I vividly recall the excitement that I had growing as the time kept ticking down; I kept a mental countdown knowing the moment was nearing for the most anticipated set of my night. I paced around the dancefloor while my friends around me erupted in joy; jumping up and down and singing along to the lyrics of the DJ who was currently playing the mainstage. It's not that I wasn't enjoying the current artist (after all, I was belting the lyrics out the top of my lungs just as loud as they were) but the artist I was anxiously awaiting had been someone I was following for a few years— someone who I saw rise to the top of the trance charts in record time—and I did not want to miss a chance to see him perform for the first time.
Andrew Rayel, hailed by Armin van Buuren as “the future of trance music,” is a classically trained DJ and producer from Moldova often referred to as the “modern-day Mozart.” At just 24 years old, Rayel has dominated the electronic dance charts over the last five years and has headlined some of the world's biggest festivals. The draw I have to Rayel is the incomparable energy he brings to every stage he has taken ahold of; the man knows how to keep you on your feet the entire length of his performance begging for water and a dry shirt afterward.
I experienced this energy first-hand as I sat down with the rising star before he took to the stage in Los Angeles last Saturday night. Rayel is in the middle of his “Moments” tour, promoting his sophomore album across North America. In between soundcheck, a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session and a fan meet-and-greet, I was able to converse with Andrew Rayel, in the moment.
Q: How are you? How's the tour coming along?
A: I'm good, a little bit tired but I'm good. We had a sold-out show in Vancouver last night. I had a three-hour set and it was crazy! The fans were really enjoying songs from the new album.
Q: You just finished a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” Session and answered some questions from your fans. How was that?
A: Some of the fans had a lot of questions, but I tried my best to answer all of them honestly.
Q: Is it difficult for you to answer some of the more personal questions?
A: If it crosses the line into something very personal then it becomes hard to answer honestly, but all of them were good. No one went too far and it made it easy to answer.
Q: You're about to take the stage here at the Hollywood Palladium for your “Moments” tour. How do you feel at the moment?
A: I'm very excited about this show because the Hollywood Palladium is one of those iconic places that I've always wanted to do. I actually played the Palladium three years ago as a supporting act for Cosmic Gate. At that point I knew that I was gonna be back as the headliner with my solo show and it's finally happening tonight.
Q: Your name is finally up on the marquee of the Hollywood Palladium!
A: Yeah! It feels really good when your name is up there. I'm just happy to do this show. The production is absolutely incredible and I will remember it forever.
Q: Your album just came out, what made you decide on calling it “Moments”?
A: The album is all about remembering those special moments in your life; moments where you fell in love or went to your first electronic dance show. I want to create one of those moments with the fans through this album.
Q: One of my favorite tracks on the album is “Back to the Moment”, how did you come about producing that track?
A: It was a very fun track to produce even though it started as a completely different song. I wrote the whole song around a different vocal and then last minute the vocal got canceled. I sent it to a great guy named Mike James, and even though he did not know that my album was going to be called “Moments”, he sent it back to me with the title “Back to the Moment”. It was a complete coincidence and I love that about this track.
Q: The album is very diverse, there is no one specific sound, how did you decide on having different sounding tracks?
A: I wanted to go a little bit outside of my comfort zone and make the whole journey seem a little more interesting. To me, it wasn't challenging to produce an album with the same trance sounds as my last one. This was a perfect place for me to experiment.
Q: How do you react to fans who enjoyed your earlier trance sounds and criticize your newer tracks?
A: I will always try to understand their criticism, but they have to understand that every artist wants to be free and do their own thing. No one likes to be told what to do, I'll always follow my ideas.
Q: In about a month from now you will be performing on the main stage of EDC Las Vegas, how does that feel?
A: It feels incredible. I've played EDC many times, but it's always been the smaller stages. I have always wanted to play main stage and now I am going to be able to do it. Hopefully the fans know a lot more of the songs from the new album by then.
Q: How do you decide on what to play during a festival compared to a solo show?
A: I'm obviously not going to be able to play the entire “Moments” album because during a festival you only have about one hour for your show, but I always do my best to bring new sounds. On social media they say that I only play big room sounds but that's how my festival sets sound like. I like to play more energetic sets, really fast mixing and I enjoy the fan reaction to that. In a solo set, I usually have more time and that's where I bring in longer breaks, beautiful melodies and the older trance sound.
Q: You've been able to accomplish a lot in a short period of time, and I commend you for that. My last question for you tonight is, what's next? What can we expect from Andrew Rayel in the future?
A: Thank you, I appreciate that. There's still many things to achieve. There is still room to grow my current show and I'm gonna do my best to create another album and hopefully a bigger show. But also, I will be launching my own record label under Armada Music very soon. That way I'll be able to not only focus on my own sound but on upcoming artists and create one big family that understands my sound and share it with the fans.
Andrew Rayel's new album “Moments” is out now and available on Spotify to stream and download.
The “Moments” tour is making it way across North America now. For tour dates and tickets, go here.