Moments. Those moments when you lose yourself entirely in time and space…when you meet some of the best friends that you will ever have throughout your entire life…when you make memories that you’ll cherish forever. There aren’t many artists in the world who can create those moments in music, but Guy Mantzur has built an incredibly successful career out of doing exactly that. Whether it’s through one of his immaculately honed DJ sets, or one of his incredibly intense, intricately crafted productions, Guy Mantzur is a master of taking you on an emotional journey of such depth and density that it will leave an indelible mark on your soul.
It’s exactly that soul and that spirituality that marks Mantzur out from so many of his contemporaries, and that has enabled him to carve out a totally unique signature sound. Tireless in his pursuit of excellence, his renowned work ethic is certainly serving him well; his endless dedication to his craft and devotion to his worldwide legion of loyal fans has seen his star shine and soar stratospherically in recent years. Both his debut artist album, ‘Moments’, plus last year’s collaboration with Sahar Z on Guy J’s Lost & Found label, ‘Time’, were universally adored by critics, fellow artists and music lovers alike; his relentlessly packed touring schedule leaves you convinced that he must be an actual vampire to deal with the lack of sleep; while he effortlessly switches between DJing, touring, producing, championing his fellow artists and releasing some of the best music that the underground scene has to offer through his label Plattenbank. Most mere mortals would buckle under the pressure; and yet Mantzur does it all with an effervescent grace, an ever-present smile, and a warmth that shines on everything he does like the sun in his native Tel Aviv.
With the man of the moment about to return to London as part of the Sudbeat showcase at The Gallery, Ministry of Sound on Friday 14th August, Lucy Blair set out to talk studio secrets, making musical magic, future directions and what drives this Guy…
Hi Guy, thanks for talking to me today! I want to start by going back in time to the start of your career – you’ve mentioned in previous interviews that you started out making music by playing the piano and guitar, before starting to make chill-out tracks and then moving into house music. How would you define your sound now, and describe its evolution over the years?
Hey Lucy, thanks for having me here! My honest feeling is that I am first of all a musician, then a DJ / producer; the fact that I started with piano, guitar, writing songs and so on, and then started working with electronic elements later on, is something that makes me look at being a musician and an artist in a different way.
As for defining my sound – it’s just a reflection of who I am and who I was. It has all of the passion for techno dry beats and the love of warm musical melodies that have been part of me all my life.
When you’re producing, what excites you? The pure, raw emotion of your tracks is always what makes them stand out to me; how do you go about imbuing your music with that sheer intensity of feeling?
Thanks for your kind words :) Over the years I’ve found that there are lots of things that excite me when I’m producing; it can be specific groove, a chord, a melody or just the vibe of a loop. The most important thing, I’ve found, is that I must have something that will excite me in the track. Sometimes the search for the right chord can be frustrating, but when you find it it’s like a bright light in the dark.
What does your creative process look like when you’re in the studio? Do you have a particular workflow? And what’s your production set-up?
No matter how much I try to have some kind of order, somehow during the flow of the creative process I always find myself doing things in a different way. As I mentioned before, when I find the thing that excites me in the track it all starts to feel brighter. As for the set-up, I love analogue stuff; I have the Poly evolver by Dave Smith, I have the Virus TI, I have Moog Slim Phatty, and some analogue pedals.
Which hat are you most comfortable and happy wearing – DJ, producer, label manager, A&R?
I like them all, and I find that each one of them excites me in a different way; but I can say for sure that if there is one thing I couldn’t live without, it’s writing music.
What made you decide to start working on your label, Plattenbank? What would you say is its unique selling point – what sets it apart from other labels?
Not a lot of people know this, but Plattenbank is something I started back in 2009. I always wanted to have a platform where I could release my own music, and also that of my friends. We started it in the days when there were a lot fewer labels around, and all of our first releases also included vinyl versions. I think that what makes Plattenbank unique is that it is based above all on friendship and sharing music – just like Sudbeat, Lost & Found and some other labels I know.
Last year you released your album with Sahar Z, ‘Time’, and in 2013 your debut artist album, ‘Moments’. What makes a good album, for you?
I think that these days, everything is moving so fast in a very plastic kind of way. A personal artist album is something really important; it can really help the artist to get much closer to his listeners, and open some new parts of his soul that are really hard to open up when you’re making an EP.
As for a good album, I think that if an artist is able to tell their personal story through the album, and touch their fans in a different and stronger way, then that’s what defines a good album.
Speaking of Sahar, you’re part of a real musical family along with him, Guy J, Hernan Cattaneo, Khen, Lonya, Chicola – what exactly is that magical connection that binds you all so closely together?
I believe that the friendship comes before the music; we are good friends who have been involved in each other’s lives in many ways. The music only makes that connection more special. The fact that there is no ego between any of the group, and only good vibes, makes it even stronger.
What have you learned from working and being friends with these guys? What qualities or talents do you most admire in them?
They are all so dedicated in everything they do; every track, every gig and every day. Everything has to be done to the highest possible standard, and being surrounded by that kind of people automatically grows your ambitions.
Why do you think the progressive house scene above all others creates and fosters such close friendships and support amongst its artists and players?
That’s a very good question, and something that I’m noticing more and more. I was asking myself the same thing, and I’m almost sure that it’s the love of emotions and melodies that makes us all come together.
You’ll be playing at the Sudbeat label showcase at Ministry of Sound in London on 14th August; Sudbeat is of course a second home to you, what is it that makes it so special?
For sure Sudbeat is my home, and it’s the label that I have released most of my tracks on, and I’m so thankful for that. I think that what makes Sudbeat special, apart from the amazing music of course, is Hernan Cattaneo. He has this vision of how things should be and sound, and he is such an amazing person to work with. And of course, label manager Graziano Raffa, who joined a bit later on, also put his mastermind to work on Sudbeat – both of them together makes for a winning team, that has made Sudbeat what it is today.
You’ve enjoyed so much success in your career to date, and you’re renowned for your tireless work ethic. So what is it that drives this Guy? Not just in music, but also life, love…?
It’s really hard for me to put my finger on it, but I have some kind of inner drive when it comes to creating and climbing over obstacles. I will take this interview to a bit more of a personal level here, and say that when I was a young child, I never thought that I was a good musician, and now as a grown man I’m still trying to do my best in everything – so that this inner child will be able to breathe peacefully and understand that he is good, and his music is good.
What’s been your proudest musical achievement to date, and why?
I have this thing where I always love the most recent tracks that I’ve made most. As for other things: my ‘Moments’ album and the ‘Time’ album are both something that I’m really proud of. I was happy to be able to bring out my more artistic side in these two projects.
What goals would you like to achieve that you haven’t already, and what’s coming up next for you?
The main goal is to keep doing what I’m doing now, and to keep being fresh for me and for my listeners. I have a few interesting things coming out soon, both solo projects and collaborations, and I can’t wait for everyone to hear them.
You’ve been working in the industry for many years, and seen many changes during that time. Where do you think that this era of streaming, social media, the instant availability of music and the sheer tyranny of choice are taking the dance music industry?
These changes are something that everyone has to adjust to themselves; in order to stay on top of your game you have to not only learn from change, but also to change yourself. At the end of the day, digital distribution gets your music heard by more people and you have more shows because of it. It’s a magic circle, and you just have to be focused all the time and keep on top of the changes.
As a wise man once said – if life gives you lemons, make lemonade :)
Finally, you’re constantly travelling. But where in the world are you happiest: A Guy In…?
I love all of the places I travel to, but it has to be a Guy in Tel Aviv ;) There’s no place like home!
Luckily for us, London is your home this weekend – see you at Ministry of Sound!