September’s come to a close and we’re back in action for the next episode of the Phonica Mix Series! This month we’ve enlisted the talents of Reza Athar for an eclectic mix of sonic pleasure.
Reza’s made quite a name for himself lately! As a DJ, Reza works with moods and atmospheres and his goal behind the decks is to surprise people with something unexpected every time. His fluid mixing skills and surprising selections have secured him residencies at Horizon at Canvas and MIND at Radion (both in Amsterdam) but it was one of his flawless sets at Trouw that propelled him into the limelight in The Netherlands club scene and across Europe as well including regular appearances at Berlin’s Der Salon Zur wilden Renate. When he’s not behind the decks he’s organizing other great selectors to come play along side him at his residencies. In recent times he’s had Erol Alkan, Massimiliano Pagliara, Daniele Baldelli, Trevor Jackson, Prins Thomas and Ivan Smagghe all come down to represent. To help you get to know Reza a little better we asked him to answer a few questions down below. Enjoy!.
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Hey Reza, how are things going over in Nijmegen?.
In Nijmegen things are going pretty well actually! We welcomed 3000 refugees this week, which really touched my heart. Nijmegen is not a really big city, but it’s close to all of the other Dutch cities (Holland is really small! I often have to explain to the spoiled people from Amsterdam!). I work in Amsterdam and most of my gigs are there too, but I have to say it’s really great going back to Nijmegen after a weekend of playing or promoting parties and after work. It keeps you in balance and with both feet on the ground. Nijmegen is a village, which people love to call a city. But it’s actually a village with a vibrant vibe and people that are musically well informed. Far more than other cities on a similar scale and it has a rich history of clubbing. So I can have allot of fun over here too!
Your originally from Tehran, what brought you over to Europe and what would you recommend for someone visiting your homeland?.
The political situation of Iran brought me and my family to Holland. We asked for asylum 18 years ago in Holland. It was difficult moving from a city with 12 million citizens to a village with less than 1000 people. People in Teheran love to say, if you can survive Teheran, you can survive in every other city and that’s somewhat true, but I would love to add if you can survive in a village in Netherlands you can survive everywhere too! I went back to Teheran last year for the first time in 17 years and this year for the second time. Maybe I’m not the best person to ask, but to me Iran is probably the most beautiful country in the world and Teheran is the most beautiful city in the world, despite the smog, overpopulation, the stress and intensity. I actually planned to go with Simon some day soon. There a lot of places to visit. But I would go to the historic cities. Places like Isfahan, Kashan, Tabriz and the north side of Teheran.
Tell us a bit about the mix you’ve prepared for us today?.
I wanted it to be like a dream with eyes wide open. So I selected the dreamy tracks with ups and downs and back and forth. It contains a lot of recent favourites. But to be honest I don’t believe in concept mixes. The music I like to listen to at home is not much different than the music I play in front of a crowd. Of course you can go deeper with a podcast because you have a floor to entertain as when you play as a DJ. But all the music I like, I would also play out in front of a crowd, when the setting is right.
You currently hold two residencies, one for MIND at Radion and the other for Horizon at Canvas. What’s the vibe like at both of these events and what sets them apart?.
That’s right. I really don’t know what the vibe is, because that differs. But I guess that people who come to Horizon and MIND on a regular basis, want their music a bit more adventurous and eclectic. At least that’s what I hope for when booking DJs who bring eclectic and adventurous music. The difference between both parties is that Horizon wants to book new emerging talent. We work with these artists on a regular basis and try to get them known to bigger audience over here. People like Chloé, Trevor Jackson, Ewan Pearson, and Massimiliano Pagliara. With MIND I invite the true selectors. Dj’s who got known and respect by their trade as DJ and not necessairly as producer. But both parties have the urge to introduce artists that need to be introduced. We had people like Prins Thomas, Ivan Smagghe, Erol Alkan and the next one with Gilb’r at MIND.
You had a fully packed schedule of gigs over the summer, what were your biggest highlights?
That’s true. Holland seems to have discovered me this year. It’s been an incredible year. I have played in new places and visited new cities, I have never played and visited before and met a lot of new people. So that’s amazing. When it comes to highlights, I have to say that my all nighter with Horizon was quite achievement. I was afraid that no one would show up and I would have stop playing early, because of the disappointing visitor numbers, but it was full and stayed full whole night with people who danced from the very beginning till the end. My set at PITCH Festival was a remarkable one as well. PITCH is an electronic music festival in Amsterdam that focus on the new exciting electronic acts. People like Hot Chip, Kaytranada and Jamie XX were headlining the event, so it was an honour to be playing next to these massive acts. The set I played was without any concessions and I had the freedom to play anything I wanted and people reacted it very well. I had to play a sweaty room on one of the hottest days this summer, but the room was crowded from the very first beat and they stayed with me the whole set. Amazing experience.
Without giving any secret weapons away, what was one of your favourite records that featured in your sets this summer?
I have been listening and playing the whole LP’s of Boot & Tax and Die Wilde Jagd all spring and summer long. Die Wilde Jagd is a German kraut-rock meets techno band and Boot & Tax is a disco meets acid duo. Both LP’s are terribly underrated and ignored by the media, but such an incredible ride. Loved every second of the both albums!
You’re clearly a strong DJ but haven’t released any productions yet? Is this something we can expect from you in the future?.
I’m afraid not much production wise. I have this crazy dream to become an internationally well known DJ, without releasing any stuff. I must say I’m far from that dream, but still hopeful that someday this crazy dream will come true.”