ALPHA 9 is ARTY who was born and raised in Russia. His breakthrough track as ALPHA 9 was "The Night Is Ours" that was released the previous year, followed by more recent records like "No Going Back" with Spencer Brown and "All We Need", which all saw widespread success on labels like ARMIN VAN BUUREN's Armind, Above &Beyond's Anjunabeats and FERRY CORSTEN's Flashover Recordings. He has already made his debut at Ultra Music Festival last year and took Miami by the storm with some of the best music in classic trance. Chances are you already heard or seen him perform recently at Insomniac's flagship festival, Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas earlier in May this year that drew in a crowd of over 135,000 people.
People have listened to you widely as ARTY. Describe to us the Alpha 9 sound.
Since day zero, ARTY and ALPHA 9 have a lot of things in common but at the same time I wanted to separate both brands. People will know when they attend a show it's either ARTY or ALPHA 9. It was really important for me to separate those brands as much as I possibly can. Sonically, ALPHA 9 has a more cinematic sound. ALPHA 9 enables me to play a lot of the music I used to love. It is pretty incredible because there is no song that ARTY would play from an ALPHA 9 set and vice versa. It also keeps me fresh, to be able to jump between both projects with completely different music. I won't be stuck with the same sets for the rest of the year. ALPHA 9 helps me a lot with inspiration.
What inspired you to create this project? You mentioned on social media that it was actually a project that you brought back.
Yeah, a couple years ago my fans have been asking me to do something that I used to do before because they miss this music. Not many producers did this kind of aggressive trance and carried on with it. In 2017 I realized I missed producing this kind of music as well. It was such an important moment in my career and it affected my personal life as well. It was really nice to get something different that I didn't do for a very long time. Getting back to my roots and giving my fans what they want to hear. They were so excited and so supportive. It's a pretty incredible feeling.
What is the story behind the name?
I think it was in 2009, I made a track called "Bliss" on Flashover Recordings, which is Ferry Corsten's record label. They really liked the track and they were going to send me the contract. When I looked at the contract I was like that's not right because they wanted to sign my name exclusively and I cannot really do that. So at the time I just made up a name and ALPHA 9 was born. I didn't even know where it came from. I mean it doesn't sound bad or awful. Apparently I like it still. So we signed the deal and we came to an agreement with his team that ALPHA 9 shouldn't be signed to his label anymore about a year and a half ago.
There was a lot of anticipation for ALPHA 9 at EDC this year. Many festival goers didn't exactly know what to expect let alone who it is. Now that you've performed at such a flagship venue can we expect ALPHA 9 at other big festivals in the future?
For next year for sure. Right now festival season is kind of a little bit over. I debuted the project at Ultra Music Festival in Miami, FL. It was really incredible because I had to make a lot of new content and put entire new set together with music I haven't played for years. I've played Tomorrowland and Electric Daisy Carnival this year. I've also played Dreamstate in Southern California last year. I'm constantly doing so many things that surrounds both projects. It's really easy to get lost in it sometimes.
Does performing under two aliases mean twice as much studio work?
Yes absolutely. Before I would spend like 8 or 9 hours in the studio and now it's almost a whole day. These are my weekdays for me. It starts at 3pm and ends up at 6 or 7am.
Talk to us about your record "Sleepwalker". What inspired you to produce this?
I was on Splice going through some samples. I found some chopped vocals that I really liked for this project. I messed around with it for 3 hours and after that I pretty much had the entire structure for the record. I wrapped up the production pretty fast. It reminded me of something old school. Like the trance we heard in the mid 90's. I found a sample and did a bunch of effects. I was like wow this sounds great I should definitely be releasing this.
Do you have any upcoming records you can share with us about?
There's a bunch of stuff that I'm currently working on. Nothing specific for the rest of the year.
We feel like there's some level of mystery when you perform as ALPHA 9. Do you feel like over time that aspect of the not knowing what to expect will eventually diminish? Do you want to keep it that way?
I don't feel like there is as much mystery now as there was before in the beginning. My core fans definitely know that this is my second project. While others don't know I have no problem with that. You know I hear a lot of "Oh ALPHA 9 was great at this festival, and I didn't know that that was ARTY." It's a really cool moment when people realize that. It won't be much a mystery because I'm not trying to hide it. I had the project since 2009 with earlier releases. The last release was in 2010 on Flashover Recordings as ARTY presents ALPHA 9. It shouldn't be a mystery, I know people already Google it.
Lately there's been a trend of bringing on celebrities, drama, etc. when it comes to performances. You are one of the rare and respected artists who have strictly stuck to taking listeners on a musical odyssey. What's your take on that?
With ARTY, a bunch of my DJ friends would come on the stage and we would play tracks together. For ALPHA 9, the whole experience is about beauty, darkness, happiness, powerful, deep and cinematic picture. It's definitely geared towards more a storytelling project than your typical DJ set. For me, it's just about the music experience.
How is the music culture in Russia compared to the rest of the world?
There's is definitely less attention to electronic dance music. There's also a lot of great producers. I'm actually surprised that Russia didn't export more talents worldwide. I think it might be due to the aftermath mentality of not wanting to be signed by the label. I feel like dance music should get a little bit more recognition. That would help a lot because I was once there as a young DJ trying to figure out ways to succeed depending on my talent and hard work.