LA born, Berlin-based Galestian has a lot riding for him at the moment. The opening track to his forthcoming release on Perspectives Digital – a 3-track EP that includes remixes from Ian O’Donovan and Fat Sushi – is a an excellent example of an artist coming into his own, an impactful club track containing emotive arpeggios and heart-on-the-sleeve strings. We sat down with him ahead of its release to find out more about his background, and what he has in store for the future.
Hey, great to meet you! Summer is nearly here – are you a summer person? Do you like the sun and warm weather?
Hey there! I’m quite adaptable, as I’ve learned through my travels. I do just as well in the freezing cold as the humid heat, though I would ideally prefer temperatures no more than 27°C. I think the mind stays sharpest around 16-17°C, which I can certainly appreciate!
How did you get into dance music in LA? Was it hard to find with hip- hop being so popular?
I got into dance music just as Napster and file-sharing services like that were coming up in the late ‘90s/early 2000s. This exposed me to a variety of scenes from around the world and I almost immediately fell in love when I heard electronic music. It wasn’t so big in LA around that time, but it was huge in Europe and I would spend most of my free time finding new music that was coming out of countries like the UK, The Netherlands, and Germany.
Even though I’m from LA, I never really got into hip-hop. Most of the music I became a fan of growing up was grunge and rock before I came across electronic music – which I was listening to for years before I could even get into clubs legally. California did have a burgeoning rave scene though, so I found myself going to a lot of raves (later called “music festivals”) to catch my favourite artists – most of whom were flying in from overseas.
How did your taste and style change when you got to Berlin?
I would say quite a bit. One of the best nights I’ve had in Berlin was at Steyoyoke’s label party, celebrating their seventh year at Ritter Butzke. It was one of the best damn nights I’ve had in a long time. Seeing all of those people going absolutely insane to techno with the label’s distinct, melancholy melodies was really something special. A lot of artists I’ve been following for a long time never make it to the US, and seeing them play live gives you a different context for the music that’s born here.
I’ve started leaning much more towards a blend of progressive and techno. I absolutely love it.
What gear do you use – do you care about the tools of your trade?
To cater to my nomadic disposition, I try to keep as slim a profile as possible. Everything I do is “in the box” and I prefer to keep it that way. I sold off most of my hardware gear before leaving LA. My primary tools of the trade are a laptop with Ableton Live, portable MIDI controller, 2 headphones, and my mini Genelecs that I travel with.
Shameless plug? You can find out more about how make music on the road at nomadicproducers.com.
Are you always out partying in Berlin, hanging with other musicians? Is there a community like that?
Ironically, I’m in the party capital of the world when it comes to electronic music, but I’m not partying so much. If I’d been here 10 years ago, I’d probably have lost my mind, but now I’m more focused here than anywhere else in the world I’ve been.
I’m definitely hanging out with other musicians! When I first moved here, I was fortunate enough to meet a group of songwriters and musicians who lived in a music studio co-op. I lived there for a while, and that played a huge role in me deciding to stay in Berlin. Such a great group of people that I’m super thankful for meeting.
Seems like 90% of the people I’ve met here so far are also creatives and musicians from outside of Berlin. I feel a strong sense of support and a feeling of community here.
Can you ever see yourself going back to LA? Why did you leave in the first place?
That’s a hard one to answer. The only reason I’d really consider going back is that my family and childhood friends are still in LA. Aside from that, I don’t see a reason to go back. I’m not sure I fully agree with the lifestyle in LA, either.
From my experience, LA is great for hip-hop, EDM, and pop, and yes there are many pockets for underground parties there – but underground electronic music is taken very seriously here. You’d have to look very hard to find a hip-hop, EDM, or top 40 club in Berlin – techno clubs, even deep house, these are the norm. I can’t think of anywhere else in the world where it’s like that.
I left LA because traveling the world was something I’d always wanted to do. I first set off for Asia, where I lived for a few years, but now that I’m here in Berlin, it feels like home in a lot of ways – mostly to do with the music. There’s nowhere else I can think of that has a healthier, more thriving electronic music scene than Berlin.
If that changes down the line, then maybe I’d reconsider living here. But for now, this is where my musical home is. At the end of the day, you’ve just got to follow your intuition.
Tell us as about your new EP on Perspectives Digital – what inspired it?
This EP was one of the first ones that I began working on within several months of moving here. The “Berlin sound” certainly did influence me, and I couldn’t help but give it my own spin. “Alles klar” in German literally means “everything is clear” but more loosely translates to “all right” or “everything is okay.” And, well, that’s the feeling I had when I was writing this song. It’s a common phrase you hear in conversations and I felt that it was also a fitting name to give to the song.
With Fat Sushi and Ian O’Donovan deciding to remix the record, it has really shaped the direction I’d like to take my sound from here. They did a stellar job. Thanks, guys!
Are your productions and DJ sets closely related? Do you make the tunes you want to play?
Often they are, other times they’re not. Sometimes I make music solely for the sake of enjoyment, allowing the creative process to go where it wants to go. To make music solely for my sets, I’d have to impose some more restrictions so that the music I make would “fit in” with other songs in the set. I enjoy both approaches, but I often make music that I know I’d never play live – or music I’d only play in radio sets.
What hobbies do you have away from music? How do you like to relax?
I’m pretty adamant about fitness and living a healthy lifestyle. I love going to the gym, finding new exercise routines, hiking (wherever possible), spending time outdoors. I’m always learning about something new – whether it’s in music or another field. Traveling is a big passion of mine, though I’ve calmed down a bit on that since moving here. I generally like to relax with friends at a cafe or read books.
What else have you got coming up or are you working on this year?
This year, I have a ton of music coming out. Most of the music being released this year was actually written last year, before I moved to Berlin. So I’m essentially working on music for 2020 right now.
I’ll be playing at ADE (Amsterdam Dance Event) this year at the Perspectives Digital label party, so I’m really excited about that. It’s been great working with Darin Epsilon and taking on management duties at the label recently, so there’s tons to look forward to.
I’ll also be releasing a collaboration with one of my own music idols since the ‘90s – someone who I can give a lot of credit for getting me into this music in the first place. It’s really an honor and a joy to work on a project like this. It’s slated for a July release, which I can’t reveal just yet, but keep an eye out on my socials to find out who I’ve been working with.