Name: Andres Campo
Occupation: Producer, DJ
Current release: Andres Campo's remix of “Mitad y Mitad” by Kase-O feat. Najwa is out now. Buy here.
If you enjoyed this interview with Andres Campo, visit his Facebook profile for the most recent updates and insights.
When did you start DJing - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What is it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I started very young, when I was only 14 years old. In Huesca my hometown, there was a big scene back in the day and it made it easier for me to get involved in electronic music.
I was of course influenced by the sound of that time which I experienced at venues including Colisuem, Florida 135, Baramban and Monegros desert festival. It was a good time, and also essential to my career then and now.
For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice? What is the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?
Well back when I started, there were no school to learn music and production near to me, but because of the town being small and home to so many DJs including Claudio, Javi Mar, Calle, Catalinas, Gaston, Ricardo and Jaime etc they were all a reference to me and my music. The clubs and festivals become like a school in a way.
I think it’s good to choose some artists to look up to, and learn about the sound that you like, but then you have to find your own way of doing this and making something which you love just as much. Your personality behind the decks and what you make in the studio, will never be the same as someone else, and that's what make you unique. All it takes is time and some self-confidence.
What were some of the main challenges and goals when starting out as a DJ and how have they changed over time? What is it about DJing, compared to, say, producing your own music, that makes it interesting for you?
At the start there were no goals, for me it was just fun and a passion project. I think that is the key sometimes, because then you do not expect everything. Just be present and avoid the anxiety of success. Producing came much later on for me, when I was learning on developing my sound.
It was hard to play the music I made then (at least for me). But if you love music, both playing and producing, then the happiness you feel when your own track is a mad sensation. When the dancefloor likes it - wow, it's the most rewarding feeling.
How would you define the job and describe the influence of the DJ? How are the experience and the music transformed through your work?
A job of a DJ is to bring happiness and some kind of escapism to the listener. Whether that's at home, in the car or at the club. I think a lot of people, especially during this period now that we are all at home have learnt that things like music can change your mood drastically. When you play in a club and know that people have come far and wide to see you, it's a crazy feeling to know the music that you play can make their evening, they are dancing, singing and letting go of shitty times perhaps. That's a powerful thing to have and achieve with your hands and mind.
What was your first set-up as DJ like? How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?
I saved every penny I could from summer jobs and when I was 16, and bought a Akiyama Belt drive turntable and an old mixer. It was a start! I then bought another turntable, a fonestar one (also belt drive) and one year later I got a computer, synths and sampler etc. My mother was getting worried about me by this stage.
My studio was always at my home, and of course I have moved to a new house since I started out at 16, but its till in my current home now in Barcelona.
It’s difficult to work on production when I am not at home, but that's just the way I have come to know it. My most important gear? Hmmmmm I am in love with my Roland Sh10 and a big fan of UAD hardware soundcards, plugins and also Elektron stuff!
How do you make use of technology? In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?
Machines are capable of doing many great things, but they need us to be able to make those great things happen. I think nowadays the use of both worlds (analog and digital) is really interesting. I love machines, I always did as I used to be a creative director, programming and designing websites and apps. I have always loved and always will love the mixture of technology and humanity.
Humans have memories, influences and experiences which machines do not, so that's the advantage we have. But we need the machines to be able to bring those ideas into reality.
Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do life and creativity feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
The first thing I do is sports, as it helps me to start the day with a positive attitude. This is followed by breakfast, checking my emails and then turning on all the machines to start working on music. I don't really follow an exact routine when I am producing, as I feel it’s important to let the inspiration flow. I also tend to listen to some music when I am in the office doing emails and interviews like this one, which helps me get motivated.
Creativity comes from everywhere and everything – it can be a conversation, a moment or memory etc – so it’s better to have an open mind and the gear in your studio all ready for when that time comes!
Let's say you have a gig coming up tonight. What does your approach look like – from selecting the material and preparing for, opening and then building a set?
First thing I look at is where I am going, the venue etc and whether it's a new place or somewhere that I already know, then from there I can figure out the crowd and type of music to play.
I do not really organise my sets, I just choose some music and know which the first track is I want to drop, from there things flow. I can’t prepare anything in the middle if it’s not working, so it’s better to know your tools and the tracks in advance to ensure a proper trip!
Can you describe your state of mind during a DJ set? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
Good question! I think I am in a trance like state when I am playing for sure. Distractions come all the time, from the crowd, behind the booth etc. The first few minutes of every set I try to be focused on the equipment, placing the CDJs in the right position (never together, never straight lol) and also take control of the monitors and volume. I check all my equipment regularly – mixer, pedals etc. When I know everything is under control, at that moment you’ll see me enjoy myself a bit more, and maybe have a shot or two of tequila!
What are some of the considerations that go into deciding which track to play next? What makes two tracks a good fit? How far do you tend to plan ahead during a set?
It’s always about the mood of the people, they come first. If there is a raw style track playing and the party is on fire, then I will follow that direction, but sometimes I like to surprise them too and don't plan things. There is a common-sense rule, which is to not play melodic tracks together, or two vocals at the same time etc. But it safe to say I always look to reach this goal: music that people want to hear, music that I want to play to people and music that they and I never expected to hear.
Would you say you see DJing as improvisation? As composition in the moment? Or as something entirely different from these terms?
I see the DJ set (this doesn't apply to live sets) as a collage of music, instead of pictures. We are cooking with other elements, and nowadays its possible with technology. There is a lot of composition in a normal DJ set, and I used a lot of tools that I made in the studio, along with edits etc. So, it's a mix of everything!
How does playing music at home and presenting it in the club compare and relate? What can be achieved through them, respectively, and what do you personally draw from both?
It’s crazy, because at the moment I am playing more than ever at home and believe me – I do it better in front of thousands of people than I do alone at home. For me, it’s necessary to feel the reaction of people, and the vibe of a party to really get into it. When I play at home, it’s strange for me as I usually play more ‘for me’.
Also, it’s hard not being able to play at venues now, as all the music I make at home, is tested on the road, so it’s hard to know whether they are good or going to work! I have to use my girlfriend as my own critic.
How would you describe the relationship between your choices and goals as a DJ and the expectations, desires and feedback of the audience? How does this relationship manifest itself during a performance and how do you concretely tap into it?
It’s all too easy to fall into the hater comments, and opinions of what everyone thinks you are playing, doing and more. I always said that if everyone likes what you are doing, then you are doing something wrong. I don't want everyone to love what I am doing, as we all need criticism, to learn and grow. Then this enables us to make choices based on feedback. The dancefloor tells you everything you need.
Especially thanks to the storage facilities of digital media, DJ sets could potentially go on forever. Other than closing time, what marks the end of a DJ performance for you? What are the most satisfying conclusions to a set?
The end of a DJ performance is always marked by the law. Hahaha. Whenever we have to close, then we end it! Hahahaha. The most satisfying conclusion is to know that people had a great time with my music.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
I came from a design background, and I always said that you can work like a designer (working with a purpose, following instructions, make a logo, build your website etc etc) or you can work more like an artist, which for me means going with the flow, finding a creative purpose and following little to no instructions, when that's possible!
There isn’t a right or wrong way to do this, we all do it how we feel works for us. You need to find a balance, at least as a DJ. I want to do my own shit and not focus on the needs, wants and expectations of others.
Please recommend two pieces of art (book, painting, piece of music) to our readers that they should know about.
Oh, that's hard to choose, because everyone has their own taste when it comes to reading etc. So instead, I wanted to share more of a statement;
Share, love, travel, break the rules, fuck the fear, laugh so hard and build the good moments, the bad ones will come and go.