Born in Tehran, Ardalan found himself gravitating towards an unlikely passion for music at an early age. Enamored first by traditional Iranian music and classic jazz and rock, Ardalan’s taste began to transform with his childhood years spent moving back and forth from Iran and California. With each intercontinental return, Ardalan grew his treasure trove of mixtapes filled with rare musical gems like gangsta rap, Italo disco, and movie and video game soundtracks–the best of the West.
Naturally, when he permanently returned to California in 2006, his distinct taste in music drew him towards long-lasting friendships, which were born through exchanges of mixtape gold and out seeking underground excursions. Ardalan became a regular of the underground scene in the Bay Area, absorbing the sounds of house and techno from the likes of Solar and Galen at the legendary Sunset Sound System parties, and it wasn’t long before he was hooked.
Full of his signature charm, spark of energy, and an insatiable curiosity for left-of-center music, soon he found his way to a fateful BBQ in San Francisco, a legendary party that is largely known as the origin story lore of the Dirtybird crew. Immediately, the crew took to young Ardy like family. Then came “Mr. Spock.” Call it beginner’s luck, or more likely, a sign of what was to come–in2010, Ardalan shared one of his earliest studio explorations with Justin Martin, which became the foundation for the breakout hit. “Mr. Spock,” in its bizarre and booty-shaking glory, has been accredited as one of the “tracks that made Dirtybird famous,” helping to define the label’s now darling reputation as a trusted source of ridiculous, off-the-wall dance floor bangers.
Since, he continued to translate his deep-rooted connection to the dance floor in the studio with remixes on Toy Tonics, Play It Down, Yoshitoshi, and Dirtybird. A decade later, Ardy is a favored act on line-ups who trust in his ability to fire up a crowd with his DJ prowess and ability to make eclectic selections feel right at home on the dancefloor. He’s played at Coachella, Dirtybird Campout, CRSSD, Secret Garden, Desert Hearts and at esteemed venues like Space Miami, New York’s Output, and Detroit’s TV Lounge.
We caught up with Ardalan as part of our Behind The Headphone series.
You spent a lot of your childhood years moving back and forth between Iran and California, how has this influenced your sound and musical career?
I think it played a big role in influencing my sound. I was exposed to so many different types of music. From jazz to grunge, 90s house & trance. I was fascinated with electronic music from a very early age while living in Iran. I had access to lots of European music channels via satellite and they were playing more electronic music than I would hear in America. But then I started going to underground raves and day parties in San Francisco, and that really brought everything back together.
You have released tracks on many acclaimed labels, Toy Tonics, Play It Down, Yoshitoshi, and Dirtybird to name a few. What advice would you give to aspiring producers looking to get their tracks signed?
I would say work on your sound and try and build a relationship with the label or people in that area of music. It might be a little harder now with Covid. But being able to go to parties and meeting the label managers, artists, etc was one way of doing it. But now without that, I would just try to be persistent as possible and never give up. I also think its not worth trying to completely copy a sound just to get on a label. Try and inspire yourself and experiment in crafting your own style in someways that would also work for that very label you want to be signed on.
What has been the worst moment you have experienced while touring?
Fortunately, I haven’t had super bad moments but It’s probably delayed flights where you almost miss a gig. I have never missed a show other than weather or delays and I take pride in that haha but I had to head back home due to bad weather in New York mid flight! I was so excited to play but the snowstorm was so bad that we had to land in Chicago and I stayed the night at the airport until the next flight back to San Francisco. Other than that I can’t complain too much since I get to do what I love!
What was the last party you played that really blew your mind and why?
Probably playing Lost Circus at the Brooklyn mirage right before the pandemic, the room was so cool and it was in a circus-style tent with a massive sound system. It was a really cold night but the place was filled and it was such a rave. Also playing Meow Wolf with Kevin Saunderson was an insane experience!
What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned throughout your career, which would be beneficial to young artists just starting out in the industry?
Always stay humble from day one and just have fun with it. For me when I started it, all I wanted was to get a track on Dirtybird. I dreamed about it almost every night. If you really want something badly, you can make it happen if you have a vision. When that dream came true, I was like “Oh now what”, And 10 years later, I made my debut album. Doesn’t matter how long it takes, enjoy the ride and stay humble and healthy while doing your thing!
What has been your greatest achievement so far in your career?
It is probably my first album. It was a crazy process and now I know what it feels like when you write an album.
If you could produce a track with any artist past or present who would it be and why?
Oh man, where do I start, in the past, It would probably be Kourosh Yaghmaei. Present, it would have to be Moodymann.