Infected Mushroom are Erez Eisen and Amit Duvedevani, a duo from Tel Aviv, Israel, who are perpetrating some of the hottest electronic dance music ever fashioned by human hands.
Infected Mushroom’s roots lie in the tradition of anthemic, melody-driven trance music. This electronic dance genre is characterized by a relentless, thumping bass line and a much faster tempo than the hip pop music that currently dominates American dance floors. The focus in trance is on woven, intricate melodies and a steadily rising urgency crashing like a wave in final, ecstatic epiphanies.
Unfortunately for the Mushroom, hip-pop has a stifling grip on the U.S. dance scene. The Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy and Daft Punk are probably the most recognizable electronic dance groups stateside. And though these are all British groups, each draws heavily on hip-hop rhythm, loop and vocal techniques. Ironically, the major exception to this rule is the U.S. electronic group Crystal Method. Anyone who liked the highly melodic VEGAS album should take a serious look at Infected Mushroom. Get to know the duo in our exclusive EDM interview!.
EDM: Can you tell us about your early musical training?
EISEN: Well, I learned in a conservatorium in Israel, a school for classical music. My parents took me to learn over there; I had no choice and I hated it, of course. I played like 8 years, 10 years with them and that’s it. After that, I tried to make my own music with local band, nothing too serious.
EDM: What made you get started in electronic music?
EISEN: Well, basically… computers. I had only a computer at home and no keyboards that I could actually make music with. So my only option was to make music with the computer, which was sounding pretty electronic at the time.
EDM: Let’s go to you, Duvdev. Tell us a little about your musical background.
DUVDEV: Classical music, then moved to punk heavy metal bands. Then I got introduced to the trance scene back in ’91. I came in Israel to a band called Astral Projection, I was really blow away from this kind of music, and as a keyboard player I wanted to do that. I started going to raves back then and got hooked pretty fast.
EDM: What made you turn to punk and heavy metal rock bands to mix with your music?
DUVDEV: It’s what we started with. I’ve been listening to heavy metal since I was kid. When we started Infected Mushrooms as a side trance band, we just forgot about everything, you know? We left rock aside, everything aside. As time progressed and we did another album, and another album, we said: “You know what, let’s add some guitars.” Then we are back with the guitars, and then drums, and the singing. Now we’ve become a mis-match between heavy metal and electronic, becoming more heavy metal day by day actually. But we’re still keeping our electronic roots and just throwing everything in there.
EDM: What happened in 1991 that made you like electronic music so much?
DUVDEV: Well, some would say acid…some would say the music. I don’t know. I just saw something I had never seen before.
EDM: So how did you guys meet, and when did you guys start playing together?
DUVDEV: Well, in ’96, we both made friends with a mutual DJ. [Eisen] was in a band called Shidapu, so we started as Duvdev and Shidapu actually for the first 6 or 8 tracks that we did. We really didn’t like the direction, because both of us didn’t know what we were doing. We didn’t know what to get out of each other, so we hated the music. But people really liked it, which was really weird for us. People were going mental over it in Israel. Then we said: “We don’t like this direction. We want be more side, more heavy.” We came up with a track called Montoya, which was the first Infected Mushroom track because it had these distortions. And that started Infected Mushroom.
EDM: What year did you guys start to play as Infected Mushroom?
DUVDEV: ’96, we started playing around and working. Until 1998, when The Gathering came out. We finished The Gathering after half a year. In that time, we had nothing else to do, just doing music. We used to sit like 36 hours straight doing music – waking up, sleeping in the studio in a really small room…
EISEN: Sleeping 2 or 3 hours…waking up and straight working.
DUVDEV: We did so much music, so we actually finished The Gathering so fast. But nobody in Israel wanted to sign it because back in the day, side trance….we went to commercial labels, they didn’t know what it was. Nobody wanted it they said this would never work. Eventually, a company signed us, and yeah, it was a success. It was a big success in Europe, in the side trance community or whatever. And that’s how we started doing shows, a little bit in Europe, sometimes in Israel…the ball kept rolling and here we are today.
EDM: You guys now add a guitar to your music, the guitarist’s name is Tom Cunningham, right?
DUVDEV: We had a guitarist before Tommy. His name is Erez Netz. He is one of the most famous guitarist players in Israel. We added him like four or five years ago. But then we moved to Los Angeles, so it just made sense to have an American guitarist, and then an American drummer. We held auditions for drummers and guitarists, and we liked Tommy and his wife. When you choose a musician to tour with, it’s not only how good they are as a player, but how well you get along with them on the road. Because we live on the road. So he was a good choice.
EDM: In 2007, you guys brought on Brazilian percussionist Rogério Jardim to play during your shows. Tell us a little about what made you guys do this.
DUVDEV: After adding a guitar, we wanted to become a full set-up band on stage. So the logistics were drums and bass; we actually auditioned for drum and bass, not only drums. But bass didn’t go along with our massive kicks. It sounded weird for us at the time. So we said: “Let’s bring in a percussionist.” Rogério, besides being great on the road and great to work with, is really on beat. He’s a drummer, and has had many years playing with tempo beats and break beats and stuff like that. When you’re in Infected Mushroom, the music is so fast and we pay so much attention to the details and timing. So that was the most important thing and Rogério was the best.
EDM: Tell us a little about your new album, “The Legend of the Black Shawarma.”
DUVDEV: Everybody has a hard time saying it, hahaha. This album started two years ago as a concept. Me and Erez are always on the road, and we like to eat. And especially we like to eat street food. If we’re in Mexico, we’re searching for the best tacos, if we’re in Israel the best humos, in Turkey the best shawarma. So we started a food diary, and that’s the names of the tracks of the album, like Poquito Mas. Then came songs, like Smashing the Opponent and Killing Time, which have no meaning in a food diary whatsoever. So, it’s kind of a food diary with other songs. That’s The Legend of the Black Shawarma. When you see the cover of the album and everything, it shows like a mythical kind of forest with a lot of creatures all waiting in line for a shawarma.
EDM: Do you guys enjoy doing collaborations with other artists?
DUVDEV: The problem with collaborations is the time…our schedule is way too busy and the other artists are usually way too busy. So to even find like 3 or 4 hours here in the studio is a nightmare. We found it with Jonathan for Korn, and shooting the video of Smashing the Opponent…Jonathan is touring with Korn in Germany now, so we had to rent the video crew over there to shoot him with a camera over there, then bring it to the video over here. So yeah, it’s a problem. But we like collaborations because it gives an interesting sound to an album. But it’s a matter of time…the list is long and hopefully we will get some more in the future.
EDM: What other projects are you guys working on right now?
DUVDEV: Besides Infected Mushroom, we don’t have time for other projects because we tour all the time. As the album is done and ready, we work on other stuff like exclusive tracks for iTunes…also working on new material for another album. We’re shooting a lot of videos this year from live acts and stuff, so maybe a DVD. Which we’ve been saying for the last ten years, but has never happened. Maybe this year we’ll take it a bit more seriously. People ask us why don’t we bring out DVDs. We really want to. Like our music, we take it very seriously. So the DVD, we want it to be really serious. That why we never put out a DVD, because even if you bring us really good material we say: “eeeh…naw.” So hopefully maybe next year, you’ll come around and you’ll have a DVD.
EDM: Well thank you very much once again. It was a pleasure meeting you, and on behalf of EDM we would like to wish you the best.