Amirali: If you’re putting an album together, it should come out of the heart
Earlier this year, Amirali Shahrestani released his debut album In Time. He was signed to an album project immediately after sending a few demos to Damian Lazarus, head of much-praised record label Crosstown Rebels. Damian has a reputation for discovering and breaking exciting new talent, which made Amirali’s album a highly-anticipated record – and rightly so, it’s an album that’s full of wistful vocals, tight production and emotive melodies. In tandem with producing his album, Amirali was at university studying architecture, during which time he also formulated a live show which he’s taken on tour around the globe. I caught up with him to find out how things have been since the album’s release and his constant touring.
Now your album has been released, what’s the feedback been like? Any comments in particular that have touched you, or any of your inspirations been in touch with feedback?
It’s been great. I’ve had the chance to meet so many amazing people on the road and they had been telling me how much they loved the album. I recently received a message from this guy who lives in Lisbon; he wrote me he just had a break up after a seven-year relationship, and how much my album touched him emotionally. Also sometimes I get to share the booth with artists that I have been following for years; for instance last Saturday I played at Panorama Bar in Berlin along with Andrew Weatherall and Ivan Smagghe, and Andrew told me he loved my album, which took me by a great surprise; it’s all quite surreal to be honest.
Could you ever have imagined having an album out at this stage in your life?
I had actually never thought about having an album out at this stage; it happened all very suddenly. But now I feel very grateful that I’m able to work at this level and I really appreciate all the support from the people and my crew who worked really hard for this project.
What was the most difficult aspect of putting an album together?
Fortunately, the album making process was easy and smooth. There were no obstacles really. I had enough time to complete it because we didn’t have any set deadlines. But I think timing is very important if you’re putting an album together, it should also come out of the heart no matter what, variation and originality are the key factors in my opinion.
What approach did you take to making music in terms of time management; you were studying at the same time, so did you organise specific ‘windows’ for studio time?
Sometimes it was really hard and hectic to keep up with them both, to be honest. Architecture is an extremely demanding field of study. I had to constantly work on projects and assignments and meet tight deadlines but since I was already familiar with the subject from college, it was easier for me to deal with and I knew how to study and apply my skills to it. But it was quite hard at times for sure.
What effect did producing the album have on your lifestyle?
Well, I started working on the album when I moved to London two years ago and that’s when I became very isolated and lived in my own little world. I wasn’t socialising like I had before and it was a phase that was totally different to the life I had in Toronto; but this turned out to be a very positive thing for me and allowed me to focus more on my music and studies. My move to London really opened up my eyes and changed my perspective to a whole new level. Making this album touched so many aspects in my life; the way I see and feel things now are so different than what it used to be.
Did you still have time for a ‘normal life’ with your studies and making the album?
I considered studying and working on the album as a ‘normal lifestyle’ during that period, I couldn’t think of doing anything else.
Along with the album, you developed a live show – as it was your first time, was there anyone who you maybe wanted to emulate with your show? Or someone who inspired it?
Not really, it took me quite some time until I figured how to develop a live show. I didn’t get help from anyone, so I just came up with my own ideas and techniques and it worked out pretty well.
How’s life for you now the album is complete and your touring with your show?
Life is treating me well; I can’t really complain. Meeting amazing people, making new friends and having great times. The only thing that might be a little issue sometimes is the travelling part. Although I love being in different places and experiencing different cultures, I dislike the fact of checking in and out of airports literally everyday.
Where have you been lately? Anywhere that’s really left an impression on you?
Yes, I just got back from Berlin, I played at Panorama Bar on Saturday and it was one of the best gigs I’ve ever had so far. The crowd was phenomenal, definitely a night / day to remember.
What was it like playing Fabric, having been there in the past as a clubgoer?
It just felt great; playing in Fabric Room 1 was like playing a proper concert, it was pure magic. There was great chemistry between the crowd and my music and it really was an amazing experience for me.
What’s the next step? Have you thought about the path you might take in coming years?
Well I’m having some new thoughts; I’m thinking of gathering a band because that’s the direction I see myself going in the future. This doesn’t mean that my music won’t fit in the dance music category, but I’d like to do something different to what everyone else is doing now. There is always room for evolving and improvements; the thing about me is that I can’t keep doing the same thing over and over. I feel I always need to challenge myself in order to survive in music; otherwise it would be pointless for me to be honest.Amirali, Crosstown Rebels, Damian Lazarus, In Time
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