Name: Luis Garban aka Safety Trance aka Cardopusher
Occupation: Producer, composer, DJ
Recent release: Safety Trance's Noches de Terror EP (featuring Arca) is out via Boysnoize.
Recommendations: I would like to recommend two books I recently read:
The Strange World Of Willie Seabrook - by Marjorie Worthington. A memoir of Marjorie Worthington of her life with writer and sadist husband Willie Seabrook, a really strange guy who traveled widely between 1920s and 1940s and introduced the concept of the “zombie” to Americans.
Fire In The Belly: The Life And Times Of David Wojnarowicz - by Cynthia Carr. An in-depth biography about american painter, photographer, writer, filmmaker, musician, performance artist and AIDS activist David Wojnarowicz, prominent in New York East Village art scene.
If you enjoyed this interview with Safety Trance / Cardopusher and would like to find out more about Luis Garban's music, visit him on Instagram, Facebook, twitter, and Soundcloud.
When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I started to write and play music on my own around the early 2000s. Before that I used to play in bands with friends but there was something about this format that didn’t work for me.
By that time a big community of solo musicians around the world had started to create amazing experimental and underground music using just laptops without relying on anyone else and I found this fascinating. I decided to give it a try and was immediately hooked experimenting this way.
Little by little I started to make songs inspired by labels like Mille Plateaux, Warp, Rephlex, Tigerbeat6, Planet Mu and others.
When I listen to music, I see shapes, objects and colours. What happens in your body when you're listening and how does it influence your approach to creativity?
I think everybody has their own interpretation when listening to music as we all are different. In my case I feel like I'm dissecting, translating, analysing every sound, like my head enters in a processing mode trying to understand what’s happening sonically in a puzzle.
Even if I don't like a specific song or style, my mind still tries to understand what's happening there because there might be an element in there that can be useful for me later.
So definitely this way of perceiving music has influenced my way of composing.
How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?
I've been making music for 20 years now so obviously my interests and challenges have changed over the years. But I do feel like today I still have the same approach as when I started - which is trying constantly to refine my own personal voice and keeping it relevant.
I really hate staying in comfort zones so this has been a big challenge for me since the beginning. People tend to have hard time when they cannot pigeonhole an artist.
Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.
I have always been a motivated and curious person and I always believed that you can reach any goal if you really commit yourself to it.
My family has no relation to the arts or music world and at the beginning of my career, they were worried about my future. But for me it was pretty clear what I wanted to do with my life even if it was going to take me a longer time to get where I wanted to be.
As a listener I'm constantly looking for more and it's the same when writing music. I'm always looking to push further.
What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?
I think the key ideas behind my approach to music and art are simplicity and accessibility. I have never studied music theory but I learned enough to properly handle the music elements I'm working with. This is why simplicity is important to me, approaching it this way without overthinking too much gives me the best results.
Regarding accessibility, art is still bound up in ideas of exclusivity, both in the individual nature of each work and the elitism associated with its ownership. I I think it's important to change that and make things more accessible for everybody.
How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?
This is a frequently discussed topic. I think it all depends on the end consumer but for me, originality and innovation are pretty important, for some others it might be perfection. I think there is no right choice between “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition” as I see them both as valid.
Actually it is really interesting to have both worlds because in between is where the best things happens.
Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?
Without doubt, for me since day one, it has been the computer. Basically, you can do everything with it and the possibilities are endless if you are a creative and curious person.
I do also have hardware gear but if I had to rely on just one tool it would be the computer. When I started to make music on my own the only thing I had was a cheap laptop so I had to be creative if I wanted to succeed using it.
The best strategy for working with it and making the most of it is keeping an open mind.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.
On a regular day I wake up around 8am and the first thing I do is having a cup of coffee and checking / replying to my messages. Then I spend some time outside the house getting some sun with my dog. Around 10-11am I usually take breakfast and then I start checking with fresh ears the new ideas I've been working on recently to get in the mood and keep developing them or trying new ideas.
After few hours of studio work I normally take a break to go the gym, grocery shopping for the day, cooking and / or errands.
Then after lunch I'm back again in the studio intensively until late night.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?
One of the records I really enjoyed working on was “Manipulator”, my first full length for Boys Noize´s label (released in 2015).
It was the easiest album I ever composed because I didn’t think in concepts or aesthetics or limited myself regarding how an album should be made. Sometimes thinking in advance can take the excitement out of it, especially if you need to make a certain amount of songs to make it into an album.
So part of my creative process from that moment on has been to leave things open to be able to come up with interesting stuff.
Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?
I don’t have a real preference between listening solo or communal. But I think it's important to have a balance between them.
Normally when I'm alone, I listen to more experimental stuff but when I'm with a bunch of friends I tend to listen to more suitable stuff for everybody. I can listen to Merzbow as a solo activity but when youre hanging out with your friends, it might not be the most relaxing music for the situation.
[Read our Merzbow interview]
[Read our interview with Merzbow about improvisation]
You can still play great music in a collaborative way without going extreme so this balance is pretty important and I think it has shaped my sound. Same with creating music, the results are pretty different when you do it alone compared to collaborative. I think that’s the exciting thing about it.
How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?
My work and creativity is a reflection of the times we're living in. Music is also a language or a way of communication. So everything I have experienced is related to the current world.
The role of music in society is pretty important, it can help in the healing process or it can be used as way of celebration or even as a way of communication beyond words just to name a few roles. Therapy can involve listening or actively making music for example.
Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?
Music has been a big part of my life since I have use of reason so it definitely has contributed to the understanding of these questions. It can bring you good memories (or sometimes not so good ones) of certain times or moments that had an impact on your life and it can help you to digest these emotions sonically.
How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?
Music is both an art and a science, so they are definitely related to me. Both fields use mathematical principles, formulas and logic to explore the universe.
Science teaches us that sound is vibration, and the frequency of vibration is what makes different sounds. Music then is the study of the sound created by those vibrations, and puts them into patterns that we are able to translate.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
I feel like writing a good piece of music is similar to making a great cup of coffee. Mastering your craft is a way of creative expression, it doesn’t matter which field, as art is pretty subjective.
With my music I try to express some kind of sensibility that I don’t necessarily show in any other way.
Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it is able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?
I don’t have a real explanation for it but I find it fascinating that we as human beings are capable of receiving and interpreting these vibrations in a very personal way. As we all are different, so our brains are, too. So it's amazing to see how a message can be interpreted in many ways. That’s the beautiful thing about music.