Flashback: Envio – Touched by the SunJanuary 7th, 2009
October 13th 2003 has to be a memorable day for Swedish producer Ashkan Fardost. Aged only 18 years old, he saw his first ever hit, ‘Touched By The Sun’, getting released through the A State of Trance imprint of Armada Music. Its deep guitar riff, emotive drive and impactful break paved the way to numerous dreams to come true. Ashkan was only at the start of his game, with his Envio guise ready and set to conquer the world bit by bit.
Persion rooted, but born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden, Ashkan grew up with music being an important part of his life. At the age of 5, the first signs of his passion for trance music were showing by his amazement for Jean Michel Jarre. Only a few months later, he got his first keyboard and started developing his musical skills. At the age of 14, he discovered EDM and was immediately caught by its energy and diversity. He quickly learned about music software, and only 4 years later his first release was a fact. ‘Touched By The Sun’ got hailed by many and lifted Ashkan’s name to a higher status. As a result, Ashkan got the chance to work on a track with well-known producer Sven Maes, which resulted in Trance Energy’s 2004 Anthem: ‘Sunlight Theory’. The follow up of this track might have been the biggest success for Ashkan so far though. ‘Envio – For You’ left no speaker system around the globe untouched, and with its touching summer guitar and emotional strings, it left a memorable impression. It led to another impressive cooperation, namely one with Armin van Buuren and Nadia Ali. For those that didn’t knew: Ashkan co-wrote ‘Who Is Watching’. That’s how far a first production can stretch. Housy banger ‘Good Lovin’, that was released on the Fame imprint under his Ashman guise, shows just how diverse this producer can be. But this talented youngster is definitely not at the highest peak yet. Even though he’s climbed up far, he’s still trying to look ahead to what might be left to conquer. Time to take a look at Ashkan’s past and future, with no one less than Ashkan Fardost himself!
Armada: What’s the story behind ‘Touched by the sun’?
Ashkan: ‘The story behind ‘Touched By The Sun’ is actually giving somewhat of a hint of itself in the title. Located almost at the north pole, with thick snow half-way up your freezing legs, longing for the summer and beautiful sunsets at the beach is inevitable. I must say I do love winters, but after a couple of months below zero degrees it gets tiresome indeed, like having hot coco everyday for 1 year. After that year, hot coco will not be high up in your favorite drink list. I would even stretch it as far as saying that any drink containing white chocolate will be absent on that list. Oh ok, back to the story! I was longing for the summer badly, so I just sat down and thought of which live-instrument that can capture a sunrise or sunset the best. After discarding the piano, violin and some middle eastern flutes (they happily found their way back into my ‘Patience, Not Vengeance’ track though) I almost felt ashamed for not having tried the guitar at first.
And there I was, playing the melody from ‘Touched By The Sun’ at the first take (no joke). Luckily I was recording at the same time, and all the other sounds just emerged naturally around the guitar. The track was actually finished within three hours if I am not mistaking, excluding the mixing and mastering session the day after. So all in all, an indescribable longing for the summer lead to a guitar lead and the guitar lead led to the rest. Those three hours felt like ten minutes. ‘
Armada: How old were you when you produced it?
Ashkan: ‘I had just turned 17.’
Armada: How did the track end up at Armada? Did you feel it was the right place to release it?
Ashkan: ‘My very good friend Lars Jacobsen (DJ Elusive) made a CD with four tracks of mine, and sent them to a selected list of different labels. And of course he did this without telling me beforehand, so when he one day told me that I should keep my telephone on all day and make sure it’s not on silent mode, and make sure I check my mail frequently, I thought he was just weird. An hour later I didn’t know how to thank him for believing in my work the way he did, because let me tell you my friends, there were some heavy labels involved!
But Armada was definitely the best place for the track and myself to find a musical home. Being a fan of Armin van Buuren since the day I started listening to trance (the first trance track I ever heard was actually ‘Alibi – Eternity’), and the list of artists that were dealing with Armada at that time, the other labels had a hard time to beat this deal. So to be honest, the choice was not hard at all, even after talking to all of my friends who were involved in the business at that time. I guess the only gamble was that Armada was a brand new label, but with already famous icons Armin and David Lewis behind it, it was barely a gamble at all.’
Armada: Would we be right if saying the song caused your breakthrough or do you feel that ‘Envio – For You’ is a bigger one and is considered to be more of a classic than ‘Touched by the sun’?
Ashkan: ‘ ‘Touched By The Sun’ will probably always be the track that is first associated with most fans of the Envio project, so in that sense that will be the track that definitely caused my breakthrough and put Envio on the map. So personally, that is the classic Envio track. However, the newer members of the trance community will probably be familiar with ‘Envio – For You’ at first, so in their minds perhaps ‘For You’ will be their Envio-classic. I guess it’s a relative thing. But it is definitely right to say that it caused my breakthrough.’
Armada: Any special memories regarding the track?
Ashkan: ‘All of my memories from anything I have experienced in the trance community will always be connected to ‘Touched By The Sun’. Whenever anybody asks about my time in the world of trance, the letters from ‘Touched By The Sun’ and the guitar lead will start to swirl around in my head. But I guess the most memorable one will be that day when Lars told me to be a little bit extra alert on the phone and my e-mail. Will never be forgotten.’
Armada: What’s going on at the moment? Any special projects you’re working on? Any new ‘Envio’ coming up?
Ashkan: ‘At the moment I am working on two projects, that are both on priority level number 1. One of them is the album for my ‘Ash Kahn’ project, of which I have got the notion that many Envio-fans are well aware of and following, and most importantly enjoying a lot. That is the most important thing to me, because without them I would not be doing this interview and everything else that have led me to this very moment. Also, knowing that my fans from the past enjoy the music I am doing in the future, is the most vital source of inspiration for me. So all I can say about this project is that if you enjoyed the use of rare instruments in a certain genre (e.g. guitars and violins in trance) and have a good feeling for chill-out music, you will for sure enjoy the ‘Ash Kahn’ material.
Regarding any new Envio projects, I have at the moment the following to say… Listening to and writing/producing basically the same genre of music for eight years has a downside (at least for some people), and that is the fact that you will sooner or later burn yourself out. I felt a year or so ago that I was saturated with anything that has a 4/4 dance beat, everything sounded the same, I didn’t get that fantastic feeling it used to give me anymore (I guess the hot coco metaphor fits very well in here as well). So I just realized I had to take to the most dramatic counter-measure against it, and simply stop forcing myself to still like it and move on to all the other genres that are completely unrelated. I think this is the best way for me to come back to dance music 100% naturally, and be able to perform as well as I did when I made ‘Touched By The Sun’ and the other Envio tracks.
I am every now and then doing some bits and pieces of things that could eventually become an Envio track, but I do not want to finish them off in a standard manner and make them sound like old Envio material, or just create beats that ‘work well on the floor’ to let them back the bits and pieces I strongly associate with the Envio feeling. In other words, I will not entitle anything Envio until I am fully certain that it will out-master any previous work of dance music of mine, just in order to keep the Envio-alias alive and collect some amounts of cash or whatever the reason would be. According to me, doing that is the perfect recipe for destroying a project, and every other previous work from that project at the same time. Hopefully, by not being able to listen to dance music for a while now, the next Envio track will sound as new and unique to our present time as the very first one did five years ago. So let me make this clear: Envio is not dead, it’s just in a healthy coma (or a musical bear pit).’
Armada: You’ve co-produced Armin’s ‘Who’s Watching’. How did that happen? Did he ask you to?
Ashkan: ‘Actually, this was the result of a very spontaneous encounter with Armin. This was at first not a plan by either of us. I just showed the guitar lick from the song to Armin simply to ask if he thought it was good or bad according to him. The consequence was that it ended up in the song, and as if that wasn’t enough, Nadia Ali did the very beautiful vocal work for it. I guess I got my answer there!’
Armada: You also produced some really housy stuff, like ‘Good Lovin’. How do you manage to produce this diverse?
Ashkan: ‘I have discovered that whenever I realize that I literally love a certain genre of music, I automatically start to write the same kind of music myself. The newer and the more rare the genre is to me, the more inspiration and ideas I get in the beginning. This was even the case with trance, as I hadn’t listened to trance for not more than one or two years before I made ‘Touched By The Sun’. It’s actually funny when thinking about the fact that my record collection consisted of countless albums with Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G., Pete Rock and similar artists before I discovered trance. After a couple of years listening to trance I discovered house music, and the same thing happened there, hence ‘Good Lovin’. Later on, I discovered the heavy chill-out stuff from the Buddha Bar collections and such, and yet again the same thing happened again, resulting in the ‘Ash Kahn’ project. I hope these hopeless love-affairs with different music genres don’t apply to my personal life. Without being ironic in any way, I guess I will disprove it when the next Envio track is ready!’
Armada: What’s to expect from you in the future?
Ashkan: ‘In the future, what to expect is the other priority number 1 project mentioned earlier. I still don’t know how to describe the project, because it has emerged very spontaneously and fast. Me and a couple of very good friends and fellow musicians, while attending a music festival, discussed about how cool it would be if we could just meet one day for a jamming session. Nothing serious you know, just for fun. A nice change of environment from parties and such, a calm and relaxed evening of time well spent if you will. So we did. In fact, we ended up recording a song which was way beyond our expectations. With all of us living in the same city and attending the same university, it would be a pity not to follow this up. As all of us had other friends who were heavily involved with music, we decided that we will not create a ‘band’, but instead a collective, where we meet frequently and anyone of us can invite other musicians to jam during different sessions, and thus letting as many different ideas as possible to cross our paths in the making. Through this process we will just record good and unique music, without any boundaries to genres or any aims at different markets or crowds, just good old music. Solely for the fun of it and love for it. We don’t know where our tracks will end up, but the first track is up at my MySpace-page at the moment (www.myspace.com/envio , couldn’t resist advertising about it here) until we have finished our first EP for which we will launch a separate MySpace-page and website. After that, we’ll just have to see what fate has in store for us.
Oh, as I am answering this last question, the Arksun Filmscape Remix of ‘Envio – Time To Say Goodbye’ started playing on my iTunes. I don’t believe in signs, but let me say it feels mysteriously weird, talking about the future and all’_ ;-) ‘
Download ‘Touched by Sun’ here .