Shortly after the release of his highly acclaimed single ‘See U in 2050’ on Berlin-based Innervisions label’s trendsetting compilation, Secret Weapons, Arian 911 took a longer than expected break from his busy day to chat with Torture the Artist on plenty (but not all) things. The Tehran-born Frankfurt-bred DJ/Producer who also spent chunks of his eventful life and career in Canada and Ibiza just relocated to the German town where he feels most at home, and while this series of probing, and at times intrusive questions surfed through many highlights of his ventures, Arian doesn’t hold back in expressing his excitement about feeling a sense of belonging by circling back home to Frankfurt as well as his evident attachment to the future. A talented artist who has weathered through erratic currents of the electronic music scene in various locales, Arian sheds light on how he eventually found balance, stability and his ways of extracting the most out of his creativity despite the changing roles of music and people in his life. In less than 25 questions, we get to travel through space and time, encounter a few electronic music bigwigs from untraditional perspectives, and sort of but not quite fully decipher the story behind the Arian 911 moniker. Get to know Arian’s artistic influences and inspirations, and find out how he was able to translate them into his musical approach, through this up close and often too personal one-one-one with the Secret Weapons two-timer.
Torture the Artist: Hello Arian, congratulations on the inclusion of your latest track on Innervisions’well-respected annual compilation, Secret Weapon. And thank you for taking the time to chat with us. How is your day? Where are you sitting at the very moment and what are your plans for the rest of the day/evening?
Arian 911: Thanks so much! Actually, I really feel honored to be part of the Secret Weapons series again, next to such amazing artists and compiled by the legendary trendsetters of Innervisions. Right now I´m in my studio in the Frankfurt area. After this interview I will be mixing down a track I´ve been working on over the last few days, I´ll go through this week´s promos, and tonight I´ll be going to an old friends´birthday party in a cool rooftop club in Frankfurt.
I need to have a certain feeling of freedom, ideally without any boundaries, limitations, obligations or rules.
Torture the Artist: Is your daily schedule typically planned out or do you often go on about your day as it pans out? Can you share with us what time it is and what was the last thing you had for a meal?
Arian 911: I guess it always depends on the phase you´re in. When it´s about DJing or organizing your life, you have to have the days planned out. Otherwise, it´s just impossible to get everything done without going crazy. On the other hand, in more creative phases, I need to have a certain feeling of freedom, ideally without any boundaries, limitations, obligations or rules.
Right now it´s 3:30 pm and my last meal was a nice falafel pita from a takeaway around the corner.
Torture the Artist: Is there somewhere else in the world you would rather be right now and what would you wish you were eating or drinking?
Arian 911: To be honest, not right now. I am just starting to embrace the feeling of having returned to Frankfurt. To me, this international city is decent in size and has a lot of what I was missing. A surprising amount of things to discover, the electronic music scene’‘s potential, the infrastructure, the amount of cultural input, the vibe, the food quality, etc. I am quite enthusiastic about it right now and am absolutely enjoying the feeling of being back home.
The meaning lies somewhere between my preference for a certain German car, the US emergency number, and numerology.
Torture the Artist: Can you reveal the story behind your moniker? What is the number 911 in reference to?
Arian 911: I kind of expected this one [laughing]. As I get asked this question so often, I hope you can understand if I keep it a little vague. But let me put it this way: the meaning lies somewhere between my preference for a certain German car, the US emergency number, and numerology. There was a time when I got frequent late-night phone calls to come and play a party and I always surely went – that also added to the meaning. By no means is it linked to any kind of conspiracy theory, to the twin towers, or to any kind of dark and evil powers.
Torture the Artist: Tell us a little bit about your background. Stories have it that you are well travelled; currently living in Frankfurt but had multiple residencies. Where did you grow up, and where did you realize your passion for music?
Arian 911: I was born in Tehran/Iran and have lived in the Frankfurt/Germany area, Vancouver/Canada and Ibiza/Spain. I grew up in Germany and it was there, where I started to get into music. First, in a Post Punk band [laughing], later getting introduced to the electronic music scene in Frankfurt.
Torture the Artist: Describe the pivotal moment when you decided to pursue a career in music production/DJing. Was it a long time coming or did you always feel that this is what you wanted to do, and no one could stop you from it?
Arian 911: Sounds and music have always been an important part of my life. I guess I was very lucky to meet Sven Väth at a fairly young age, and that he started believing in my talent early on. At the time, he was already a super important reference in the electronic music scene, which made it easier for me to believe in myself as well, and to be more confident about pursuing a career in the electronic music scene.
Torture the Artist: Who are some of your most influential musical inspirations?
Arian 911: The Ramones inspired me to start forming a band and to initiate my musical path. Apart from that: Lee Scratch Perry, KLF (Chill Out), Kraftwerk, Leftfield, Ricardo Villalobos, New Musik, Visage, Dj Alfredo, Jose Padilla, Underworld, Deee-Lite, Trentemøller, many many more that I probably don´t remember right now and last but not least Sven Väth.
Torture the Artist: Do you often listen to other types of music? What are some non-electronic music genres you used to, or even currently still listen to?
Arian 911: I have to admit, I do listen to all kinds of music. There is just so much amazing music around and I have the feeling that more and more genres get mixed up with each other and that it´s getting more difficult to define them as separate entities, which, in my opinion, is a good thing.
Torture the Artist: You’ve done a great deal of DJing, having played at some of the most prominent clubs, and even landing a residency at Cocoon Ibiza. What is your favourite venue/event? Can you share the most memorable experience you’ve had as a DJ?
Arian 911: Wow, really difficult to pick one. Probably my nine hours vinyl set at Panorama Bar in Berlin… almost impossible to describe in words. And some Cocoon nights at Amnesia or after-hours in the good wild times are really memorable as well.
Torture the Artist: If you were to choose a track to characterize your (first encounter) friendship with Cocoon honcho, Sven Vath, what would it be and why?
Arian 911: Probably M83 ‘Run Into Flowers (Midnight Fuck Remix by Jackson)‘ because it is so cinematic and Sven Väth used to play it in the most amazing moments. To me, this song represents the importance of creating a soundtrack for one´s life, one major thing that I learnt from Sven very early on.
Underground electronic music was all around and the lightness of the island feeling combined with the constant encounters of so many interesting and crazy people in the most surreal situations is what makes Ibiza a unique place.
Torture the Artist: How long did you live in Ibiza and what was your overall take on the experience? Were you able to form friendships as a resident DJ or did you often find the need to escape the scene outside of the parties?
Arian 911: I lived there about 10 years all year round, but before that, there were quite some years of going back and forth. I feel really thankfulthat I had been able to experience so many amazing moments on the island, which was quite a bit different and special at that time.What drew me there was the incredible mix of the freedom, the lifestyle, the clubbing, and a very deep, spacey, earthy and magnetic nature. Underground electronic music was all around and the lightness of the island feeling combined with the constant encounters of so many interesting and crazy people in the most surreal situations is what makes Ibiza a unique place. I am really thankful for having met so many special people, most of my favourite DJs and producers, some of my favourite actors, filmmakers, and my favourite girl. I can definitely say that I formed many long lasting friendships and developed relationships during my times as an Ibiza resident.
Torture the Artist: As a DJ playing music for a living, do you feel as though to some degree, considering it as a job has weakened your relationship with music? How much do you enjoy partying now compared to the times when it was done solely for leisure?
Arian 911: No, not at all, quite the opposite actually. The more time I have the privilege of spending with music, the more I feel the need to create situations for myself in which I truly enjoy it. That way, it has an effect on the quality of the music I´m listening to, on the equipment and speakers I´m using, thus on my quality of life. And when I enjoy it so much myself, automatically the desire arises to share these quality moments and feelings with more people through the sound and music, so that it becomes a positive never-ending cycle. I still love to party but have however become just a little more selective.
Torture the Artist: If you were to come back and relive your Ibiza days, what would you have done differently?
Arian 911: I am quite happy with the current situation in my life and since my past, with all its facets, led to this, I wouldn´t want to go back to do it differently. Who knows where some ‘wise decisions’ and ‘smart moves’ would have brought me.
Torture the Artist: Which set did you find yourself listening to most frequently during your stay in Ibiza? Do you still listen to it now that you are in Germany?
Arian 911: At the moment I am pretty focused on other kinds of sounds and don´t get to listen as much to those mixes as I used to. But sometimes, I still really dig sets by Valentín Huedo, Dj Buda from Lulu Rouge, Pippi, Jaime Fiorito, Chelu Garcia, Bill Shakes or DJ Alfredo.
I was probably born into fire and now resonate most with water.
Torture the Artist: According to your website, you are a firm believer that elements, in material and non-material manifestations, form the universe. What element were you born into and which do you resonate most with.
Arian 911: I was probably born into fire and now resonate most with water.
Torture the Artist: If you wouldn’t have gotten into music, what careers/fields do you think you would have pursued instead.
Arian 911: Without music, I probably wouldn´t have survived to pursue any kind of career.
Torture the Artist: Does your first track on Innervisions, ‘7 Melodies’ on Secret Weapons 9, in fact, refer to 7 different melodies? What are they? How did you come up with the idea and eventually stitch it into a well-crafted track?
Arian 911: It was right after I had finished various more percussive tracks, with not much melody and I was hungry to make a track with as many melodies in it as possible. In the end, there where 7 of them that worked well together, so that´s how the name came up. It was definitely one of those productions that flowed right from the beginning.
Torture the Artist: How did Innervisions approach you when they asked for you to return on the 10th installment of Secret Weapons?
Arian 911: Kristian from Âme sent me a message saying that they wanted to include ‘See U In 2050‘. I was both very surprised and happy.
I would like to see a world where robots are doing all the unpleasant work and where optimized, risk-free, sustained technologies have lifted the worldwide economy to an ideal level that eradicates wars.
Torture the Artist: Your latest track on SW10 is titled ‘See U In 2050‘– who and what would you like to see in 2050, and where would you prefer to bring this encounter to fruition?
Arian 911: I would like to see a world where robots are doing all the unpleasant work and where optimized, risk-free, sustained technologies have lifted the worldwide economy to an ideal level that eradicates wars. Thus, poverty and need ceased to exist. Thanks to sustainable energies, nature has recovered and humans are dedicating their lives to what they actually came here for, namely, to use their individual talents in creating a better, more beautiful world and to honor it. With a respectful attitude towards other people and nature, mankind provides a positive future for the children. Thanks to a happy, stress-less and fulfilled life and exceptional developments in medicine and advanced sound therapies, I will still be making tracks and will still be partying with all my family and friends! You asked for what I would LIKE to see, right? [laughing]
Torture the Artist: If you had to choose whether to travel back in time or into the future, which would you pick?
Arian 911: To the future!
Torture the Artist: Are you content with the amount of time you allocate to each tenet of a DJ/producer career?
Arian 911: Generally, I am. Even though I always want to spend more time on producing.
Torture the Artist: Should we expect more music production and less DJing in the next year or so?
Arian 911: I hope I will be able to offer more of both.
Torture the Artist: Which track(s), past or present, are you dying to remix?
Arian 911: Underworld ‘Rez‘ and Leftfield ‘Release The Pressure‘
Torture the Artist: If someone were to remix one of your tracks, who would you give the blessing to and which track of yours would you most prefer to get a reinterpretation of?
Arian 911: Ok, this is a good question! A remix of James Holden for ‘7 Melodies‘would be mental.
Torture the Artist: Is there a track you would most adamantly keep as is, per your gut feeling?
Arian 911: James Holden ‘A Break In The Clouds‘
Torture the Artist: Can you suggest a few emerging artists who have impressed you recently?
Arian 911: I´m quite impressed by Trikk and Stereocalypse right now. I would also suggest Valentín Huedo, Alex Kennon and last but not least finca am.
Interview by Marie J. Floro