question of practice.“
What makes your new release different from the others? What did you focus on?
„Well, as I was sure about making an new album, I’ve already asked myself“ What are you doing now? „. When the idea came up, I could have immediately delivered a complete album. The tracks were ready. But I noticed quite quickly, that the album would be boring as hell. I mean, the tracks were okay, but the album did not have a story at this time. So I deleted some tracks and suddenly realized that I need 5 to 6 new tracks to fill the gap. So the actual „work“ started and I really produced new tracks only for The Second Narration.
So, for example, a very untypical Intro of 14 minutes total length was born. Also a special outro, which will probably never be heard in a set of mine. Basically, I wanted to offer the listener the opportunity to experience a complete story. Introduction – Main Part – Ending. But without falling into a „hole“. The album builds itself up. I also put emphasis on the fact that no song replaces another at the same pitch. Because otherwise it would be tired for the ears, I think. I just hope that I can give everyone the story he or she needs and wants for him- or herself. Fortunately, everyone interprets music in a different way – so a complete album can also be interpreted differently. Everything is open-minded.“
Did you learn something new about you or for yourself during the process of producing? Used new hardware?
„Definitely. The most important thing I’ve learned: „Take a break and go out to take a breath of fresh air!“ Sounds funny, but it’s really essential and important to stay creative. I’ve also learned something about „letting go“ … I could now give you a few tracks from the album, which I still are not 100% satisfied with. But this probably is the case with creative processes. Staying dissatisfied with yourself.
Cooperations with other artists are always helpful. Some of the skills you may learn from other artists can be so simple, but even more effective and mindblasting.
In my studio there was always a constant coming and going of hardware. From time to time I create some sounds with hardware. But I must admit I am a software junkie.“
Your favorite choice of equipment and practises to produce?
„Well, whether hardware or software – I like to record sounds during the production and keep working on them sample-based. And I always use any possibilitie that Ableton offers me to do that. I also try to get as much as possible out of a single sample. So, sometimes, it may happen that I have one and the same sample on 5 sound tracks – but none sounds like the other. Thanks to effect chains here!
Unfortunately they are also my biggest enemy in the studio, because processing like that is time-consuming and detailed. I have to optimize this in the future. I rarely use MIDI tracks. I always had the feeling that some plugins changed the way project sound after a reboot. Some sounds more drastic than others. So I completely switched to immediate recording of the Plug-Ins.
By the way, years ago in Greece I hat the pleasure to play with one of my former idols: Frechbax. Of course, I asked him about his secret: Grain Size Modulation to exhaustion! Thanks Frechbax!“
A few weeks ago Neelix said in an interview that he is more inspired by other music genres, moods or even commercials than by Psytrance. Because otherwise you would just copy other artists. What are you listening to if you need some ideas?
„Well, believe me or not: I only listen to music in my car. Only radio. And much worse: music from the 60s and 70s. Not necessarily as an inspiration source, but to switch off. But usually it just takes an idea in my head to start. Or a sample that catches me. For example, the beginning of „Amaranto Devoli“ based on a report about the skateboard scene in Boston. I’m also inspired by past performances. Another example: I had a feeling at a booking in Austria that the pitch was not quite right. This feeling finally led to a completely new song.
There are a lot of ways to get ideas for creative processes. I also do not listen Psytrance for inspiration. Although there are some very easily remembered melodies out there at the moment, which you simply can not ignore. But so far, I’ve been quite well with it.“
Many people are under enormous pressure shortly before the completion of large projects. How do you want to relax after May 02, 2017?
„I think, on May 03, 2017, I indulge myself some ice cream *laughs*. Joke apart, I am an independent, freelance musician – according to my tax consultant there is no real break. I try to relax between the individual processes. Whether it’s an ice cream or a ride to the lake – that does not matter.“
As a magazine from Hamburg, I am delighted that you are in the city to work with Thorsten (Klopfgeister) on a remix of your debut „Lonely Forest“.
„First of all – Thorsten is working on it. I keep myself out of it. He’ll get it all right. Well, Thorsten – he was the first great internationally recognized artist who helped me with good advice (without knowing me at all). Back then it was about my first album „Point of View“ and he helped me with the choice of the best distribution. Since then, our paths have crossed again and again. I am also very happy about it, because I like the rascal very much. He is also a wheeler-dealer!
To remix „Lonely Forest“ was not on my agenda at all. But Thorsten is the only person (except me) in the world (!), who has the files for „Lonely Forest“, so who else should do it? We both have rather randomly performed the first version of the remix together on new years eve in Zurich – that was a very nice start in 2017 for me.“
Are you going to celebrate the release together with us in Hamburg? Or rather on the festivals 2017? Name a few dates!
„In fact, we are celebrating almost all the tracks together for a while. Because most are already part of my sets. I’m not a friend of „Extra-Release Parties“. I’m too shy for that *laughs*. I like to place new tracks in my sets without too much attention and to watch the reactions. This is much more stress-free and enjoyable than planning a „album release party“ with too high expectations.
And yes, I’ll play on some festivals that year. As every year, it starts with the Psychedelic Experience. In addition, there is the Second Horizon Festival, the VOOV Experience, the Traumwelten Open Air, the Sea You Festival, the New Horizon Festival, the Psychedelic Dedication Open Air, the Indian Spirit, Burning Mountain (Switzerland) and Son Libre Festival (France). I definitely forgot one. I would like to thank all you very much for all of these bookings at this point! „
Klopfgeister & Hatikwa are also part of the New Horizon Line-Up, a new festival at the Nürburgring. As well as Afrojack, Claptone & Chris Liebing. Is this still underground? I bet you hate that question but the festival was contoversially discussed on my website, similar to Tomorrowland.
„Counterquestion: Is Psytrance still underground?
Of course I’m talking for myself and not for Thorsten. I have had a similar lineup last October 2016 at the Beat Patrol Festival in Austria. With Steve Aoki and cake-throwing and so on. Also in August 2016 at the Heaven & Hill Festival. There were different stages with different music. As you said, we don’t play on the same stage. Every music style gets its stage, the appropriate decoration and – most importantly – the guests who want to listen to that type of music. That’s it.
Neither we nor our guests are involved in the hustle and bustle of the EDM Stage. At the Beat Patrol Festival and at the Heaven & Hill Festival, „our“ floor was absolutely „our“ floor. And they were two of my most beautiful experiences in 2016.
I do not think the New Horizon Festival will be organized differently. There always used to be these discussions. Even if there was not yet the fashion concept EDM, there has already been a Techno-Floor on the venerable Tshitraka Festival. The variety of music styles and humans is also the heart of the Fusion Festival concept. Among other things, a very successful trance concept.
In my opinion, one should not look at these festivals exaggerated. Everyone is able to get information about the line-ups beforehand. And everyone can decide whether for him or her a visit is worthwhile or not. Everyone is free in decision. But also in opinion. So the discussions will continue in the future, I think.“
How did it happen that you were booked?
„Because of a friendly Party organizer from Nordrhein-Westfalen. He is responsible for the Psy-stage. I’m looking forward to it because I know him for a long time and so I know that at least „our“ stage will be great!“
I know that nobody likes to talk about it but what do you think or know about competitive thinking in the scene about likes, clicks, bookings and so on? Have you ever caught yourself?
„Of course not. Never! I don’t know anything. Next question please! *laughs*
I would not deny it. But I do not care about these „clicks-likes-play-thing“. My attention is more in the comments of fans. I react to it-for at least I can react to that.“
Back to „The Second Narration“: What do you want to tell us?
„Maybe that I’ve grown up? Nooooo, I don’t believe that myself. „The Second Narration“ definitely has more depth, the album gives more insight of me and my last 3 years than it was planned before. I also show that I can think out the box if you let me do it.“
When you take a look back to your beginning, what has changed the most for you?
„A lot more grey hair than before, unfortunately an even bigger cigarette consumption *laughs*. But therefore I can travel continents, countries and cities that I would never have seen during my a 9-to-5 job. I also have the privilege of a wonderful network of friends across Europe through my work. That makes a difference to me and I am very grateful for that.“
If you could undo something, what would it be? Is there anything at all?
„Yes there are. But mistakes are made only once. At least I hope so.“
Because your artist name is Hebrew, you won’t get around the following question: what do you think of the Israeli Psytrance scene and the persistent hype surrounding „Vini Vici“? Of course it’s a question of taste but how do you rate such developments for Psytrance at all?
„Ah, you were just waiting for it, weren’t you? Well, I think that modern Psytrance would not be where it is today without the strong influence of Israeli artists. Do not misunderstand! I have been able to see and hear many Israeli artists on stage during the last years – with many artists I am in contact and the network is growing. But if I’ve learned one, then the following: never play a set before or after Vini Vici – you’ll loose this fight in the first 10 seconds *laughs*. I just remembered your question about competition right now.
Ok, can’t deny it. They simply know how to produce contemporary and at the state of the art. You will not hear from me now that the hype around Vini Vici is bad. Not at all. Honor to whom honor is due. What annoys me is the attempt of many artists to sound like Vini Vici. This makes the hype unfortunately a farce. I’m a little bit afraid, that the audience someday will get sick of all that repetitions and finally of the whole genre. And if you wanted to suggest the cooperation between Vini Vici and Armin van Buuren, then you are right – that is a matter of taste. For the scene itself, this should not be the apocalypse. It’s just creativity among musicians. And honestly, if Rammstein would ask me for a cooperation – why not.“
Someone who is strongly involved in Thema scene once said that the Israeli scene & their artistis have their peculiarities. He didn’t get any further or more detailled. What do you think he could have meant?
„It would be interesting to know when he said that. A few years ago, I also would have claimed that some artists (not just Israeli) are difficult somehow. Perhaps he meant that? But things changed. I believe that in the current fully connected and monitored (social) media landscape, no artist is able to pay off without risking a badly high loss of prestige.
I would like to believe, however, that he meant the positive peculiarity of the Israeli artists to support each other in networks. This has been one of the success factors of Israeli artists for years. We are still lagging behind in Germany with support like that.“
If you travel a lot, you get to know many different scenes and cultures. Especially if you are some kind of artist. What are the differences betweem Psytrance culture in Germany and the rest of the world, you recognized so far?
„Unfortunately I am still the wrong contact. Some important countries are still missing on my list for an accurate answer. But throughout Europe I can assert that the differences are not big. Only the music taste varies – sometimes even stronger than expected.
If Hatikwa plays a Set in italy which has less than 140 bpm he should have an emergency plan ready *laughs*. What fascinates me personally in Europe is the increasing professionalism of the events. This also includes the artist care. At the beginning I had no focus on things like that. But when I already have had several shows on only one weekend, I learned quickly that it is absolutely necessary to find the rest between the shows. Many organizers in almost all European countries can now deal with this. It’s worth a lot.“
And after all the journeys across Europe – what are you always looking forward to the most when you return to your hometown?
„Unfortunately to the first cigarette after the flight.“
Since your beginnings about 8 years ago, what has changed since then to the good and the negative, regarding Psytrance in Germany?
„Is it okay if I do it like Switzerland with this question?“
Of course not!
„Then I’ll make it short. Blessings and curse, both for fans and for artists, are the social networks. Transparency wherever you look. Any opinion can be commented. No detail remains hidden. Addiction and dependence on every new information turns transparency and social media into a two-edged sword. Slowly but surely.
Ask yourself: Is art itself still significant, or rather the marketing qualities of the artist? But above all of that I ask myself one question: Where would today’s Psytrance scene be, if Mark Zuckerberg had studied agricultural science instead of computer science?“
Imagine you just could speak two more sentences:
„Stay true to yourself and your values.
Do not let anyone tell you that you can not.
Okay, I’ve stolen the last one by Will Smith, but this sentence has been accompanying me since „The Pursuit of Happyness“ „
Thanks for the interview 🙂
Weblinks about Hatikwa & „The Second Narration“