Everyone knows Astrix, it seems, but very few people really know the person behind that name. With a new album just released we went to visit Astrix’s studio as we wanted to learn a little bit about who is Avi Shmailov, what drives him and what he feels about trance and partying. We met a “big star” who is actually a very humble and quite a shy person; Someone that performs on the biggest stages and has a facebook following of almost a million people, and is actually a very private person; A true artist in his core; And a real psytrance lover.

Q: What is the meaning of this studio in your life?

A: The studio for me is like a channel. It interprets thoughts and feelings into sound. I spend most of my time in the studio. It’s my safe area. My beating heart, if you like. If for some reason I can’t work in the studio, my life is not the same  

Astrix in his safe area

Q: Tell us about your latest creation here, your new album? 

A: The album is called “He.art”. I worked on it very hard and it was a long process. I gave a lot of thought to and attention to the way I was creating the music. I tried to bring into my creative process the same energy that was there when I only started. That’s hard, I’m in a different place now in my life, a lot of time passed, I changed, I’m more experienced and less naive. So I gave much more space and attention to the process in which the music was written, both of the technical and spiritual level – I had small ceremonies in the studio before starting a session, combined my work on music with painting, drawing & sculpting. The whole experience for me was very profound, and I hope it is felt in the music, but that is not for me to judge.

Listen to the full album:

Q: How is it different from your last album, “Red Means Distortion”?

A: I made it in a very different way. I must say that today I don’t really connect to the last album. I’m always touring endlessly and much of that album was written on the road. There was not enough space left for creation. The new album, as I mentioned before, is in a way the outcome of that experience. Trying to go back to my roots with my creative process. I worked at nights, when the world is quieter and you have much more space, there’s less noise in your life, a time when you can disconnect from The Internet, the media, the web. During the night there’s a different connection between you and the universe around you. It affects the way you write music (or any other kind of art) deeply.

Q: The cover is amazing – who made it and how was it chosen?

A: I made the cover myself together with a very talented Brazilian artist called Ivanhoé Lewandowski, it was a very long process of a creative ping pong that happened in paralell to writing the music. The cover kept changing. It started very different than what it is now. It was actually finalized when the music on the album was finalized. I have all the sketches on my computer. I will probably publish them at some point, so people can see and feel the process.

Q: You said you don’t like the last album so much, are there tracks from your past you really hate?

A: I don’t think I can use the word hate. It’s more a matter of connecting or not. Even when I get to listen to the first tracks I ever released (not that it happens much), I don’t hate them. They mainly make me laugh. But even in some of them I can sometimes finds parts I can appreciate.

Q: what is trance for you? 

A: That’s a short but very big question. I think I would say that it is a language that all people of the world can understand (maybe even people from other worlds, he laughs…) and that connects people in a very deep and primal level. There’s something very open and very accepting about trance music, it can incorporate anything into it. It’s music that connects people on another level. You can’t compare what happens in a trance festival to what happens in a jazz festival in that aspect, for example.

Get in trance with “He.Art” full album mix:

Q: What were your strongest gigs in the last year?

A: Ozora festival was one of them, for sure. It was a magical experience and a very special set and the connection that I felt with the crowd was very strong. EDC Vegas was also very strong experience – it’s HUGE and the crowd really loved it. I really enjoyed Psy-Fi Festival in Holland, a very special festival. AgeHa in Tokyo is always a winner, and it was a great gig. And of course, ending the year and starting a new one in Universo Paralello in Brazil was amazing. 

Get a taste of Astrix`s set @ Ozora 2015:

Q: How do you deal with fans? With being famous? 

A: It’s not always convenient to be famous and recognizable, but I will always do my best to interact with the people who love my music and especially those who come and dance to it. For me it’s one of the important parts of what I do. I always try to go down into the dancefloor after my sets. It’s great to connect with people from all over the world, hear what they feel and think about my music. Get to know them a bit more than just a jumping head in the crowd. I actually made some friends I kept in touch with like that over the years.

Q: Future plans? 

A: There are quite a few collaboration track in the pipeline, including tracks with Tristan, Avalon, Ajja, Raja Ram, Magik and Burn In Noise. Also maybe one of the important things that happened in my musical life, a collaboration with Shpongle for the next Shpongle album. I’m a die hard Shpongle fan!
And then there’s Alpha Portal, which is a new project from Ace Ventura and myself, can be described best maybe as full psychedelic trance experience. We’re trying to add another dimension with this project, as the name suggests. An first album is already under construction and you can look for us on the summer festivals.