Beat Syndrome is a live electronic band made of two Toronto locals, Hamed Safi & Navid Mehr. Their sound is a blend of electronic elements projected as various genres of music such as Progressive, Deep House and Techno. After many successful releases in the past few years they have developed a reputation for delivering quality music in their unique style to their audience. Hamed and Navid stepped into the scene with their first studio album “Nation” in 2010 and since then they have risen through the electronic music ranks at a quick pace. They host a monthly radio show where they showcase their music and give credit to their fellow artists and musician by doing edits and remixes. This year the duo has earned recognition from Beatport as they topped the famous 10 Must Hear Progressive House Tracks, 3 times this year. In July 2012 their ‘Fantasy’ EP scored huge recognition from DJs internationally, such as Markus Schulz and Hernan Cattaneo who included the b Side track, ‘Chimera’ in his chart. Their work with prestigious electronic labels 99percentrecordings, Movement Recordings and Sound Avenue has helped them reach a wider audience and grow their fan base tremendously. 2013 is going to be a busy year for the Canadian due, after spending months in the studio they are ready to take their live act on the road. With their European debut tour in February and North American dates in Spring, various remixes and singles, the boys are excited to showcase their sound to their fans worldwide. We had a chance to catch up with Hamed & Navid about a week prior to their European Tour which is now in full swing…
1. How old are you and how long have you been producing / DJing?
Beat Syndrome: Hamed : 32 Navid: 31. We have been working together as Beat Syndrome for about 8 years now.
2. Have you always lived in Toronto, Canada? If not what brought you to this point?
Beat Syndrome: We were both born in Tehran. We lived in the same neighbourhood and attended the same school. Our families moved to Toronto in the mid 90’s. We became friends in High school here in Toronto and started making music together.
3. How did you guys get involved in electronic music? How did you discover your love for it and how did you meet and begin collaborating together.
Navid: We listened to similar music and went to a lot of concerts and parties together. There was a venue in Toronto called System Sound Bar, where I got my first taste of electronic music. But my calling for producing music was when I heard Sasha’s Involver1. I listened to that album religiously and it got me interested in creating my own tunes. At this time Hamed already had a small studio in his basement with a PC Computer and two turntables. I remember the studio was so small that it only fit two people at a time! The basement became our hang out spot and that’s where I learned all the tricks of DJing and producing tracks. We slowly developed a sound and started making records as Beat Syndrome. It wasn’t always easy, but we managed to keep it going and now its nice to see that all the hard work is starting to pay off.
Hamed: I started attending parties in my teenage years. I got introduced to a lot of DJs and different genres of electronic music during that time. I became really interested in Djing and bought a set of turntables with a classmate. We used to spend hours in Record Stores in Toronto, listening to music and picking tracks. This exposed me to a lot of new artists and got me interested in producing my own tracks. This is when Navid and I began collaborating together.
4. Talk a bit about electronic music in Toronto, Canada. How is the scene there and do you get an opportunity to play in your home city very often? And does the city have a sound?
Beat Syndrome: The scene has changed a lot in Toronto and the city has grown musically with a variety of acts performing here each week. This past summer several successful Electronic Music Festivals took place here, which showed that more people are interested in hearing this music. However Toronto has mostly been known for its Tech House and dark Techno sound, so we didn’t get to do a lot of shows, because of the style of music that we play. We always had to follow the guidelines of promoters about what to play and we didn’t like that, so we concentrated a lot more on production. Recently a number of artists have achieved success internationally from Toronto and the city has been more recognized for the amount of talent it produces. These artists have exposed listeners to different styles of dance music and have impacted the scene, we hope to fallow the same path and get to play our music more often in our hometown.
5. Is there a Beat Syndrome sound? And if so how would you describe it?
Beat Syndrome: Our sound has evolved over the past couple of years but importantly we have found the Beat Syndrome formula. It took time for us to realize how to lay our ideas into a certain structure that works for both of us. I It’s more recognizable in our sound now than it was in the past. But overall a crossover between Techno and Melodic Progressive music is what we usually aim to create in the studio.
6. Sometime over the course of 2012 you began to get more recognition for your work. Hernan Cattaneo began charting and playing your stuff both live and on his radio show. Beatport also began featuring many of your releases as well. How much have things changed for you guys since say 2011? Do you have a lot more labels requesting remixes etc?
Beat Syndrome: Things have certainly changed over the coarse of past 2 years. There are more labels and producers reaching us for remixes and collaborations. Once we found the formula that worked for us, it really helped us grow as artists and influenced our production. Beatport and you guys at releasepromo have been tremendously supportive of our music and we are very thankful for that. Its also really amazing to be supported by Hernan, someone who we have looked up to and been inspired by for many years. He has been doing a fantastic job of introducing new artists and fresh sounds to electronic music fans worldwide and that is very admirable.
7. You guys have a tour of Belgium and Greece coming up in February. You must be extremely excited for it, how did the tour come about? And have you got any special unreleased gems planned for it?
Beat Syndrome: We are really excited about the tour. This is the first time we are playing in Europe, looking forward to meeting new people and playing our music to a new audience. We have been working with Movement and Sound Avenue for a while now and we consider both labels home for our music. We signed our first EP with Movement Recording about three years ago. The Greece tour is something that we have been talking about with Tash for a long time. Our connection with Dominique and the S.A. crew started through a Remix contest for their label, Since then We had many successful release with Sound avenue and Cross fade sounds, we also got to collaborate with Dominque on a number of releases and have many exciting projects coming up in the future. Dominque was planning a few events for February in Belgium and asked us to be a part of it, The rest of tour started falling in to place from there. There are a couple of unreleased tracks that we are going to play on the tour and have prepared a lot of new remixes and mash-ups that we can’t wait to try out on the dancefloor.
8. Is Beat Syndrome strictly a live act or do you DJ as well? and what does your live setup consist of?
Beat Syndrome: We are certainly a live act at this point; once we started working with Ableton, our ideas slowly developed into the setup we have today. However there are occasions that we might decide to DJ depending on the event, venue and how much gear we are able to travel with. We are big fans of cutting, sampling and looping tracks as DJs, when we play a track we usually enjoy adding elements to it and taking it to a new direction, we realized that with Ableton we could do a lot more of this. Our aim was to have a setup that gives us full control over the dynamics of our shows and provide us the tools to do re-edits and remixes live. Our setup at the moment consists of 2 laptops running Ableton, which are triggered by APC40 controllers, Kaoss Pad, Dave Smith’s Mopho and a midi keyboard to play VSTS.
9. What does the core of your current studio consist of and what are some of your favourite programs to use? Do you guys have a separate studio space to work out of or is it a matter of passing files back and forth? How does Beat Syndrome work?
Hamed: our studio is setup where I live and we do most of our recordings there. Sometimes we start a project together and Navid will grabs the files, work on them on his own and transfer it back to me. But the final tweaks and mix down is always done together. We use Ableton to arrange our music and play live, also a variety of sources to record our sounds. Some of our favorites are Spectrosonics products, Albino, Nexus, ipad apps like iKaosillator, Funkbox and Kaoss Pad.
10. What do you draw inspiration from when working on a new track or remix? Are you influenced by the sounds of other producers when you are in the studio? Who are some of your favourites?
Beat Syndrome: Experiencing life itself is the greatest inspiration. Being able to channel those experiences in to a piece of music and seeing the reaction when people hear it, is what drives us and keeps us motived to do more. The best inspiration when we work on an original usually comes from the most unusual places. Sometimes a piece of Accapella or a weird synth sound could be the start of a track and it develops from that to a groove and eventually a full song. When we work on a remix we always try to keep the integrity of the original track. We come up with two or three different versions of the remix and pick the best one out of them.
11. What artist or track would you love to remix?
Beat Syndrome: Would love to be able to collaborate or remix artists like Microtrauma, Max Cooper, Luis Junior, Ryan Davis
12. Which producers consistently inspire you? and who are some of the best undiscovered talents in your eyes?
Beat Syndrome: Sasha has always been a great inspiration to us; his music is influential and technical. As producers, even to this day, we look forward to learning new tricks from his production. His Involver series has influenced our sound in the past and we look forward to hearing the third one. Guys J, recently has become a favourite, his blend of Techno and progressive, dark and melodic is something really inspiring. Also as a Dj, his craftsmanship in picking tracks and keeping the audience locked in is definitely something to be inspired by. A few talented artists that we are keeping an eye on in 2013 are David Granha, Dmitry Molosh, Jelly for the Babies, Nadia Struiwigh and Matias Chilano.
13. Beat Syndrome Current Favourites (you can list more than one per category if you like)
Food: Sushi, Greek, any Persian cuisine and lots of salads.
Drink: Whiskey, Beer (Reckard’s Red)
TV Show: Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, lots of stand up comedy
Video Game: FIFA 2013, Need For Speed on iPad
Album: The last really inspiring album we listened to was Ryan Davis’s “Particles of Bliss” and before that was James Blake’s self titled album, but still listening to Involver Sasha, Any Pink Floyd Album, Load and Reload Metallica, King of Limbs Radiohead
Track / Song: 16 Bit Lolitas – Revolution / Paul Martinez, Fiddler – Somebody’s Face (Jelly for the Babies Remix)
Producer / Band: Guy J, James Holden, Alt – J , Andrew Bird, Royksopp
Record Label: Crossfade Sounds, Inlab, KP Recordings, Sudbeat, microCastle, Mooseekaa
Nightclub: Footwork Toronto, Cameo Miami
DJ: Hernan Cattaneo, Guy J, John Digweed
14. What do you do outside of music? Do you have a regular day job and what do you like to do for fun when you’re not working on music?
Beat Syndrome: We still both have our day jobs. But our lives really evolve around music and most of our time is spent making music or producing other artists. But when we do have some spare time we watch lots of comedy, movies, attend live shows and check out new music.
15. If the final DJ/live set of your career was next week what would be your last track be?
Hamed : Holden & Thompson – Nothing (93 returning Mix)
Navid: Doves – Firesuite
16. What can we expect to see from Beat Syndrome in 2013?
Beat Syndrome: We spent a lot of time in the studio last year and plan to concentrate on playing more shows in 2013. We are working on more dates internationally in the next few months and hope to keep it going for the rest of the year. There are a number of releases coming up on Sound Avenue, Movement, Agara Music, Balkan Connection, Crossfade Sounds and KP. Also a few collaborations, one of them is with Madloch, the Waiting Game EP is coming out in March with remixes by Luis Junior and Facundo Mohrr.
Interview courtesy of: Release Promo
Release Promo would like to send a huge thanks to Navid and David for taking the time to do this interview.
Beat Syndrome’s ‘Symmetry’ is out now as part of Crossfade Sounds excellent ‘Crossing Borders’ compilation, you can purchase the release: here