Name: Susobrino aka Bart Van Obbergen Pérez
Occupation: Producer
Nationality: Bolivian-Belgian
Current release: Susobrino's Pocualeíto EP is out via Kebrada.
1. Ya No Estoy Aqui by Fernando Frías
2. Embrace of the Serpent by Ciro Guerra

If you enjoyed this interview with Susobrino and would like to know more about his work, visit him on Instagram, Facebook, and Soundcloud.

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?

My first attempts of producing music were on my Nintendo DS and they had this Korg DS-10 game where I would dive in and turn every knob to see what would happen.

While living in Spain for two years in 2008, my friends introduced me to FL Studio and I started making mainly hiphop instrumentals hoping my friends would rap on it. Shlohmo was one my biggest influences as I started to fieldrecord and use those oddly lo fi sounds.

Then again, it was impossible not to produce every kind of genre just to get the hang of the program.

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?

By making a lot of music and also different kind of music, you arrive at a point where something resonates more with you and I have to thank my roots for it.

My Latino side was always lurking around but it really flourished when I graduated from Music University PXL Music. I wanted to do find a Bolivian/South American community in Belgium and make music with them but my mentor bluntly asked me: “Why don’t you just go to Bolivia yourself?”. I changed after the one month trip to Bolivia. Mentally and creatively.

Also my two friends Ashley Morgan and Pippin, who I studied together with in the same class, are a big and heart-warming influence.

How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?

It is my steering wheel. Living in Belgium with Bolivian roots feels so far away. And I think that is what drives me. To be as close to my Bolivian/Latino roots as I can by expressing it in my music. It really feels like a mission in life and I am so excited of what will come.

What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?

The biggest challenge for me was the freedom to sing and make noise. It’s hard for a musician to spread your wings if you can’t make that much noise because of neighbours.

Also at my parents’ home, I would not dare to sing loud because I was too shy that they would hear me. This changed when I lived in an anti-squat building. A huge courthouse with only 5 housemates. Each one had a corner of the building. I was able to scream, shout, make loud music and really experiment without boundaries.

And now in Brussels it’s pretty much the same. Having a studio in a Atelier site where noise is not against the law.

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?

I am still very simple with plug ins. As I would see a lot of other producers that would stack with the newest plug ins and libraries, I worked with the stock of FL Studio or Ableton. I always liked to record my own sounds and manipulate them in the program. It grew more by collecting acoustic instruments and recording those.

Now being more professional, I really look into more proper microphones and necessary plug ins or tricks to make everything sound richer. I think it’s really a path that everyone has in their own skill. If you study/practice a lot on your skill, you will always find a new thing to work on.

Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?

Not really.

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?

It’s still a learning process for me. Jamming is what we do often in our studio with many creative friends and it’s a great bonding experience. Working with other artists is still a learning process for me - this year I started to do that more.

Music is a strange language and I definitely want to have a great conversation with the artist I work with. I like how it’s going now and I’m very excited for upcoming collabs!

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?

I don’t really have a fixed schedule and I am really happy with that. My day consists of mailing and organising and then just making music. Either randomly start making music or finishing things. I always have a list that kind of tells me what I have to do. 

As Jeremy Zuckerman said in a podcast, “I definitely interpret the world in a musical way”. I cannot separate music from my daily life. I noticed that very hard when I worked at a random buffet restaurant. The radio would play the same songs every day and I would be destroyed by the end of the day. Also because I didn’t have anyone really to relate to being a young boy in a group of moms and dads.

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 are some moments like being recognised by Lefto, Red Bull Elektropedia and a beautiful orchestra project with my friend Lucas Van Vlierberghe.

But the most recent one was last Summer. I played a gig in Brugge, Belgium. It was outdoors next to a skatepark and unfortunately the skaters had their event going on. Then I heard that they had to stop the event so all the skaters came to check my gig and they were wiiilldd. I love the skate culture and that night really made a connection with my music.

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?

The biggest change for me is having a separate place to create music. Not the bedroom anymore. I share a studio with Ashley and Pippin that is 5 minutes from my apartment.

Going to the studio already has the full intention to be creative and that really boosted my state of mind.

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 definitely approach my music as a source of healing and it’s heart-warming to get the affirmation from listeners. I think all types of music have a sense of healing. That’s why I think music events are so important for the world.  

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?

No comment.

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 like to say that my music could be categorised as soundtrack music. I imagine scenes in my head that could enhance the music. Therefore I would love to be part of a movie.

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 think about these things a lot. I try to express my music as a hopeful aura.

For example the song “El Aguante” is made with the intention to keep fighting in these odd times. But I prefer to let my music speak for itself and let every individual interpret it in their way.

What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?

This is a beautiful question.

It’s a nonverbal language that is amazing to work with. Its power is undeniably strong in every aspect of emotion and can guide people’s lives.

A good example is ceremonies or guided meditation. Icaros. It’s also a beautiful movie by Georgina Barreiro.