Digital Nomads is a collective of musicians to inspire healing within themselves and others through music. Genre defying.

Interview by the team on 11/12/23.

Hi Ari, how are you? Thank you for having a conversation with us.

Hi psybient Fam! It’s a pleasure and a honor to be speaking with you. Thanks for having me.

Hope everything is colourful in NY. The city is ready for Christmas time, right?

I have to say, it’s a beautiful time in the city. Neighboors or passerby’s that normally don’t even say hello, suddenly everybody’s nice to each other, so lots of good, unexpected vibes. & the city is lit up beautifully this time of year. Every neighborhood has its own flavour of Christmas banners, decorating the city. Beautiful multi colored lights. The famous spots like Radio City Music Hall has the Rockettes doing their ice capades. The Rockefeller Christmas tree is tremendous. Every year no matter what’s happening, the city goes full out on Christmas, without a doubt, beautiful time in the city.

How long have you been playing music / playing in bands?

When I was 9-10 yrs old, my dad got me my first guitar teacher. Soon after that, I influenced my best friend Django to pick up a guitar. I knew he was gonna be special, his father played clarinet & used to spin old jazz records and Django started playing clarinet. They had an electric piano in the house. Django & I at 9-10 yrs old fell deeply in love with The Beatles, we used to play The White Album & Sgt Peppers & Rubber Soul all day long on vinyl. I formed my first duet with Django that year. One of my first songs I wrote, I totally cheated and copied the chord progression to a famous Beatles Ballad can’t remember now exactly which song but I changed the vocal melody and the lyrics, if you didn’t know, I could get away with ripping off the Beatles when I was 10. But I discovered I had a taste for tragedy at such a young age. The lyrics I wrote told of a story of a guy falling in love with a woman and she with him. But at the very end of the song, she dies and I lose the love of my life. I sang it for Django’s mom one night, Hugette was originally from Paris and had a thick French accent when she spoke English, at the end when I finished, she commented immediately “omg such a tragedy” she was probably kind of blown away and very amused that this little 10 yr old would write such a beautiful but tragic song, she started laughing and I started laughing. It was a funny moment and she made me realize how serious the song was. But that was the beginning, my duet with Django as little kids, he played guitar like a natural, like me and he had a lovely singing voice, we could do harmonies just like Paul McCartney & John Lennon. They typically sang in very high registers, that we could easily do as little kids, hit those high notes, which got tougher and some almost impossible as we got older and our vocal range got more limited.

Where are you at with your solo projects?

Well these days my solo stuff is Zman8. At the moment I’m sitting back and letting it all breathe a little. I composed a lot of tracks last couple of years and my production has gotten a bit better, still need to grow more in that area but I’m a songwriter at heart & I’m pleasantly pleased with some of my latest composition’s in the psybient, psychill flavor.

I’m just waiting for the rest of the world to catch on lol but the core of my fanbase has stuck with me, cause they know I try and put my heart & my soul into the music. I’m not everybody’s cup of tea but the few people who do appreciate what I do, really show me some love and we all need love & attention, I’m no different. I don’t write to please anyone, I write what pleases me and it pleases some people. So I’m just grateful for that right now.

Which artists have given you more inspiration?

Well big time Dudley, YaYo aka Vissudda, and V Lam Beat have really inspired me. I always knew Dudley was an incredible composer, we are old bandmates and now we are collaborating for Digital Nomads a new four piece electronica group I formed. Besides the fact that he’s an unbelievable drummer, I mean, the guy could be a session drummer if he wanted to be, I’m not joking when I say, he’s just as good as John Bonham from Led Zeppelin, I’m not exaggerating. If you don’t believe me check out our reunion live gig in UK 2012 for our band Spangle Head.

So his beats and audio production are on another level. He can play keyboards and writes killer moog, ynth lines & pads, plus the fact he makes all of his sounds from scratch so he won’t sound like anybody else; he’s infinitely inspiring. His track monsoon is a great example of his capabilities.

When I dug deeper into V Lam Beat and his band WASISUNQU; I was totally blown away. Chlorophil Djinn has really inspired me; I love his music it always has beautiful, textures and versatility, I love listening to it, and his commitment and sacrifice to touring & playing festivals in Mexico and Europe, and he’s from America like me so he’s inspired me in many different profound ways; I would like to aspire to his type of modus operandi.

Globular recently, I heard more of his material and realized that dude is like the Beethoven of psydub! Mind blowing sounds that haven’t touched me as deep or as groundbreaking as the feeling I had when I used to listen to the Ozric Tentacles. DF TRAM inspires me massively, illin & chillin with Dylan! Brilliant man. When I did the new mix for Chill Space with Gabriel Le Mar & his Saafi brothers, I had to dig even deeper into his tracks, it was Rob Aldred’s idea & I didn’t realize it until I started to work on it, what perfect advice that was from Rob. Cause even though I already respected Gabriel Le Mar, hearing tracks I never heard before was a tremendous and beautiful learning experience. He’s such a great composer, and can really teach you a lot when you listen to his tracks and totally blew me away with some new tracks I had never heard like ‘Walked into a Dream’ man what a beautiful track; lifts me right up everytime. Also he’s a guitarist like me and hearing his guitar mixed with electronica is right up my alley And he is the sweetest person, as busy as he is, he’s always been there for me, first with the music and then with his heart. What an incredible, generous man he is.

Grasz & Shultz after I heard their live set from 2023 Indian Spirit festival; that totally blew me away and made me realize how incredibly beautiful their music is, and two of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet.

Shantiago is a beautiful inspiration with his music, his vibe, and a great friend. I can always tell him about my fears and anxiety, and he is such a sweet, genuine person, he’ll always respond with words that makes me feel way better, same with Hans Shultz such an awesome dude! And Jule is the most warm loving person and such an incredible artist; her & Hans- I really love them.

I never realized how inspiring DJ’s can be until Iurii Gagarin, and seeing Gab Le Mar live DJ was incredibly inspiring. Astrix from Israel, that is a DJ I pay a lot of attention to because he just brings the most incredible vibe and music every time.

Tell us about Digital Nomads? Why that name? What’s the mission and vision of the group?

Well, initially, after the Forever Shpongled tribute; I kind of felt like a rock star but a Digital Rockstar, which suited me even better. I historically have terrible stage fright. When I have to perform live, I turn into a puddle of anxiety and mentally freaking out. It took me a long time with Spangle Head cause I would get that stage fright so bad, it was only after being baptized by fire with the amount of live gigs we were doing, I finally started to feel more comfortable on stage and that’s when I could harmonize really well with the band & our live performances were getting more and more epic with every gig. That was an incredible, emotional experience to go through.

These days I’m older & would really have to be in shape to pull off some live performances but I do plan to get back to playing live, but now as an electronic set DJ mixed with live instrumentation from real musicians. So I thought wow man, being a Digital Rockstar was such a great concept. You could hand in a track when you were ready and without even leaving your apt. or physically having a rehearsal with a band. You could now, with the social media explosion, play a track for people all over the world, no live gig, no anxiety & I have become more reclusive, so for me it was a life savor. So this Digital Musician concept kept spinning around in my head and I was like wow wouldn’t it be cool to form a Digital Band of Digital Rock Stars. But of course that’s kind of cheesy, so when I started to think how could I elaborate on that name, that concept, and make it more real. I think it was a little bit of my Jewish heritage, I somehow started to think of Moses and the wandering tribes in the desert in biblical times, that’s when it hit me! Digital Nomads fit so well and we all are kind of Digital Nomadic musicians these days, so I thought brilliant that’s the name. It started out as a duet with just Moonlab & myself. She totally blew me away on the Forever Shpongled tribute, that was an amazing experience. She was the first one who both of us planned to collaborate. So I came up with the initial skeleton of a new track I made with her in mind. And I was dying to collaborate with people again, so after I had the core structure of some stems at the time, we still had a messenger group of all of us on the album. I offered the stems one day and said does anybody want to collaborate on this but deep down I was hoping Elizabeth would jump on it, and it was her and somebody else jumped on it but after Elizabeth made it clear she would do it. I totally went with her and we made a great track together, which I titled ‘Stuck in a Clock’

which Elizabeth loved the title name and about 2 weeks later she came through with tracks she built around my stems, that was so exciting. She did an epic job and took that track to a much higher level, I was always waiting for the moment to invite my old best buddy Dudley aka Vissudda. With Elizabeth the concept was always going to be music that would heal us and the people listening. Both Elizabeth and I had a lot of emotional & physical pain, and I remembered, I had a natural flair & very powerful connection with Reiki, which I got turned onto when I did my massage therapy license. It was my daughter’s mother who first did Reiki on me and showed me the first basic move with the heat of your hand, hovering over but not touching the body. I didn’t realize it at the time but I would give somebody just a 10 minute chair massage and they would come off the chair with this really serious look in their eyes and put their hand on my shoulder and genuinely would tell me; “I don’t know what you just did but I’ve been having full body massages for 15 years and what you just did in 10 minutes on the chair was a more healing experience than I’ve ever had.”

It was only years later that I realized; it was the natural Reiki that would come out of my hands and actually really heal people and myself. I started doing long distance Reiki on Elizabeth and it was really helping her & me; cause I suddenly realized, if I focused and did Reiki on her, not only would it heal her, it also healed me. Quite soon after we started collaborating, she told me she shared our experience with a mystic female card reader, who told Elizabeth that she and I were meant to come together by The Universe and make music together that would heal a lot of people. So that was the mission from the beginning and I stuck with that.

And focusing on the album ‘Walkabout (The First Gathering)’ and its delicious sonic blend. What’s the concept behind this endeavour?

It was after Elizabeth left and I knew it was going to be Paul aka East Coast Electronics because about 10 yrs ago, Paul started writing me on email or Facebook that he was really learning Cubase. Paul was an old friend from England, lived with us and the band, was never a musician but he was a DJ. Everytime I walked in his room, he would be playing some Prince on vinyl and other great mixes but I didn’t know he could really pull it off. So after entertaining his messages, I was living in Hawaii at the time to bond with my daughter who on her mother’s side are part native Hawaiian & lived in Hawaii. I had an acoustic guitar stuck on me wherever I went and I started finger picking something that just came to me, it sounded exactly like something Nick Drake had done the beautiful but tragic musician, acoustic composer from UK from the late 60’s early 70’s, signed to Chris Blackwell’s famous Island Records. So on a whim, I sent the acoustic stem I had of that track and said “ok Paul what would you build around this?”. He sent me back this mind blowing track he built around my acoustic and we named it ‘Across the Pond’ which now has over 1,000 views on a Facebook video I made for it, that was really the first Digital Nomads track ever written.

Anyway when the group became finalized with Vissudda, East Coast Electronics, V Lam Beat, and myself Zman8. One day I thought OK how are we going to debut ourselves? So I thought, let me take one track from each of us, so a total of four tracks and see if it has any chemistry and I did just that and it started out as a four track mix, one track from each of us. It had a tremendous response on Facebook. So after that, I said, let me take one more track from each of us to make it two tracks from each artist and see if the chemistry continued. It did and the next time I aired what became the album Walkabout, I posted the 8 tracks together and that got an even bigger response on Facebook.

What range of instruments have been added to the album? In which way was the album assembled and progressed?

It’s got everything from brilliant live guitar and flute from V Lam Beat to all kinds of synths and percussion. Vissudda’s tracks are absolutely fire. It was confirmed to me, when I played Vissudda’s tracks to Gabriel Le Mar, he immediately knew it wasn’t me and commented to me, wow incredible production. We recently already had added two tracks from Gabriel Le Mar and then very fortunately added two tracks from THE EGG, it aired on Radio Ozora and that was really far out and thrilling for me!

How do you organize your creative process? Do you follow any structure assembling your tracks?

Not at the moment, with me, it all pours out at once in an explosion of spontaneous creativity; when I suddenly get this uplifted feeling and improvise the whole way through. It can be one bass line or one beat or one synth line, starts out and I spontaneously start building on it. Like I’ve said, I was always a guitarist, songwriter from when I was young, so I don’t just make sounds for the hell of it, even though my audio production is still my weakest link, I always serve the song. So no matter what I’m working on I always have the song writing in the track and I make a song out of my electronica tracks as I would since I was a little kid with a guitar, it was the songs of The Beatles that lit that fire and I always try & instinctively serve the song.

About using hardware and software, do you have any preference?

I never made electronica tracks back in the day and missed out on the old school hardware. I would love to get my hands on some hardware, learn, and experiment. Aside from my midi triggering keyboards and my guitar everything is software. It’s the only medium I’ve had the pleasure of using on a consistent basis. So I can’t really answer this question more specifically. Since I’ve only experienced the software.

Could we also know about the Digital Nomads Chill Space Mix Series and the music included?

The first mix was just Elizabeth aka Moonlab and myself. We did the ‘A Salubrious Journey’ together, brilliantly titled by Elizabeth. That was a beautiful mix IMHO, when Rob told me, the mix got a ‘Like’ from Martin Youth, that made my year.

The second is East Coast Electronics and myself with our tribute to Gabriel Le Mar & Saafi Brothers ‘Takin a Cab to Gab’ Another incredible experience.

What are the near future plans for Digital Nomads?

To collaborate more and make the tracks a real group effort, with us really collaborating, instead of everybody handing in a solo track.

What are your all time music favourites in electronic music?

The Orb. KLF, and tons of mixes of Trance & Techno I heard at new age traveler free raves in the green fields of England, no idea who the DJ’s or composers were, I was on Ecstacy with all the Brit’s, my mind being blown away by this new electronica music phenomenon, I had never heard in the States. It was 1990-95 when I lived in UK.

What are your current music favourites in electronic music?

Gabriel Le Mar, Back Stage Gurus, Globular, Psybur, DF TRAM, Grasz & Shultz. Iurii Gagarin also really inspires me with his attitude, his love of the DJ and his sets are brilliant. Ross Valentine aka DJ Fluid Dynamic from Scotland really inspires me with her sets always incredible. Synergy Dub with Robin and Gabriel always a winner. THE EGG one of my all time favorites. Jon Le Champignon always inspired me with his flute & wind instruments on Ozric Tentacles one of my favorite bands of all time, and Jon is another amazing friend, really digging their new band which has 5 ex Ozric Tentacles members The Ullulators. Steve Hillage old school was a big time favorite and his wizardry on guitar & synth a total master! Now his System 7 is so awesome. Zero 7 always blows my mind with each song.

Do you like playing in outdoor festivals? What are your best memories?

The only experience I had with that was playing live guitar with Spangle Head a live 7 piece band. The best memory was playing at The 25th Anniversary of Woodstock 69 Reunion in 1994 on the original site on Yasgurs farm. Maff & Ned from THE EGG were there and that was so awesome. I was on a site with old school hippies from the original festival from 1969, new younger Dead Heads and even younger Phish Heads. They all boogied to Spangle Head live at Woodstock. That was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

Do you spend a lot of time online? How and when did you discover the project?

Yes I do, way more time than I should. I really do love it online but am beginning to feel the need for a more deeper, personal bonding with real people, real musicians in real life. I discovered through Elizabeth aka Moonlab. I was getting turned on to Mindspring label at the time and she showed me first how they were voted the best label one year on is how it all started. It was Dima Odessa from Ukraine, I randomly met online and played him some tracks. He was the one that brought Iurii in to hear my tracks. I’m so grateful for that cause I immediately was blown away and very inspired by the web. What an incredible community, great vibe, and great way to learn about festivals, artists, labels etc. Really love the site.

And before finishing, would you like to send a message to the readers and listeners?

Yes, Just Keep it Real. Follow your heart and your passion for music, keep it authentic and make music that pleases you first. Don’t try and compose to please the crowd; you have to please yourself first, that honesty and that vibe will attract the people who are meant to intertwine in your life and your music.

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