Can you just start by introducing yourself a little bit for people who might not know who you are, that are going to be reading this magazine?
Well, I’m Andrew Rayel, DJ and producer from Republic of Moldova. I’ve been producing for almost 7 years now. DJ’ing for 4 or 5 years, been in DJ Mag 4 years in a row and it got this year on number 40. My home label is Armada Music.
When was the first time you can to the US to play music?
First time was two years ago and I’ve got the best first gig in the states that you could ever play. It was Ultra Miami. That’s te first gig I’ve ever played in the states. I’ve been playing before that for a long time but I was younger than 21, so I couldn’t come here and play. It was a very complicated system, because you guys have weird rules here in the states. So I had to wait to get to be 21 to come here, so when I reached that age I came in and first gig was Ultra Miami.
Are you still currently living in Moldova, or do you have permanent residence elsewhere?
No, I still live in Moldova, that’s where my family is. That’s where my brother is and pretty much everyone that I love and care about besides my management. So I still live there and I like it. I love my country that’s why I never left it.
How often do you get to go home?
Well, I tried to do my best to be home at least once a month. And sometimes it doesn’t work out because we have long tours, but yeah at least once a month. Now I’m going to play this gig here. Last one of 2015 and we have one more on this tour and then I’m going home for 2 weeks. So I’ll be home for a while.
Since DJs and EDM agents tour year round, like you said you don’t get to go home often. How do you find a balance between work life and personal life? Or have you found a harmony between those?
It is a very hard thing to do and I did not find a harmony in between these two things. I’m still trying to do my best on having my personal life as well. I mean, all I can do is call my family and Skype most of the time, or keep the relations through messages, texts, calls, stuff like that. And sometimes I bring some of my family with me on tour so I can keep them closer to me. That’s all I can do so far. But probably when I get, when I reach the level when I feel comfortable with, the level that I want. I will be choosing my gigs and I’ll be spending more time home. But now I have to work my ass off.
Does your family like coming on tour with you every now and then?
Yeah, mostly my brother and my girlfriend. My parents not really. They come on the gigs that I play back in my country. They are coming. I mean they are from different eras, from different century, at the beginning they didn’t really get that. But now they are into the music. My mom knows everything, sometimes more than me. Sometimes she tell me news that I’m like what. She’s on facebook, she follows every artist and she reads everything and she is now into this culture. Because she wants to know where I am, what am I doing and what's all these things.
What was your reaction when you told them that’s what you wanted to do as a career? Was there a defining moment when you decided this is what you want to do?
There was no defining moment. Like I didn’t wake up one day and I said, “Okay that’s what I want to do and stuff like that.” It came naturally. I was producing music and I had one release, and then the other release got success. Then I played one gig there. And then it started growing slowly and slowly. It came in naturally. It wasn’t like a moment where I shocked them, like I’ve been doing something else and suddenly I want to be a DJ. So they got used to it, like naturally and it was totally okay for them.
What was your biggest struggle to adjusting to like tour and celebrity lifestyle?
I don’t know, probably traveling as much. Because since I was 17 or 18, I have never traveled outside of the country. I think I’ve been just once to Ukraine, but it was like quick travel when I was like little and I didn’t really remember that. But I wasn’t traveling at all. So then the big schedule came in and I started traveling a lot and I was struggling a lot. Because I mean, I got my first flight when I was 18 to India alone. I’d never been to another country. Never flown. And I got to do all this on my own. It kinda hard for me.
Who is your biggest inspiration at the moment? Do you have anybody that is currently big that you listen to, to get inspired?
Well, in terms of getting the inspiration for my songs or like in general. I always listen to classical music, which is Hans Zimmer. I love all the harmonies and orchestral stuff he has been doing, he is a genius. But of course obviously in electronic music, my biggest inspiration was and is probably Armin Van Buren, because we are close in sound and that’s why we connect so much. That’s why he probably pushed me so much to this level. Without his help I would have not been here.
Do you have a way that you strive to differ yourself from other EDM artists and DJs? Anything that sets you apart?
Definitely. I’m still trying to keep the melodies and I’m not focusing on the big drops. My thing is that I’m trying to combine both styles, house and trance music, or EDM and trance music, whatever you want to call them, and keep it in the middle, and try to bring people on a journey. Starting my set with more banging tracks, more housey stuff, and ending up with more melodies and euphoric type of stuff. But of course what defines me is my sound music that I produce and you can obviously hear it and a lot people tell me like, if I’ve listen to a new track and someone says I would definitely recognize your sound. That’s basically it.
Do you have like one signature sound that you play and mix into your entire set?
It's not one particular sound. We’re not talking about specific sounds that are in there. We are talking about how the track sounds like. So obviously each producer has its own way to produce music. It has its own presets. Its own way to make the songs, the structure, the sounds. And during the year you evolve with this and at some point other people can recognize it. The way your track sounds. That’s basically what I am talking about.
Have you ever met an artist that you really admire and been star struck?
Each one of them that I met, I’ve been admiring, mostly in trance music. Starting with guys like Gareth Emery, Armin Van Buren, Above and Beyond. I mean for me, those guys were legends way before I started doing all this. I’ve been sitting in my room trying to produce something. Listening to their radio shows, watching their live broadcasts from festivals and stuff like that. I’ve been in the crowd, dancing to their music. I was a kid and they were coming to my country, and I would be in the crowd. I’ve been to so many shows in my country. Above and Beyond, like two or three times. Mark Schultz, Tiesto. So I’ve been in the crowd. So when I got to meet them, it was absolutely incredible for me. It was just crazy.
We obviously know you are good at producing music.. Do you have something other than music that you consider yourself really good at?
Ah, I don’t think so. I mean, the music is everything for me. That is the best what I can do. I used to draw when I was in school. So I can’t say I’m good at it, but I can draw some things. I’m not bad at it. I can play ping pong pretty well.
What is something you are bad at?
Something that I’m bad at, singing. Ha ha.
Is that why you chose to be a DJ?
Yeah, or, I’m not that good at other sports. Even though I played basketball, football in school. But never got to a level where I could do something with it.
Where have you not been that you would like to go, both for music and just because?
In terms of a country, I have never been to Japan so that is my first destination that I really want to go and play there. I have been all around Japan and I know the crowd over there is amazing, so I would love to go there.
Do you have a place that you say you’ve been entirely too much, other than home?
Vegas. Definitely, I have my residency at Marquis and we did around 14 show this year. It is probably my most visited destination over the year. And hopefully I am going to do the same thing next year.
What US festivals have you played and what is your favorite to play?
Well I played a lot of them, I can’t even remember all of the names. But my favorite is definitely EDC, and specifically EDC Las Vegas. It was probably one of the best shows I’ve done this year. I’ve got my whole team with me. We’ve prepared all these special visuals and it was just perfect. Everything went just perfect. For an hour I felt like I was in heaven.
Have you played all the EDCs? Like New York, Orlando?
New York and Vegas this year. I didn’t do Orlando this year. I did Orlando the year before.
If you had one goal to accomplish in your music career, what would it be?
Well, probably it’s in between winning a Grammy and having my own personal big show. The way I want it… with my visuals, with maybe vocals, special things, special effects. We are already doing some specific visuals of me getting into a robot, getting out of a robot. And something different from what other people do. Just like some things like pretty cheap things. I’m really into visual things. I’m working with a guy, so spending a lot of time with him, trying to make everything perfect. That’s what we are working on now, for the next year, for start with maybe a little show that which hopefully will grow into something big. You know, maybe something crazy, like my own personal show.
interview and photos by Rebecca Reece- fully copyrighted.