Infected Mushroom: ‘Some People Become Big With No Knowledge’
Co-founder Amit Duvdevani on “kids with laptops,” changing trends, and the decline of musical literacy among artists
Infected Mushroom are perhaps, oxymoronically, the biggest anti-purist purists the global electronic music circuit has nurtured in recent times. For all their pioneering work as psy-trance crusaders back in the Nineties, the Los Angeles-based duo comprising DJ/producers Erez Eisen and Amit ‘Duvdev’ Duvdevani have since glided through unsuspecting genres like there’s no tomorrow.
As if they weren’t wholly content with the super success of their psychedelia in the flagship albums The Gathering (1999) and Classic Mushroom (2000)-“bringing underground to mainstream,” as international media declared in no uncertain terms-Infected Mushroom gleefully embraced synthpop by the time their fourth record came out (Converting Vegetarians, 2003), moving on to explore rock, hip-hop, metal (Vicious Delicious, 2007), and more recently, straight-up pop courtesy a Lady Gaga collab. Dubstep and house too found inroads into subsequent material. Says Duvdevani over the phone from L.A. “I give it up to our fans for having followed us all through-from rock and heavy metal to trance.”
The duo, who famously average one gig every three days, are gearing up for their headlining performance at SulaFest in Nashik this weekend. For Duvdevani, who has spent a considerable time in India in the past, it’s a happy homecoming. “It’s exciting each time I visit India. I have been coming to Goa since I was a child.” It was Goa where the frontman’s love affair with psy-trance began after he spent a year there, fresh off his conscription in the mid-Nineties. Upon his return to Israel, he teamed up with Eisen in 1996 and the duo started working on material together. Their first record as Infected Mushroom was released three years later.
Thanks to their constantly evolving sound and commitment to cutting-edge technology, Infected Mushroom have marvelously managed to stay relevant through two decades, religiously packing in bigger and wilder experiments. They produce their own plug-ins; their immersive stage production can give any Tomorrowland-aspirant DJ #goals; and if the current social media climate demands anarchical AMAs on Facebook Live, they’re more than up for the challenge. “Technology has changed immensely and we’ve always been into it. We’re very savvy and it’s important for us to be. But of course, today, a kid can produce music with only a laptop and a keyboard. And people even like it and follow it. But we come from the old school.”
As artists who trained in classical music before dabbling in electronica, does it bother them that a whole new brigade of laptop lords with questionable music credentials are capable of helming the scene today? “Well, some people become big with no knowledge. But if audiences like them and follow their music, I can’t fight it. But if people can’t learn music, it will be a shame,” says Duvdevani. He is hopeful that just like “how vinyl and piano are back,” music-making in the studio will make a comeback too. In the mean time, no hard feelings towards the MacBook lot; actually, it’s remarkable how the latter have cracked the code to predicting trends and riding on them. In fact, Infected Mushroom haven’t done a bad job themselves in that department. But Duvdevani says when it came to exploring newer stuff, the duo only followed their instinct. “We have never gone with trends, but we do look into what people like at any given time. In today’s time, it is challenging… It’s pretty difficult because every half year, it [the trend] changes. I see some amazing young producers, and the one thing I love most about them is how much I can learn from them.”
Ironically, Infected Mushroom’s recently released album, Return to the Sauce, is the antithesis of their unbridled musical mischief over the years. It marks the duo’s return to pure psy-trance. Says Duvdevani, “With this album, it’s like we’re coming back to our original sounds; we’re returning to our roots. For me, it is a closing of the circle. I think Infected Mushroom, in the past two years, has been at home.”
This return to classic Mushroom also means the duo have a new live production. In the past, they have explored everything from a machine-led post-apocalyptic world in their Animatronica show to playing inside futuristic globes as part of the Fungusamongus tour. The new production, especially the one at the India show, will be slicker and less logistically demanding. Says Duvdevani, “The production there (at SulaFest) is not going to be exactly the same as our other shows, although our lighting and sound guys are all here. But we’re going to be playing all the new material, and I’m really looking forward to that.”
Listen to Infected Mushroom’s 2016 single “Nutmeg” below: