Maor Levi on Trance, Trolling and Time in the Israeli Military

For a man with an ever-growing reputation for slapstick SoundClownery, Israeli trance DJ/producer Maor Levi (pronounced “maw-or levy”) is not the open book you might expect him to be.

After branching off from psytrance to play the glittery, uplifting style of trance that maintains a steady presence on both iTunes and Beatport charts alike, Levi took a three-year break from the EDM community to serve in the Israeli military as per the laws of his homeland. While three years of anecdotes about day-to-day life might be more than the average person could comfortably keep to themselves, Levi spared no expense in designating the topic as off limits when he chatted with DJOYbeat after the set he played at Beta Nightclub in Denver, Colorado.

Perhaps his discretion is simply a legal requirement of his service, or maybe the action he saw is a sensitive point for him – either way, a measure of truth rings in his opinion that politics shouldn’t be mixed with dance music. Unlike the musical movements before this one, most EDM has yet to be co-opted as a means of furthering the rhetoric of any public interest, and as much as anyone complains about ghost producers, trap or “Animals,” the absence of an agenda has kept the spotlight on the music itself for the most part. As such, there’s a case to be made that a deeper wisdom lies at the heart of Levi’s tight-lipped approach as an interviewee.

Read Maor Levi’s interview below and let us know in the comments: Should he open up more about his personal life, or keep the conversation about his music?

The last song you played before your encore was “Pick Up The Pieces,” which just debuted on Ferry Corsten’s podcast [Corsten’s Countdown] before you released it yourself. How did that track come together creatively?

It always starts with a melody, and then we send it over to vocalists. I had Angela [McClusky] in mind because I really liked what she did with Morgan Page‘s “In The Air,” and I was a fan ’cause she has a really underrated voice. It was a great time working with her and I just felt like she was the one for the track.

You’re building a bit of a reputation for yourself as being a troll, lately, with your remix of “Animals,” that Will.i.Am song and, most recently, “#BigRoomDeepHoustep.” Did you just not get enough attention when you were a kid or something?

Nah, I mean, it’s just for fun, man; I love trolling people ’cause I get trolled all the time. I dunno, If I can do it in a musical way then why not? [Laughs] It’s my skill!

You’ve been making music quite a while, but a big milestone for you was signing with Anjunabeats.

Yeah, that was my first signing when I was 15.

Above & Beyond are really beloved artists in the EDM community, but do you ever feel like you’re being overshadowed by their success?

No, they’ve been really supportive and really flexible about signing tracks and what I make, and they give me complete freedom. Sometimes it’s for them and sometimes it’s not for them, but in general it’s great working with them. It’s been, like, a harmony working with them.

You’re an Israeli EDM artist, and you’re not the only one who’s seen worldwide success – artists like Borgore and Infected Mushroom have seen a lot of success in the industry. Other than being Israeli EDM artists, though, the three of you have nothing in common. Have you still brushed shoulders with them a lot?

I mean, we’re all friends, I’ve known them for too long. I actually have a show with Infected [this month]. I think people in Israel have only been listening mainly to psytrance, so everyone wants to kind of break through this bubble and do something that’s more worldwide.

Yeah, before you found Tiësto, you were big on psytrance too, right?

Yeah I [played] psytrance and hardstyle all the time. It was fun. It was great trying psytrance, then going to trance, then house, and then progressive house, and electro. But I wanted to something different than what I [grew up with], and take all that I’ve been listening to and make something new out of it.

Also speaking of Israel, you were required to spend three years in the Israeli Military – the most active military force in the world.

I tend not to talk about the military ’cause I’m not allowed. I try not to mix it in my interviews, but whatever happened happened. I had a great time in the army and that’s all I can say.

Well you’ve mentioned before that some of the best stuff you came up with that got you really recognized was during difficult times. Would that be during that period?

Well the Middle Eastern conflict is – like, if you think about the positive side of it it’s inspiring. Y’know like we have to stay strong, and stay stable and sane. But I think that politics in the EDM scene is not a good thing. I get people talking about politics every time they see me, and I tend to avoid it.

Well what’s the biggest thing you would like to say to the fans of your music?

Thanks for the support, and I hope people will be more open minded about music in general.

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