While the world was busy putting the distinct hallmarks of trance and progressive house into boxes, young Russian stalwart Arty worked tirelessly to balance their outspoken energy. But scoped in his industrious infancy by Anjunabeats and propelled forward by subsequent releases for Axtone, Refune, and Armada, Artem Stolyarov’s considerable youth has not hindered his attempts to make an indelible mark on the airwaves and global club circuit alike.
Back on track for Big Beat Records with the long-awaited vocal cut “Together We Are” while relishing the freedom to execute his similarly named radio show for SiriusXM, Arty’s 2013 began in a proactive vein. With news of forthcoming singles for Anjunabeats, Ministry of Sound, and a further collaborative effort alongside Armin Van Buuren on the cards, and there is little doubt that Arty is set to take 2013 on his own uplifting terms. Beatport News sat down with him to discuss his unprecedented uprising and his uplifting vocal offering alongside Chris James.
2012 saw a lot of air miles clocked but a significant lack of original releases from you. Is it fair to say that you look to reshuffle your approach now that we are well into the new year?
Last year was very much about touring across the globe and trying new places and festivals. As a result, I wasn’t happy with what happened in terms of my releases—there simply weren’t enough. I already like 2013 a lot more because the tracks that should have been emerging last year are finally seeing the light of day. That isn’t to say last year wasn’t incredible, though. There were so many huge festivals and such crazy shows in Europe and Asia. While it was a crazy fight against jet lag and just how far you can push not sleeping properly, I learned a lot about myself and what I want professionally, so I am hoping this year will run smoothly.
You are one of the many artists who have been forced to make the transition from intimate clubs to full-fledged global festivals in an almost overnight maneuver. Was the transition a relatively painless one?
The club-to-festival transition is not hard because most of the people at these bigger shows are the same people who would come and find you in a club, so it is just the venue and size that changes; the enthusiasm is very much familiar. Granted, the club shows are a lot more intimate and the music can really breathe there, but both clubs and festivals are needed to make the bigger picture. That being said, after a summer of festivals, it is really nice to return to the smaller club shows.
Russia has seen its fair share of breakthroughs over the past several years. Was breaking the industry seal in a country once seldom associated with electronic music a considerably hard task for you?
If I am honest, it really wasn’t easy for me in beginning. Even the internet was shit in my town, so it wasn’t until the town perked up its connectivity that I was able to finally start doing my homework and connecting with labels. Now everything has changed. The scene is overloaded with new artists and it is so easy to release a track due to the sheer amount of labels. In that sense, it is easy to get lost in the industry space. My belief is that good music is simply good music and people will always react to that and give you the credit you deserve.
In light of your own balance of euphoric trance and uplifting progressive house, do you believe that the genre boundaries there to be followed or challenged?
Once the audience has been established, I think the type of music you play or label yourself with is irrelevant. Granted, you can’t make crazy and untrue jumps as far as your sound and ethos are concerned. Too much difference scares people, but in terms of progressive house and trance it is a fairly natural and rewarding balance of sounds. Even guys like Porter [Robinson] have embraced it. These styles merge back and forth and I think it is the constant shifts that frustrate people. Now, however, people are more open-minded and it is more acceptable to try something new. Quality is the real key in my music; the name means very little to me.
Your own approach to the industry is pretty hands-on for someone so young. Do you think it is possible to just be a DJ or producer these days?
If you want to have Beatport chart success and headline music festivals, you have to be the complete package in this industry. That includes maintaining successful social-media platforms, having a radio show, your own label, as well as always being visible in the right places. It takes a lot of time, and I am not saying you can’t just do one or the other, but the successful guys have 360-degree control. We are past the parent-like understanding of everyone in this industry being “just a DJ.” It is now a business that is always ticking and offering new opportunities.
Given the flourishing tour schedule, has the balance between producing and touring been a tough one, or are you one of these artists who can produce effectively on the road?
Producing on the road is real tricky. I find it easier to produce at home because the people you love are on hand, and it makes the work-and-pleasure balance much easier. On the road you are mainly faced with hotels. When you aren’t playing, you are sleeping, eating, or flying—neither of which are particularly inspiring scenarios. When I need to produce on the road, I can, because I keep the same setup and plugins wherever possible, but the inspiration points that surround you are an essential aspect of a successful track.
Almost one year since its instrumental premier, “Together We Are” emerges with the vocal assets of Chris James. Talk us through the hang time in its release and why Chris was the man for the job?
There was a huge wait for this track, quite simply because I felt so much love for it that I couldn’t let it go until it was perfect. I really wanted that seamless vocal that would follow the melody without ruining the track. Even the best vocalist can mess up a groundbreaking track, so I approached the vocal version knowing full well there was a lot of pressure to find someone who could deliver. I met Chris’ manager and I really felt like Chris could be the guy who made this track come to life. He has this amazing vocal range and falls well away from the safe pop sound, giving everything a huge alternative twist. I sent them the track and within a week I received it back, perfectly recorded. It may have taken some extra time, but I hope people agree when they hear it that it was worth the wait.
Your radio show takes a far more eclectic approach to that of the similarly titled single. What was your motivation for embracing the radio platform?
At the start of it, the radio show was just a tool to gain extra promotion for my music. We got a cool slot on SiriusXM and now it has become an additional persona to Arty. Now there is Arty who plays live and Arty who plays on the radio. Together We Are allows me to play things I wouldn’t normally play live, which is very liberating and allows me to reach out to new audiences on a global scale. With the radio, there are less rules, so I can drop anything from dubstep to trance without jeopardizing anything.
You have dealt with some impressively diverse imprints to date. Do you make music with a label in mind, or simply let it fall into the right hands at the end of the process?
I love releasing for guys like Anjunabeats, but tracks like “Together We Are” simply aren’t right for them, and I respect that. That being said, it was good to see Armin Van Buuren playing it on his A State of Trance radio show, so that was a good indicator that I hadn’t gone too cheesy or poppy. Right now I don’t feel like I write to fit a specific label—I write a song and the label finds it naturally. At the end of the day, it is about what works for the track. At the end of the day, the label needs to be working as hard for the track as I did making it. Everyone I have released with to date has met that enthusiasm, so it makes returning very easy indeed.
The explosion of electronic music has come with a fair amount of criticism. Do you pay much attention to the web and what people have to say about your developments?
The politics and backstabbing are just a part of entertainment, full stop, never mind dance music. Sometimes the fans’ loyalty is completely overwhelming, but on other occasions people can be found scrapping your name and what you do on forums and blogs, so I think you just have to discredit the personal touch of it. People have their voices and their thoughts and it is so easy for people to get those out there now on the internet, so of course they are going to do so. The only interaction I care about is with those guys in the front row of the shows—the guys that travel miles to see me and let their actions throughout the night do all the talking. These are the people that really matter.
Given your pledge to release more music for 2013, what can we look forward to over the coming months?
“Together We Are” finally drops this month, with some amazing remixers with very unique sounds. My next single for Anjunabeats, “Believe In Me,” will drop on their forthcoming compilation and then receive a formal release, followed by my single “Grand Finale” for Ministry of Sound in April/May. I am pleased to be able to confirm that I will be dropping my collaboration with Armin Van Buuren. This was a huge honor and a really proud moment for my career to date.
photo via Bleedhouse