New York-based live duo, MindGazm (aka Gregory Gelfand and Jenya Taran), have a unique, trend-setting approach to their art, creatively combining DJing, VJing and live instruments to bring a deep sensory experience to their shows.
As MindGazm unleash their brilliant debut EP on the legendary TRAX Records with ‘One Funky Evening’, 6AM digs deeper to find out more about this genre-busting talent…
Hi guys, it’s a real pleasure to chat with you today, how are you both?
Hello, we are very well thanks! And especially excited about our new release and to be able to chat with about it. A pleasure indeed!
Who did you listen to growing up and do they influence your music career at all today?
We both come from a background of listening to classical, heavy metal and classic rock music. Gregory has more of the classic rock and jam band influences, while Jenya has always been into dance music with some sort of melodic grace or heavy rhythms. Our early influences include Chopin, Metallica, Disco Biscuits, Bach, Mozart, Grateful Dead, Phish, Pantera, Bedouin and Jimi Hendrix, to name a few. And as a result, these musical giants, combined with modern-day influences such as Ben Bhomer, Yotto and more have influenced our minds to create some sort of a modern musical Frankenstein called MindGazm. All the body parts made up of various genres, and the heart in a Deep House Rock fusion aimed at lighting up the dance floor.
Who or what first turned you on to DJing and writing/playing music?
We both started as musicians trying to reach our audience’s hearts and souls. There is nothing better than people dancing and nothing more critical to making that happen than a DJ. Dancing is our primal freedom, it is when we are at out most intimate and most vulnerable states. There is a very special kind of ecstatic electricity that occurs when people get together on the dance floor to celebrate primal, tribal need for human contact and communication. The DJ is like the captain of this ship and the dancers are his passengers, crew and the wind. The DJ must bear all the responsibilities with grace and it’s their duty to get their dancers safely to their destination – a little island called euphoria.
As far as producing, we are living in a very exciting age, where you can get every sound you imaginable into a small computer to create and produce the most stunning compositions. The playing field for producers is so wide today, as you have everything available in the sonic spectrum. We always loved dance music, but at times the repetitiveness and lack of melodic tones edged us on to challenge the traditional establishment of Electronic Dance Music and to include more melodic tones and complex progressions. The result turned out to be a stew of genres with deep house roots and classical flavours.
How did you both meet and how long has MindGazm been working together?
We met on Facebook 7 years ago accidentally and became romantically involved a year later. About 3 years into our relationship we both realized that we love music and performing and that when we combine our minds and energies the results are painted in the stars.
Who does what in the band?
We both DJ and VJ, Jenya also sings and plays the keys and Gregory sings and plays guitar and flute. Gregory produces and writes the songs while Jenya helps with strategy, marketing as well as the look of the compositions. Most of the music is without lyrics, but there are tracks with vocals.
You use a lot of live instruments in your pieces, are either of you classically trained?
We are both classically trained and are looking to involve and remix some classical favorites as part of our future releases. Classics are not incorporated enough in the music today, especially in modern dance music.
You have just released your wonderful new EP, ‘One Funky Evening’ on Trax Records, please tell us about the release and what we can expect to hear.
The release basically tells a story of what happened ‘One Funky Evening’. ‘One Funky Evening’ during a ‘Sad Birth’ a ‘New Soul’ emerged into the world and was joined by the ‘Night Crawlers’. ‘One Funky Evening’ is a fusion between funk and jazz with melodic deep house. ‘Sad Birth’ is a bit more electronic and is an expression of the new beginning of genre breaking dance music. In the ‘New Soul’ composition, there is a union between live instruments jamming house and the traditional melodic deep house. And ‘Night Crawlers’ aims to set a new tone for deep house rock with its sound effects and samples of nature and random sonic frequencies.
Your sound is somewhat genre busting and all encompassing at the same time, is it fair to say that you like all kind of music?
Wow!!! We will definitely take that as a giant complement, as that is exactly what we are trying to achieve. We like all music and find influences in any sonic existence, but it’s really the classics in any genre that help us create our sound. Genre bending to challenging the listeners and performers is what we hope helps us stand out amongst the sea of emerging artists.
Please tell us a little about your writing process and what inspires your music?
The inspiration for MindGazm music comes from the repetitive nature of some House and Deep House music. We are both into melodic music, singing and performing, but a lot of the indie music can not come close to the danceability of deep house. If you look at the current sonic plane of any producer today, you will see a pallet of endless choices for inspiration and creation. Our everyday lives tend to lead us away from our personal creative process, and so MindGazm is an escape from this trap. Our music is a continuous stream of Fibonacci and nature inspired collages of music and visuals, that are meant to make you drift away into euphoria and perhaps if we did a good job, give you a mild shiver, or a gentle chill.
What’s your favorite piece of studio kit and why?
We have to be terribly honest and as much as we love our gear and instruments (including Gregory’s beloved American Stratocaster), it is all tied together with our Mac. It’s definitely our most fundamental piece of kit, as combined with live instrumentation, we can do anything and everything on it.
As a relative newcomers to the scene, how has it been for you getting things started and what obstacles have you come up against?
I think it is a very difficult environment for any incoming artist. As an artist you are always swimming against the tides and life to create your art. There is never enough time as there is an endless amount of inspiration and competition. I think one of the key obstacles is brand recognition. These days its not so much a face, but a brand that people respect in my opinion, building a brand that stands for unique music and visual experience has been our greatest challenge.
What can we expect to experience in a typical MindGazm show?
Jenya and Gregory both DJ and Vj as a core of the sound and visual experience. Gregory also plays the flute and guitar and Jenya accompanies with vocals, piano and synth. We also have guest musicians join us for some shows, including violin and horn players. The tracks vary from original to new and recent to hot releases, mixed in with the audio sensory overload. The interaction between visuals and music is a key aspect of our show.
Do you put a lot of preparation time into your sets?
We try to make every set unique and spend a lot of time focusing on how the sets flow and what pieces of the set can be removed or added, based on the audience reaction. There is always some element based on the occasion audience and the space, but there are also some pre set formulas of instrumentation and song combination that we find always work, no matter the audience. We put a lot of effort into creating an exciting experience for our audiences and hope to leave them hungry for more.
Who are your top 5 current producers?
Ben Bhomer, Yotto, Jody Westernoff, STS9, and Umphrey’s Mcgee.
How has Covid19 affected your work?
COVID has been very hard on us, but we have been trying to make the best of things and have been able to persevere. We started doing a virtual party and streaming with TRAX records. Screamin Rachael from Chicago (The Queen of House) has been very helpful in keeping the party presence going online. Her strength and inspiration during these difficult times of not being able to perform has helped us to shine and our debut EP is a result of this bond. There is possibly a renaissance of sorts coming, as there are so many creative people no longer able to perform, and we’re sure they are turning inward to create, which will surely come into the public eye once this pandemic is over. This will also fuel a new standard in creative performance, as so many people who were not serious about their art stopped doing it. The people that will be left will be the ones who live by their art, people who just can’t leave it alone, who’s existence demands that they create.
What else have you got coming up that you can tell us about?
We really hope that beyond our ‘One Funky Evening’ release, we will continue to release with TRAX Records and we’re currently busy working on some new music. Before the pandemic started we were working on an immersive experience which combines deep house music, visuals, actors, poetry, molecular gastronomy and molecular mixology with augmented reality based on Dante’s Divine Comedy rewrite. In fact we had our first event scheduled the week NYC closed down, so it never occurred. We hope to reschedule the event when we are allowed.