Techno Tuesday + Premiere: Gallya re-works deadmau5' 'Ira,' reflects on her rise to global renown
Techno Tuesday is a feature on Dancing Astronaut documenting the culture of underground dance music. We’ll bring you exclusive interviews, tracks, and narratives from artists within the techno, tech house, and deep house world in an effort to shed light on some of the best talent outside the world of mainstream dance music.
The electronic music spotlight grows on Eastern Europe as a new haven for sleek underground sounds. Gallya has found herself among the wave of house and techno greats rising out of the region, starting off on a strong note Set About, a label which she started alongside fellow Bulgarian Metodi Hristov —who’d already become an icon at that time. It was clear from the get-go that she’s one to watch. A year later, she was nominated by Beatport for its ‘Top Tech House’ award. Her sound has continued to blossom since then, with Gallya turning in a darker, headier direction and a series of Eps on mau5trap backed heavily by label boss deadmau5. She’s also earned support from Sian and the Octopus camp, cementing her place in the techno realm. In the past year, her path to global stardom has really begun to unfold, where she’s traveled to places like Sri Lanka, Tokyo’s Sound Museum, Lebanon, and of course, the esteemed UK institution, Creamfields. Expect her base to continue growing at top speed through the next year.
Keen to hear what Gallya has learned through her deeper immersion into the global music space, we sat down with her ahead of her latest release on mau5trap—a remix of “Ira (ov)” from the acclaimed Where’s The Drop? The LP saw composer Grégory Reveret pair with deadmau5 to recompose a collection of classics into pieces fit for a symphony orchestra. She takes an industrial approach in this one, forging a grimy breaks track that lays on the bass. Her hometown influence can certainly be heard in this one. Gallya expounds further on her closer relationship with mau5trap, her ever-evolving sonic palette, running a label, and more for this edition of Techno Tuesday.
In passing we’ve read about former Soviet countries (Georgia being a big one) and their conservative policies presenting some difficulty when it comes to trying to grow dance music scenes in these places. Do these issues exist in Bulgaria, and as a result does the country have a huge underground scene that persists out of government sight?
The politics in Bulgaria make it very difficult for certain parts of the music scene here– the government really doesn’t really care about parties or nightlife culture. In the last two years, they banned outdoor parties after 10PM, which is hard because historically we’ve had amazing parties on the beach till 7AM. I don’t think that will last after this government is out, but it definitely makes it hard. With the indoor clubs there is less of an issue with the government–you can party until 10AM if you want as long as it’s outdoors. Because there aren’t as many regulations on the indoor clubs, the capital has a ton of different types of parties. You can find very underground stuff but also big ones on different venues and weekly events. It’s a nice balance, but it’s definitely not a huge scene.
Who are some other rising artists from Bulgaria that we should be paying mind to? Techno or beyond.
Through our label, Set About, we’re really able to shine a light on Bulgarian artists we believe in. Two examples of this are Peppou and Martin Stoilkov, two really talented techno artists who you should look out for.
Have you ever gone through moments of burnout or passion loss as a result of making music into a career? How did you/how do you reinvigorate your passion if so?
Yes it happens sometimes, but I get through these moments by reading motivational books or just going to a really good party. Sometimes burnout moments give you really good studio moments if you push through them, but sometimes it’s hard to tell when to keep up and when to just take a step back and take a break–every time is different. It is important in these moments to remember that it’ll pass and everything will be cool again. I try not to take it too personally and just know that it’s part of the process.
Now let’s talk more about Set About – what were the factors that led to you and Metodi Hristov deciding to create the label, in your own words? What makes you two a like-minded musical pairing?
Metodi and I have always had similar music taste and the same desire to do more than just release our own music. We had a similar understanding of the music industry, so starting label together just felt natural. It’s our shared brand and the way for us to express our taste and share music from other artists that we like.
Also we started the label hoping that as we continue to grow we can also release music from newer producers who aren’t well known yet. When we started making music, it was hard to get anyone to care about our music because we didn’t have a lot of followers. I hate that side of the industry, and want to make sure we’re just shining a light on good music. Every one deserves a chance to be seen.
The age of the internet has brought about a huge increase in artists creating their own labels. Do you think this has had an effect on the role of a label in general within the music industry into not so much a ‘gatekeeping’ platform, but more of a collective-type format that gives the owners full creative freedom and a place to support their friends and artists they like?
I think this ties into my answer for the previous question pretty well –yes I think it’s great that everyone has a chance because that way the labels releasing quality music are able to be seen. Also it makes the big labels work harder, not just to count on the bigger names they have on their rosters. The competition creates quality.
But I really only feel this way when talking about the way the internet impacts releases–it’s great that there are so many ways to discover music, but I think social media has made it really hard for artists to let the music speak for them. There are a lot of “artists” on social media who have huge followings but are relying on ghost producers and just posting nice pictures on IG. People who do it for the fame and the money take away from the ones who work hard to make it about the music.
You’ve expressed your love for techno many a time; as it’s such a broad term with so many different definitions and styles, what does ‘techno’ mean to you?
Nowadays the genres are so mixed, there are so many different subgenres and types of techno so I don’t think I can really define techno as a whole, musically. It’s funny because some people would say I’m techno but others would call it something completely different, it’s all about point of view.
But to me Techno is a lifestyle and a state of mind. Techno can be really varied but it’s mostly the darker side of the electronic music, which really resonates with me. It connects people in a very special way. Generally techno is about raving till the morning and dancing to harder beats.
Over the past couple years you’ve been working your way into the USA dance sphere; a tough land to crack into. How has that process been for you and what have you learned in general about successfully securing rights to work/perform in other countries, as well as growing your fan base abroad?
Yes! I have a pretty big fan base in the US but unfortunately this is the audience I haven’t been able to meet yet because of how difficult it is to get a visa. It’s literally the only place in the world I’ve had this problem with, so I find it hard to stay connected with the people there – there’s only so much you can do without being able to connect with people in a live setting. It’s something that we’re working on. Most places are actually pretty friendly for visas, it’s just thinking ahead and getting the proper paperwork done. The US is a little different; there’s a big risk of getting denied so it needs to happen at the right time. It’s definitely been an eye opening experience and a lesson in patience. We’re working on making it happen in 2020, so hopefully I will have the chance to party with my people based in US.
What are three quintessential Gallya tracks that embody your sound and why?
My style has definitely been changing a bit each time I create music, which I find is a normal part of the process, trying to evolve with each track. I think the tracks I just finished in the studio are going to be the most defining for my sound, which is really exciting. Since I can’t share those yet, my three favorite tracks I’ve released so far:
1.Gallya – Still On Earth (Original Mix)
2.Gallya – Elements (Original Mix)
3.Gallya – Machines (Original Mix)
What are some artistic milestones you hope to accomplish over the next few years?
Playing more festival sets and get my visa for the US so I can start touring there.
You just had a great performance at Creamfields. How was it playing that festival for the first time?
It was amazing, definitely the best experience I’ve had in my DJ career. The vibe on the festival was magical and really enjoyed performing on that stage. I closed out a huge stage and it was very interesting and exciting.
And finally to cap it off, everyone’s fave question: what’s next in the Gallya pipeline?
Next is this very special remix I did for deadmau5, I’m really happy to be giving you guys the first look. Also many more releases, collaborations and exciting things coming, but it’s still early to talk about some of it.
Order a copy of ‘Here’s The Drop’ here