Remix from Rehovot

Yinon Yahel may have started out playing hard rock, but today,one of dance music’s top DJs and record producers is creating a different tune.

Yinon Yahel 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Yinon Yahel 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
When stars like Christina Aguilera and P Diddy want their music pumped up and remixed for the clubs, they call a phone number with an Israeli area code. And super- producer Yinon Yahel comes to the rescue.
The Rehovot-raised 32-year-old producer/DJ is greatly in demand on the worldwide dance music scene, appearing every month in clubs throughout the US, Canada, Mexico and Brazil, and counting among his fans Lindsay Lohan and Lady Gaga. But he’s also become the go-to guy to rev up album tracks into dance club hyperdrive. His remix hits for Deborah Cox’s “Easy as Life,” Kristine W’s “Wonder of it All,” Deborah Cooper’s “Love You All Over” and Amuka’s “I Want More” have all topped the Billboard dance charts.
“It’s very important that it remains musical So many remixes concentrate on the beat. I prefer to tell a story, to connect with the listener and focus on the words and the melody,” said Yahel from Toronto, where had just arrived after performing two sold-out club dates in Mexico.
Yahel’s entrenchment in the dance music scene couldn’t have been predicted back when he was a teenager in Rehovot, listening to Pearl Jam and Nirvana and playing Metallica and Deep Purple covers with his first band. At age 15, he became the keyboardist for the moderately successful teen band Eman, allegedly the youngest group to sign a record contract in Israel. But Yahel’s tastes began to diversify and he began trying his hand behind the turntable at dance clubs.
“When I started as a DJ, I realized I could play music all by myself. I didn’t need to use guitars and drums, there’s other sounds too – it was a whole new world,” he said.
“I started focusing at first on ambience and trance, and I experimented for many years.”
WORD OF his talent began to spread and Yahel ended up working with producer Yossi Sidi creating the music for The Dudu Topaz Show. By the beginning of the last decade, his name really began to take off when he teamed up with iconic world-renowned DJ Offer Nissim and singer/songwriter Maya Siman Tov.
“Working with Ofer and Maya was a dream for all of us,” said Yahel. The Yahel-produced 2004 album First Time by Nissim and featuring Siman Tov became an international dance club success, producing three Top 20 dance singles and setting the blueprint for Yinon’s future work.
Since then, the lively entrepreneur has produced R&B artists such as Donnie Klang and Danity Kane, appeared on the hit show MTV Making the Band 4 and written and produced songs for Ashanti and Diddy.
Despite rubbing shoulders with such lofty names, Yahel said that he doesn’t let it go to his head.
“I get excited by the process of production, it doesn’t matter if the artist is famous or not. I try to prove myself each and every time,” he said.
Yahel is proving it again, with his latest project, producing the new single “Tonight” for up and coming dance club singer Emmi, a 22-year-old singer from Florida.
“I met Emmi through James Wisner, who I worked with in Miami on Making the Band. He told me there’s a wonderful singer, and I said let’s do something.
When I heard her though, I was shocked by her voice.”
Yahel was also shocked when he met Emmi’s mother one day in the studio, and she began speaking Hebrew to him. He was overjoyed to find out that she was Israeli and had raised Emmi, who also speaks Hebrew, in Berlin.
For Yahel, who still lives in Israel but travels constantly, it’s important to reach out to people who are traditionally enemies of the country and find common ground. And that hallowed land, for him, is music.
“I get Palestinians and Lebanese attending my shows and coming up to me to talk. In a club, we’re all just people.”