IN CONVERSATION: 

ETARI 

 

In the afterglow of her incredible new record, 'Rainbow Eucalyptus',  we sat down with LA based producer Lexi Andre to talk about her musical journey, production techniques and aspirations for the future. 

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There's those times that you come across a producer who seems to have a boundless enthusiasm for what they do, with the energy that comes across from their music giving us a reason to believe and dream again. Lexi Andre, who releases music under the name Etari, is certainly one of those producers, with her displays both as a music maker and a DJ undeniably infectious to the mind and the body. As someone with a deep rooted passion for what she does, Andre's music is driven by progressive melodies that ride high above deeply expressive drumming patterns, with the overall vibe one of sonic encapsulation that mimics the earthly rhythms that surround us all. Its music that operates very much within the rave but also in the downtime moments, with the atmosphere one of evocative tones and dreamy interplays. Its music thats immediately connective, drawing us into a world where colours and sublimity rule supreme, and that remains testament to Andre and her creative vision, which we feel will lead to many more game changing moments in the future. 

With her wonderful 'Rainbow Eucalyptus' record just dropping, we felt it was a opportune time to have a quick chat with Lexi to get the inside scoop on her story so far, from learning to DJ at the age of 16 to releasing music on Yellow Island and a lot of things inbetween. Its a fascinating insight into her story as a powerhouse DJ and producer, and it feels like a story that has come so far already but still has so much more to give, and on that note, lets dive right into her answers.....

 

Hello! So, let's start things off at the beginning - what kind of sounds were you listening to when you were growing up? What were the formative musical experiences of a young Lexi?

Hey there :) ahhh the beginning, let’s just say that music has always been such an important part of my life. Growing up I often listened to plenty of alternative rock and soulful r&b. I was basically that young girl cruising around after school just jamming out on her CD player blasting the ‘Hybrid Theory’ Linkin Park album from start to finish, easily one of the most iconic albums ever. My mom and grandma told me that I would be in my room blasting the song “Crawling In My Skin” by Linkin Park and would be singing it at the top of my lungs and that thought brings a smile to my face because it’s clear as day that ever since my younger years, music has always meant so much to me. I’m also a die hard Sade fan, thanks to my mother for always blasting her cd’s on car rides and showing me an artist that truly inspires me til this very day. Sade’s track “By Your Side” will forever be that tune that makes me feel such a special type of way, my mom & I would always listen to that song together and sing it from start to finish, such a sweet memory. I eventually discovered electronic music at a very young age also and that definitely changed my musical perspective forever. Trance music was actually my first love when it came to electronic music, I think all of the heartfelt melodies and vocals are what had me hooked. I’m a complete sucker for melodious, emotional sounds when it comes to music, it just makes me feel so human and I love that.

You started Djing at the age of 16 - what were the main inspirations behind making steps into mixing tunes?

Yes at the age of 16! What's really great is that from a young age (around 11 years old) when I first discovered electronic music, I knew shortly after that I wanted to pursue music and become a DJ and produce my own music. I fell in love with the overall feeling that electronic music made me feel and I started doing my own research on rave culture and the music community and I just thought to myself this is it, this is what I want to do and it’s time to learn how to blend tunes together and create a story within that. So my parents were pretty rad and bought me my very first DJ controller, an ancient looking Numark Universal Mixdeck and I first learned how to mix by burning CD’s and popping those into the controller and just practicing daily when I would come home from school. I couldn’t wait to come back home from school and start mixing, it was my favorite part of the day haha.

Learning to DJ is heaps of fun and a great way to discover new music and genres. What sort of tunes were you mixing when you started out?

I agree! Thanks to DJing, it definitely taught me how to mix different styles of music and really get creative with it. When I first started out I actually mixed tons of trance! It was the first genre of electronic music that I felt truly connected to so it was an absolute must to start mixing those types of tunes. Eventually I branched out into other genres and subgenres within electronic music as my music taste evolved over the years.

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What were your first steps into production like? What sorts of things inspired you to get into making your own tracks?

I guess diving into music production was the next natural step for me to take after practicing how to DJ for about a few years. I started producing music about 6 years ago in Ableton and haven’t stopped since! I’d say that I’m definitely an emotional human being, so it’s important for me to express those feelings into my music and considering how much I love dreamy, melodic sounds, I really have learned how to channel whatever emotion i’m feeling into my music and create a story that hopefully others can relate to in some type of way. The ultimate inspiration for myself when creating music is the undeniable fact that music is the universal language, like, that’s pretty sick to be able to reach people from all around the world with your passion. 

Would you say that your sets and the kinds of tunes you were mixing had a big impact on your own productions? It's always inspiring to hear how tunes flow into one another!

Absolutely! I’d say that the majority of tunes I play in my sets, they definitely inspire me on a production level as well! I will say though, oftentimes when I produce music I never really have the focus of “how does this need to sound so I can play it in the club, warehouse, etc.?” energy wise, I just really go with whatever I’m feeling in the moment and let my creativity flow in whichever way it decides to go and most of the time my productions come out on the more so mellow side. 

How did the connection with Yellow Island Records start? What drew you towards the label?

Yellow Island Records is truly a family vibe, it’s been great working with this label since day one. I first connected with the homies over at Yellow Island in 2019 when they hit me up about one of my unsigned tracks that was on my Soundcloud at the time called “Conversation with Retrograde” and they really enjoyed the track and asked if i’d be down to release it with them on their very first label compilation and I thought hell yeah, why not? So that was the first interaction that eventually grew into me creating my very first debut EP called “Healing Herself” and releasing it with them and becoming a part of the label. They truly believed in me as an artist and my overall vision and sound which meant so much to me, it’s been a pleasure being a part of the Yellow Island Records fam. 

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Your sets for both the Yellow Island Shows on Internet Public Radio and Balamii Radio are all stunners, showcasing a melting pot of euphoria driven club sounds. What kind of approach do you make towards your sets? There is a lot of sonic artistry going on!

Ahh thank you so much, I appreciate the kind words and feedback! Love hearing that people enjoy the mixes! Euphoric driven club sounds are my absolute jam lol. My approach when making mixes for radio shows is actually pretty straight forward! It’s always about what type of story I can create within this hour of blending tunes together, that is my main goal at all times. I love mixing in key and also starting out with slower bpm’s and slowly but surely letting that energy rise within the mix and then returning back to where I started. I’ve always enjoyed mixing that way, it’s a good time.

Moving back into production techniques, how would you say you approach making music overall? Is it quite a laid back affair or do you do intense all-nighters?

Yeah, so I definitely don’t have much of a formula or anything when producing music! If anything I actually take breaks pretty often because production burnout is a bit too real lol, I’ve hit that roadblock many times and it’s not fun. I used to be really hard on myself when it came to producing and would feel disappointed if I wasn’t pumping out music constantly but overtime I realized that’s just an ego thing for myself and that producing music should always be fun, natural and a meditation experience. Now when approaching the music creating process I really have to feel some sort of spark, I need a sense of inspiration in order to make something that feels authentic. & that inspiration can really be anything! it can be a specific situation, an emotion, an experience or perhaps a dreamy melodic sample that I found or a vocal sample that made me feel that creative spark within, legit anything. As long as inspiration is there, that’s all I need to start a new tune and keep it going. 

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Your debut EP, ‘Healing Herself’, came out in 2019 on Yellow Island, and the contents are mesmerising. Tell us a little bit about the time when you were putting the tracks together for it and how it felt to release your debut solo effort.

Wow, thank you so much! That always makes me happy to hear that people are still loving that very first release of mine. That was a really huge project for myself and helped grow my artistry quite a bit which was very special. When making those tunes for that project I actually was in the midst of a social media hiatus for about 4 months or so and it felt absolutely amazing to let go of the constant scrolling and actually focusing on myself and creating music that felt so true to who I was in that moment. Each track name in that project held a heartfelt story, “Where The Light Pours In”, “Less Words, More Looking at the Sky” and “Just Breathe”, they all explained how I felt taking that break from social media and just really focusing on my being and becoming a much better person because of it. To get that project out into the world was one of the greatest feelings, truly. 

Would you say that as you developed the tracks for your debut EP, that you saw these sounds and styles as something to work with and develop in the future?

 

Oh hell yeah, 110%! Creating those tracks showed me immense artistic growth within myself and I knew these sounds and styles were the start of something great for whatever tunes I would end up producing in the future. I would say that the melodic sounds I produce make up the overall Etari experience. 

Aside from your solo EP, you have contributed some wicked tracks to the various compilations from Yellow Island. Do you enjoy making cuts for these larger collective pieces? Yellow Island feels like a real family affair!

I definitely enjoy making tunes for label compilations! The few tracks I’ve released on the Yellow Island compilations were all great pieces to keep as singles rather than a part of an EP or album project. Plus, it feels good to send out singles every now and then & not always be so focused on a larger project or release, it gives you a bit of a breather which is nice!

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 Your new release, ‘Rainbow Eucalyptus’, is a stunning take on melodic driven dance music. Tell us a little bit about the processes that drove the making of the album.

 

Thank you so much! I love the way you described the album, melodic driven dance music is my overall vibe! Basically this album started out as the idea of a 3 track EP and then it eventually just grew into this larger project that I didn’t plan for and I think that’s where all the magic came from when it comes to this release. The first track I worked on for this album was “Rainbow Eucalyptus” and I remember it was a late night studio sesh in my home studio at like 1AM and I came up with the main loop for the track and I let it play over and over again and I was so beyond stoked on how it was sounding. I had this feeling of knowing that this track was going to be the start of something great and it gave me this drive to want to finish it ASAP and once it was complete it gave me the inspiration I needed to start working on the project as a whole. The next tracks I started working on for the album were “Euphoric Disclaimer” and “Dandelion Dance” and they ended up becoming some of my personal favorites that I’ve produced til this day. These three tunes were definitely the driving force of the whole project. At first, they were going to make up the 3 track EP that I had in mind, but then that’s where 100% Silk comes in and thanks to them, this project ended up being so much more than I expected. 

100% Silk seems like a natural fit for your musical style. Would you say they’re a label you always had ambitions to release a record with?

I would say so as well! 100% Silk has some of the most ethereal releases i’ve ever heard and to be able to release an album on their label is truly one of the coolest experiences in my life thus far! They just really know how to inspire the artists that they’re working with. For example, I originally had the plan of making this project a 3 track EP and when I sent the demo over to them they absolutely loved it, but asked me if I’d be interested in making this an album since 100% Silk loves to release larger projects and although that wasn’t the original plan, i’m so beyond stoked that the idea of an album release was lit up and “Rainbow Eucalyptus” came to life. I highly recommend working with the 100% Silk fam, they are awesome.

Seeing as you have a larger collection of tracks to work with on this album, did you find yourself adding more to each cut in terms of themes, narrative and sonic depth?

Oh yeah, definitely! When it came to the overall theme of this album I knew I wanted to express the beauty of nature and what it feels like to me but within music, and that’s why each track name has a very ethereal, earthy feeling to it and it’s all ordered in a specific way to tell a story, as well as the specific melodic sounds and textures that I use in each track. For example, with ‘Dandelion Dance’ before I named the track, I was listening to it on repeat and was falling into a deep daze like “Hmm, what would be the perfect name for this tune?” and out of nowhere my imagination went to the thought of me as a dandelion flower dancing with all the other fellow dandelion’s and I was like… “Dandelion Dance, that’s IT. This is their track.” and that was basically my approach to all of the tracks on the album. Deeply listening to all the melodies, textures and overall grooves that I chose and asking myself what story does this track tell from my perspective.

Naturalistic elements seem to be a theme that runs through the core of the album, with a free flowing ness that mimics water flow and the winds in the trees. Would you say that pairing natural rhythms and the pulses of the dance is a key aspect of your sound?

Pairing natural rhythms and the pulses of the dance floor are 110% the key aspect of my sound lately! I know as an artist and individual I will always evolve within my music taste, but I must say that the current groove I’m in within my production style and mixes feels insanely right. I feel very connected and in alignment with my sound these days, truly a great feeling.

 

In the midst of all that is going on right now, where ideally would you first like to play the cuts off your new record when all the lockdowns end?! The crowd would lose their minds when ‘Euphoric Disclaimer’ hits…. 

Oooo what an amazing question!! Honestly, there’s so many places that I want to play at, but ideally I would love to first play the cuts off my new record in New York! I recently went there to visit for the first time and absolutely fell in love with it. I’ve only heard amazing things about the club scene in NY and to be able to play there, preferably Brooklyn, would be absolutely insane.

Finally, upon reflection of your new record, where do you envisage yourself moving onwards with your sound? we have great confidence it will be as equally amazing as this record!

I really envision myself continuing to explore my artistry and making more music that feels authentic, fresh and adventurous. I know things are a bit limited at the moment with the pandemic going on, but once these lockdowns end I would absolutely love to get back out there and start playing gigs again and do some traveling! Hopefully a tour at some point, that would be the ultimate goal once things are fully open again and the music scene is back and running stronger than ever. Stay tuned and thank you so much for having me! Much love :) 

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We would like to endlessly thank Lexi for her wonderful answers. You can listen to her new album, 'Rainbow Eucalyptus', here: 

https://etari.bandcamp.com/album/rainbow-eucalyptus

and be sure to check out her mixes here: 

https://soundcloud.com/etari

Background artwork by Lucy Wilcox (@lucilieuart)