Though his name sounds multitudinous, Freedom Fighters is the work of one man – Shahaf Efrat.
The beauty of this pluralisation is that it expresses the many versions of himself Shahaf has been throughout his 16-year career.
As an artist, he is always evolving, shaking off the pressure to conform to any one genre, and creating psychedelic music inspired by everything from funk and soul to techno and R&B. Sometimes even a deceptively simple mechanical sound can open up a world of music in his mind.
Australia has been a land of inspiration for Shahaf too, with tracks like 'Australiens' and 'Straya' written in honour of the place he calls his second home.
Shahaf is back in the country for the Elements Winter Solstice Festival, and with less than a fortnight to go before the event kicks off, he's serving his time in quarantine, counting down the days until he can enjoy the sunshine and open skies of the Sunny Coast.
We chatted to him about his music, his upcoming shows, the crazy circumstances of the last few years, and the way the future is unfolding.How would you describe your music to someone who's never heard it before?
That's a really interesting question. I would describe it as a very personal form of art that describes pieces of me throughout different times of my life.
I would also say that it's mostly melodic psychedelic music. I tend to steer away from genres and labels in the last few years. I feel like it's putting me in a box, and I tend to fight for my freedom.How has your approach to making music evolved over the years?
My approach towards music became really personal as years went by. I've been writing music since I was 15 (I'm 31 now), and I think over time I became a lot more confident when it comes to my art.
I use mostly analog synths and I record most of my sounds live. It gives me room for errors, which makes the music more human.You've spoken before about being inspired by the sounds in films and movie trailers. What's inspiring you creatively at the moment?
Lately, I've been listening to a mixture of music, from classic techno from the '90s, to Parcels (howdy Straya), The Weeknd, and all the way to soul and '80s funk. I still feel heavily inspired by films and cinematography.
The only thing that changed is that, again, the music became way more personal because I feel like I learned to express my emotions and my experiences in the form of art.You've experienced the psy-trance scene in countries all over the world. What differences have you noticed from country to country?
Well, I think as time goes by, the world is becoming much smaller and people seem to react pretty much the same to music from country to country.
In the last few years, I've noticed how different the DJs need to play when they meet different sceneries. For example, I wouldn't play the same set at a club and an open-air. As long as you play according to the scenery, people react. I would however add that I love the way people in Australia react to my music. I feel like I can totally be myself and play the tunes that usually 'work' less than in other countries.What about the similarities (are there elements that are the same wherever you go)?
People tend to react to kick & bass. It has been this way for over a decade. The trick is not to give them exactly what they want the way they know it. Make them work for it. Make it unexpected and as unique as possible.You've been pretty consistent with tours, many of which involve travelling all over the world. How has the pandemic changed things for you?
It basically changed EVERYTHING I knew. I've been travelling and gigging since I was 17. COVID brought 15 months of a complete stop when it comes to touring. I also lost my mother in the beginning of 2020, so I can safely say it's been the hardest year of my life.
On the good side, I evolved and matured like never before. I opened a new business for artist guidance under the name of Crocheart, and my album 'ERA' along with many other releases saw the light.
Collaborations with Infected Mushroom, Merkaba, Vini Vici, and Robert Babicz were only part of what I did back in 2020. Accepting change is necessary for our evolution, both as human beings and especially as artists.You made the brave decision to release your latest album 'ERA' at a time when touring is far more difficult and there are fewer dance floors available to light up. What has the reception been like?
I couldn't have gotten a better response. I truly feel like this album changed my life and my career.
I feel like it's given me a place in the world of art, and I'm very happy I ended up releasing it while the pandemic kicked in. It made people bored, which made them sit down and actually dive into art, and I feel like this album was written both for home enjoyment as well as for the dance floors.Can you share some of the feedback you've received from people about the album?
I don't think I've ever done something that resonated with so many people as much as 'ERA' did. I've received so many letters, messages, presents from kind individuals that just opened my heart to a whole new level of love.
Seeing and hearing what it does to people and how it affected their lives makes me want to keep on making music from my heart for the rest of my life. The album already passed two million hits on Spotify, was played on the mainstream radio in Israel, and was highly accepted by the mainstream as well as the psychedelic communities, which really shocked me and made me the happiest and proudest that I've ever been with something I've done.
Of course, it wouldn't have happened without my amazing team, the artists that took part, and my amazing crowd.You're one of the headliners for the Elements Winter Solstice Festival. How does it feel to be back in Australia again and preparing to head out to a festival?
One of the last tours I did before COVID was in Australia. This place is so dear to my heart and I consider it my second home.
For this time I thought it was the right time to finally play the album for the first time on Australian land. In addition, I made a lot of cool edits to some of my other tracks which I feel like I want to play here; Like 'Australiens' and 'Straya', which I wrote for Australia throughout the years. I worked on a very special set for Elements and I can't wait to meet your beautiful crowd on the dance floor.What will you be doing to pass the time in quarantine?
It's been very challenging so far, but I try to use the time for the best. I'm writing a lot of music (my awesome tour company hooked me up with a soundcard, a pair of speakers, and a Moog Sub37), reading books, watching movies, and just chilling. It's a good time to rest after everything that's been going on in Israel lately. What projects are you working on now? Anything exciting planned for the future?
My last EP 'Footprint' came out recently. As well as a collaboration on Dekel's album and a collaboration with Modus on his album. At the moment, I'm working on a few originals and a VERY secret project that I can't discuss yet. Expect the unexpected.Is there anything we haven't covered that you’d like to add?
I love Australia to the core and I'm so happy to be here. Thanks again for having me and see you on the dance floor.Freedom Fighters play Elements Winter Solstice Festival at Landcruiser Mountain Park (Sunshine Coast), which runs 18-20 June.