Known for his releases on Above & Beyond’s Anjunadeep and Anjunabeats labels — as well as others like Spinnin Records, Armada, Ministry of Sound, and Toolroom Records — Maor Levi has established himself as one of the most exciting and diverse DJ/producers on the scene. Hailing from Israel and now also based in Los Angeles, Maor has toured and collaborated with the likes of Tiësto, BT, Armin Van Buuren, and others, including his good friend Ilan Bluestone. His work as both a solo artist and a member of four-man producer supergroup Bad Royale (signed to Mad Decent) has spanned and blended trance, house, dubstep, jungle, trap and more. We caught up with Maor in his LA home to discuss recent releases, touring, and how ROLI helps him create.
What are you up to at the moment?
I’m here in LA working on a lot of new records for my other project Bad Royale and also some more stuff for Anjunabeats under my Maor Levi solo project. I have been traveling a lot, finally got home recently.
You recently released two killer tracks, “Universal” & “Made Of Fire”. Can you tell us about what inspired those?
I’ve been with Anjunabeats for a while but always kept my quality control in check, so I decided to come back with a bang. Those tracks are pretty much me trying to come up with a new sound that I haven’t really done before, more groove-based. “Made Of Fire” was actually sent to me by the vocalist Mangal Suvarnan, who sings on that track. The original track itself was very mainstream and radio friendly. I decided to add a trancey vibe because I felt the melody was more suited to trance than a radio record. I recomposed the whole thing and just used the vocals. It turned out to be an Anjunabeats piece.
Any memories from performing or traveling that stick out in your mind as highlights?
We went to Trinidad for a music conference a week ago. The vibe there was crazy to see…this brand new culture that’s so different from the American culture when it comes to music. It was refreshing and inspiring when it comes to writing.
Do you have a preference when it comes to what kind of shows you do, big festivals compared to clubs?
That’s a hard question, I like both. You can’t really deny the amazing energy you have at a festival with tons of people screaming and loving your music. But at the end of the day, I would definitely prefer to play at more intimate clubs, when it’s really packed and sweaty. Those are the best parties.
Do you recall the first experience that made you want to start creating music?
It was when I was 13. My mom installed the internet in our house and I discovered Tiësto. I used to listen to his compilations – Space Age 1.0 and Space Age 2.0 when he was in his trance phase. I was like, ‘I wanna know how they make this stuff’, so I started learning on my own and well, here I am.
What has the Seaboard RISE done for your creation process?
I was watching the videos and teasers before it came out and I was like ‘I need one of these in my life.’ When I finally got mine, my mind was blown by the feeling of the Seaboard. I’m actually using Equator now as a VST in a lot of my projects. I feel like this is opening new worlds for me when it comes to sound design. I’m really into sound design, and I’ve been doing FM synths for a while. But this is a whole new experience for me, how you can map the keyboard to do a million things. It’s been very helpful. The atmosphere you hear in my tracks now, you should know where it’s coming from – it’s coming from Equator. I record it live, because that’s how you get the real power of the RISE.
Equator and the Seaboard are a really great combo. It’s my go-to now in every track when I need a cool atmosphere. When I need plucked strings or an unusual instrument that will stand out, ROLI is there for me as well.
What sounds in Equator do you enjoy using?
My favorite preset is so far is the ‘Worlds Apart Pluck’. Wash it with a lot of reverb and it sounds insane. Everyone that knows my music knows I’m really into atmosphere and texture. Using Equator has made it a lot easier to come up with glassy pad sounds.
Are there any other plugins that you have used with the Seaboard RISE?
I use basic plugins, BFD and Serum. I use Serum a lot, it’s my secondary synth. A majority of my productions are sample-based. I’m very into resampling and doing strange stuff with samples. But generally, you could say I’m pretty straightforward when it comes to my workflow.
Any songs released that were made with the Seaboard RISE?
“Universal” was actually finalized with the RISE. The atmosphere and the breakdown is all from the Seaboard and Equator. That was the ‘Worlds Apart Pluck’ preset. I used the RISE on the second track on that EP called “Returning” for trancey goodness. The EP drops December 16th.
What other tools are in your typical production setup?
I have two studios. The one here in LA is very basic but it does the trick. Back in Israel I have a bigger studio but again, it’s nothing crazy. My tools here are two focal speakers (Focal Solo 6), the RISE, a good sound card and the rest is just in your hands, in your DAW. I’m really excited to create with BLOCKS as well! They’re incredibly fun and I believe they’re revolutionizing music creation.
I use FL Studio as a DAW. It’s all about your own knowledge and how you apply it with the tools you use.
What are your thoughts on how electronic music has developed over the years and where it is going?
Considering I’m a bit “old school”, I can definitely say it’s a lot easier today to make electronic music and get it out there. Back in the day, you had to send out a CD and pray someone would actually check your demo. There are obviously some parts that I don’t like about the industry now. The mainstream is oversaturated and you hear a lot of recycled sounds. But there’s a lot of talent and newcomers who are forward thinking, ahead of the game. So there have been good changes and bad changes. But these days, it’s just so accessible and easy to make music.
What else can we look out for from you?
I have a lot of Bad Royale stuff coming up. We recently landed an official remix for Rihanna and another remix for Martin Garrix. And a lot of new singles upcoming on Mad Decent. We’ve just been working and traveling like crazy. I have a lot of shows coming as well as a bunch of festivals. The best way to keep up to date is to check out my Facebook.
Follow Maor on Facebook and Twitter