“Some parts of the album were originally written during sad times as my wife and I lost a very good friend and her daughter in 2016” – Chicola

There’s a certain robust and hearty feeling when one of Tel Aviv’s now famous music maker walks in on you. Booming off an enormous amount of warmth and gentility, this big guy translates in to the one and only Chicola. With releases coming hot and fast on gigantic electronic dance music labels such as Lost & Found, Sudbeat, Tenampa, Plattenbank to name some, there’s been a simultaneous rush around the globe playing to crowds in Argentina, India, Amsterdam to even his home town, all bears well for this all round good guy whose music though happens to be sensitive and melodious, yet he can play out a mean Techy set if the setting warrants it.

I got the chance to chat up with Chicola and get his thoughts on how his three tracks from the album – “Could Heaven Be” released on Guy J’s label Lost & Found in 2017, get another outing, only this time with three very talented musicians of the dance music scene rearing their heads out with reinterpretations of his original work that are steeped in emotion and memories of another day. We also talk about his current favourite records, how he likes to chill when not travelling the world and also his gig schedule for the near future.

Hey there, thanks for chatting with us at Decoded, first things first, you must be excited about your album tracks being remixed by a pool of very talented guys which sees a release on friend and long-time supporter Guy J’s label – and he is quick with his enthusiasm to share – “Hey Priya, thank you for having me; I am really excited about this project. The remixes are amazing, each artist has been able to create a beautiful interpretation and the feedback has been absolutely incredible as well”. At this point I’d very much like to know the mind space you were in when you made – “Could Heaven Be”, the entire album speaks of many emotions and so do the tracks chosen to be re-written along-side the title tune are – “If He Thought You Ever Changed Your Mind”, and “Velvet Afternoon”, and why these three in particular and Chicola dives deep in to his thoughts and shares with me bittersweet rumblings of –

“Some parts of the album were originally written during sad times as my wife and I lost a very good friend and her daughter in 2016. This tragic event had a huge impact on our lives and there are some tracks on the album that were tied very closely to those events with ‘Could Heaven Be’ and ‘If He Thought You Ever Changed Your Mind’ being part of them. It also just seemed appropriate that this be the title when the final track list had been solidified.

When I sent the tracks to Johannes Brecht, Karmon & Ruede Hagelstein I tried not to tell the story behind the tracks as I wanted them to approach the project from a neutral place. It was only after I heard the remix Johannes Brecht made that I wrote him the story and he was very touched by it”.

For the most part all the reworks keep bucketful of the originals in its core, yet there’s vivid and obvious changes in the treatments up for grabs with its sub aquatic landscapes doused in emotive motifs and techy edges that peek-a-boo here and there, he adds at my query as to why the label zeroed in on these three particularly, Ruede Hagelstein, Johannes Brecht and Karmon to provide the remixes – “Guy J and I really like Johannes Brecht, Karmon & Ruede Hagelstein. I actually play a lot of their music in my DJ sets so it was a great honour to have them on board. They are very talented producers and they have made outstanding remixes, we got amazing feedback from so many different DJ’s, Adriatique, Patrice Baumel, Danny Tenaglia, Kollektive Turmstrasse, Kolsch, John Digweed and many more all had wonderful things to say about the release”.

Here’s a man who keeps himself super-efficient and busy by always sitting at the production den and even burning the midnight oil and his words reflect my thoughts when I ask him what projects he is working on currently and he say’s – “I am actually working on new music all the time, a big part of my DJ sets are my original tracks, most of which have never been released and now I am working on a few new projects with great labels to be released in the near future”. Take also for example a super busy gig schedule has him flying around the globe and it’s no surprise when he joyously remarks at a couple of shows up for special mention –

“I just arrived back from a great weekend playing on a boat with Guy J in Budapest for the HiFly guys… It’s our 2nd year together doing that and it was amazing, the crowd is one of the best in Europe and Akos is doing amazing production so each year Guy and I are so excited and make lots of new music specifically for that event. It’s on the beautiful Danube Lake and the journey we experience together with the crowd is so beautiful”.

He goes on to fill me in with his breathless travelling that included – “I also played a few weeks ago in Rosario, Argentina and that was one of the biggest sets I’ve ever had. The crowd in Argentina is one of a kind and the production from Nico and from LadoB is crazy; the sound, the lights, the decoration, definitely one of the best events I’ve played”.

Having covered the most important bits, I am excited to ask one of my favourite questions and goad him to reveal his favourite machines back in the studio, the ones he loves the most and Chico is matter of fact and has simple taste but his choice of equipment is big and gutsy, case in point – “My favourite synth at the moment is the Poly Evolver from Dave Smith, it’s an Analog Synth and they recently decided to discontinue it because the parts are so expensive, I don’t think there is anything like it in terms of the crazy sound that it creates. It’s a one of a kind piece of gear for me”.

Tastes change rapidly as personality phases and so doe’s records in the bag, here are his top ten tracks of the summer, these are the ones I would find in his bag if I were to be digging around there –

Eli Nissan – Naked [Unreleased]
Cornucopia – Big Sky [microCastle]
Chicola – Mandragora [Unreleased]
Guy Mantzur – Tremolo Man [Unreleased]
Roy Rosenfeld – Fingerprints [Unreleased]
Chicola – If He Thought You Ever Changed Your Mind (Johannes Brecht Remix) [Lost & Found]
Khen – Changing Hotels [Unreleased]
Chicola – Velvet Afternoon (Karmon Remix) [Lost & Found]
Stereo Underground – Mind Hunter [Unreleased]
Chicola – Could Heaven Be (Ruede Hagelstein Remix) [Lost & Found]

I found out many moons and moods ago that Chicola has a duality in his musicality, jumping from silvery textures to edgier Techy tones, but do I see a surprise when I ask him what his first ever record was and it’s only the best for him when he quips back with – “It was a Michael Jackson vinly titled – ‘Thriller’. It’s unfortunate and sad that I lost the record during one of my moves”. Apart from time spent on music and all that goes along with it, how does he like to chill and Chicola’s buddies names come up like thousand watt bulbs, these boys are easily entwined with each other’s life even in fun –

“I like to play squash with the boys, me and Yariv (Stereo Underground) are playing almost every Friday morning and sometimes Sahar Z and Guy Mantzur join us as well. I also like to hang out with my son and daughter a lot which can sometimes lead to us jamming in the studio together for a whole day”.

Here’s the last one to head off with and I can’t help but ask him to share where his fans can find him at in the near future doing what he does best and he smiles ruddily by giving us a low down – “I’ll be heading down to Australia for my tour with gigs in Sydney, Melbourne and the beautiful island New Caledonia located in new Australia and New Zealand” .

Chicola’s new EP is out now on Guy J’s Lost & Found Records

About the author

Priya is based out of Mumbai and is a DJ/Producer plus contributor to Decoded Magazine, plus hosts her own monthly radio shows in multiple music channels internationally.