An in drepth chat with singer SITARA & producer Alex Drift

After several Alex Drift remixes for SITARA, “Chase The Moment” is now the next logical collaboration between the talented singer SITARA and the skillful producer Alex Drift. In “Chase The Moment”, SITARA’s evocative lyrics and captivating vocals blend seamlessly with Alex Drift’s rhythmic dexterity to create a musical journey that transcends boundaries. HMWL sit down with the pair for an in depth chat about their background, influences, creative process and more…



HMWL: Can you tell us about your background and how you first got started in music? How did
you first become interested in electronic music and what drew you to it as a medium for

SITARA: When I was young I wanted to become a dancer. For me the fusion of movement
and music was the ultimate way of expressing myself. But it was always the music which
actually moved me and I already had a lot of interest in singing too. I also had some lessons
in piano and saxophone but I wasn’t eager enough to keep practising. So growing older I
started writing songs and picked a guitar to accompany myself. This became a big passion of
mine and I kept writing and composing. Actually I wasn’t the biggest fan of electronic music
at first but this changed when I started visiting parties dancing through the nights and days
driven by the beats and vibes of techno and trance. I was working freelancing these days in
the event and studio scene and one day a client couldn’t pay for my work, so he gave me a
Roland MC505 instead. I got so inspired that I created a whole bunch of new songs with it.
Also I played with softwares using samples and loops (first one I had was called “Acid”) and
from there started the journey into my electronic music world as a producer. Later, as I lived
in a loft in Cologne I organised electronic improvisation sessions meeting amazing other
artists and also became part of the “electronic ladiez network”. Today expressing myself with
just guitar and voice is still one option but also I love the intensity of electronic music.

Alex Drift: My path was a little different to Sitara’s. I was born in the 70s and was able to get
excited about series from that era early on in my childhood. Subconsciously, TV series like
“The Streets of San Francisco” with its theme music had a huge influence on me. My circle of
friends listened to a lot of hip hop, indie and grunge and I was right in the middle of it. The
first ones were interested in DJing, mixing, playing an instrument or building beats. I was
most interested in the sources where the samples came from, for example in hip hop. That
was my first contact with rare groove, jazz, funk and soul and Afrika Bambaataa, who
sampled Kraftwerk, was my first door opener to electro. I was a rhythm guitarist in a funk
band at the time, started buying records and made my first beats. The first really big WOW
factor was MTV, where names like Chemical Brothers, Squarepusher, Daft Punk, Aphex Twin,
Cassius, Goldie, St.Germain, Étienne de Crécy and Coldcut suddenly popped up. With labels
like Ninja Tune, Warp Records, K7, Compost Records, Kompakt & Wall of Sound, I immersed
myself more and more in electronic music. From then on it was a no-brainer. When I moved
to Berlin, it was finally over for me. I DJed regularly, got fully involved in club life and started


HMWL: Who are some of your biggest musical influences, both within electronic music and
outside of it? How have these influences shaped your sound and approach to creating

SITARA: When I started writing songs I always had the intention to create something unique.
Something that wasn’t there before. So for many years I didn’t listen much to other people’s
music except for the artists I worked with. The influences I was faced with were different in
different phases. When I was young I loved Rockabilly for example. The “Stray Cats” were my
biggest idols and still today, when I listen to their music I start smiling. It just makes me
happy to hear their sound. Later on artists like Sting, Sade, Grace Jones and Morcheeba
impressed me because of their voices and productions. And in the nights techno or
electronic ambient music was on.
A good production is very important to me so when the sound is hitting me and lifts my
brain then it is right. Also I listened to Daft Punk, Gorillaz, Massive Attack but also the artists
from the scene around me locally (Cologne/ Berlin). I think when I heard the first album of
LAMB this was a game changer for me. Next to voice I absolutely love the instrument bass.
Ultimately double bass.
I can’t say listening to other people really changes my approach to creating music. When I
am in a songwriting process I try to be free in my mind. I mean there is a difference
between starting a song from zero or having a concept. Both is possible. Until now I was
never focussed on a genre but these days I am trying to channel this more into one
direction. Also it very much depends on the collaboration partners. Especially last year I
exchanged with different artists. It’s a journey and I am in the middle of it. Still in chaos. But
a very creative chaos.

Alex Drift: I have to smile a little when I hear Sitara’s influences. We have quite a similar
path from that point on and you can see that we were both teenagers in the 90s. Genres
such as Acid House, French House, House, Jungle, Big Beat, Garage, 2 Step, Eclectic or Drum
& Bass have always captivated me. All styles where I could find the samples from the past.
Somehow soulful has always been my vibe. I suppose now, because of all the US/UK series
from the 70s, I’m really into strings and brass, which you can always hear in my songs.
Maybe that’s also the reason why I’ve never been so into techno, but have always seen
myself more in the house, deep house and breaks genres, which is why I’m also enthusiastic
about genres like Nu Disco. Thanks to Berlin’s nightlife, I was able to see icons like Louie
Vega, Jeff Mills, DJ Hell or Coldcut, just to name a few. And thanks to fantastic local DJs in
Berlin, I’ve been able to enjoy some really great DJ sets.


HMWL: Can you walk us through your creative process for writing and recording a new song? How
do you typically begin a new track, and what are some of the key elements or techniques
you focus on as you develop it

Alex Drift: For me, it often starts with the beat arrangement in Ableton. I then usually play
with the samples in the DrumKit and layer quite a lot until I have a certain drive. Everything
in the arrangement view. There are also moments when I’m captivated by just one sample.
It’s very different. For me, the groove is the most elementary element. The vibe then gives
me the direction. I then either play the bass or the chords. Or I throw whatever suitable
samples I can find into the arrangement. Songs used to be extremely full at the beginning
and I was then allowed to thin them out step by step. Now I have a pretty good overview of
what goes well together. But it’s often still trial and error. But that’s exactly what makes it
fun. Overall, I work quite stringently and complete my songs quite quickly. In the end, the
feeling is always the most important thing. Does the song manage to convey an emotion?
Like Sitara, I also use one or two Native Instrument tools. I love the Monarch for basses. I
also use Valhalla and Soundtoys plugins. The UAD plugins, especially the Polysynth, have
been my new favourites for half a year. They also appear in Chase The Moment. For the
vocals I used Trackspacer from Wavesfactory for the first time.

SITARA: Sometimes I actually dream a song and get up in the middle of the night to sketch it.
These are the golden moments of my subconscious.
Anyway, I often have ideas for lyrics and melodies first. So mostly a new song starts with
writing words – can be many many pages. With that I mostly already hear a melody and have
a feeling in mind for the style of music. Sitting down at my DAW (I am working with Nuendo)
I look for a bass drum and tempo to lay down my first ideas. Maybe I arrange some beats to
it and look for synths and bass to give a harmonious background. I prefer to already have a
musical feeling rather than recording my voice on a pure click. For this I like using Native
Instruments or other virtual instruments. Then I work on the arrangement – at the same
time recording ideas for the main melody lines for the vocals. When the basics are there I
record my vocals “in nice” and then continue to paint the musical colours.
These days I do a lot of collaboration work where we send tracks forth and back to develop
ideas. This is a lot of fun too because it is kind of magic when things come together. Ah.
Writing this makes me miss the days when I had a “real” band and we would meet up and
jam to create new. This is also a wonderful way to create songs. Improvisation is definitely
part of the process.


HMWL: Your latest project is really gaining traction, can you tell us about it? How did this project
come about and what inspired you to create it? What was your approach to making it and
what do you think sets it apart from your previous work?

Alex Drift: Working with Sitara was super exciting for me and something refreshingly new. I
already knew Sitara from a few remixes I had the pleasure of producing for her. What I had
never done before in my career was to produce a song for someone and create a tailor-made
sound. Sitara once said to me that she would like to make a mixture of Electro and Soul. That
didn’t let go of me. The question for me immediately was, how would I approach and realise
this? As Sitara comes from an indietronic background, I started to look for something that
corresponded to her idea, was similar to what she had done so far and also fitted in with my
sound. During my search, I kept coming across bands like Miami Horror or the latest stuff by
Alison Goldfrapp. Our song “Chase The Moment” was then created from these influences
and the actual idea. It’s our version of all that and we’re planning more songs and are
looking forward to expanding the sound further. We’ll see when Sitara gets the guitar out or
when I turn up the synths a bit more. Right now we feel most comfortable with the disco

SITARA: Sometimes life is really good to you and the flow just does his job. This song “Chase
the Moment” is the perfect fusion of Alex Drift´s and my worlds. Writing the lyrics I really
worked on what I want to express today. And I remembered the days in Goa, when I was
dancing day and night and having this feeling of being one tribe – one world. Creating spaces
together to fly and float on the rhythm. Life was more simple for me.
What was new and different for me in the workflow of “Chase the Moment” was that the
musical concept was given by Alex Drift´s idea and I let myself be guided by his influence.
What has been the highlight of your career so far? Can you talk about a specific moment
or accomplishment that stands out as particularly meaningful to you?
SITARA: My EP Release Concert last Octobre was definitely a highlight for me. I had prepared
the release of my EP “Marathon Girl” so intensely that it was such a blast to present it finally
on stage with amazing musical companions (Rotoskop and Michael Schaefers) The club was
packed and everyone grooving with me – this was the greatest reward I could get for all the
work I put into. Anyway sharing my music with an audience live is why I am doing all this. All
the digital work and shaping my artist appearance is to reach out to my listeners in real and
enter the stage as a performer. Feeling the vibe circle in the space I create with my music
and looking into happy faces enjoying the deepness of the moment – this I would like to put
into a little treasure box and keep it forever.
Alex Drift: I’ve been able to play with various pseudonyms in some really great Berlin clubs
as a guest and with my own party series, toured Europe as a DJ, had a radio show on a pirate
station in Berlin and released under various pseudonyms on different labels. These are all
big and small highlights for me. But the most important thing is the music to come. I simply
feel very comfortable with my current production and sound and am just grateful to be


HMWL: Can you tell us about any upcoming projects or collaborations you have in the works? Are
there any new directions or sounds you’re exploring in your music right now?

SITARA: I am currently working on two more songs in collaboration with Alex Drift. Also
there are songs in the making with Rotoskop, whom I had already released with last year.
With my brother Pawas there is a constant exchange of ideas and actually there is also a
cover song in the pipeline. This is new for me since I didn’t do covers before. As I am still
working with different collaborations my releases have varying production styles. It is said an
artist should have one specific direction so your audience can more easily relate to you. This
is sometimes difficult for me because I love more than one style and I am also a very chaotic
person constantly having new ideas. The mission is to keep up with myself and stay focused.
Soundwise I am working on my live set and experimenting with new immersive techniques
and visuals. My dream would be to organise 3D Audio concerts with a high quality audio

Alex Drift: At the moment I’m focusing a lot on classic boogie beats in my own songs,
distorting the basses more at the moment and playing more with synth melodies and
chords. I will certainly stick to my pop and rather positive vibe. I’m currently very, very happy
with the sound I’ve found for myself and I’m working more on the quality of the productions.
Of course, I’m also really looking forward to the new songs with Sitara. We still have a lot
planned and I just love remixing songs. There’s more to come.


HMWL: As a musician, what message do you hope to convey through your music? What themes or
ideas do you find yourself returning to again and again in your work?

SITARA: One topic I have been facing the last two years is that it seems to be expected from
an artist to have some kind of mission or vision. I tried so hard to channel this and I wrote
pages and pages of what I could be standing for and what people could identify with when
they connect to me as an artist. This was killing my creativity totally. When it came to writing
my press text for my EP last year I ended up saying: There is nothing to be said. Everything is
said a million times and at this point I really don’t have a clue. I am making music because I
love to do it – Point.
I mean “Chase the Moment ” is really part of my lifestyle. I grew up in a very alternative
environment and took with me that the best chance we have to be a happy person is to stay
in the moment. Not get stuck with the past nor worry too much about the future. The state
of being “Here and Now” has become a “common” topic but I really try to remind myself to
let go again and again. Dropping the so-called “mindfuck” and trying best to stay just where I
am at this moment. Music helps! Mostly we are overrun by Todos and Todonts in everyday
life. That is why “Chasing” the moment is a good picture for me. It’s not always easy. And in
the song it’s about the moment I am letting go in dance. With my feet touching the ground –
feeling the sound – hands to the sky. And then let the moment take over.
And in the end just be who I am and not try to be anyone else. Stay child in the heart and
wild in my dreams.

Alex Drift: As Sitara said, chasing the moment is part of her lifestyle. It was the same for me
before I struggled with some major health issues in the last few years, and after that I
learned a lot about mental health and stress. And I like to philosophise about social issues as
a whole. Corona gave me so much to process that I then dedicated an entire album to these
topics. Now I’m mainly concerned with conveying a positive attitude to life.
Sitara and I have a few things in common when it comes to our outlook on life, and “Chase
The Moment” sums that up perfectly with Sitara’s lyrics. This “taking yourself out of
everyday life”, enjoying the moment and getting out of the hustle is a very important topic
for us and I think a building site for our society as a whole.


HMWL: Can you tell us about any challenges you have faced in your career and how you overcame
them? Have there been any specific obstacles or difficulties you’ve had to navigate as an
electronic musician?

SITARA: My career was and is full of challenges all the time. It all started off when I realised I
don’t want to be dependent on other people so I started learning sound engineering and
dug into technical spaceland where you face the little devils sitting in every corner trying to
make your life hard. But I am somehow always finding workarounds so even if I don’t
understand what is happening I mostly manage to solve the situation. I dropped school
when I was 18 and called myself “artist” from that moment on. I thought I could live from
being a singer/ songwriter and travelled the world for some years. These days the music
labels didn’t know in which genre they could put me so I was rejected when I applied and
totally lost my fun applying anymore. Growing older I realised that I actually need more
money to live from and it was very difficult for me to earn enough money as a musician.
Looking back I would have loved to have had some kind of support in these days to really
grow my artistic setup professionally. I was full of inspiration. My music was a mix of
electronics with improvisation, voice and real instruments. Today we definitely have genres I
can fit in but these days it was still a problem if the “professionals” couldn’t put in a specific
musical drawer. So I did all kinds of jobs and didn’t really have much time left to build up a
musician’s career properly. Today I know that you have to invest 100% energy into putting up
a career or you have to have a team behind you who does things for you. So this was the
point where I decided to work as a sound engineer. I opened up a studio with my husband
who is a sound engineer as well and… worked 24 hours a day. (Well it felt like this)
Again the years passed and I still did my own music but it wasn’t in the focus of everyday’s
life. I produced other peoples CDs but never released anything myself. Still my hard disk got
fuller and fuller with recordings and demos of my own songs, so in 2022 I finally decided
that now is the time to put myself into the focus and start releasing songs. The next shock
came when I realised that this doesn’t mean that you make music mainly but more you have
to build up a whole online appearance including a social media presence and a marketing
plan. Okay, I could write a book at this point but let’s say I accepted the challenge and this is
where I am now.

Alex Drift: Since I’m not at home in one genre, it’s still kind of hard for me to feel like I
belong to the scene today. I would have liked to have received more support in the past
instead of experiencing an extreme elbow mentality. I also often found the gatekeeping
unnecessary and the fight for every single euro is exhausting. I therefore often had the
feeling that I had to prove myself. In the meantime, that hardly affects me anymore and I
just do my thing. I think the biggest challenge at the moment is making a living as an artist
and being heard. Everything somehow revolves around marketing. I can totally understand
that as a producer. As an artist, it drives me crazy.


HMWL: How do you see the music industry evolving in the next 5 years? What changes do you
think we’ll see in terms of technology, distribution, and audience engagement?

SITARA: This is a very good question that I would love to be able to answer. Watching the last
years where it became more and more difficult for musicians to gain any income from their
music releases. Watching the attention span of listeners go down to 15 seconds. Deciding if
they like something in Milliseconds. Watching millions of songs being uploaded
permanently. At this point it’s a matter of dreaming and visions…
In terms of technology I am personally very engaged in Dolby Atmos Music and really hope
that we will find easier ways as artists to reach out with our products. Platforms are still
limited in this topic. But the path is taken and I am happy to watch our transformation into
immersive listening. Let’s say we are all working on the sound getting better and better and
still keep the human touch and feeling in it. I mean AI does take over jobs in many parts of
production but I really hope we can keep the creative process mainly to humans.
If I could dream then I would wish myself easier output ways for marketing content. At the
moment I have to be on so many platforms – it is really hard to keep everything updated. So
maybe we have one surface in the future where we put in our content and it is spread
everywhere in the right format. Dream on Sitara. (I know there are some programs that offer
this kind of service but technically it is not satisfying enough so I still have to login to every
platform individually to use the tools I need.)

Alex Drift: Puuuuhhh… difficult topic. Sitara and I talk about it all the time. What bothers me
most at the moment is that artists are being bled dry. Everyone earns from you and the artist
gets the least. We buy hardware, DAWs, plugins, find ourselves in subscription traps,
struggle with additional distributor costs and percentages, label fees, booking fees, mediocre
producing & DJ fees and incredibly poor royalty payouts. At the same time, we’re pouring
every last cent into some marketing campaign where we don’t know whether it’s justified or
whether we’re breaking any platform rules. Playlist curators are the new gatekeepers and
the platforms’ algorithm refuses to push you even a millimetre. The return on investment is
disproportionate and I’m not sure if this will improve in any way in 5 years, as small artists
are also masochistic in a way. And all those who make money from it know how to exploit it.


HMWL: What advice would you give to aspiring musicians trying to make it in the industry? Are
there any particular tips or strategies you’ve found to be particularly effective in building a
career as an electronic musician?

SITARA: Well, the good thing is that everyone has access to distribution services and
producing music has become much easier too. If you are lucky you have a clear vision of who
you are and what you want and are able to put this into a picture that people can buy. There
are sooo many tools out there you can use to promote your music. It is necessary to not lose
hope. Because it can be too many options and you will not be able to manage all this at
once. So step by step. Set yourself goals that you can reach. And then take the next step.
Don’t expect to grow into a star within a second. Give yourself time because time flies. Try to
find sponsors or funding because releasing music and doing promotion can get really costly.
And if you do nothing – nothing happens. Get your friends to help push new releases. Grow
your fanclub and keep them involved.
Also as a musician you are faced with so many offers that say they will help you grow your
audience. Be careful! They take a lot of money and in the end you have to do the work
anyway yourself. Become part of networks and associations. If you can find companions.
Find or create groups where you can exchange experience. And never lose the fun in making
music being overwhelmed by the marketing craziness.

Alex Drift: Sitara sums it up quite well and I can only add to it a little. Go to the clubs and
festivals and try to listen to as much as possible. Network as much as you can and get to
grips with the roots. Understand where electronic music comes from and how it is
structured. Just like hip hop or rock, electronic music has a long history. Studying it is never
wrong and will open up your path to the sound. Take a look at how music is produced and
played, what tools are needed and what it takes to create the sound you like. Once you’ve
found your sound, you can go the independent route, produce and release it yourself. Or you
can get help from producers and release on a label that suits your sound. Be prepared for
the fact that there is no really fast track. Play locally as much as possible and think globally.


HMWL: What’s next for you?

SITARA: Next my music video for “Chase the Moment” is coming out. Then I am finishing two music
videos for my former release “Take Control” with footage from India that I took at the beginning of
this year. There are more amazing songs in the pipeline to come out this year. Probably at the end of
April I will present a remake of my song “Silent Snapper”. Also I want to apply for funding to produce
music videos on a higher level. I am writing new songs and most importantly I am putting together
my booking package and rrrreally would love to find a booker for my live set. I am dreaming to come
on stage more and present my music in an audio visual show.

Alex Drift: A new remix is currently being mastered. I don’t even know when it will be released yet.
I’ve finished a new song called “Penetre”, which I’m currently planning for April. Two more songs are
in the pipeline with Sitara and we’re currently looking for remixers for Chase The Moment to give the
song another facet. And there are about 10 songs on my hard disk that deserve more attention. But I
don’t let myself get stressed anymore. I’ll do my thing and it’ll be great.


Stream SITARA & Alex Drift – Chase The Moment