Name: Tomás Urquieta
Occupation: Producer, DJ, designer
Current release: Tomás Urquieta's El David Muerte is out via Insurgentes.
Recommendations: Roberto Bolaños's Detectives salvajes book. And the artist who blew my mind in 2021 is Santiago Sierra (Spanish). A gallery owner friend of the CDMX showed it to me, I can't take any more with the beauty of Santiago's work.
If you enjoyed this interview with Tomás Urquieta and would like to stay up to date on 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?
Maybe 10 years ago I dont remember exactly, I started in bands like a normal teenager with my friends, drinking the cheapest beers.
About my influences ... when I was teenager ... emmm … just Garage Band to be honest. The world of electronic music was very far away in those years. I remember my first parties on the drum and bass and dubstep scene, everything was very small and humble. Prior to that, in my city, Viña del Mar, Chile, the minimal scene had been strong, but back then, I was still too young to go to the clubs
I do remember all the time seeing flyers of Ricardo Villalobos every Summer across town.
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?
Very good question, often, one tends to romanticize needs that really have no shape. At the end of the day, I started with a mac putting together very basic beats in an era where there was no YouTube. I could never realize the importance of what I was actually doing until I was growing and developing as an artist (I don't have any previous studies in composition or anything) - just wanting to do things. Over time I clearly realized that I could express ideas and concepts that were in my head through a computer.
The concept "technology as an extension of ourselves" makes me remember when I left until now how it has been growing since sometimes it transforms into a beast that I cannot stop feeding and it surpasses me many times until I collapse. That is the key moment in which I need to focus on nature and my own existence as a living being. And of course, it is not healthy.
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?
What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
I make music to solve my problems. So this varies daily.
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?
It is quite particular since I have never had instruments or synthesizers or drum machines. I do everything with the trackpad of my mac. The ones that I have acquired I end up selling because they end up gathering dust.
In CDMX I managed to work with some modular synthesis but I think my form does not suit that format. Now in NYC I intend to buy a Jomox Alpha Base Drum Machine (I swear to you that I will end up selling it after 4 months).
Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
Completely, I'm a big fan of LOE, with him I shared his study. I was the apprentice who never ended up being interested. I wanted to use the studio the way he does. But the truth is I used the interface, trackpad and Ableton instead.
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 send all the music that I make first to Imaabs and LOE (my judges). I love the feedback they give me, it is sincere and it makes me make an effort on a daily basis.
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 am currently writing a new album. I am working on it every day, I have so many ideas to solve that the day seems too short. That has made me not use my social networks to upload unnecessary information and falling into a shitty void.
In my breaks I read about contemporary philosophy (I try), I watch skateboarding videos and I use cooking as a creative engine (I love cooking and drinking good wine).
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?
Not really, I hate talking about the past.
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 truth is, no, as I said before, music is my channel to solve my life, so it is a repetitive state. I don't have strategies, I just act.
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?
Completely. During the pandemic, I was experimenting with binaural sounds and it was an exercise that was too entertaining and cute at the same time.
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 would not like to go so deep into the topic here since I have a too radical vision about it and I do not want to make anyone feel bad. But speaking for myself, I am a thief, I sample everything (speaking sound-wise). Cultural appropriation is a question of perspective and I prefer to let each one have their own idea about it. In some cases it is too violent and mean, in others there can be a certain respect. But in general it is violent.
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?
As a teenager, dubstep caught me a lot. I learned about the music and heard it at the club. At that moment I knew I wanted to make music with meaning and sensations. I learned to do basslines in the underground
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?
That's what I have always been and have been active in politics and other forms of expression. When I was a teenager I reached limits that I never thought I could but I like to be disruptive when it comes to making music, generating something, be it for better or for worse. Like Alfred Kubin for example, whenever I see something of him it produces things for me.
For better or for worse, the purpose of art for me is the emetic act of a problem, be it personal or territorial. Without that, at least for me, there is no art.
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
Ufff if I say "everything", it will sound too cliché. But in my daily life I listen to things 24/7. I would love to stop listening at some point, I have lost many things by paying attention to music. I would like to see a tree grow for example, award it the attention that deserves.