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Ilona Maras

Interview: Ilona Maras, from the hip! Meet a fantastic artist.

Having collected a thrilling amount of air miles traveling to countries like Switzerland, Netherlands, Croatia, Spain, Russia … Dubai, it is safe to say Ilona Maras knows her way around the globe. She has been signed to German mega imprint Get Physical Music on which she released a magnificent EP recently. Being in the top charts with most of her productions, and having the great support for her music by many influential artists such as Pete Tong, Andhim, Betoko, Nicole Moudaber to name a few, at such a young age in her career spells nothing but prosperity and great achievements.

Ilona Maras, downright!

With her divine release on Get Physical and another fantastic EP shortly before on the Danish Emotive Sounds, we thought we needed to have a talk with this lovable artist. She speaks downright about her music, creative processes and her 2 releases of course.

So sit down and get to know Ilona Maras a bit more.

Ilona Maras
Ilona Maras released ‘Asrar’ on Emotive Sounds and ‘Existe’ together with Sanja on the massive Get Physical.

Hello Ilona,
thank you for having us.

You have been traveling the world quite a lot in the recent years as a DJ. What has been your favorite place to play thus far?
My favorite place so far is definitely Switzerland. That’s why I want to stay there for good. 🙂 I somehow always enjoy people being open for my music there, and their good mood, their modesty in all the ways as well and the positive energy, especially after 5 am. 🙂

Reading your biography, you lost your heart in electronic music about 7 years ago. What was the spark that set fire for you?
Not quite right. I lost my heart in electronic music much earlier. My raves started such a long time ago, but my first DJ steps were made in late 2010 when I asked for a gig at the club where I worked. I knew I wanted it since ever, and I was already quite handy with the Dj equipment, the music was in the veins since ever, so I just needed that one night that magic happened, the night that most of the DJ’s talk. It happened. Nothing seemed like it before. I simply knew I wanted this for life. So it happened.

How does your daily routine look like? What time of the day do you feel most creative?
For sure I am a night girl. I usually stay awake until late night hours, or even morning hours if not noons. I don’t sleep much. The nights were for me since ever the spaces and times for learning and creation. I try to use as much as possible of the day as well, mainly for logistics, emails, marketing, coordinating with agencies, managers, gigs etc. Once this is done, I try not to skip one-hour workout. I use this time greatly to listen to the new music. In between, I walk my dogs 10 times. 🙂 Once all this is done, I usually lock myself in the studio with all my house pets until my awaken senses would serve me. I create, listen, record, cry, laugh. Luckily only the pets can see and hear that.

Does it ever get boring? Do you sometimes run out of creative ideas and how do you overcome this?
Definitely. I get tired. There are moments that nothing sounds good anymore for some reason, mainly because of the oversaturation of the sounds. I usually do a small reset then. I will give it a day, 2 or 3 without music. Go out into nature, do long walks, meditate, read, swim. Sometimes though I simply turn on some of my favorite everlasting tunes, and that can simply throw me easily back into the studio seat with the creative fountain pen.

If you could describe your perfect creating environment, what would it be?
In a small warm cottage in the mountain with very tall green trees. Any time of the year.

You have some great music out that has been released only recently. ‘Asrar’ on Emotive Sounds and ‘Existe’ together with Sanja on the massive Get Physical record label. Let’s talk a bit about both releases. ‘Asrar’ feels more spacious & melodic with Eastern influences, no?

‘Asrar’ is my favorite production till now. It is the reflection of my past 5 years, in good and bad, and I am so happy to have it released only now, almost 2 years after I made it, right before my big move from the Middle East.

What was the idea behind ‘Asrar’? How did you get to this result?
‘Asrar’ was definitely the outcome of my life in the middle east and a lot of Arabic and Asian, oriental and dessert ethno sounds I was listening around at the time. I had a feeling I will create something like this, after all, I do come from Balkan where all these sounds are very familiar to our ears. I invited my friend Malda Smadi on the track, who speaks her lyrics in the track in Arabic. I had very little idea of how it will sound. Once Malda came to my bedroom basic studio at that time fully ready with her lyrics, after a few glasses of white wine, long meaningless philosophical talks, spontaneity just worked perfectly, so I played some harmonies, and the new Asrar was born.

‘Existe’ is something totally different. Very uplifting techno. While ‘Asrar’ has a deeper vibe, this one is totally the opposite. Tell us about it. We are totally in love with this release, original and remix!

Very happy you liked it. ‘Existe’ was ‘existing’ and just sitting quietly for a long time in my projects. The first idea was made by Sanja, my close friend and DJ/producer from Zurich. Once I heard it I really got hooked on those few beats and really simple melody at the time. She dropped on developing this project and I picked up on it. After quite some trials and so so many changes in the sounds, I finally made it and invited Sutja on the vocals. Get Physical seemed to love it, they took it immediately together with Bryan Kessler remix whom I invited for a remix. The EP was created and the release did so well in 2016.

Does your experience as DJ affect how you approach production or vice versa?
It does very much. Djing keeps me constantly on the ball for searching and exploring new sounds, which consequently inspires me to make music, create new, worse or better 🙂 I do observe the crowd in my sets all the time, what they like, what makes them move, shake their heads, shazam etc. It does give me a great indication on how my music sounds as well, as I test it many times before closing a new production for the release. I love djing, and the ability to take part in forming crowds good mood and actually see it and feel it is irreplaceable.

What are currently your main challenges as a DJ? What is it about DJing, compared to, say, producing your own music, that makes it interesting for you?
Start making more live shows is something I would love to do. So this could potentially be my current challenge. I love playing with a lot of effects, and additional gadgets. I simply love making something new and unexpected on the spot. It’s more fun for me, and more fun for people. Djing is much more of performing of what has been happening in my studio, from digging up for the new and old tracks, to making my own compositions.

DJs that just press play on their laptop may have given technology a bad name, but without technology, there would be no DJing in the first place. What’s your perspective on the relationship and the balance between technological advances, music and the art of DJing? How have particular technologies changed your style of DJing?
It really depends solely on a dj what he makes out of the technology that, in my opinion, we are lucky to be living with at the time. I am in for any improvement, and also for using whatever people feel comfortable with. I don’t mind seeing djs who stick to their ways of playing, whether it is vynils, or lap tops, for as long as they master it, know their music, know how to play the crowd etc. As a dj, I like to get out of my comfort zone and try it all. The technology really can make it funky, and bring in so many new cool twists into the sets.

Is getting out from behind the booth and dancing on the floor still something you consider essential for the growth of DJs?

What have you’ve got planned for the year ahead? Any new music or collaborations we should know about?
In the coming period, I am releasing a few tracks with my muse Ana Coya (the vocalist you can hear in some of my tracks) and also Rafael Cerato, young talented french DJ, and producer.

Tell us something that we can’t find in the biography of Ilona Maras.
I speak 5 languages (or at least try to 🙂

If you could solve one major problem in the world today – what would it be and why?
Rescue all the animals in the world that need it, is somthing I most definitely would try.

Looking forward to new work or maybe seeing you on the road! Thank you very much for your time.

Enjoyed this interview greatly. Thanks!

Ilona Maras’ “Asrar” is out now on Emotive Sounds. Grab it here.

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