Producer Azari Talks Headbands, Morphine, And Doing Laundry on Tour
Toronto’s Azari & III is one of those ubiquitous names in electronic music, cropping up seemingly everywhere amidst the remix ranks of MNDR, Robyn, Uffie, the touring ranks of Madonna, and pretty much anywhere that matters at all. They are a rather unusual foursome to have so much A-list success, producing moody dance beats and heavy lyrics with a sort of Haddaway frontman feel (feat. the seriously sharp-looking Fritz and Starving), but there is something booty-shake-inducing — albeit deeply disturbing — about their music that makes it inexplicably irresistible.
We caught Dinamo Azari Azari (Christian Farley) somewhere in Europe, where and the tour-weary, punchy producer reflected on Canada, Ibiza, socks, and the re-release of their single “Into the Night.”
Also check out the premiere of their new track
Where are you now?
I’m in Amsterdam, washing stuff at the automatic wash in the inner city, I guess you could say. Yeah, I’m just doing my laundry. It’s one of my favorite cities.
How was Ibiza?
Ibiza…it was amazing, from what I can remember. It was one of the best weekends for me because i got to go to this massive rock, Es Vedra, and it’s this magical rock that’s got magical powers, and we spent two hours trying to get to it because we kept going t the wrong way. It’s this epic moment when you find it. It’s 100 meters off the mainland, and it’s this huge rock. Yeah, Ibiza was amazing. We were hanging out with Lenny Kravitz too. We didn’t hit the rock together, though.
Is there a country that has completely shocked you with their support of Azari & III?
I mean, I’m surprised every show to be honest. Europe’s obviously pretty solid but you get these crazy moments in Russia or when we were in Bangkok, it was weird to see. It’s kind of random to be honest. We’ve been having some nice sold out shows in Paris and Amsterdam and London, but when you’re in Belgium you don’t really think of you as being someone who they’re freaking out over, but we just played the Werchter festival and there was just this massive amounts of people. The Germans are obviously extremely responsive as well.
And back home?
Back home, shit. We just did our first live show there in Toronto and it just blew us away. Everyone said yeah right, it won’t be that big, but it was probably my favorite show so far in our career. The Toronto fans went hard. Every song, people were singing along, it had that rock concert feel. All my closest friends didn’t even get in. There were guest list fuckups constantly.
Has your live show evolved over the years? Are you guys still improvving?
Yes, massively, but naa fuck improv, that was my first band. We’re done with the improv thing. Obviously there are moments that are being created live, and we’re not going to be playing the same songs live for 20 years, so when I wanna jack out on one of my songs I will. When I wanna throw in my extra songs I will, or make “Reckless” sound like some new kind of hybrid. That’s the only way I’ll stay sane and the rest of us will. We’ll play with the words. It’s easy moving, it’s morphine. It can really piss you off sometimes but it’s a moving beast.
Do you feel as Toronto is changing at all?
Yeah. It’s a very conservative city. It snagged the commerce from Montreal, built the square boxes really high, big and gray and boring, It’s been nice recently, we’ve been getting some nice architecture. Generally the Torontonians would go to Montreal and have some fun and its way cooler, or BC to enjoy the energy of the coast. Now I notice that everyone on the west coast is coming to Toronto. For instance Fritz is from the Yukon. It helps when you have some really dope acts, like MSTRKFT, Crystal Castles, even Justin Bieber is creating his sound for sure. It’s got all these interesting people creating their own brand, and we’re not really influenced by our main city. We encompass all the cultures. I’m sure there’s some, you know Balkan funk somewhere, some cumbia tronic . You’re gonna have all kinds of shit going on with the Latin communities, massive melting pot. It’s this massive melting pot.
The cultural things a bit boring, I’m a bit tired of talking about it. I’m proud of it, it’s cool. But…
Well it’s almost a moot point. Yes, music from everywhere is everywhere.. Let’s get over it.
Exactly. I mean definitely not as much in some areas where they’ve never seen black people still in Eastern Europe and they’re like 20-years-old. so there’s definitely a world where it’s not a moot point, no.
What’s it like to be pigeonholed?
Hm, we’re called Motown on acid. We’re trying to keep the precision of the Motown record, the catchy feel, but I don’t like to put much on that. There’s nothing wrong with being put in the house category. Electronic music is still fresh and new. Hip-hop got popular much sooner and so electronic music is still on the rise. I don’t know, you don’t have to think about it too much. If you start pigeonholing yourself, you start taking yourself too seriously.
How do you feel about the single “Into the Night” now that you’re releasing it a few years later?
When I was first creating it there was some heavy shit going on mentally, that’s why the words are pretty intense. It doesn’t really change for me, it is what it is. It is still the same thing, the same song. Our music is gonna last forever it’s not going to be a temporary piece of art.
What inspired it?
It’s a little bit personal, but basically when you get hit with something like, some information that’s life changing, yeah — I don’t know that was it.
Alright, what about “Hungry for the Power”?
That stems from this question of ‘who the fuck is in control of everyday things?’ And you start realizing that a lot of this shit is run by sociopathic behavior, and you realize that these motherfuckers are trying to kill you on a regular basis, but you’re too consumed by debt to realize what the fuck is going on. “Hungry for the Power” is about trying to figure out what’s going on, and you think you’re gonna win, and you’re not. And what people don’t realize is that it’s a love story. There’s a double meaning in there
I’m scared. Fritz and Starving hold it down with the fashion. What’s your style?
Hell no. I’m the one in charge! I’m just joking. I’ve got my own style. I’ve always had my own style. It keeps keep me fresh. I hold my own. But the boys are definitely classic. You know, back in the day I used to wear some crazy shit, they would have me jacked up in a leather suit as tight as it could get, it was pretty scary, with a yellow bumblebee sequence and collars. We would definitely rock the fashion side of our shows. It’s like I have this weird alter ego or doppelganger. We should really do an Azari clothing line! Gotta have it!
Big Boi has a line of socks now…
Yeah I can do socks. Headbands, fuckin’ whatever. There’s some great accessories out.
Any new original tracks or remixes in the works ?
We’re so busy touring we haven’t been able to remix too much. We’ve got a lot of high-profile offers, but it’s like if we have said no to you, sorry we are so busy on tour right now. Our live stuff, it’s pretty much manic. One day it’s this the next day it’s that. If we can sneak in one day on a five day break, we are trying to keep pushing for the original shit. We need to give someone original remixers happy.
Is there a ‘you scratch my back, I scratch yours’ mentality for remixing?
No I don’t think about it like that. I just want to make really bangin remixes.