Perfect Stranger is no longer a, ahem, stranger to South Africa thanks to his two blistering sets at the inaugural Love & Light party back in 2011. Why it has taken this long to get him back here is still a mystery, but let’s not dwell on the negative as he will be returning at the end of June for gigs both in Joburg and Cape Town. IDM did a little a little cyber chatting with Yuli Fershtat ahead of his next visit to the southern tip of Africa…
IDM: You had already produced music more in the psytrance vein for about 7 years before Perfect Stranger. We should also mention your love for techno grooves. Would you consider Perfect Stranger to be your way of meeting the two halfway?
Perfect Stranger: Yes I would say that Perfect Stranger is an entity that doesn’t have much to do with genres, and makes music according to inspirations from many different directions, that includes basically everything.
IDM: You like to describe your tracks as ‘story-tellers’, in a very spiritualistic, emotive sense. Considering how stop and start the music has become, tell us a bit about the journey you aim to take people on…
Perfect Stranger: I must admit that nowadays it’s very hard to keep up with this. All the technological tools from one side and the crowd’s demand from the other side has created ‘fast food music’. But in general I look at music (of any kind) as a possible tool for shifting phase [one’s mindset] emotionally and spiritually as much as anything physical. So many times when I write music I aim (not always intentionally) for it to be as much as for the cortex and for the heart as it is for the feet.
“….for ‘Techno Headz’ I’ve always been an alien making Trance but for ‘Trance Headz’ I am apparently an alien that makes Techno…”
IDM: You’ve really been around for the metamorphosis of the trance and techno industry. Do you miss the simpler days, or do you like where things seem headed, especially with psytech and progressive becoming more commercially accepted?
Perfect Stranger: Originally I wrote a long answer about how and why exactly the ‘new age progressive’ has become more commercially accepted and how and why the terminology is wrong and that it’s not Progressive at all… but then I deleted it and thought ‘why create a messy interview…’ [laughs] So back to your answer of course I miss the old days yeah – who doesn’t?
IDM: At the end of the month you’ll be taking South Africans on a journey yet again when you play Multiverz in Cape Town and also at Teknotribe’s 10th Birthday Bash in Johannesburg. The response you got from the SA crowd with those 2 legendary sets must have you eager to shake our dance floors up again.
Perfect Stranger: Oh I had such a good time @ Love & Light!! OMG!!! It was an awesome party first of all! The crowd was fantastic!! We all had such a good time there… Everything about that event was awesome, the setup, the crowd, the reaction of the crowd to less familiar music (I remember myself playing an Extrawelt track at the very end). That was wonderful! I’ve waited to come back ever since!
IDM: Speaking of your set in Cape Town, you often play to psytrance dancefloors but essentially play a hybrid mix of techno/trance. Have you consciously looked for ways to make your music more engaging to psytrance dancefloors?
Perfect Stranger: Yes I do play a hybrid sound in my DJ and Live sets, but always a psychedelic sound. It’s just usually a bit slower and a bit more phat on the bass and sub frequencies than Psy Trance. The thing is that for ‘Techno Headz’ I’ve always been an alien making Trance but for ‘Trance Headz’ I am apparently an alien that makes Techno… So when I play Psy Trance parties I will add those things that a Psy Trance dancefloor likes to spice up my sets. When I play a Techno party I do the opposite thing. It makes my life interesting all the time. [laughs]
IDM: Sticking with legendary sets, news filtered back here quite quickly about your set at the Eclipse festival in Australia. Will this go down as one of your more memorable experiences? What other moments in your long career stand out as big occasions?
Perfect Stranger: Yeah @ Eclipse I had 2 really memorable sets. Both of them were awesome although for me the most unforgettable was the live set. I think my Live performances @ Aussie Rainbow Serpent 2008 and 2010, plus the Live @ Boom 2010 and Doof & Indigo Festivals over the years in Israel, Ozora 2012 and Universo Paralello 2008 and 2009 are probably the most heavy weight festival performances for me. But there were quite a few [no less amazing] smaller events that for me have had as much impact… Like Subsonic and Strawberry Fields festivals down under, Love & Light Party, Eclipse Festival @ Canada, Transahara Festival @ Morocco and numerous events with Symbiosis Gathering in United States, and, and, and, and… Smaller doesn’t necessarily mean ‘not as good’.
IDM: Your latest release, Leap of Faith, was a whopper of a compilation (3 CDs, to be exact). Are you more for releasing chunkier albums with more material as opposed to short-burst EPs?
Perfect Stranger: Well I’ve had a long career as you mentioned. The idea was to create a package for all those hardcore Perfect Stranger addicts to have at home and enjoy including a Live Act recorded with the crowd… This was a very cool project. I am not sure if there will be more Perfect Stranger full length albums in the same media format [CD], so it was a really good call, and it was sold out too.
IDM: Over the past few months you’ve also released a few remix tracks, for example the Behind Blue Eyes & Sun Control Species remix that was released on the Banel 25 Year Anniversary CD. As much as we love these, I know everyone’s aching for some new original tunes. What’s your current release schedule looking like for more original Perfect Stranger tracks?
Perfect Stranger: Unfortunately I don’t have any immediate news on that front… I’ve done a few collaborations lately – one with Sphera and a couple with Gabi 2B ( more on the techy side ) and there are many more Perfectly Strange remixes to be released (heaps more) but there are no original Perfect Stranger tracks for now and it may have to do with your earlier questions about the ‘new age progressive…’ It also has to do with the fact that I am an extremely sought after remixer and that consumes time too. I believe though that in the future there will be more Perfect Stranger tracks on my own, as I’ve made up my mind to make more original music for my label, Digital Structures.
IDM: You helped James Copeland [Broken Toy] a lot with his new project, Sad Paradise. He has cited you as a major influence. What is the most common mistake you find that ‘full-on’ producers make when they attempt progressive and/or techno?
Perfect Stranger: That they don’t change their mindset except to lower the IDM some 7 – 8 beats and that is it.
IDM: Final question: You spend a lot of time traveling. Do you have any specific things you do to stay fit and healthy? [It must take its toll: airports, planes, hotels, parties and then all over again].
Perfect Stranger: Generally speaking I eat healthily compared to the average. I don’t eat dairy products except occasionally milk in coffee. I don’t have any yeast / flour related food in my house… whether it is plain bread, cookies, cakes, pasta – I don’t have it. I don’t mind eating that on the road, but not at home – plus no Junk Food whatsoever– no Pizzas, no McDonalds nothing of that kind. I try to get to gym as much as I can, but sadly not in the last 4 months.
Interview questions compiled by IDM & Ethan Storm
Perfect Stranger Details