Rising star DJ/producer of 2021: “Andrew Rayel.”
As Covid restrictions have gradually lifted, there are DJs who have revved back into gear gradually, taking a few small gigs to get back into the swing of things. GIFTBACK is not one of those DJs: the Beijing-based artist’s first date back was at October 2020’s massive SAL Music Festival, where 30,000 revellers packed themselves in front of the stage to soak in his supersized sound.
With a full-throttle style that’s one-part trance and five-parts hands-in-the-air stormers, it’s no wonder the fans love him, and he’s been spending the past few years — minus a pandemic-dictated break, of course — broadening his fanbase by spinning most of the major EDM-friendly fests that East and South-East Asia have to offer. But he’s still had plenty of time for music-making — with tracks like the soaring ‘Rave Nation’ and his recent collaboration with Mexican duo ANG, ‘Heart Of A Champion’, coming out in recent months, his upward trajectory seems bound to continue.
How was your first gig back after lockdown?
“It was at SAL Music Festival in Suzhou. It was surreal and you could tell that the crowd was so ready to party.”
How have the last 18 months changed how you view your work/life balance?
“I am very fortunate to have been able to get back to shows since last year. The year has been full of normal work, making music and trying to make more surprises in my live show.”
What further steps should the industry take to combat climate change?
“CO2 is actually very harmful for the atmosphere so I always try to minimise the use, especially during festival shows that are outdoors.”
What’s the best bit of tech you’ve added to your studio or DJ setup this year?
“As a kid I was a drummer and this year I started incorporating live drum elements into some of my sets, with my trusty Roland TD-50K2 V-Drums. It really adds the kick!”
What’s the best album you’ve heard this year?
“Armin van Buuren ‘A State Of Trance FOREVER’.”