Name: Edu Imbernon
Occupation: DJ, Producer
Current Release: Chapter One on Fayer
Recommendations: As book I’ll recommend The Four Agreements, by Miguel Ruiz.
As a visual artist the fellow Spanish Antonyo Marest makes great inspiring pieces of art.
Website / Contact: If you enjoyed this interview with Edu Imbernon, make sure to visit his website and facebook profile for more information, news and music.
When did you start DJing - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What what is about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I started DJing at the age of 16 after a short trip to Ibiza and the discovery of this music. The first club I’ve ever visited in my life was Amnesia Ibiza and it definitely left a mark on me. Back then my biggest influences were artists like Tiga, Anthony Rother or Gregor Tresher.
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?
I consider I “studied” everything a lot from the ages of 16 to 21, I kind of secluded from social life and focused on music (as a DJ) and music production (I studied sound engineering).
The first years it was a bit frustrating as all I really wanted was to make the music I had in my head. The technical part of it took me some time (as expected) but it was completely worth the work.
Once I got the technical part, then it was the process of developing my own sound, which still keeps developing, although I can say that over the last years it has solidified. A lot of people and artists hear a song and can say its mine, which is nice. I think you have to aim to be special. Plenty of producers copy constantly as a part of their work and in my opinion that's heading nowhere. You have to be creative and that will take you to a special level as a musician.
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?
When I started DJing the challenge for sure was to be able to play in front of an audience that can appreciate what you do. I got that once I had a number 1 Beatport release under my belt. After that, I started to play shows that were truly amazing. For me DJing is about making people feel something special, make them fly, tell them a story. And of course, DJing is about the feedback of all of those back to me.
Producing is the moment where you remember all those memories and convert them into music. o it’s a different thing but 100% related in between.
How would you define the job and describe the influence of the DJ? How are the experience and the music transformed through your work?
As mentioned in the last question, the job is a circle of feelings and emotions that feedback between the artist and the crowd. Good shows make me produce better music, people enjoy the show more when I play good music, so it’s clearly a “loop” that just gets better and better.
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?
My first DJ setup was 2 CDJs and a mixer (CDJ Pioneer 200 and a Behringer Mixer). After a few years and when I started touring internationally I decided to use Traktor and midi controllers (Ipad) which allowed me to mix 3-4 channels and develop my own sound as a DJ (like being able to play non dance floor songs mixed with a dance floor song at the same time). Right now and since a couple of years, I’m back on the CDJs as now the functions they have are very similar to Traktor (music organization through recordbox, beat jump or the looping section). My setup evolved to the point that is now as it suits my needs perfectly. I used to have a few problems with laptop + Traktor in the past and now that’s sorted with the use of USB Sticks.
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?
I’m always keeping an eye out on what’s new. For instance I played for 2 years with laptop and CDJs with HID mode creating my own mapping configuration for FX and Loops in each CDJ.
For me technology is key to develop creativity.
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?
A normal day starts with some emails and a good relaxing breakfast. Then I work out for 1 or 2 hours, after that I do the grocery shopping for the day, cook lunch, do some more emails and around 4 or 5 pm I head to the studio. With the tasks done for the day, I generally work until 9 or so making music, then I cook dinner and if I’m inspired I keep working in the studio a few hours more. I consider myself more inspired late at night, which fights a bit with early mornings, so I try to combine these as I really like waking up early and being productive. I also have more stuff on my plate than making music. I have 2 labels, 1 monthly event (Fayer) and I’m also opening a restaurant in September (Fayer Bar) in my hometown Valencia, so some weeks I don't really have the time to be in the studio as much as I wanted.
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?
I do have a gig coming up tonight as I answer this interview :)
First I try think what kind of show will it be and the length of the set time, in this case its a club in Barcelona (City Hall) and I’m playing 2:30h. I’m closing the night so my approach in this case will be peak time music combined with special records (as I’m closing) but starting a bit more relaxed to create a story and to try create a vibe that will let people get euphoric and put a smile on their faces. If it was a festival for example it would be completely different, as set times are generally 1 or 1:30h and there is no warm up or anything like that. It’s basically the big weapons non-stop.
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?
I’m very very focused while playing, track selection and technique are essential for me, and that needs a lot of focus. I hate people talking to me while I’m playing or basically doing anything that can distract me from that state of mind.
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?
I’m a very melodic person, but I’m aware not everyone is, so what I try to do is combine melodic or dreamy music with more direct tracks that need no thinking, just dancing. Also I love building up my sets in intensity and emotion. So for example if I just played a very melodic and emotional song I won’t play another melodic song after that, I’ll give the crowd a break and will attack again with something special after 1 or 2 records.
Would you say you see DJing as improvisation? As composition in the moment? Or as something entirely different from these terms?
Completely, at least for myself. Sometimes I’ve had an idea in my head of how the set will go, then I get there, start playing and feel something completely different. That’s the magic of it, you never know what to expect.
How do 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?
They relate completely, they feedback from each other. I draw the emotion from the good shows and use it in my productions. Also when you play your own music in front of the people and see them dancing and smiling and closing their eyes it’s the biggest reward ever.
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?
I think being unique is an advantage, some people might now like you, but the ones who like you generally love you and admire you big time. In a DJ set people like to be surprised, they wanna hear music they love and ideally music they don't know, that’s the skill of the DJ - amongst others of course.
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?
I generally end my sets with a classic record (ideally one people don't know or remember well) that creates an ecstatic atmosphere, I like to build the last 30’ minutesof my sets consciously. So for example if I’m about to finish a long DJ set and the promoter asks me to go 1 more hour I can do it but it breaks my set concept a little bit.
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 let everything around me influence me, as you mention everyday life. A morning stroll, a good meal, a barbecue with friends or a day at the beach can be as inspiring as listening an album from your favourite artist. For me I try not to think about it too much, I just flow with it.