April 26, 2019
Justbeyond the highrises of downtown dallas, Ambient trance gave way to progressive heavy-hitters as the sun set over an all-too-rare showcase from silk music. dallas' propa productions hosted the event, which was appropriately called 'collective effervescence' last saturday at a charming bbq joint boasting a modest stage, currently-defunct ferris wheel, and patriotic mural of chuck norris. closing out the jam-packed night were elevven, a duo comprised of the highly talented shahin kanafchian (eskai) and swapneel ukhalkar (snr).
the intimate venue and relaxed atmosphere allowed me some facetime with the guys, who were happy to oblige me and answer some questions. the beauty of the music these two create is matched only by their personalities; i hadn't anticipated such warmth and kindness from two successful producers whom i had never met in person. in truth, almost everyone i had the pleasure of meeting that weekend blew me away not just with their talent (which was ample and evident) but with the types of people they have chosen to be.
What's your style when you play a show? Are you hyped behind the decks or more low-key?
SK:I think we’re both pretty hyped. It’s an amazing feeling being able to drop your music in front of people in a live setting! It also depends on the style.
SU: If it’s a more chilled-out kind of party – more a throwback to our Silk stuff – it’s a little slower, groovier, and we’re probably going less nuts behind the decks!
The remix you did with Myon of Gabriel & Dresden's ‘You’ was an instant success after Above & Beyond dropped it in Hong Kong; were you expecting such a huge reaction?
SK: This was a pretty insane feeling for us. We both couldn’t make it out to Hong Kong, but we knew A&B were going to drop it so we were up early in LA to watch it from across the globe.
SU:The continued reaction to this remix has been crazy and I swear we got chills watching it go off live for the first time!
How does Elevven’s sound differ from your solo acts, Eskai and SNR? What are some benefits of collaboration?
SK: I think if you look back at our previous stuff, our music seemed to have a little less focus. I produced a wide range of stuff from deeper records (like my “Tides” EP) through to more progressive, peak-time records like “Feathers”.
SU: I had a bit of 'musical ADD,' as Shahin would put it. But with Elevven I think we’ve tried to focus what we found unique about our sounds and write melodic, emotional music that still goes down well in a live setting.
What is coming up in the future for you guys? Anything you’re especially excited about?
SK: I'm super stoked about some upcoming releases. We’ve already got 4-5 records finished and signed and we’re just waiting for them to come out. Armin recently dropped one of them during his ASOT Ultra set which is awesome, and it was a track we did with Ruben de Ronde and Estiva!
SU: Yeah, that was amazing. And as far as remixes go, we’re in the middle of remixing one of our all-time favorite trance records right now…
What track/edit/remix/whatever are you personally most proud of?
SK: As Elevven, I'd have to say “You” (with Myon) and “The Longest Road” (with Ruben de Ronde).
SU: Agree. Both of these are collab remixes, but I think they really encapsulate the sound we’re loving right now. I know we are both especially proud of the production quality on them.
Is there an artist you would love to collab with but haven’t gotten the chance to yet?
SK: We haven't spoken with them about it, but I think Fatum. We jokingly see these guys as our sister project in that we’re both living in similar worlds – techy, dark, bassy, club-oriented music.
SU: For sure. We love those guys and are so proud of all their recent successes. It’s probably a matter of time before we jump in the studio together.
What is your favorite city or country to visit?
SK: Dallas, TX! No, but really – I lived in Austin for a year and would love to make it back to ATX.
SU:My favorite city we've visited so far is definitely Minneapolis. The people there are amazing and they were the first ones to embrace our music.
Traveling/producing and carrying on a day job must get hectic; what do you do to destress?
SK: For me, I’m kind of a gym rat. I start getting that itch and feel all weird if I go a few days without working out. Otherwise, I’m a big gamer and I play a ton of games at home. I consider it research, because my day job is in games.
SU: I live 5 blocks from the beach, and lately that has been my way to chill out and unwind. I also love to cook and love getting lost in new recipes.
Is there a social issue that you feel strongly about? One that affects your daily life?
SK: I grew up in the UK, so I often think about public health care and just how beneficial it really is. It’s heartbreaking to see so many in the US unable to afford health insurance. I consider myself very lucky that I have it through my work.
SU: I'd probably say the same, really. It's a huge issue and very unfortunate and avoidable.
When I say ‘home,’ what is the place that pops into your head?
SK: I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but England. I grew up there and spent most of my life there. But, Swapneel and I both went to college in Santa Barbara, so that has a very fond place in our hearts.
SU: Speaking of which, we may have a track coming out soon in homage… For me, though, Huntington Beach is home.
And, finally: what is your go-to brunch order? Justify your answers, please. This is serious.
Check out this Spotify playlist to get to know the guys and their music a bit more
SK: No justification required. We both tend to get something on the healthier side, an omelette or something. But coupled with a side of French toast or pancakes doused in syrup.
SU: We tend to share that part. We’re kind of like an old married couple. But Shahin and I are huge fans of a savory/sweet double whammy. And coffee for us both, obviously.