Infected Mushroom - Erez Eisen and Amit Duvdevani (aka Duvdev) - has been the leading group within the global psy-trance scene for nearly a decade. Incorporating pumping, bad-ass grooves and infectious melodies and live instruments and vocals into their songs, they've performed live - a feat that many of their DJ peers aspire to accomplish - for well over a million people around the globe.
The band's energetic live show has triumphed at some of the world's biggest and most important music festivals (OMIX Festival in Mexico, Miami's Ultra Festival, Tribe in Sao Paulo, among countless others), and they continue to regularly sell-out top clubs such as the Brixton Academy in London, Toronto's Koolhaus at the Government, and Avalon in New York and Los Angeles. Their success as an electronic music band on the global concert circuit has translated into record sales in excess of 150,000 albums over the course of six acclaimed independent albums. Not bad for two guys from Haifa who started producing music mostly to escape boredom.
"We met in 1996 through a DJ friend," recalls Erez. "Duvdev was in Goa at the time, and I was working on another project with a German guy. We met and tried to do one track together, and we've continued on since then."
A year later, Erez and Duvdev started buying equipment and began to take Infected Mushroom - a name they stole from a disbanded local punk band - seriously. Finding little influence in Israel's music scene, they drew inspiration from bands like Metallica and The Prodigy. Early productions led to club dates and gigs at local parties. Before long, the twosome had developed quite a loyal following. While the headlines were filled with news about violence and bloodshed, Infected Mushroom's music touched the hearts of the burgeoning Israeli trance scene, and clubbers began looking to the band's music for a respite from the tumultuous political situation.
"People were dying and the government saw that dealing with that as more important than abolishing trance parties," says Erez. "And now the government is supporting trance parties. They want people to party, instead of staying home. There are places in the United States that you cannot go to because it is too dangerous because there are crazy people living there. It's the same thing in Israel."
Brandishing a multi-influenced trance sound that hadn't been heard before, Erez and Duvdev were turned down by nearly every record label in Israel when they attempted to get a deal. "Nobody wanted to sign us," recalls Erez. "We went to the biggest and smallest labels in Israel, and nobody was interested. At the time, we really believed in our music and continued looking for people to sign us. Fortunately, there was this A&R guy from BNE named Avi Youssef [and BNE's owner, Avi Brand] who gave us a chance."
In 1998, BNE released Infected Mushroom's debut album, The Gathering. Inspired by the surreal ambient styles of Simon Posford, X-Dream and Transwave, it took a few months for the forward-thinking album to catch on. But once it did, the buzz within the global psy-trance scene became deafening.
The group's second album, Classical Mushroom, was released in 2000. "This album was totally different that the first album," says Duvdev, who, like Erez, is a classically trained musician. "Not only did we expand our style, but the album was big in Europe and Japan. It sounded totally different that the other trance music that was happening at the time."
"The trance scene at the time was really monotonic as opposed to melodic with chords," adds Erez. "We put a lot of classical elements into that album; it sounded different, and that's why it stood out. At the beginning, nobody believed in that one as well."
Infected Mushroom's third album, B.P. Empire, followed in 2001. The combination of their live show and diverse electronic palette eventually won them the support of critics and a new legion of hardcore fans in North and South America. In 2003, Infected Mushroom issued their sprawling double-disc album, Converting Vegetarians. Perhaps one of their most ambitious recordings to date, Converting Vegetarians was a sonic departure away from trance. Leading the listener through trance, freestyle and ambient sounds, the album paved the way for 2004's I'm The Supervisor.
"After we made the chilled-out non-danceable side to Converting Vegetarians, we wanted to make something for the trance fans that was danceable and full-on," says Duvdev of I'm The Supervisor. "This album is trance, except for the last track. There's more singing, and it's the most difficult thing we've done. Using the voice as an instrument is tough to do. We're like every band in that we're trying to search for something new with every album."
Always one step of their audience, Infected Mushroom are constantly pushing themselves. With fame and success in their homeland and in the global electronic music community, Infected Mushroom threw caution to the wind and relocated to Los Angeles in January 2005. The purpose was to take themselves out of their comfort zone in order to take their music to the next level.
"The weather is a lot like Israel's," says Erez, "and we still don't know the city very well. But we're here and we're looking to push ourselves and do the sort of things that we couldn't do in Israel."
As they work in their adopted surroundings and continue to tour the world, Erez and Duvdev have added famed Israeli guitarist Erez Netz and Brazilian percussionist Rogerio Jardim to select live shows. They're also busy finishing material for their seventh album, Vicious Delicious, which contains a myriad of new musical explorations, from Flamenco guitar, to hip hop, to thrash-metal undertones. They have even been commissioned to remix recordings of rock legends, The Doors. But today they are especially proud to be recognized by their fans - Infected Mushroom was named #12 in DJ Magazine's Top 100 DJ list, a 14 place jump from their debut on the list last year.
While they see themselves more as an electronic band rather than a psy-trance outfit these days, their track record of producing everything from trance to downtempo makes them feel that they can realize all of their musical aspirations.
"Being in the studio is like playing a PlayStation game, where you have to pass a level each time," says Duvdev. "That's our goal every time we do a session. The energy that you get at the parties makes you want to go right back into the studio and create new tracks. You need to be in the studio and do the shows; they're both connected to each other. Our mission now is the same as when we started out, and that's to get Infected Mushroom's music out to more people."