Our latest interview comes from the very talented Anna Haleta! Anna is a DJ who is finally getting the credit she deserves, playing many of the best clubs in the world, Closer, Concrete, and Berghain / Panorama Bar to name a few.
She is also a resident of The Block and promotes her own night, Pacotek* which has helped bring many internationally renowned DJs to Israel over the past 14 years. Many thanks to Anna for taking the time to talk to us!
Hi Anna, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, where you grew up?
Hello, I was born in the Ukraine. When I was almost 15 – I moved by myself to Israel. It was a kind of high school student project where teenagers studied their final year in Israeli High School, and then when they get to be 18 years old most of them decide to stay in Israel. My school was religious by my own choice. I was interested in Jewish religion as a philosophy, but I was never religious and never wanted to be.
After school it took some years and I started my studies in Jerusalem Art Academy. Jerusalem was a magic place for me from the first time I visited it, and when I finished school there was no doubt that I am going to live anywhere else. All together I lived in Jerusalem for 13 years before moving to Jaffa (Tel Aviv).
Can you tell us a bit about growing up with music and it’s influence on you?
Like most USSR kids – I was playing piano, practising every day and giving it a big part of my daily life.
My father was a musician, a drummer as a hobby. There was also a period when he switched to the Yamaha groove box – and that was the end of his short career 🙂 But for sure he influenced my love of music, the ability to filter what you are getting from the outside world and decide what music you let into your life.
After leaving Ukraine, at my religious school I was lucky to meet a teacher who became my friend and one of my biggest music influences to this today. We would listen to records at his place, exchange cassettes and our thoughts about music.
Later, I never stopped listening to the music carefully while making sure nothing is bothering me from the outside world. Never just in the background.
I started DJing and going to raves and parties in 2003 (or before to be honest) – since then my focus on music has sharpened and is my main life activity.
What is your preferred DJ setup? Is there a club in particular that you have an affinity for playing due to its layout, sound, mixer etc?
I prefer to play with turntables with the pitch ±16 or even ±50 and sometimes I prefer a rotary mixer when I play a more selectors style set.
I try not to use filters…so not to destroy the track. If I bought this record that means I love it. Also the producer spent much more time on this track then me, so if something would be missing, he/she would add it. As for mixing/EQing – sure! I have my own tricks 🙂 but it is hard to explain in words as I hardly even know myself, often i do it intuitively.
What are some of your favourite tracks/albums at the moment and why?
Microthol – Transmissions EP [Trust 035]
An amazing record!! For me, it is perfect. deep, far away taking and ” useful ”
Torana – Acrid EP [Weaponry 005]
Is also super effective, laconic and beautiful
Your number of gigs has soared over the past couple of years. How have you learnt to balance the increased travel, time away from home with your social life?
My first balance has to be made with my family – I have a 7 year old son. His Father and my ex-partner, the second half of Pacotek – Tsaji Soussana is helping me with this a lot.
All the rest is perfect now, I have the energy to go on and on. Higher and deeper. It is inspiring and helps you learn about the spirit of this profession more and more. Non-stop gaining experience is a very beautiful part of it.
Are there any parties you’ve played, any sets in particular that you remember fondly?
I remember all of my sets very clearly. The most happy I am is just after the set when I feel like I touched “the endless”. I don’t have one or two or three to mark especially though!
I first heard of you through an interview I did with Idit Frenkel. Can you describe the community and the underground music scene in Israel? What makes it special?
Oh, Idit is cool!
The Israeli underground scene has existed since the 90s for sure. I discovered it in 2000. I can say only from my point of view – it is friendly, supportive and the crowd loves to be challenged more and more with the years. Still I am missing some industrial and noise. There are 2 amazing groups; Zimmer in Tel Aviv, and Strauss in Jerusalem – both of whom I respect a lot and these are the guys who definitely touch this topic. I am sure I might not know lots of things, but I always try to see what is going on.
There is a legendary place called Uganda – which started in Jerusalem as a record shop/comic store with a little bar which also hosted amazing concerts. Now it exists in Tel Aviv and for sure is the place to be, there is always interesting music – whether it be disco or noise).
As for the dance scene, Alphabet in Tel Aviv is a true spot for me as it explores the main rave ideal – we are all equal, we are together now, listening to the music and having fun on all different levels.
Pergamon is a little club in Jerusalem, the only underground club there. It has great sound, and a yard with a beautiful vegetarian restaurant which is a cool place to be when parties go on at night. Finally, The Block club is a temple with an amazing sound system, it is simply a must visit. Also the level of organisation there is top.
What advice would you give to someone visiting Tel-Aviv? I.e. Unique things to do, special places to see, non-music related things to do? What makes it special?
Tel Aviv is not big – walking around is the best way to explore it. In terms of things to do:
- Tel Aviv Museum has some good exhibitions
- Knaffa is a nice place to eat (sweet) on Yeahuda Hayamit St in Jaffa
- Walking the whole seaside of Tel Aviv by foot or biking
- Check out the Bauhaus buildings
- Old Jaffa for sure!
- Uganda is the bar I was on about before
- The Block club is a must!
- Alphabet for sure!
- Teder for a very cool concerts + pop up radio where you could listen to some selectors sets
What are some of your favorite labels, DJs, producers at the moment?
My favourite DJ is Stingray, I also love his productions. I don’t follow any producer in particular to be honest – I listen to everything!!! That way I have a chance to be fresh always and not stick to the same thing!
What’s on the horizon for yourself in terms of live dates? Any plans to play in the UK?
I wish to visit UK soon, however have no plans yet. I am deeply in love with the UK sound I never was categorising the sounds I love, but recently i understood – UK is something I am reacting a lot when I am searching for the records.
Interview by: James Acquaye Nortey-Glover