Israeli producer Dan Farber started making a huge buzz in 2011 with releases hitting the Top 10 on the Hip Hop Beatport Chart for both Buygore Records and Mad Decent. With his original banger “Bootyzilla” racking over 2 million plays and his remix of “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix scoring more than a half million plays, Dan’s versatile production style, heavily influenced by the Middle East, has given listeners a taste of what an original artist has to offer. Dan’s newly released EP on Dim Mak Records Middle Eastern Jungle consists of a 5-track mixture of mesmerizing dirty synths, compelling drums, and snappy snares.
We wanted to get to know him a little better, so we asked him about his musical upbringing, the dance music scene in Israel, and of course his new EP Middle Eastern Jungle.
SR: How did you get your start? What made you want to produce music?
DF: Music has been a part of my life since the beginning. My father is a composer for theater and ballet as well as classical and orchestral, my mother has played piano her entire life, and my brother is an amazing drummer. I’ve grown up in music and didn’t really have a choice but to start at a young age. I started with piano lessons but once I got a little older decided I wanted to play the bass guitar. I got really into hip-hop around ’96 while visiting my cousin in South Africa, and when he played me Gravediggaz “1-800 Suicide”, I fell in love with the rap game. I instantly started playing new bass lines on hip-hop beats, combining what I grew up listening to with my new love ‘hip-hop’.
Not very long after, I started writing lyrics to get away from a few problems I had and found myself annoyed with writing my verses on instrumentals. So I downloaded Fruity Loops and started playing around with it. Back then I didn’t have any sample packs so I just chopped samples with this software called “SoundForge” and every time I heard a clean snare or a nice bass drum from a funk record I was like, what?! I gotta chop that and use it for my beats. After about a year or so, I was contacted by the rapper Shi 360 from TACT who wanted to hear some beats I’d done. I went to TACT’s studio and signed my first in-house producer contract at 18 years old.
SR: At a young age you started producing and writing for TACT. Tell us more about that. How did you get that hook up and what did you learn from that experience?
DF: As I was saying, I went to my first meeting with TACT and met with the A&R and lead rapper Subliminal. We instantly clicked and sat listening to about 80 beats I played. From that moment and for the next 5 years, I never left the studio. It was an amazing experience to be surrounded by super talented engineers and amazing equipment, learning a little about the analogue world and about recording instruments and tracking vocals. I moved on to producing and writing full records, found myself recording vocals and main hooks for the label, and after awhile the main guy convinced me to tour with them and MC. I was performing in venues all over the world; it was a blast. Once my contract was up, I decided it was my time to shine and open up my own production house.
SR: What’s your approach on making a track?
DF: I usually work a lot on the drums; I tend to spend hour son my drum section. I’ve seen so many producers just using a kick snare clap hi-hat patterns but my drum section always has textures and layers. I also try to never use the same snare or kick on all of my tracks. I want to make it interesting, switch it up a bit and surprise everyone…you can check it out yourself 😉
From there I go to the main melody, the chord progression, the emotional factor. I work hard on my arrangements, trying to make the track give the listener an intense feeling when they play it, from going really loud to super chill and vibey. I do a lot of resampling…I find myself writing lines on a midi and sample the lead into a sampler to creative something completely brand new. It’s definitely something I think about when I’m producing; how to create a sound or a specific move/drum hit no one has ever thought about doing before.
SR: Your debut EP Middle Eastern Jungle just came out December 9. What track on Middle Eastern Jungle are you most proud of?
DF: Hmmm, tough questions, they’re all my babies. I would go for “Smoke That”. Not really sure why, but I just love the way it hits.
SR: Which track on Middle Eastern Jungle did you have the most difficulty with and why?
I actually had fun working on the EP. I would say “Bellydancer” was the most difficult one for me, making the preset for the lead was a pain in the ass, and I’ll be honest and say I wanted a verse on this song but couldn’t find the right one. I wasn’t sure about leaving the first drop as the second, and well, I was struggling with the track a long time after it was finished.
SR: Who has been your biggest influence for this EP?
DF: My biggest influence would be my old catalogue of beats 😉 I used to make Middle Eastern beats back in the day…naturally it’s music I grew up listening to since I’m from the Middle East. It was really easy for me to fish for samples and ideas. It was super natural for me to make a theme of the Middle Eastern vibes and create the EP.
SR: What makes your music unique as opposed to other trap and bass producers?
DF: I come from a different background. When I was young it was “cool” to play guitar and drums in a band. Writing songs, it’s a whole different approach. I also had the opportunity to focus on my sound design for two years, barely producing only perfecting sound. But there are so many cool producers from the scene, a lot of creative individuals and I have respect for them all.
SR: What is the electronic music scene like in Israel? What makes it different than the scene in the United States?
DF: Well it’s pretty much the same but smaller! We have TONS of talent around here. I feel like the underground scene is super cool and now with the growth of EDM a lot of the new up and coming producers are rising with some nice tracks. I get so many new tracks everyday from local talent. Parties are smaller, everything is in smaller proportions, but still have a unique vibe to it. S/O to the talented producers & artists hailing from Israel (Ori Shochat, Yarin Lidor, The Kokoro, Maor Levi, Jetfire, Adi Ulmansky, HTTP, BeainDeaD, CoehnBeats, RIOT, ERISS and the rest). I definitely recommend checking out their SoundClouds <3
SR: What can your fans expect from Dan Farber over the next few months?
DF: Ohh, I’ve got so many new tracks and remixes and a bunch of dope tunes to drop! I definitely want to focus on my next EP with making more “songs” and less “tracks”. I’ve been missing some hooks and verses in my production lately! Watch out for this!
Snag Dan’s Middle Eastern Jungle EP on iTunes here!