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 music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
Fortunately, all my current work is related to music.
I run a small management and booking agency based in Barcelona, but also with offices in Buenos Aires (Argentina) and hopefully soon also a base in Germany. All team members of the agency work from their homes and we meet when it is required. So there is no regular office routine. We decided on this because some members of the team are in South America, others in Spain, others between London and Denmark and we have a partner in Germany, So, Skype sessions, Whatsapp calls, mails, Dropbox and iPhones are our office actually.
When it comes to a regular day, I wake up about 08:00/08:30 and perform some yoga exercises (just a bit) and then check the mail, and start the routine, calls, dealings, setting some strategy for the artists, etc, etc. Then I try to make some stop at noon to go out (fitness or swim, a walk on the beach, pick the bike a bit, etc) and back to home to follow the day … but I do not have any fixed schedule, except for some routines that we need to keep.
Since we handle some bookings for our artists in both North America and Latin America I am always running a bit with the time zone scheme in my head. You know when all the promoters in Spain and Europe leave the office and on the other side of the globe, they start to work. So usually my work days are long. Then I simply take breaks to head into the studio (it is at home, I’ve got a room for office tasks and a second one for the gear/studio) and do some stuff there.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece or album that's particularly dear to you, please? Where did the ideas come from, how were they transformed in your mind, what did you start with and how do you refine these beginnings into the finished work of art?
Every track is different, and sometimes I start with a simple loop, sometimes with something more elaborated. From the tracks of the upcoming album, those in which I used vocals, i.e. started in a different way, there is one piece that contains a long spoken word from the urban artist Kamal Imani and in this case that was the starting point. So I composed the entire piece based on that spoken word, all the music was appearing while I put the vocal wording in repeat mode and started to test things on top. In the end, the final project has sort of only 8-9 different audio tracks but when I was checking and playing it had on about 20-25 tracks, then I discarded a lot of useless audio sections.
I approached the other vocal pieces of the album differently. I created the tracks based on random arpeggios I was checking and started from there. I realised that a vocal phrase would fit super well, and then I asked some members of Loopermans and other communities if I could work with their acapellas.
Every track is different and I like to think they are like living creatures at some point, so different sub-species of the same animal let’s say, each of them with unique lives and purposes. But most of them start simply by playing random bases, arpeggios, sequences, etc. I do not have any specific method of composition; I prefer to feel a bit of freedom in studio.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
Well, I am pretty sure there are a lot of techniques to enter into that ideal state of mind, but to be honest I never tried any of them. For me, it is more a sort of automatic impulse that tells me, ‘hey go to the studio you are in the mood today!’ And in case I have some free time, I simply start playing the synths a bit and that is it (laughs).
But at the same time, we are surrounded by distractions. The Internet is the worst of them, then the phone, Whatsapp and even a simply bird passing near your window can be a factor of losing concentration and focus unless you are willing to work on something.
How is playing live and writing music in the studio connected? What do you achieve and draw from each experience personally? How do you see the relationship between improvisation and composition in this regard?
When I play live, I tend to improvise a lot. I like to bring machines that make me free to arrange some patterns and sequences on the fly, record some loops in real time, have fun with filtering and the efx side. Mainly when you play in clubs at night, you need to take the people into a sort of Dj-Session experience in some way. So my only goal is to improvise a lot, trying to ‘read’ the dancefloor a bit, making changes all the time during the set in order to avoid repetitions and endless loops.
Usually when I compose music in the studio, I do not initially think about how it can be made to work in a live show. That comes later. Once I have the studio version of a track entirely finished, that's when I decide if it will go into the live set or not. If it will, I'll take the main riffs or sequences or parts, go to the sampler (Octatrack) and start playing with those audio files and giving that track a totally different approach. Sometimes I'll just record directly on the Octatrack and use an arp on the Digitone or other small machine (I try to go light in weight to my lives because all the hassle with the airports etc. So I just bring 3-4 boxes so I need to concentrate all my sound in a couple of pieces of gear) and use it only for live purposes. If it works well in clubs, maybe I'll pick some of these sounds and record them in the studio and that becomes a new track.
How do you see the relationship between the 'sound' aspects of music and the 'composition' aspects? How do you work with sound and timbre to meet certain production ideas and in which way can certain sounds already take on compositional qualities?
On the one hand, I’d say that if you’ve got a nice chord progression that works (that would be the composition part) i.e. just playing it on a piano (or with a keyboard tone similar to a piano) or guitar, etc, you have a good piece already. On the other hand, now you’ve got a powerful chord set or melody that works by itself, you need to put it into the right sound field (here the sound and timbre part start to play a role). By doing this, you have taken many important steps towards achieving a good track. So this is my relationship between both worlds: Both are important to me. I love melodies and harmonies and love to work with basic chords sometimes when starting a track. But it is when the music goes into the sound or timbre camp when the track will really show its potential.
Of course this entire ratio is super relative when it comes to electronic music. Why? Simply because we work with synths and other gear that sport super sound capabilities, and there are a lot of presets to be used as starting points that work super well with just a couple of knobs twists and bring us into epic landscapes, insane harmonies or superb baroque arpeggios or sequences that can be used to turn a track around. I’d say that in terms of electronic music, the boundaries of skills in composition and good taste looking for the right tone are at least something diffuse, and one part feeds the other and vice-versa.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work? What happens to sound at its outermost borders?
Obviously I am not an expert in these fields, but I’d say the act of hearing truly triggers other senses. Music can bring memories; a memory can evoke smells and so on. We can even trigger thoughts focused on the future; we can project while listening to music, to sounds. So the power of sound and music is really deep and I believe still unknown in its entirety. We should not forget that the human being only perceives a certain range of frequencies so we are for sure missing parts here. And we haven't arrived at the border yet, there is lot of room before we can touch the boundaries of the sound field I think.
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 never thought my own music could work as something related to any social or political role; that is something I never considered. Artists sometimes claim to be visible faces for movements or trying to lead some changes because their exposure and fan base. Not in my case, I respect all opinions but at the same time I of course have my own thoughts about our leaders, our world, about what it is important or not and how we can improve our lives in common as humans. But I prefer to make my own stuff and not link it with my artistic career.
I made music for charity, or played for charity but never link that with my profile, it was something more in the shadows. I can spend a Sunday cleaning a beach with people in my town or participating in meetings related to the city council to improve some stuff in the neighbourhood but never link that to my role as musician/producer, etc. I believe in anonymous work for a better world. Of course I like art in general, and I consume art every day, I like movies a lot, like to buy vinyl and records, going to concerts and events, read books, love paintings and going into museums. But I also like to swim, to skate and to simply go to walk in a beach in autumn.
What I try to avoid is the most commercial side of art, or when somebody uses art to cover up political manoeuvres, or spending public money with no control, and even doing some advertising on top of it. That is not art; it is something criminal, actually.
It is remarkable, in a way, that we have arrived in the 21st century with the basic concept of music still intact. Do you have a vision of music, an idea of what music could be beyond its current form?
Music as a concept is the same because as an abstract form, music has not changed. What iha changed and evolved are the sound palette, the technical means (musical instruments, software, etc) that help us to express our creativity in terms of what we call music. So the evolution should go on that way, into the technical tools field.
One of the evolutions here could be a device that makes it possible to pick brain waves and decode them into music (some little implant is maybe needed here) or complete tracks, a sort of ‘Matrix’ in which when you are connected, you think something musical and then music becomes real. It would be something like an automatic composition method, directly from your brain (hence direct from our feelings at that precise momentum) into something you can listen to.
This could obviously change the way to compose, to distribute music, to consume music. And for sure, for many of us current producers, we would not have these skills to compose directly from our brain so we could not be producers in this revoluti