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Call The Hitman! It’s Siavash

Siavash is the Canadian artist behind the chart-topping record label You Plus One. This eccentric artist is a 25+ year master DJ and an accredited innovator of the Northwest underground music scene. Born in Iran to deaf parents during the Islamic Revolution, he emerged from a challenging past to build an impressive presence in the electronic music industry.

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His unmistakable sound resembles his charming personality that draws so many to him: powerful, dirty, magnetic, and emotional. His original studio work has been signed to iconic labels such as Get Physical and Mobilee. Siavash’s critically acclaimed music has placed high on multiple Beatport Top 100 charts. In 2022 he also launched an ongoing collaborative project with techno pioneers Pig&Dan.

Thanks for talking to us today – how’s the year been treating you so far? 

This year has been an incredibly successful and fulfilling one for me. I’m happy to see my releases receiving tremendous support, reaching the top of the Beatport charts, and even hitting the coveted #1 spot. One of the musical highlights of this year has been my collaboration with the immensely talented Pig & Dan. We share an amazing synergy in the studio, and I couldn’t be more excited about our upcoming EP titled “Call The Hitman,” to be released on the legendary Poker Flat Sept 1st. It’s an honor to work with such a respected label in dance culture.

I took a small break from my regular summer world tour to focus on showcasing my love for my hometown, Vancouver. I organized a series of daytime outdoor events and mini-festivals, which were a huge success, consistently selling out. It was a wonderful opportunity to connect with my local fans and give back to the community.

In addition to my personal success, my record label, You Plus One, has been thriving. We have been signing some of the best music we have ever released, with world-class artists involved. The label has become a platform for showcasing exceptional talent and pushing the boundaries of electronic music. Excitingly, we are expanding to Los Angeles with a new project that will be announced by the end of the year. This expansion will allow us to reach an even wider audience and further establish our brand on a global scale.

First of all, we want to get to know you “from the beginning”. How did your history with music begin?

My journey in the music world has been deeply personal, especially considering the fact that my parents are deaf from birth. Growing up, my brother and I had to discover everything we know about music through our own life experiences. I vividly remember stumbling upon a cassette tape of Michael Jackson’s BAD being sold at a newsstand in Madrid. My brother and I would scavenge for scrap metal and sell it for a meager amount of money just so we could save up and finally buy our own copy of the tape.

My introduction to DJing was purely accidental. I initially believed that I had invented the craft, as I had no reference or knowledge of the culture surrounding it. My obsession with obtaining hip-hop songs before they hit the radio or music TV led me to start collecting a small batch of vinyl records. My brother then surprised us with a belt drive turntable, which, despite being trash, served as a starting point for my DJing journey. I taught myself the basics of audio mixing and, in my quest to eliminate the awkward silence between songs on tapes and records, I accidentally stumbled upon what I thought was a groundbreaking technique. I would play a hip-hop record on one turntable and mix in audio samples from recorded VHS tapes of films and TV show theme songs in between. I recorded these “NON-STOP” mixes onto long-format cassette tapes and eventually started selling them at school.

To complement my music creations, I taught myself graphic design skills to create tape covers for my mixes. I had originally intended to call them the “S Brother’s Real Hip Hop” series, but due to English being our third language, I accidentally misspelled it as “REEL HIP-HOP.” This happy mistake turned out to be a stroke of luck, as it resulted in a highly popular child business.

It wasn’t until later that I discovered that what I was doing had already been pioneered and perfected by DJs around the world. However, in my own little universe, I had inadvertently invented DJing, and I decided to embrace that narrative and roll with it. 

For you, what is the most rewarding aspect of running your own record label? And the most challenging? 

We are based in Canada and, despite having some wonderful talent in our country, we are not given the credit we deserve in the global dance music world. I am proud to bring true, original dance music to the world, aiming to make a mark and leave a lasting presence in the history books of our culture. However, the label business poses many challenges. It is incredibly time-consuming, costly, and tedious. Moreover, our team is understaffed, forcing us to run multiple full-time businesses simultaneously. Juggling studio time for creating music, handling designs, hosting weekly events, developing fashion and merchandise concepts, and organizing tours and gigs within my touring career is a challenging balancing act. As a result, I find myself working seven days a week across multiple time zones. 

Tell us about your new collab with Pig&Dan – how did the collaborative process work on this one? 

As someone who has the utmost respect for Pig&Dan and has been a huge fan of their work throughout their impressive 20-year career, it has been an absolute dream come true to witness these dance music icons recognize the value of my contribution to our collaboration. Working with them on our music has been an absolute joy, and I can sincerely say that it is currently the most enjoyable experience I have had in this industry.

Our upcoming record, titled “Call The Hitman,” has an interesting backstory. It initially began as a tune that I had started and at the time, I didn’t think much of it. However, when Igor (Pig) was in town for a show, he recognized some great potential in the track that he could also contribute to. I sang some trippy lyrics about my since-past horse tranquilizer phase of my life. Once we saw the vision, we sent it over to Dan for his signature golden touch. And just like that, this incredible song was born, complete with a humorous message.

Do you miss the vinyl-only days of the 90s? Or is the march of technology too strong to resist? 

One thing I really miss is that warm, semi-distorted, juicy mix that can only be achieved through blending wax records. I loved the pure connection between the DJ and the music, without any fancy displays to distract. Just closing your eyes and mixing the music in the most pure and sonic way or just simple direct eye contact with the crowd (who didn’t have cellphones yet), this raw energy flow was something else.

That being said, have you ever tried playing vinyl at a boat party with big waves? Because I have, and I never want to go back to the days of trying to balance a quarter on a needle head and praying that the next wave doesn’t send the arm scratching across the record again. So yes, technology and the evolution of music rocks. It allows for more control and provides more tools to create a far more impactful performance. 

Firstly, I have the privilege of having my own label headquarters, called the HAUS, nestled within the challenging real estate market of Vancouver. This space houses my studio room, allowing me to fully immerse myself in my passion for electronic dance music.

Secondly, against all odds, I have achieved a level of success in my career, despite being based in a city that is definitely not a dance music destination. This success has afforded me the opportunity to indulge in my addiction to synthesizers and studio gear, even though we all know how expensive this can be.

Thirdly, I am fortunate to have no immediate neighbors, meaning I don’t have to worry about disturbing anyone as I work on my music. While many of my peers are confined to small apartments with limited space, relying solely on headphones for their creative process, I am able to utilize a three-way reference system, one of which is a powerful 80,000-watt club system. This allows me to have all the luxury gear and reference systems that would be considered both studio nerd’s and superstar DJ’s wet dream.

I am privileged to have access to exceptional gear and a dedicated studio space. Yet, I have discovered that the magic often starts with a simple loop in the most comfortable and convenient spot in my place even if it’s outside the actual studio doors.

What should we be looking out for from you in the next few months? 

On September 1st, we will be releasing “Call The Hitman” on Poker Flat, accompanied by a groovy house track called “Out The Jungle” on the B side. Recently, at home, we kicked off the 7th season of our infamous HAUSPARTY and that keeps me busy in the cold season. In the following month, Pig&Dan and I will be releasing our “Secret Love” EP on Nick Curly’s renowned 8Bit Records. Additionally, our very own record label, You Plus One, has an impressive schedule of releases lined up for the year, including a couple of my own tracks. Lastly, we will be announcing our exciting You Plus One project in LA before the year comes to an end. 

What is the best advice you ever received as an artist?

“LET IT BURN” You can’t take any of this with you, so stop chasing the illusion of success and grandeur. Most of us have already made it but can’t even see it. Stop chasing because once you get there, there is nothing left to look forward to. Instead, learn to enjoy the ride because the ride is ALL WE HAVE! The definition of success is the person who has learned to enjoy their current path to the utmost. I am still practicing to apply this knowledge myself.

Anything else you’d like to tell us…?

Avoid fluoridated water, get sunlight, and hug your loved ones (then do it again). Don’t get mad at your haters, we are all trying to minimize suffering and maximize joy, some just have a funny way of going about it. 

Thank you.

It matters little whether you are an artist or a visitor, the love for music is the unifying factor.

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