In five short years, whiz kid Arty has broken out with killer tracks, earned the respect of his peers and musical inspirations, and rocked the festival circuit. He’s issued three-dozen tracks, not counting remixes (there’s three-dozen more of those, including Zedd’s “Spectrum” and OneRepublic’s “I Lived”) from his first releases on the English epic-house label Enhanced Progressive in 2009, to subsequent releases on dance powerhouses Ultra, Big Beat, and Ministry of Sound. He’s grabbed the ears of his producing heroes Above & Beyond (who released Arty’s music on their label Ajunjabeats) and Axwell (one-third of Swedish House Mafia, whose label Axtone has also put out several Arty tracks), headlined global festivals and a U.S. tour, and moved to Los Angeles three years ago from his native Russia.
Arty is also the flagship artist of Los Angeles dance-event kingpin Pasquale Rotella’s new Insomniac Records — a partnership with Interscope Records. Insomniac is Rotella’s umbrella for hugely popular parties such as Electric Daisy Carnival, Nocturnal Wonderland, Beyond Wonderland, all of which Arty has played. The deal with Insomniac and Interscope has led to a number of collaborations with one of pop’s top songwriters, Toby Gad (Beyoncé, Fergie), on Arty’s singles “Up All Night” (featuring Angel Taylor) and “Stronger” (featuring Ray Dalton). And there is more to come. Arty is currently working on his debut full-length album, due later this year.
So who is Arty? He was born Artem Stoliarov in Engels, Saratov Oblast, Russia, in 1989. It was still the Soviet Union then; the nation retook its earlier name when Arty was a child. “I saw the transition,” he says. “The beginning of the ’90s to the early 2000s was a long and harsh period of time. It was not easy for my family. They struggled a lot, but we were a strong unit. Family bonds are the most important thing in my life.”
At age eight, Arty wanted to be a professional footballer (soccer player), but his grandmother encouraged him to go to music school, which he graduated from at age 14. He considered attending a prestigious music college, but decided against it when he realized it was unlikely he’d become a professional concert pianist. Besides, he was hooked on video games and American TV. “Games helped me learn English,”he recalls. “I’d been playing them in English, and it’s necessary to listen to the voices to understand the story of the game.”The sequencers Arty was beginning to play around with to make his earliest electronic music also required working English to follow their instructions. He studied electronics at a Russian university and says that if it weren’t for music, he’d probably have been a video game designer and developer.
Arty picked up on electronic music the way many people did in the ’90s –during the late-decade “electronica”surge. “It was the Prodigy album, the Chemical Brothers album, the Crystal Method –that was my first dance music,”he says.
Armed with his university degree, Arty got serious about his tracks. In 2009, he began sending demos to labels, which instantly snapped them up. Even Arty’s embryonic tracks, however new-fashioned, had their hearts in older forms. “If you ask other DJs where they start a track from, it’d be kick and bass, but for me it’s always piano melody,”he says. “Most of my ideas are not dance. You can convert it to dance music, or you can just keep it as a piano composition. There’s not a big difference.”
Along with making music, Arty decided to spin it as well. At 18, he started spinning at a DJ café, an experience that taught him how to work a crowd and gauge their reaction. “I’d been thinking of myself as a producer first,”he says. His first major event gig took place at a St. Petersburg festival in 2010 for a dancefloor crowd of 5,000. But it didn’t prepare him for what amounted to his public coming-out at Brabanthallen, a convention center in Den Bosch, near Amsterdam, as part of A State of Trance’s 500th-episode tour, put together by the radio show/podcast’s host, trance kingpin Armin Van Buuren. “I was really nervous,”he admits. “It was streaming in video and audio and the whole trance world was watching. But it was a really good experience.”
The crowd was prepared: 2011 was the year Arty landed. “I finally realized what kind of music I wanted to release, and where I wanted to release it,”he says. Two labels in particular beckoned: “I’m a huge fan of Ajunjabeats and Axtone. Each label is different: Axtone is super-house, Ajunjabeats is more trance. My goal was to release music with them both.”Ajunjabeats, run by Above & Beyond –who played the same A State of Trance 500 bill as Arty –scooped up “Rush”in 2010, the first of several anthems he’d issue on the label, while Axtone, run by Axwell, grabbed “Trio,”with Matisse & Sadko, in 2011.
Both Above & Beyond and Axwell rank as Arty’s key production and DJ inspirations. The third of the Russian’s personal triumvirate is Eric Prydz, whom Arty would get to know in 2012 when they shared the stage as part of the second edition of the multi-act electronic tour IDentity Festival in the summer of 2012. Arty got to know Prydz during that period, despite being slightly star-struck. “I’ve been a huge fan of his music since 2003, when he released ‘Call on Me,’the record he hates the most,”says Arty. “It’s the record I love the most. That has been the hymn for me for the last ten years.”That bonhomie extended backstage as well. “Everybody was doing new collaborations and giving each other tracks for their new labels,”says Arty. “It was a really creative space. I made a bunch of friends: Eric Prydz, the Showtek guys, Porter Robinson, Madeon, and Wolfgang Gartner.”
At the end of 2012, Arty relocated to L.A., drawn to the hopping electronic-dance scene at all levels and styles. It is also the home of the Interscope Records studio, where Arty has access to a number of songwriters with whom he has been working on songs for his debut album. He’s done email collaborations in the past, and prefers these face-to-face situations: “It’s way easier to be in a studio,” he says. It’s a collaborative, creative process when you’re doing something together.”
As for working with Toby Gad on both “Up All Night”and this year’s hit “Stronger,”Arty says he was not deliberately trying to do a pop record. “I was just trying to do good songs. Getting together with a songwriter, you’re just trying to get a good soulful feeling.”He’s worked with other songwriters, but Arty is sworn to secrecy about them for now.
He will say that the album sounds really different, citing Avicii’s Trueand Nero’s Welcome Reality as his models for full-length cohesion and variety. “There’s a lot of experimental tracks; a lot of cool French house without any voice –more tech-house and French house united together,”he says. “There are 70-80 BPM records, which sounds more like the music for movies. My intro track was a cappella singing for one minute and then it goes into future-bass thing. I’m trying to have as much diversity as possible. There’s a story that goes through every track, and every track makes sense on the album. People have been asking me since 2011 if I’m going to release an album or not. I always have the same response: ‘We’re not ready for that.’I want to surprise myself. I want to see where I can take myself. And of course I want to see the reaction of fans when they listen to something they wouldn’t expect.”