The Face Behind: Interview with Shayman
Updated: Oct 3
Shay Maman, A.K.A Shayman, is a well-known Israeli psytrance DJ and producer who has made a name for himself in the electronic music scene over the last decade.
With a career spanning several years, Shayman has played at some of the biggest music festivals and events around the world, including Boom Festival in Portugal, PsyTribe in Los Angeles, and Earthcore in Australia.
Shayman has also released the very successful "Landing On The Moon" album back in 2013 and many EPs since then, both solo and in collaboration with other artists.
Some of his most notable releases include "Strange Sense" and "Trip On" which have been praised for their innovative sound and production quality.
Shayman's music is known for its intricate rhythms, driving basslines, and trippy soundscapes that take listeners on a journey through different dimensions. His live performances are a testament to his skill as a DJ and his ability to captivate audiences with his unique sound and energy.
With his impressive track record and dedication to pushing the boundaries of psytrance, Shayman has become a respected figure in the global electronic music community.
And, a new album is getting cooked in the oven...
So, let's get deep and get to know, the Face Behind the Artist Shayman - Shay Maman.
Interview with Shayman
Where did you grow up, Shay?
I was born in 1984, in a small town in the center of Israel called Reut.
I have a big sister and a small brother.
What can you tell me about your childhood?
Reut was very small back then, with around 1000 families from a good social economic background, and growing up there was like growing up in a kibbutz, everyone knows everyone and it was a pretty great childhood.
What kind of a guy were you in the hood?
I happened to be in the center of things, quite a dominant child. I used to arrange events in the neighborhood and I was a sports athlete, playing tennis and football (played in Maccabi Tel Aviv until 7th grade). In Israel, childhood is up until 18 when we get recruited into the army.
I ended up being recruited to an undercover unit but didn't last there through all of my duty time.
How did trance music come into your life?
I have a good friend called Omri who was listening to trance since our youth days. Omri is also known as DJ Omka and he is one of the earliest people from the Israeli famous trance parties production 'Moksha'. He basically introduces me to this music.
When you heard it, back then, did you know that it is going to become such a big part of your life?
Not a clue, I didn't even understand what was that.
Also, as I started to go to trance parties after the Army, I didn't really listen that much but was more going after the fun atmosphere, people, and other stuff.
I never thought about producing this kind of music or even being a DJ.
So, how did you evolve to be a DJ? How is that even started?
Sometime after the army, I worked in a restaurant and met a guy that told me he is producing music. Somehow, we got connected and I tried to produce things with him. It didn't take a while for me to understand that it's not something I should focus on...
That said, a long time afterward, I got into a music instruments store in Dizengoff (Tel Aviv) and a guy there told me that I can join a design sound course and learn how to synthesize. I found that I can use some money from an army-secured deposit for this and I went to the course.
Then, I realized that I'm in a place of electronic music producers, which was something I didn't connect to, but the teacher told me: "come, sit, listen, then decide...".
In the first break, that teacher got back to me and told me: "You can always learn to produce by using music software but, you won't learn how to synthesize from someone else, there is a theory behind...".
Somehow, I stayed there and then started to experiment with producing, using Que Base to implement basics from the course. I started a few projects, but it wasn't real music... It was basically nothing.
How old were you back then?
I was at the age of 24-25, and then I realized again that, actually, this isn't something for me.
I started to work as a broker at the stock exchange and I was good at it.
At some point, I realized that something about music still tickled me.
For some reason, my friend OMKA had some of my projects in his hands and his friend, Eitan Reiter (A.K.A Out Of Orbit and one of the greate duo Loud), heard some parts of it and asked Omri (OMKA) to meet me and maybe use parts of my projects in Laud's track collection.
I knew Loud, it was their early days, but I still wasn't connected to the scene that much.
We met in Tel Aviv and Eitan brought me a Loud CD.
After a few days, he asked me how the disk sounds to me and I told him: "It was OK. The opening track was very good..."
Eitan answered: "For this honest - we should be friends".
That's a very cool story!
Shayman @ Bug Open Air 2023
And what happened then?
Eitan Instilled faith in me that if I'll work on my music, it could succeed.
Eitan started helping me to work on the projects and I started to finish tracks.
Up until that moment, I was doing some electronic music, more fast techno, not trance.
My first track was "Landing on the Moon" and the second was "Stranger".
Eitan sent them to Nano Records, which was a top label and they said that such music should be expanded to an album. This incentivized me to go for it.
Only that on the fifth track... I felt 'that it, it's not for me'...
I felt unsure that this was it...
I didn't know if this was what I wanted: gigs, nightlife way of life, making a living from this?
This kind of life never intrigues me.
Even when I produced music with Eitan, I didn't think about performing...
There was a very clear stigma about trance music and trance parties, that it goes along with drugs, bad people, and so on. My parents had no clue why I'm spending my time is such things and what does it mean to be a DJ. This kind of life hadn't related to my inner self.
Wow, that sounds very confusing...
How did you deal with such feelings? Well, basically, I run away to a better life, or at least I thought so...
I took a flight to the US to work in sales. This was quite common for Israelis to try out leaving the American dream and I wanted to try it myself as well.
That being said, also then, Eitan kept convincing me to finish the work we started.
And then, it took me three-four weeks in the US until I sat with myself on a bench in the street and said to myself - "so, this is what I want to do, sell furniture in the US...?
And it wasn't.
I decided that I must come back to finish what I have started, and whatever happens, happens.
And that's it basically...
I'm with you...
All of sudden, I played my first Shayman gig at Indigo 2013 (the legendary last one on Israel's land), it was a sunrise set, I played the album and it was a blast!
Nano Records booked Shayman for Boom 2014, I was very excited, I thought that I knew what performing at Boom is but, apparently, I didn't understand the magnitude of the hour. I wasn't even close...
Mentally-wise, I was wide-eyed and didn't think about how to leverage this amazing gig for my career.
No photographers, no recording, no videos, nothing...
How your family is reacting to your job at that stage?
As I mentioned, for many years, my parents didn't understand why I need to stay at my studio sometimes 17-20 hours/day for two weeks in a row, just to be a DJ?
They couldn't make the connection between producing music from scratch and play it in front of other people.
In this regard, my daily broker job was a good disguise for many years until they could understand that I'm actually doing my thing and people found that I'm good at it.
But, following the "Landing On The Moon" album, there wasn't a new one. What happened between now and then?
I decided back then to release EPs rather than work on a new album and business was quite good.
Until, unfortunately, my father got cancer and I was taking care of him in what became the thoughest times in my life. I still remember that night when I needed to go play at a party and then get back to the hospital. I couldn't get anything out of myself, I was basically empty. I couldn't really work.
After a year and three months, my father passed away. It was shocking to me.
I'm so sorry to hear about that Shay. As sad as it is, this is a part of life, a hard part of it... I'm very sorry for your loss but truly support you for going through that hard times and standing there as much as needed.
And then, I guess another hit, for you and basically the whole industry, Covid.
Yeah... Covid hit during that time.
At that time, to change the vibes and try to find some creativity in me, I took the decision to invest in a new studio out of my home for the first time.
I invested a LOT in it, and then Covid hit.
At first, I continued in the studio and but slowly I was empty again.
Then I started teaching music, which is something I'm still doing today.
In May 2022, I brought the studio back home.
And I see you also got married lately :)
Yes, in February 2022 I married the choice of my heart, and today I am the father of a 10-month-old boy.
Nowadays, can you tell me about DJ's work-life balance?
It's very challenging to manage a work-life balance.
It's very hard to get into creation mode when you need to take care of little baby at home. That said, the little moments of life are so blissful and I can get charged with full motivation and inspiration very quickly!
Thinking about young Djs to come that reads this, what can you tell them about the marketing aspect of being a DJ?
Without a doubt, it is important to work on your brand. Some do it themselves, some let others do it for them.
most of the artists work with bookings agents to deal with bookings A-Z.
It has pluses and minuses but doing it alone it's a big hassle.
I found that working with a booking agency is a win-win.
Let's talk about music...
When I'm listening to Shayman's music, I get a worm feeling of fat bass and out-of-space sounds and vocals.
Is there a message you are trying to deliver to the audience?
I convey a combination of all my influences, whether it's atmospheres and rhythms or anything else that got me at a time.
I see that your latest tracks are based on collaborations. How do these collaborations develop and how does it feel to share the creation with someone else?
So, soon, I'm going to release two tracks created three years ago.
But to answer your question, because of the past period, the creation stopped for me.
I found it to be a musical experience and a personal experience, learning about other ways of working.
I Will do more soon, but can't share at the moment.
What can you tell me about your inspiration sources?
I love to listen to Radiohead, Pink Floyd, and Meir Ariel. I don't think that inspiration comes from there, but it might be.
If there is a sound that intrigues me, I love to synthesize it. It could be something on the dancefloor that can intrigue me...
The creation is an experience that you go through and want someone else to go through as well.
Can you share some of the ideas behind a few of Shayman's best tracks?
When created Black Magic, one morning I heard the sound of a clock and then took it.
Then I took to an African place, just because of the drums...
There is an African atmosphere there, starting with voices around and then the percussions, and so on. Then I wanted to break the clock.
And here we are, having a very cool track!
It is actually my favorite of yours!
What can we expect to see from Shayman in the next coming years?
A few releases are going out, then another two collaborations, and then a new album (the first track is ready).
What do you think about the Israeli trance scene?
Very different than what it was 10 years ago.
Lots of good sides, but also fewer good sides.
Pre-Covid, big parties, and festivals were more common in Israel.
Today it's tougher.
And today, the Techno scene is stronger.
OK Shay, many thanks for your openness and sharing so far. It is much appreciated!
Now, for those who made it to the finish line, let's shake things up a bit:
Here is our quick association game: I ask- you fire an answer.
Ready to go?
What track can you use and it will always do the job? Trip On
What's your favorite track?
A DJ you would like to play with?
What is your peak moment as a D.J?
What is the most embarrassing moment of yours as a DJ?
My computer shut down on a set in Brazil in front of 15K people. It took me a few min to find a USB that I could connect.
If you were a pop star, what star would you be?
Message to the audience:
Dream and dare
Shay- thank you so much - It was particularly fascinating!