In the realm of music, some stories transcend the melodies and rhythms, weaving narratives of resilience, transformation, and unwavering dedication. Siavash‘s journey from growing up amidst the tumultuous landscape of Iran to becoming a revered DJ and producer in Canada is one such extraordinary tale.
In this exclusive interview, we delve deep into Siavash’s life, exploring the adversities he conquered, the boundaries he shattered, and the music that became his voice.
From escaping the ravages of war and navigating the challenges of being raised by deaf parents during the Islamic revolution to carving an indelible mark in the global electronic music scene, Siavash’s path is a testament to the power of perseverance, the fusion of cultures, and the unbreakable bond between an artist and his craft.
Join us as we uncover the layers of Siavash’s story – a journey that embodies the essence of triumph, soul-stirring beats, and an unyielding passion for both life and music.
Can you tell us about your journey from growing up in Iran to becoming a renowned DJ and producer in Canada?
It’s been a constant struggle, but what is the point of life without it? I’ve come to learn that life’s path would be pretty dull without the hardships and adversities to build one’s character. From escaping bombings in Iran to extreme poverty as a refugee in Spain, all the way to pursuing my electronic music passion in the impossible city of Vancouver. It has been all of these hoops that I had to jump that led me to have the determination and drive to become who I am in my scene.
How did your experience of being raised by deaf parents during the Islamic revolution shape your perspective on music and life?
Coming from a country where women and men are forbidden to dance together, raised by parents who have never heard music, and sacrificed a beautiful life they had built for me and my brother’s freedom. It has been my mission to prove to my parents that what they have sacrificed has not been in vain. Now I have made a successful career doing exactly the opposite of what the Islamic law dictates.
As a veteran DJ with over 25 years of experience, how have you seen the electronic music scene evolve over time?
Over the years, I have noticed an exponential surge of attention towards our beloved electronic music culture. In the beginning, I barely met anyone who had a clue about our secret underground world. People would be stunned when I explained what I did and the type of events we took part in. Now not only does everyone know about dance culture but most are in some way involved beyond spectatorship. There is even techno music in toothpaste commercials. Our underground culture has turned into a booming industry where now it’s a massive popularity rat race. There is less focus on the music itself. It is more driven by profits, clout, and stats over community, love, and unity.
Could you describe the unique characteristics of your sound and how it reflects your personality and musical influences?
I grew up in a time when ALL dance trends were new and exciting. Nobody was too cool for any of it so in one night you would hear breaks, then some house, and later some trance, techno, and drum & bass. I have seen all the good genres and subgenres be created and gain popularity. Within my career, I have had years of playing ALL electronic music genres. My goal is to completely avoid boxing myself into one specific style and I believe life gives you all types of textures, and my sound should reflect those gradients. I want my audience to come with me on a life’s journey through music. I can start with 90 bpm downtempo and slowly burn with grooves and rhythms up to the house, tech, and blazing 138 bpm techno by the end. When it comes to musical styles, I’m as eclectic as it gets. I am mindful not to sound like a mixed bag of nonsense; to instead hold a firm distinguishable theme with an identifiable sound behind it all.
Have you always produced this genre of music or have you experienced over time, for instance, producing something more pop or any other completely different genre?
Absolutely, I started in 1993 as a hip-hop fanatic. I am a walking encyclopedia of golden-era hip hop. When I have time for myself you can’t keep me away from Motown and Soul music of the 60, and 70s. Aside from that, I have a little secret technique for inspiration on new dance tunes I write. I tend to start my dance productions by sampling a unique part of one of my favorite early 90s hip hop tracks then transform some part into a housey monster. It works so well for me.
Your sets have been described as “hopeful and deeply therapeutic.” How do you create that emotional connection with your audience?
I never want my audience to experience seeing me looking down at the mixer for 5 hours. I am a firm believer in the fact that great music should be accompanied by an even greater stage presence. With my parents being deaf I have a unique understanding of body language and the power behind it. I’m a natural in non-verbal communication, I do my darn best to connect with my crowd and move them on a deeper level. I understand that a lot of my fans are seeking escape from hardships, divorce, cancer, depression, etc., and it is my honor to provide them with that bit of musical healing we all deserve. I want to guide them into another dimension where time and space is no longer relevant.
What inspired you to start your own record label, You Plus One, and how do you contribute to the musical direction of the label?
I have been seen as an underdog partly because Canada is not placed on a high ranking in dance culture as it should be. Running a consistent and even more importantly QUALITY record label is no easy task whatsoever. Now with the aid of my expanding dedicated YPO team, we have set out to change the way Canada is positioned on the global electronic music map. Gotta say, we’ve been doing a damn fine job as our releases have managed to climb the top 100 dance charts, repeatedly smashing #1. It is a privilege to be a representative of my country’s musical story in our history books.
Can you tell us about some of the leading international talents you have handpicked for the You Plus One roster?
Luckily, I launched the label later on in my career instead of doing it back when I first had the idea. Now, I am more deeply connected with our global dance community. I have established strong bonds with some of the greatest artists on earth through touring and shows. I have never seen a Canadian label release music with international signings of this caliber – people who have truly revolutionized our dance culture, as well as exciting prospects of tomorrow. We are focused on pushing our core artists such as Haddadi Von Engst, Pig&Dan, Tom Zeta, LADS, Nau Leone, Yarni, Nu Revision, DRONUS, and of course myself.
How do you balance your role as a label boss with your personal career as a DJ and producer?
With EXTREME difficulty. Running a label, setting up tours, working on music, running a club, designing apparel, and multiple pop up events are all individually a full time job. Balance is something that I struggle with deeply. I work around the clock 7 days a week. Since I’m beyond hands-on in everything I do from photography, video editing, social media, down to ALL of the graphic design of our projects, I find myself sleeping an average of 4-5 hours a day. I understand this is an unhealthy way to exist but because this is my labor of love I can’t help it. I have committed to hiring more and more over the past years yet find that as we continue to grow rapidly, so does. the workload.
What do you enjoy most about performing at BarAmericas, and how does the Latin American music scene differ from other regions?
I have been blessed to have been welcomed to the BarAmeircas family with open arms since the very first time I played there over 13 years ago. It is considered the greatest club in Latin America and for a good reason. The epitome of a perfect underground club, and Ramon and his team treat me very well every time I visit. I have a large audience in Mexico and a cult following in Guadalajara. In fact, a huge fraction of my crowd back home in Canada are from Mexico as they come to my city to check out our shows. I’m still in disbelief to this day when I see the tremendous amount of love and support I see from my party people down in Jalisco. They show up in record-breaking numbers and the level of energy they give back to me during my performances is absolutely electric. It brings me joy when I see them all jumping and screaming for my entire 7-hour sets all the way till the end, chanting “Otra, otra, otra!”. This is exactly what sets the Latin American scene apart from anywhere else on earth, their sheer level of energy and excitement for the fiesta and their understanding of rhythm and groove is unparalleled.
As an innovator in the Northwest underground music scene, what are some of the challenges you have faced, and how have you overcome them?
It’s a great honor to help bring international standards to our Vancouver scene. I have mentored a large percentage of local underground artists, helping them graduate from bedrooms to main stages, and with YPO injected the scene with quality events. We host top-level international acts on a consistent weekly basis and now we have inspired a new generation. Here is the truth, I used to hate coming home to Vancouver from my tours because of the lack of good shows in my city. Now the story has changed, no matter how good of a show I play all over the world I now eagerly look forward to coming home and playing our unreal shows.
How do you see the future of electronic music, and what trends or developments are you excited about?
AI AI AI… we don’t even know or see it yet but we are ALL under the cast of the almighty intelligence. It’s a matter of time (a very short time) before DJs and producers will be obsolete in the AI army. Sounds gloomy yet the concept excites me.
Are there any other creative projects or ventures that you are currently involved in, besides your music career?
From the label, to clubs, to production, and DJ tours, everything I do now is hyper-focused within the dance music realm. Even launching our “Long Live Underground” apparel which is an electronic culture-specific brand. We are now branching out and expanding as well by securing multiple venues within our city and in other countries as well. I’m currently in the works on an exciting project with my partners in Los Angeles that we will be announcing later this year. Basically, I have no other life beyond this.
Siavash, your candor in sharing your experiences, your unapologetic pursuit of your passions, and your relentless dedication to the art of music have left an indelible mark on us.
As we bid farewell for now, we want to extend our heartfelt gratitude for inviting us into your world, sharing your story, and allowing us to glimpse the intricate mosaic of your life.
Thank you, Siavash, for reminding us that music is not just a collection of sounds; it’s a vessel for emotions, a conduit for healing, and a force that can reshape lives. Your tale will resonate with us, your beats will echo in our hearts, and your spirit will forever reverberate in the world of music and beyond.