Interview by Sofia Raisanen for Keyframe-Entertainment / Evolver EDM Perfect Stranger is the stage name for Israeli based electronic musician Yuli Fershtat. A worldwide traveling producer and DJ, he birthed this creation after using the stage name BLT. He decided to switch it up and emerge into a new world of slower bpm tempo. Evolving around Iboga Records‘ family, he withholds an eclectic knowledge and understanding of Psychedelic Progressive / PsyTech sound frequencies. A conscious and free-spirited soul, he has a background in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs, and loves traveling with his music and connecting with his audience. I reached out to Yuli to discover more about his musical upbringing and inspirations. We talked about BLT and Perfectly Strange fusions, his most rewarding festival experience, his favorite country to perform at, upcoming tours, and the psychedelic culture/conscious movement and how it ties into his music, and more. You’ve immersed yourself in the psychedelic culture since before the 1990s. Tell us about the initial trigger that inspired you to create Psychedelic Trance / Progressive Psytrance soundscapes. Who or what inspires you to follow this profound path in your creative process?
I was familiar with Goa trance before, but I didn’t favor it any more than the Rock n Roll I liked at the time. In the second half of 1992, I went backpacking in India. The crescendo of those 6 months in Goa turned me onto psychedelic electronics and culture. The trigger that inspired me to make music came much later. It’s more of a Forrest Gump story than a psychedelic adventure. On my birthday in February 1997, three of my best friends at the time gave me a check to purchase a synthesizer. They thought I should make this music. I merely obeyed their wish, and look what happened. My creative process was mainly fueled by the need to go into the studio and write music. On top of that, there are my daily life experiences, my musical life experiences, and what I want to promote within my music. I have a certain calling in my life and what I do has both a reason and value.
Tell us about your initial project BLT, and your move into Perfect Stranger. What are the tactics behind Perfect Stranger’s highly psychedelic yet tribal channelings through aural frequencies?
I had classical piano training and a more recent guitar obsession, but I had no clue about electronic music. It took me time to understand what the hell I was getting myself into. To my surprise, after releasing everything I’d been making over a period of 9 months received awesome feedback. The only person who thought it was pretty crappy was me (I still think so). I started performing at Israeli underground events by 2000. I had built up a name and reputation as a veteran with 2 albums behind my belt. The next step was making it outside of the country to play everywhere else. By 2005, I released 2 more albums. My career in Israel was top notch. I beefed up my act and was performing with one of the 3 best drummers in Israeli Rock history: Danni Makov. However, on the international level, it just didn’t happen. I had a gig or two a month, but it was too little.
Moving on to make Perfectly Strange music was something suggested by Michael Abel Larsen, manager of Iboga Records. I was about to quit making musical professionally and go for my other calling, acupuncture and Chinese Herbs. But he asked me why I didn’t just make a few slower tracks for them and see how it goes. I had good relations with Iboga since 2001, and had little to lose, so I said why not. The only tactic was to slow down and make slower Psy music. And I never looked back.
You’ve performed all over the world. Which is your favorite festival and/or country you’ve performed at? What has been the most rewarding festival experience and why? Australia is my favorite country to perform in. My favorite festival, and most rewarding, would probably be Eclipse 2012. There was full total eclipse, I played two unforgettable sets, and I enjoyed heaps of awesome music for a few days. You’ve released countless albums, EPs, and singles since 2006 on Iboga Records, Digital Structures, and Echoes Records to name a few. Your latest album, Leap of Faith, was released in 2012. When can we expect another original release–is 2015 the year? I am a believer in never say never. But I don’t have album plans for the close future. I am releasing music both on my label Digital Structures and others, but an album will not happen soon, if at all. This year I will compile a fat compilation for Iboga Records. They were chasing and bugging me for a good two years to do this, and I played hard to get. But we are ready with this now. I think it’s gonna hit the nail on the head. You’re the owner of Digital Structures Record Label. Tell us about your label, its intentions, and upcoming releases we should be looking out for. What makes your label stand out? Digital Structure’s agenda is to provide solid dance floor material for the new age, where boundaries between different genres have melted. No genres. No definitions. Just good music that hits where it counts. I really dislike genres and boundaries (in my own music). As hard as it makes it in places that prefer defined sounds for selected music genres, I believe in music that is influenced by various genres, that is rich and reaching with its ideas. We have some EPs in the oven and a compilation; hopefully all those will be released by the end of the Spring, as we are a bit late on our schedule. One of the things I learned in my life is that there is no such thing as “late.” It all happens right on time, always. You’ve collaborated with well-respected artists such as Grouch, Captain Hook, Gabi 2B, and Sleek. Tell us about the creative process and why you enjoy collaborating. All the artists you have mentioned were collaborated with as remixes. There is not much of a collaborative effort in doing that, although I personally find making remixes a very interesting process. It is hard yet rewarding. It’s not easy to get into the soul of the original creator and use that material and energy to create something that shines through and speaks in the same frequency. As for collaborations in general, I’ve had more than a few. Captain Hook was one of them, LOUD , Eitan Reiter — we had a lot of works together — Ace Ventura, Liquid Soul, Sphera, Yotopia. After all these years, I think I am more of a lone wolf. I am still waiting for that one awesome partner in music-making to reach new levels of creation and upgrade each other’s frequency. You recently uploaded your set from Boom Festival 2014 and it’s pure magic. It took me on another level I just can’t quite describe. Is there some sort of progression you want to take your listeners on? Because I sure felt it. I don’t know which set you have in mind, as I released two of them (one is Live and more Psy Progressive and the other released la month ago is DJ and more Tech Psy). In any case, the answer is YES. I strive to deliver a journey that takes the listener through the constant of time and delivers various aural pleasures (and displeasures) with a good amount of mood swings, and some drama and humor. I think the better all this is mixed, the more seamless it will flow. It’s like eating out in a Psychedelic Michelin Restaurant. Certain gourmet foods make us salivate and go “what the hell was that I just put in my mouth.” My music makes the more impossible combinations between various tracks create the same feeling. We are in the midst of experiencing a Second Psychedelic Revolution involving electronic music as one of the mediums. Do you feel there is a link between Progressive PsyTrance and Higher Consciousness/Spirituality? Are you aiming for a greater Universal goal with your music/DJ sets through explorations of the self? I believe in upgrading consciousness and raising the frequency level through music presentation, dance, and listening. We live in special times, where change is happening in people’s awareness. It is very important to raise the frequency of the way our minds and hearts work. I am a tool that helps it all happen, and this is why I see my job as my calling. You have a background in Acupuncture and Herbal Therapy. Consciously speaking, what practices do you frequently evolve yourself around in order to keep yourself aligned, clear minded, and flowing on the next level? Unfortunately, I haven’t practiced that for ages. As much as my girlfriend wants me to participate in her daily meditation, I usually prefer to sleep in, or do other things. Music is my meditation really. I do need to step up the amount of time I dedicate to music these days and get away from the Internet that pollutes the next level we talk about. I love running at the gym and hiking in the amazing nature of the Bay Area. I would say I’m totally addicted to that. Any upcoming gigs and tours? Tell us about your next adventures and what you’re excited for most about these future experiences. Off to Australia in couple of days — I have a big month over there in New Zealand and Tasmania! It’s game time in Southern Hemisphere, lots of festivities! I’m super excited about that. After my return I will be going to Israel for a couple of weeks. I haven’t been there for a while and some exciting gigs are waiting for me there too. Life is too hard, really.