Name: Ramiro Lopez
Occupation: Producer, DJ
Current release: On October 8th 2021, Ramiro Lopez releases his long-awaited debut album. Entitled Al Retortero, it will be published on Odd, the imprint run by himself and Arjun Vagale. [Read our Arjun Vagale interview] He has also played back to back with the likes of Lilly Palmer [Read our Lilly Palmer interview] and Fatima Hajji. [Read our Fatima Hajji interview]
Recommendations: Book - Joe Dispenza – ‘Breaking the habit of being yourself’; Painting - Miguel Caravaca work - Talented Spanish artist.
If you enjoyed this interview with Ramiro Lopez and would like to get to know his work better, follow him on Instagram, Facebook, Soundcloud, and twitter. Odd Records also has a bandcamp page.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
First bands that took me into music were Queen and Guns´n Roses. But speaking of electronic music, I ´d say The Chemical Brothers, Moby, Carl Cox, Jeff Mills or Richie Hawtin to name a few.
[Read our Jeff Mills interview]
I first started with DJing and was focused on that for some years. Then I felt the need to express myself in a different way so I decided to take some lessons and start with production. Once I discovered this world, I totally fell in love with it. I’ve been thinking about music 24/7 since then.
For most artists, originality is 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?
It took a while before I could express the ideas exactly the way I had in my head. In the beginning I ended up making something totally different from the initial idea.
I used to spend all the free time I had making music. It’s been a long process but really enjoyed it. I used to listen to and analyse tracks from many artists that I love in order to take ideas. Nowadays, still listen too a lot of music from other musicians that admire - it’s inspiring to me.
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?
I try not to think of my identity whenever I’m creating. Actually, sometimes I try to make things in a new way, totally different to how I usually do them.
But in the end, I do take decision during the creative process that come with my identity. I can’t avoid that.
What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
In the beginning it was enough just to have music I could play and mix as a DJ. After some time, my main goal was spark an audience reaction, producing tracks to make the people dance and enjoy. I still have that latter target. But I'm trying to innovate and surprise them at the same time.
As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, be it instruments, software tools or recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you, starting from your first studio/first instrument? What motivated some of the choices you made in terms of instruments/tools/equipment over the years?
My first DAW was Logic and even though I’ve tried others like Ableton, I’m very comfortable with it, so I keep working with it.
I´m more a software than a hardware person. I’ve worked with a few synths over the years but I’m ending up using just the same plugins to make most of the elements. I love the ones by Native Instruments and Arturia. I got Komplete Control years ago and am really happy with it. I also have a Maschine. That would be pretty much the equipment I work with at the moment.
Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
Not really. As I said, I’ve tried to work more in an analog way but I think it's not really my thing. At least, I still don't yet feel it.
Logic has changed over the years but it’s still pretty much the same, so there's no big change for me there. They are continuously releasing new and powerful tools so I'm sticking with it.
I’ll find something that makes me change my way of working in the future.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
I tend to collaborate with artist friends, so it´s easy. Most of the time we are not at the same studio so we usually send some ideas hence and forth to each other, choose the ones we love the most and then keep working on them through file sharing so everyone can follow the process of the other. This is repeated until we are satisfied with the track.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. 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?
On a regular day, I'll usually wake up early in the morning, meditate and then start right away to produce. For me, that’s the moment when I feel most creative.
I usually work until mid-day, then head for the gym, eat lunch, enjoy a bit of siesta and then return to the studio until around 20:00 h. But this is not always possible. There are interviews to make, demos to listen to and some other stuff. So some days, I don’t have time to make music even though I’m always doing my best to.
Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
There many of those. Production-wise, the first EP I released on Carl Cox´s Label Intec Music or my first Drumcode release was really special. I had the goal of releasing on Drumcode for many years and then I finally did it.
Regarding performance, every time I play in a new country or a new big club / festival is always new goal achieved.
I love to work with goals whenever I achieve something; I’m already focused on the next ones.
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?
Early morning is usually the best creative moment for me. Just when I’m still a bit asleep, everything is quiet and my mind is clear of thoughts. Whenever I am in this state of mind, time flies.
I’m lucky to live in a small village so there is less noise and distractions.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
I do believe in the power of sounds for healing. Frequencies are energy, just like everything else. I personally use gongs and specific frequencies as tools for my meditations and I’ve actually been experimenting on some tracks with that but I have to do it more.
[Read our feature with Fabio Florido about Sound Healing and using Music Responsibly]
Working with specific frequencies on purpose is something I still don’t see a lot in electronic music, at least in techno music, but I find it very interesting.
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
I try to keep an open mind on this topic. Art and many things that surround it are subjective so there are many points of view about this.
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?
I find this very interesting. Electronic music is obviously bound to the sense of hearing but also the senses of vision and touch. Feeling the bass in your body can increase your heart rate and make you move faster.
But combining these with the sense of taste and smell is still something not common in music. A song having its own smell or taste sounds fascinating to me. I’ve heard about experiments with this but is still not properly developed. Hopefully in the near future.
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 agree art can be used to influences other areas but it's not my thing. My main purpose is connecting with the people and making them feel good, have a good time and enjoy themselves.
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
Feelings are energy and sometimes you lose a part of the whole meaning if you try to describe them with words. Music has the power of transmitting the full message.
You can describe happiness or joy perfectly with the right notes, rhythm and cadence. That’s magical.