HEVI LEVI is one of the most well-known and respected Israeli DJ and artists on the international stage. He is the founder and owner of Joy Group, a record label, DJ and production School & recording studios.

How did you get started as a DJ and producer? What inspired you to pursue electronic music?

I began my journey as a DJ quite unexpectedly at the age of 14. Initially, I was just the guy helping my friends carry speakers to parties. But everything changed at one event when the amplifier broke down. I instinctively jumped in to fix it, and as soon as the music came back on, I looked up to see the crowd cheering. That surge of energy was exhilarating and it sparked something in me – that was the moment I fell in love with the power of music.

From there, my passion for electronic music took off. I found myself drawn to the beats and rhythms of artists like Tiesto and Carl Cox, who became significant influences in my style. I spent countless hours teaching myself the art of DJing and music production, experimenting with sounds and techniques, and learning from every resource I could find.

A defining moment in my journey was when I played my first big gig. The crowd’s reaction to my set, feeling the music connect us all, confirmed that this was what I was meant to do. That experience solidified my decision to pursue a career as a DJ and producer.

This path has taught me so much, not just about music, but about myself. I’ve learned the importance of perseverance, the power of creativity, and the joy of connecting with others through music. It’s been a transformative journey, one that started unexpectedly but has become an integral part of who I am.

You are the founder and owner of Joy Group, a record label, DJ and production school, and recording studios. What are the main goals and vision of your company?

As the founder of Joy Group, my vision has always been centred around the transformative power of music to bring happiness to people’s lives. Our mission is to spread joy through various channels: by producing and releasing captivating music, electrifying clubs and festivals with our performances, and nurturing new generations of artists who share our passion for uplifting others through music.

While I’m not involved in the day-to-day operations at Joy Group or TN1!, I stay closely connected to our overarching strategy. For 2024, our team is focused on expanding our footprint in Europe. We’re excited about the prospect of hosting our own events there, creating unique experiences that resonate with both new and existing audiences. Additionally, we are actively seeking to sign more international artists, aiming to diversify and enrich our music portfolio.

In essence, the heart of our company lies in its commitment to not just entertain, but to create a positive impact on the world through the universal language of music. It’s about building a community where joy, creativity, and connection thrive.

You have played in some of the biggest music festivals around the world. How do you prepare for such massive events and what are the challenges and rewards of performing in front of huge crowds?

Preparing for major music festivals like Tomorrowland, Laundry Day, Escape, and Sensation is a deeply immersive process for me. The core of my preparation revolves around understanding and synchronizing with the audience. My goal is to unify the crowd, to make every heart beat in rhythm
with the music, creating a shared journey through sound and melody. I approach the preparation for these events with meticulous attention to detail, ensuring that there are zero technical glitches. This means having backups for everything – from my flash drives to my headphones. But technical readiness is just one part of it. Equally important is my study of the venue and the audience. I dive into the specifics of the area, the club, and the people who frequent it, integrating elements of their reality into my set to create a more personalized and engaging experience.

I attribute my confidence in performing at these grand stages to my early days of DJing for Manchester United Football Club tours. Those experiences helped me shed any fear and replace it with pure excitement. When I step onto the stage at a huge festival now, it’s not just about playing music;
it’s about creating a moment of collective euphoria, a temporary world where we all connect through the universal language of music. The challenges are immense, but they pale in comparison to the rewards.
Seeing thousands of people moving in unison, witnessing the joy and energy that music can evoke, is an indescribable feeling. It’s a reminder of why I do what I do – to bring people together and create unforgettable experiences.

You have also created some hit singles for some of the top Israeli artists. How do you approach working with different genres and styles of music? What are some of the collaborations that you are most proud
of or enjoyed the most?

When it comes to creating hit singles for top Israeli artists, my primary approach is rooted in deep listening. This involves not just tuning into the music itself, but also paying close attention to the artists’ ideas, wishes, and visions. I strive to understand what emotions they want to evoke in their audience and how they wish to be perceived through their music. One aspect of my work that I take particular pride in is my role in bridging genres. I’ve been thrilled to introduce more electronic elements into Israeli pop music, helping local artists explore and blend different styles. This fusion has not only broadened the musical landscape but also allowed artists to express themselves in new and exciting ways.

Each collaboration holds a special place in my heart as they are all a part of my creative journey. However, the projects where I’ve managed to push boundaries and integrate electronic influences into traditional Israeli sounds stand out. These collaborations are not just about producing music; they’re about cultural innovation and creating a unique sonic identity that resonates both locally and internationally.

In essence, my work is a continuous exploration of musical possibilities, a journey of co-creating with artists to craft sounds that are not only appealing but also meaningful and influential.

You have recently released your Secret Ingredients 2023 album, which is a collection of 10 expertly crafted tracks and remixes. What was the creative process behind this album and what are the secret ingredients that make your music unique and recognizable?

The journey behind ‘Secret Ingredients 2023’ is as unique as the album itself. This collection, comprising 10 of my carefully crafted tracks and remixes, encapsulates a year of artistic exploration and response to my audience’s energy and requests. The name ‘Secret Ingredients’ isn’t just a title; it’s a nod to the exclusive and distinctive elements that define each track.

This album was born from a combination of spontaneity and a deep understanding of what my sets needed. Often, after performing, fans would approach me, their enthusiasm palpable, asking where they could find the remixes I played. Their persistent requests and the joy those tracks brought to the crowds were what ultimately convinced me to release this collection. Each track on the album was created out of a specific need or inspiration. There were moments during my performances when I sensed a particular vibe or emotion was needed to elevate the experience. Sometimes, it was hearing a song and immediately knowing it had to be a part of my set. In these instances, I would rush to my studio, often on the same day, and channel that inspiration into a remix.

The ‘secret ingredients’ of my music are not just the technical aspects of production but also the emotional and spontaneous responses to the live music experience. It’s a fusion of intuitive musicality and a keen sense of what moves the crowd. This album isn’t just a collection of tracks; it’s a reflection of my journey as a DJ, where each remix tells a story of a particular place, moment, and emotion.

One of the tracks from your album, Mad World, has a special meaning, as it is dedicated to help Ukraine. Can you tell us more about this track and why you decided to support this cause?

The track ‘Mad World’ holds a particularly special place in my heart, as it is intertwined with a cause deeply important to me: supporting Ukraine during its time of conflict. As someone from Israel, a nation that has known its share of strife, the outbreak of war in Ukraine struck a chord with me.
It was a stark reminder of the fragility of peace and the horrors of war, especially in an era like ours, where such conflicts seem anachronistic and even more tragic.

The title ‘Mad World’ reflects my response to the senselessness of the conflict. It’s a lamentation for a world where, despite our advancements and the year being 2023, people still resort to violence against one another. I felt a profound empathy for the people of Ukraine, who were suddenly thrust
into a reality of war and terror – a reality that they were not accustomed to.

As an artist, I believe in the power of music to transcend barriers and make a tangible difference. This belief led me to create ‘Mad World.’ It was my way of channelling my feelings about the situation into something constructive and meaningful. Along with the track, I also designed a range of merchandise, and I pledged 100% of the proceeds from both to aid efforts in Ukraine.

This initiative was more than just a charitable endeavour; it was a personal statement and a way to use my platform as an artist to raise awareness and contribute to a cause that, although geographically distant, felt close to my heart. ‘Mad World’ is more than a track; it’s a symbol of solidarity, a
call for peace, and a reminder of the impact we can make when we choose to use our voices for good.

Your style of production is characterized by highly energetic bass lines and melodic layers. How do you balance these elements and create a dynamic and engaging sound?

In my production style, the interplay between energetic bass lines and melodic layers is key to crafting the dynamic and engaging sound that defines my music. I always keep my audience at the forefront of my mind, understanding that they seek a blend of emotional depth and irresistible groove in the music.

To achieve this balance, I approach each track with a philosophy akin to building a house, where every musical element represents a carefully placed brick. This process is methodical and deliberate. I focus on ensuring that each ‘brick’ – whether it’s the bass, groove, melody, or arrangement – is not just good, but perfect in its role and harmony with the other elements. This meticulous approach to music production is about more than just technical precision; it’s about creating a visceral experience for the listener. The perfect bass line sets the foundational rhythm, the groove injects energy and movement, the melody adds emotional narrative, and the arrangement ties everything together. When these elements align flawlessly, the result is a track that resonates deeply with the audience, eliciting the
exact reaction I aim for.

In essence, the creation of a track is a journey of refinement and passion. Each ‘brick’ is laid with consideration and care, ensuring that the final structure – the completed track – stands not just as a piece of music, but as an immersive and emotive experience for every listener.

You have also experimented with different subgenres of electronic music, such as progressive house, melodic techno, and trance. How do you adapt to the changing trends and preferences of the audience and the industry?

In the realm of electronic music, my focus has always been on creating what I like to call ‘energetic-melodic’ music, rather than confining myself to specific subgenres like progressive house, melodic techno, or trance. My approach to both production and DJing is driven by the quality and energy of
the track, not its genre label.

This perspective allows me to freely adapt to the evolving trends and preferences in the music industry and among audiences. I believe that great music transcends genre boundaries, and this belief guides my creative process. When selecting tracks for my sets or producing new music, my primary criterion is whether a track fits the unique energy and mood I’m aiming to create, not whether it adheres to a particular subgenre.

By focusing on the essence of the music – its rhythm, melody, and ability to connect with the audience – I can fluidly navigate through different styles and sounds. This adaptability is crucial in an ever-changing musical landscape. It enables me to resonate with diverse audiences, keeping my sound fresh and relevant.

Ultimately, my goal is to deliver an unforgettable musical experience, whether I’m behind the decks or in the studio. By not restricting myself to genre conventions, I can explore a broader spectrum of sounds and emotions, ensuring that my music always reflects both my artistic vision and the dynamic tastes of the electronic music community.

You were selected as one of the top 10 best DJs by RedBull Music Academy plus you have received glowing feedback from famous DJs across the globe. How do you handle the pressure and expectations that come with such recognition and success?

Being selected as one of the top 10 best DJs by RedBull Music Academy was an incredibly humbling experience, especially considering it happened when I was much younger and perhaps a bit more naive. The recognition itself was surreal, and receiving positive feedback from DJs who I’ve always idolized –
legends like Digweed, Sasha, Oakenfold, Sven Vath, and others – was like living a dream.

This kind of recognition, however, comes with its own set of pressures and expectations. Being acknowledged by such esteemed figures and institutions in the music industry isn’t just an honour; it’s a responsibility. It sets a standard that I constantly strive to uphold in my work. My approach to handling this pressure is simple yet demanding: I focus on working even harder. I believe that true artists are those who continuously evolve, pushing their boundaries and challenging themselves to reach new heights. This mindset has been crucial in managing the expectations that come with success. It’s about using the recognition not as a resting point, but as a launching pad to explore new possibilities in music and performance.

Every accolade or nod from a fellow artist is a reminder of the journey I’ve embarked on and the path that lies ahead. Rather than resting on past achievements, I use them as fuel to keep innovating, learning, and growing as an artist. In this way, the pressure transforms into a driving force, pushing me to further refine my craft and contribute meaningfully to the world of electronic music.

You declare that you are not doing what you do because you love music, but because you love how your music makes people feel. What are the emotions and messages that you want to convey with your music and how do you measure the impact of your music on your listeners?

The essence of my music, and indeed my career, is not rooted merely in my love for music itself. Rather, it’s about the profound impact music can have on people’s emotions and lives. My core message through my art is simple yet profound: we are all equal, and we all deserve happiness. This philosophy drives every beat, every melody, and every set I perform.

When it comes to conveying emotions through my music, I aim to create a tapestry of sound that reflects a spectrum of human experiences. Whether it’s the euphoria of joy, the intensity of passion, or the solidarity of communal experience, my goal is to encapsulate these feelings in my music. I want my listeners to not just hear my music but to feel it, to see themselves in it, to be moved by it.

Measuring the impact of my music is an intuitive process, observed most vividly on the dance floor. It’s in the way people let go of their inhibitions, how they interact with each other, and the collective energy
they exude. I look for the unspoken feedback – fewer people on their phones, more genuine smiles, and tears of joy. These are the indicators that tell me my music is resonating with them, that it’s fulfilling its purpose of bringing joy and unity.

Thank you for having me and allowing me to share my thoughts. It’s these conversations that remind me of the power of music as a universal language and its ability to connect us all.

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