It can be tough finding an equilibrium as a musician. While, generally speaking, electronic artists have much more license and musical freedom than mainstream pop artists, there are still constant pressures to be dealt with, whether internal or external. One artist who seems to have figured out the equilibrium is Moldovan producer/DJ Andrew Rayel. Born Andrei Rata, he is a classically trained pianist and musician. He got an early start learning music as a child and over his teenage years, he honed his craft and developed a signature sound. Rayel got his big break back in 2012 when his early tracks caught the ear of Armin van Buuren, and Rayel’s tracks started becoming a fixture on Armin’s A State of Trance radio show.
Fast forward almost a decade later and Andrew Rayel is one of the most recognizable names in the trance genre. He’s got a long discography including two studio albums, his own record label, InHarmony, and he’s homing in on 250 episodes of his own radio show, Find Your Harmony. Already off to a quick start in 2021, Andrew just released his second single of the year, “Silver Lining.” We got the chance to sit down and chat with Andrew about his new single, his growth as an artist, his burgeoning radio show, quarantine things, and much more. Read our full interview below.
Hey Andrew! Thanks for chatting with us. We’re coming out of one of the strangest years ever. Tell us about your 2020 and how you got through without touring and shows?
“Well, it was definitely a very hard, very weird year for all of us. Honestly, I…probably nobody expected the year to go down that way. I had a bunch of shows the first two months, in January and February, and everything was going fine. January is always a slow month, I had like three or four shows. February was like a full-on, three shows a weekend. I did A State of Trance, I did a bunch of festivals in Europe. It was looking like it was going to be fine, we even managed to do a Find Your Harmony show, the first planned of many, in New York at Avant Gardner. So, I was able to have one solo show; it’s my brand, it’s one of those shows that I invest a lot of money in, I bring in a big crew, I think it was around 3,000 people. And it looked great, it looked like it was going to be one of those great years.
On March 8, I remember that specifically; all the news started to come in, all the countries started to close down. I know a lot of my compatriots that were late to come back to the country, they got stuck in the airports, they got stuck in places for weeks, they had to sleep in weird places just to get back home. I was one of the lucky ones to get back right before everything started to close down. The first two months, it was like, yeah, okay, we’re just going to wait inside, like a short vacation. I’m going to stay home in the studio and not go anywhere and probably in like a month or two, worst case three months, this is going to be over. We’re going to get back on tours, summer was upon us, Tomorrowland, EDC, but they said we’re going to do EDC in October. It looked like there was hope in 2020, regarding touring. But, then, time was flying and things were getting worse and worse and worse.
I think one of the things that got me through the quarantine was with my radio show, Find Your Harmony. We went with audio-visual live streaming. Usually, the show was just a pre-mix with my voice and some visuals. Then I thought, I’m at home, I have a lot of time, I’ll definitely be free one day a week to do this radio show live. Since then, basically, it’s almost one a week, I’m doing Find Your Harmony live from the studio. Mixing tracks live, talking, all the cool stuff, one of the things that got me through 2020. And, of course, a lot of production, a lot of writing, a lot of making music. I think I released six tracks. A lot of music and a lot that wasn’t released in 2020, a lot of those demos are still here and hopeful I can release them this year. So, a very busy year regarding the music, not so much regarding the touring.”
Tell us what to expect from Find Your Harmony as we lead up to Episode 250?
“We’re thinking, what’s the best thing we can do right now? We were thinking about a virtual festival with animation, different DJs just recording stuff in front of a green screen. There’s a bunch of ideas, but we’re definitely going to make something big, getting some special guests. Doing something online, that’s the best thing we can do right now. As I told you, last year we had so many shows planned for Find Your Harmony. Different festivals, different solo shows, we were going to do the Hollywood Palladium. We were going to do a lot of big shows, in the U.S., in Asia, everywhere. And, obviously, everything got cancelled. So, now we’re just making the best we can with what we have. So, yeah, the plan is to either create a virtual festival or one big long show with different guest mixes. That’s the best we can do, but there will still be a lot of cool surprises.”
Let’s talk about your new song “Silver Lining.” Tell us a little about the production of the track, it’s probably a little bit different from what your fans would normally expect.
“It is. I told my fans already while teasing the song, trance is my life, it’s my favorite thing in the world, I’m never going to stop making trance. I grew up with trance music, it’s in my blood and my soul, and that releasing a track like “Silver Lining”, which is a little bit more pop-oriented, doesn’t mean that I’m going completely that way and I’m not going to do trance anymore. I just want to be honest with my fans. It’s one of those tracks that I wanted to try more for the radio. Obviously, I want to grow the Find Your Harmony and Andrew Rayel brands, and one of the strongest ways to do that is the radio. Unfortunately, not many big radio stations play trance, so you want to go with a little bit more pop-vocal style. Obviously there will be trance remixes of this song that I can play in my normal sets. But, we went with more of a summer vibe, with a concept that is pretty much related to what’s happening in the world right now. Silver lining, even though there’s so many awful things happening in the world right now, there’s still positive things to take from the whole thing. For me, it’s probably spending more time with my family, spending more time in the studio making more music, connecting with more people online. But, yeah, it’s just one of those things that even though there’s so many bad things happening in the world right, there’s still a positive outcome.”
Are you looking to experiment with new sounds and genres going forward? What can the fans expect from you this year?
“I don’t think so. I’m still oriented more towards trance music and there’s so many great trance singles coming up in the future, of course the FYH 250 anthem, which is going to be a big surprise for a lot of people. I’m bringing back, I think you’re the first one I’m telling this, there used to be a style I created back in the day, and a lot of people have been asking about it and craving it for 10 years already. It’s called Aether, it’s one of the songs I made back in the day, and then I made that specific genre into a style. So, everytime I released an original mix, there would also be an Aether mix. So, it’s a specific sound that people really loved, and they were like, oh, you should do that again. So the FYH 250 anthem will probably be one of those Aether songs.”
Tell us a little about how you originally got into music? How did you manage to breakout and become an international artist?
“That’s such a long story. I’ve been in the industry since 2010. To make it very short, I was nine years old, my parents saw that I had this attraction to music, so they decided I should go to a musical school. I went to an audition in the middle of the year, usually they would accept kids in September, and it was already December, pretty much half of the year, I missed. But, they said it was fine, he has everything he needs in order to learn music. So, seven years of piano. While I was in the school, I realized, I’m not a big fan of learning other people’s songs. They would teach us Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart, all of that stuff. I had to learn that, but I wasn’t the biggest fan. I always wanted to compose my music.
So, I started to see what’s around, obviously I was composing music on the piano, but like 2-3 months later, I would forget it. And I was like there’s got to be a way to record all of this and save all of this. So that’s how I found out about all that software that was the new thing. I think I was like 12 or 13, one of my friends gave me a CD with a program, it’s still around, a lot of people use it, FL Studio. Years later, I moved to QBase, but that was the first DAW software I used to import my melodies and stuff like that. And then it was just years of practicing, learning to compose, arrangements, writing, mixing, mastering, all of that.
Up until I think I was around 17 years old, when I signed one of my tracks to a Russian label. And they were very connected to Armin van Buuren, they were sending a lot of their promos to Armin and he was supporting the music. That’s pretty much how Armin got one of my first songs, started to play the hell out of it. After like three or four releases on that label and all of them were supported by Armin, he was talking about those songs in his A State of Trance radio show. I got an email from Ruben de Ronde, and he said, hey, we really like your tracks, we see you’re very consistent, do you want to join Armada Music? Obviously I was blown away by that, and, of course I said yes. So that was in 2010, that’s when I got signed to Armada, and since then, every other year, it’s just been a bunch of songs that Armin is supporting. Like three or four songs in the ASOT Top 20 at the end of each year. I got into DJ Mag, I don’t even remember the number, I was like 70-something, then 50-something, then I was the highest climber one of the years, all the way up to like 28. But, yeah, released my first album, Find Your Harmony, started the radio show and the brand, released my second studio album, Moments. Toured all over the world, and I’ve gotten to the place where I can do my own shows and be the happiest person in the world. It’s still only the beginning.”
Have you been able to tour anywhere yet?
“I did only one show, it was in December, it was a Rave Culture show with W&W, they did a show in Thailand. So, it was the only show that I’ve done during the pandemic so far. Thailand didn’t have many cases, but we had to go through a whole process to get there. It was a bunch of papers to get before, so like a month of our guys working on papers with some embassies. Then during the whole stay they were testing us like every 2-3 days, we had to stay in a hotel for two weeks. Getting your temperature checked like 2-3 times a day. Then at the end they gave us this big ass certificate, like I graduated something. But, that was the only show we did.”
Outside of studio time and working on music, what did you do with all of your free time at home, any binge watch recommendations?
“Oh yeah, I’m a big fan of movies, I’ve been watching everything, I’ve been watching Wanda-Vision, all the Marvel stuff. If you name it, I’ve probably watched it.”
What are you looking forward to accomplishing this year, and any words for the fans?
“The main thing right now is the FYH brand and the radio show in general. I’m really working hard with my team to take it to the next level, to grow it. We’re getting higher numbers on the YouTube channel every week. Right now we have 500-600 people tune in live every Thursday, and then 20-30, sometimes 40,000 people watching it later. So, that’s the main thing we’re working on right now. And, of course, the label, InHarmony Music, which is the main source of music for the radio show.
So, we signed a lot of great producers, you probably haven’t heard of them yet, but I believe these guys are the future of trance music. Robbie Seed, Courtney Morgan, Tensteps. These guys are all over the place, from New York, Poland, Kuala Lumpur, Germany, they’re all producing amazing tracks. They’re also being heavily supported by Armin, Gareth Emery, W&W, Ferry Corsten, all the big trance guys. So, the label is also one of the main things we’re focusing on right now. And, of course, the music, my singles, the big aim right now for 2021, is to release a single like every six weeks. That’s pretty much the aim, to do even more music, because we think that people are very hungry just being at home, being bored, and they consume music super-fast. So, we’re probably just going to release a little bit more.”
Check out the latest single from Andrew Rayel, “Silver Lining” out now on Armada. You can also re-watch the Find Your Harmony 2020 Yearmix for three hours of Andrew’s favorite tracks from last year.