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The irony is not lost on Ami Duvdevani, one half - along with Erez Eisen - of the celebrated electronic music duo Infected Mushroom. While they're arguably the most successful Israeli musical export the country has ever enjoyed, most Israelis either haven't heard of them, or even if they have, they don't listen to their music.
"It's true that not a lot of the public in Israel really understands our success, but people in the business, and young people who listen to the music, realize just how big we've become in this field," said Duvdevani (better known by his nickname Duvdev) from his Los Angeles home a few days before a full band version of Infected Mushroom was due to fly to Israel. They'll be performing at a Hanukka trance extravaganza in Jerusalem on Thursday night along with Astrix and the Matbucha Project in the Kiryat Memshala parking garage.
"We certainly don't feel overlooked, it's just that our music isn't mainstream, like say, Ofra Haza or Ahinoam Nini. It's harder for people to grasp. But we're very happy with our standing and with what we've achieved until today."
And that's quite a lot over the course of ten years, seven albums and countless DJ-headlining shows. Infected Mushroom has twice ranked among the world's 10 best DJs by the bible of the scene, the UK's DJ magazine. And with the release of their 2009 album Legend of the Black Shawarma, with a nod to one of the foods of its native land, the group has begun encompassing some hard rock and psychedelic elements that prompted the likes of Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction and Korn's lead singer Jonathan Davis to perform guest spots.
"When I grew up, I was a metal head, I was really into Metallica, Guns N' Roses, even though I was a keyboard player," the 35-year-old Duvdev said, adding that he joined his first band - a Haifa punk group called Enzyme - in high school, playing keyboards and writing songs.
"But when I went to my first trance party in 1991, [a week before mobilizing into the IDF] I was just amazed at the high level of energy. It really changed my life."
Following his army service, Duvdev further immersed himself in the trance culture by spending a year in the Goa region of India, which a decade earlier had spawned the seeds of the trance movement - characterized by hypnotic arrangements of synthetic rhythms and complex layered melodies created by high tempo riffs.
Upon his return to Israel, Duvdev joined up with Eisen and began performing and recording together in Shidapu & Duvdev, which quickly evolved into Infected Mushroom. The Israelis belonging to the subculture of those who had spent time in Goa were synthesizing what they had been exposed to with some home grown ingenuity, and began holding their own trance parties at locations like Ashkelon's Nitzanim beach. The experimentations there flourished into a thriving club scene that eventually included such fledgling Israeli artists as Astral Projection, Intense Sanity, IMIX, Elec3 and Alchemix, andâ€¦ Infected Mushroom.
SINCE RELEASING its debut album The Gathering in 1999, the duo has upped the ante with each subsequent release, constantly updating its sonic evolution into a fusion of bruising, metallic rock and unstoppable dance-floor beats, and leading the psychedelic trance (or psytrance) pack. DJ magazine wrote that of all the trance artists out there, Infected Mushroom had the best chance of crossing over to the mainstream. According to Duvdev, the expansion of the group's sound and the search for a wider audience were the primary reasons he and Eisen relocated to Los Angeles in 2004.
"There's a lot of Israeli artists who are making trance music today - we've manage to cross over from trance to electronic music," said Duvdev, adding, "I think that it's hard to live in Israel and grow artistically. When I moved to LA, a lot of doors opened for me. When you live in Israel, you tend to get constrained by the borders."
Duvdev admitted that the first spark of movement in formation that helped create the band's original sound may no longer exist, but asserted that it had been replaced with a sense of craft and purpose that had previously been absent.
"I may have lost some of the musical inspiration I derived from being in Israel, but I get different benefits in Los Angeles," said Duvdev. "Moving has really changed my approach to life, music and business. I've learned how to have much more focus. In Israel I was this artist full of inspiration but I didn't work very much. Now work and performing is about 90 percent of my job."
While Infected Mushroom is in constant demand around the world, and recent high profile shows have included Ultra Fest in Miami, the Virgin Festival in Baltimore, Mexico's OMIX, California's Coachella, Brazil's Ipanema Beach and Melbourne's Metro Club, Duvdev said there's still something special about performing in Israel.
"It's definitely different coming back to Israel to perform. It's like a homecoming, but the expectations are so high when we come back, there's more pressure on us to have a great show in Israel than in other places," he said.
"The show in Jerusalem is going to be special for us, because we've never performed in Israel with this full configuration before," he added, referring to a full rock lineup the band now features in order to perform the rockers on Shawarma.
"I miss my family in Israel, and the great food, and just being Israeli, because that's what I am. I'm lucky that I'm able to come four or five times a year, even if we're not performing," he said.
"My goal is to become so successful that I'll be able to move back to Israel."
From the looks of things, that day won't be far off.
For more information on the Hanukka Festival, go to www.infectedmushroom.com.
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