Ali ‘Dubfire’ Shirazinia has been on the music scene long enough to reference a Walkman unironically. Growing up in the Washington, DC area, he says he’d always have mix tapes with him and serve as his friends impromptu DJ. Not much has changed since then, except for the icon status and global travel. With a career that spans more than 30 years, Dubfire was once known as part of the duo Deep Dish, before going solo and putting out hit collaborations. Now, the EDM idol is finally giving his fans a full-length album. Evolv. Here, he shares with Luxeicon what went into making it–and indulges us with a few of his favorite hot spot recs in his current hometown of Barcelona.
What drew you to electronic music early in your career?
I was always that kid who made mix tapes and walked around with some sort of music player; whether Boom Box or Walkman. Wherever I was I’d have cassette tapes that I had compiled and seemed to always provide the soundtrack to all of those early teenage experiences for my friends and I. School dances and house parties were a common thing as well before I was old enough to play in local Washington, DC-area clubs. I was always dialed in to what was happening in alternative music; whether punk, goth, dub/reggae, new wave, industrial, house or techno. And what was happening in electronic music was always incredibly forward-thinking and inspiring.
How would you describe your newest album?
It’s a more personal statement from me as well as being my debut album. There are no esoteric concepts there though; it’s aimed squarely at the dance floor sound-wise and all the tracks feel like they’re coming from the same creative space.
Your new album is titled “EVOLV.” As someone who’s been on the scene for three decades, where do you see electronic music going next / evolving?
I’ve never been more excited than at the present about where the MUSIC is at and where it’s headed. There are so many young, creative minds launching missives from the confines of their tiny bedroom studios who are blending and mutating genres and pushing it all forward. The one thing I lament however is the current heavy emphasis on social media gimmicks or status as a primary driver for recognition and success. Now the audiences are drawn more towards the personalities than the actual music and that’s sad to see. And these social media stars aren’t putting in the years of hard work it takes to develop their sound and fanbase.
It sounds like you’re constantly on tour, when arriving in a new city, what do you think is the best way to get to know it?
Besides having friends in virtually every city around the world, I always do a bit of research beforehand and make target lists of shops, restaurants, museums, sightseeing and any places of interest. I also create handy group lists by city in Google Maps and add all of that info plus restaurants, clubs and bars I’ve been to or want to go to, etc. which I use as a resource and which I can easily share with others.
In addition to the release of your album and tour, what else are you working on? What else should we be looking out for from you?
I’m in the middle of planning the big audio-visual EVOLV tour which will launch early next year. And there are collaborations with Luke Slater, Scan X and Davide Squillace which all need to be finished before I dive into more original material.
If you had 24 hours, which city in Spain would you spend it in?
Definitely Barcelona, which is where I reside or perhaps in Ibiza. There are a myriad of things to do with some of the world’s best restaurants, bars, nightlife and nature there.
Passport to Barcelona
Here, Dubfire shares his picks for a night out in Barcelona.
Where should you go before kicking off a night in Barcelona?
Where should you go for the most authentic Spanish food? What do you order?
Where should you go for breakfast when you’ve been up all night?In Barcelona, most would end up at an after party or in bed, but never to breakfast, LOL! But I would just go for incredible coffee at Satan’s, NOMAD, Couleur Cafe or Coffee Casa.
Where to Roam
TAA PR’s founder spent her summer sampling Spain. Here, Aba shares her picks.
Donostia – San Sebastian
“The small, chic town is also known as the place where many professional chefs and foodies make a pilgrimage. San Sebastian is charming and one of the best places not only for pintxos but for people watching … especially the glamorous elderly population that strolls about.”
Ganbara for the best traditional pintxos bar in Old Town
Le Vine for the world-famous basque cheesecake
Arzak, the legendary three-star Michelin restaurant with the most charming fourth-generation toque, Elena Arzak.
Martin Berasategui – “A beautiful sanctuary for an elegant three-star fine dining experience. Take home a bottle of Chef’s own vermouth and don’t forget the cookbook. Warmest international staff and we can’t stop dreaming of the house-made popovers.”
Etxebarri – “A little longer drive to Aspe is well worth it for the temple of Basque culinary excellence and one of the World’s 50 Best.”
“The food is delicious in this region. Wear comfortable clothing (read…stretchy but certainly chic pants) and don’t be deterred by the lines at some of the best pintxos bars. They move quickly. Do order the various brands of Txakoli. Take a slice of Basque cheesecake for the ride home. Book a taxi to return to the airport in advance. English/Spanish is not widely spoken and you can not flag a white care service down on the street corners.”
“Majestic and as grand as one would expect this capital city to be. The walkable city is full of history and grandeur. The views from the top of the Catedral de la Almudena overlooking the Royal Palace are unparalleled. See the Temple of Debod at sunset, stop for a bite at San Miguel Market and by all means visit Santiago Bernabeu, the home of Real Madrid FC. Do get your steps in at El Retiro park and find the botanical gardens and Palacio de Cristal along the paths.”
Sala de Despiece for very cool experimental dining in Chamberi
D’estage for two-star Michelin dining and a glass of rose and whole turbo with roasted vegetables outside on the terrace of the Mandarin Oriental Ritz in between viewing the Picassos at the Reina Sofia National Art Museum.
“Long known as the party capital of the world, Ibiza certainly doesn’t disappoint. From the residencies with some of the most celebrated EDM DJs to the vibrant day parties on the beach, the young and young in spirit can surely get their party fix on the island.
Climb the hills of Dalt Vila, the 2000-year-old UNESCO World Heritage site and make sure to stop at the cute cafes and bars along the way for an Aperol spritz and enjoy the views. The museum of contemporary art at the top is quite a gem. When you get back down to earth from “High Town,” indulge in a sexy dinner experience at the new Zuma Ibiza and take in the airy views from the dining room.”
Discover the other side of the island with a bit more charm and chill in Santa Eulalia.
Chiringuito Blue for Mediterranean feast on the water that’s family friendly and such a vibe.
Book a private boat to explore the coves as you make your way to another one of the Balearic islands, Formentera. Enjoy a late lunch at Juan y Andrea and be sure to be on the boat to watch the sunset. It’s a dream!
Your headline DJ is NOT coming on until about 3am…pace yourself!
Book your private boat far in advance to get the best experience and wear sneakers for the trek up the hills of Dalt Vila – the paths are so smooth, it’s tough to make it back down without the traction. And yes, it’s pronounced Ibitha.