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Vini Vici: Handling The Truth

In 2020, Vini Vici came, they saw...they had their 2020 world tour cancelled. Although that has not affected their sense of humor or ability to connect with their fans. Aviram Saharai explains the duo’s crusade to bring psytrance to the masses.

The Latin phrase “Veni, Vidi, Vici” (I came; I saw; I conquered) is one that resonated with friends Aviram Saharai and Matan Kadosh. The phrase is attributed to Julius Caesar, who is said to have uttered the phrase to mark his victory in the field. Adapting the phrase slightly, Saharai and Kadosh are better known as DJ/ production duo, Vini Vici, who took on the name to mark their very own conquest of the psychedelic trance genre.

Known as the fastest rising psytrance artists of their generation, the Afula natives have succeeded in propelling the genre to the forefront of the electronic music circuit through their energetic performances and unique productions. Both established producers in their own right, the pair united over their desire to rework old school sounds into modern day music.

Speaking to Headliner from Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saharai is chilling in his home studio, which he’s spent a lot of time in recently:

“We’re doing normally around 200 shows a year, so it was a huge shock for us because our life is very intense normally,” he begins. “We usually live in airports, hotels and studios – everything in our life was very rushy. To suddenly be at home for so much time is a bit weird, but I'm enjoying it. I'm enjoying my wife, my family and my house.

"I constructed and built this house and I've barely been inside of it! So now I'm actually feeling the house. It's a bit sad that we cannot tour and of course I miss it a lot, but I'm trying to look at the positive side and see the benefit of it.”

Missing that interaction with their fans, Vini Vici have been very active on social media during the quarantine period, and have entertained the masses (albeit via their phones) with virtual gigs and some humorous remixes, along with the caption: ‘Too much studio time!”

For Saharai, it’s all about finding the positives about the situation, even if that does involve poking fun at themselves (although I think what they’re calling their ‘2020 press kit photo’ is glorious).

“Thank you,” laughs Saharai. “We try to have fun and enjoy ourselves and to let tough moments pass more lightly. During the quarantine all you do is look at your phone, talk to your friends, and you see a lot of funny stuff. So we thought that it would be nice also, because we have all this free time. We’ve also done six or seven new tracks during lockdown, so we’re slowly releasing the tracks and finding good dates for them.”

Born in Israel, Saharai and Kadosh went to the same school and met through their shared love of music.

“We decided to do some music together, and that was it from that moment! It’s been 17 years – I’ve known my partner half of my life!” he realises.

Forming in 2013, Matan and Aviram’s early work garnered the attention of a host of talent, including Armin van Buuren, whose edit of their track The Tribe and inclusion in the ASOT show for a fifth time well and truly cemented their position as ones to watch.

Their 2016 remix of Hilight Tribe – Free Tibet claimed the #2 spot on Beatport, marking the first ever psytrance track to enter into the Beatport Top 10 – a major moment for both Vini Vici and the psytrance movement.

“Psytrance is really big in Israel,” says Saharai. “Just like EDM music is very big in Holland. If you started to like electronic music in Israel, most likely as a kid, the first thing that you will listen to is psytrance. I used to listen to electronic music like The Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy or Daft Punk – but there wasn't a culture of electronic music like there was a culture of psytrance. I was introduced to it at the age of 14, and today I still love it.”

2017 was the year that saw Vini Vici pave their way to global stardom, with their mammoth track Great Spirit earning them international acclaim and legions of fans across the world. A catchy, lyrical hymn that fast became the most played track of Tomorrowland 2017, no festival in the world was complete without the chant of “Wakan Tanka, Hunkachila, Wohitika Oyate, Nagi Tanka, Tunkasila Akicita, Oyate” that year.

Dominating the airwaves and festival circuit alike, the gigs rolled in thick and fast for the duo. Performing at every major event across the world including Tomorrowland (Belgium), Electric Daisy Carnival (USA, China), ULTRA Worldwide (USA, Europe, South Africa), Sunburn Festival (India), Transmission (Worldwide), AMF (Netherlands) – you name it – Vini Vici have played it.

“We were very flattered and overwhelmed with the situation when we finally realised that psytrance was breaking through this glass ceiling of commercial, electronic music,” he reflects.

“It was an incredible feeling, and actually, this kind of euphoria is still continuing. We are enjoying every second of it to see that a lot of people – even if they're not from the psytrance culture – they know psytrance, they know Vini Vici, and they understand the sound of it. We hope to continue to deliver the message.”

We were overwhelmed when we realised that psytrance was breaking through this glass ceiling.

Flying the flag for devotees of the genre across the world, Vini Vici were the first ever psytrance act to grace the main stages at Tomorrowland and ULTRA Music Festival (Miami), in addition to being the first Psy act to perform at Lollapalooza.

“It's incredible really,” he admits. “We started very young, from a very small city in a small country, so it's very flattering for us. I hope that our story can show other kids or young producers that dreams do come true. It is possible – believe in your dreams and stuff can happen.”

Continuing their crusade to bring psytrance to the masses, Vini Vici set their sights on a record label of their own, and in 2018 Alteza Records was born. The crown jewel of the Israeli psytrance kings, the Alteza Records imprint has boasted a wealth of top-class releases from acts around the world, in addition to hosting their very own stage at Tomorrowland in 2019.

On creating the label, Saharai says it was less about freedom to create what they liked, but to nurture up and coming producers:

“We’ve always had the freedom to do what we want. It's more about providing a place for young producers to grow and to give them a little push. We really believe in the artists that we have in our roster, and I believe that they will be very big.”

When creating a track, the duo used to work in the same studio until Saharai moved to Brazil seven years ago, meaning they had to rethink how they collaborated – usually meeting every two months to work. Now, it’s all on Skype.

“It's pretty nice, actually, because you have your own free time by yourself, so there’s no rush. We can hang up and I could continue working, and then after two hours, I call him and show him what I’ve done, and he does the same, and then we combine stuff. It's like you have two studios at the same time. It can actually shorten the process!”