Though his earliest work borrowed from trip-hop and pop, over the years DJ/producer Shantel (aka Stefan Hantel) came into his own as he incorporated Eastern European elements into his music. Though Hantel was born in Frankfurt, Germany, his mother's parents were from the Romanian part of Bukovina and he discovered dance music while studying graphic design in Paris. Back in his hometown he opened the Lissania club, one of the few bastions of earthy grooves in a country obsessed with techno. A noted port-of-call for similar minds like Kruder & Dorfmeister and Howie B, the club's prosperity led to Shantel's first album, Club Guerilla. Released locally by Infracomm, the album was given a 1997 American reissue by Shadow Records, along with Auto-Jumps & Remixes (a collection of EPs from his own Essay label).
Shantel signed to Studio !K7 for his second full LP, Higher Than the Funk. It earned high praise around the world, even hitting Spin magazine's end-of-the-year charts. Released in 2001, Great Delay, which was recorded in Tel Aviv in 1999, reflected his increasingly adventurous music as it touched on dub, hip-hop, and jazz. During the 2000s, he delved deeper into Balkan music. He founded Bucovina Club, a DJ night that spawned two acclaimed collections released in 2003 and 2005 via Hantel's Essay label. Two years later, Disko Partizani focused even more on traditional Balkan sounds even as it included Greek and Turkish elements. The title track became a hit that racked up over three million YouTube views, and Shantel and the Bucovina Club Orkestar played hundreds of dates across Europe in support of the album. Hantel also wrote original music for the 2007 Faith Akin movie The Edge of Heaven.
Released in 2009, Planet Paprika continued in the vein of Disko Partizani, and in 2011 Hantel collaborated with Israeli artist Oz Almog on Kosher Nostra: Jewish Gangsters Greatest Hits, a compilation of vintage Jewish-inspired jazz, R&B, and rock & roll. Shantel took a slightly different tack on 2013's Anarchy + Romance, blending funk, reggae, and rock into his signature sound. Reflecting his second home in Athens, Viva Diaspora took inspiration from Greek musical traditions as well as the country's turmoil in the 2010s. Featuring collaborations with Areti Ketime and Imam Baildi as well as 21st century interpretations of rebetiko, the album arrived in late 2015. ~ Heather Phares & John Bush