Artyom Stolyarov, otherwise known as Arty, is something of a dance music prodigy. The Russian DJ and producer came to the world’s attention at the age of 19 with the release of his Vanilla Sky EP. Now aged 24, he tours the world collaborating with huge names like Paul van Dyk and playing shows in Las Vegas and New York. Given that he makes his living as an electronic musician, Arty’s background is somewhat surprising – he spent many of his teenage years studying piano at a strict music school in Russia.
“I did piano lessons for seven years growing up,” he explains. “Music school was tough – you needed to practise for six, seven, eight hours a day, and be incredibly focused – you didn’t get to hang out and do the fun stuff that kids in regular school got to do, necessarily.” He admits he hated the experience at the time, and gave up the piano after graduating, only realising its value as an instrument years later. “My studies gave me a background in harmonies and melodies – and they made me who I am right now.”
Arty used this knowledge of melody and harmony to the fullest when making Vanilla Sky. The release mixed trance and house in youthful and exuberant style, and it met with great success. From there, things only got bigger – Armin van Buuren featured the next Arty single, ‘Bliss’, on A State Of Trance, and soon after, Above & Beyond signed him to their Anjunabeats label. It wasn’t long before Arty’s name was everywhere. Skip ahead a few years, and the youngster finds himself flying from continent to continent every week.
For instance, on the day we talk, he’s spending some much-needed time in Russia with his girlfriend and family, before hitting Spain, Germany and the United States in the week to follow. “This year has been pretty mad with all the shows I’ve done,” he says. “It’s tough in some ways, because I’m really close to my family and I always want to be at home, even if it takes a long time to get here.” Arty will spend 14 hours in the air if it means spending a day at home. “I bring my iPad on the plane, and I have a lot of TV shows and books on there, so it’s not too bad,” he says. “It’s often one of the only chances I get to sleep.”
Electronic music is big business right now, especially in America where Arty spends a lot of his time. Given the demands, however, it seems entirely possible that young DJs might burn out when faced with the demands of constant touring. I put this to him, but he seems philosophical about it. “In America, there are a crazy number of festivals in summer and club shows in the winter. There are a lot of really big clubs in Las Vegas, and they’re open from Monday to Sunday. The market there is really huge, but there’s a lot of competition, so you need to do a pretty good job as a DJ there. It’s okay, though, if you’re doing what you love.”
This new lifestyle has made him more adaptable as a producer. “In the beginning when I started to travel a lot, that was a really big problem because I was used to working at home. I had my big speakers, I had my computer and my whole set-up, and it was just a place that I knew. When you work in a hotel on your laptop it’s just not the same as working from home, but getting used to it is just a matter of time. I’m a lot more comfortable doing that these days.”
One of Arty’s biggest breaks came last year, when he was featured on two tracks on van Dyk’s album Evolution. He appeared on ‘The Sun After Heartbreak’ and ‘The Ocean’, which was nominated in the category of Best Trance Track at last year’s International Dance Music Awards. The story of how this collaboration came about, however, is a strange one. “I’ve always been a really big fan of Paul’s,” says Arty, “and a little while ago I was invited by his label to play alongside him at a big show in Berlin. I was really excited to meet him, and he told me all about his upcoming album.”
Arty told van Dyke that he’d love to work with him as collaborator – as anybody would – and the trance superstar responded by asking him to send some ideas. “I sent through two or three and he picked a couple that he liked, some melodies, and then put them on the album. It was an unusual way to do it, because I didn’t work with him at all after sending him those initial ideas, but I guess that’s how he works.”
Arty’s other recent big hit, the BT and Natia Ali collaboration ‘Must Be The Love’, was a different and more hands-on story. “BT came to me with an early version of the track, which had Nadia’s vocals but was otherwise totally different. He asked me to rework it, so I redid the whole arrangement around an a cappella line, then I sent that back to BT, who really liked it, so he worked on the mix some more and then put it out. I guess you’d say that’s a more traditional collaboration, where everyone involved does hands-on work on the track.”
BY ALASDAIR DUNCAN
Arty plays Future Music Festival 2014 withDeadmau5, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis,Phoenix, Hardwell, Rudimental, Eric Prydz, Kaskade, Porter Robinson and more at Royal Randwick Racecourse on Saturday March 8.