By Grant C. Dull
How would you describe your musical style?
It’s very hard for me to pigeonhole my own music. I try to have a style of my own and I move among several different electronic music styles, but I’m not focused on any of them in particular. People say my music is ambient pop, techno dub, electro house, or techno soul. Those terms may describe some of the things I do. However, I insist: I’m constantly looking for a style of my own.
Tell me how you make your music.
I’ve always used a sampler since I started making electronic music. At first, I used an ASR 10 one, and I’ve been using Akai’s MPC 2000 for 5 years now. I like using the same instrument throughout the whole music-making process. Throughout the years, I’ve added quite a few components to the list of software products I prefer. I use them to prepare prototype versions that I later process with my sampler. As far as this part of the process is concerned, it can be said that I am now going through a stage where I’m changing the way I work.
There’s no specific music-making method I use. In general, I do a lot of sampling with part of my CD collection. Also, I sometimes use some more classic drum and bass sounds. However, I believe the idea is: I take music out of context and I use it my way. Basically, the technique that I use is a collage.
What do you think about the Buenos Aires electronic music scene? And compared to other places you’ve visited?
People now talk about electronic music in general terms. However, I think there is a clear difference between the more commercial electronic music scene on the one hand -with sponsored and agent-managed DJs who play in mega clubs and do mega shows of their own- and the rest of us on the other, with underground producers and DJs who don’t have as many resources and try to do something different in a more artistic way. The problem is, there is a much too large gap between the two, and the underground electronic music people are finding it very hard to have their projects bear fruit. In other countries, these people have an opportunity to progress in an independent way, and, in some cases, they even get the chance to go big. In Argentina, there are not nearly enough specialized radios, websites, or magazines capable of promoting an electronic music culture independent from record companies and sponsors. With things being the way they are, the only projects that manage to make it are the ones with great money-making potentiality or the ones that can afford lots of advertising. I think there are a lot of things we need to work on in this sense. There’s lots of talent here in Argentina but independent electronic music producers come across lots of difficulties.
I see you’re playing in all sorts of places, from underground parties and big clubs to 5-star hotels. Is the preparation for each of these events different? Take me inside your mind for a minute to know what it’s like to be a disc jockey.
My case is quite unique: I started getting some recognition here thanks to my work in foreign countries. It was also thanks to the fact that I’ve played in underground parties for quite a while now with good results. That’s why I was given the chance to show my techno-ish work in big clubs like Big One -a place Diego Ro-K invited me to play in- Technacia, and music festivals Creamfields and BUE. Anyway, I normally play for small parties or in places that are giving independent electronic music producers a chance, like Club Minimo. All these things I mentioned are connected with my career as a musician; in those places, I always play my own music.
On the other hand, I was made this year resident DJ of the club at the Faena Hotel. My work there is quite different from my live sets. There, I’m more of a ‘musicalizer’ than a DJ, as I don’t use any DJ techniques there. At the Faena, I don’t play music of my own but show my passion for other people’s music, ranging from hip-hop, dub, soul and disco music to house music and classics of the 80s. It’s a place where people want to have a good time and don’t expect to listen to any specific music or see the DJ. I ´m aware of that, so when I’m working there, I try to create a cool atmosphere by playing my favorite songs. I play songs by all kinds of artists, including Herbert, Common, Lee Perry, LCD Soundsytem, Michael Jackson, Missy Elliott, Soft Cell, Jamie Lidell, Saint Etienne, Richard Davis… it all depends on the day’s vibe.
The other place where I play other people’s music is +160, where I do the warm-up. There, I play everything from Grime to Breakcore and some hip-hop stuff. I play songs by Kid 606, Jason Forrest, Dj Rupture, Lady Sovereign, Felix Kubin, Dj Spooky, and others. Sometimes the gig gets a little violent; it’s a different thing, it’s more about eliciting a certain kind of reaction.
In my live sets I only play music of my own, which varies depending on the context. When I’m in charge of the dance floor, I try to create the kind of atmosphere where the DJ induces all kinds of vibe changes. Sadly enough, there are fewer and fewer chances for DJs to play more experimental or ambient sets where people can enjoy this kind of music. That’s the kind of thing I normally do with Agencia de Viajes (Travel Agency), a group of artists including Ale Ros, Pablo Schanton, Dani Nijensohn, Leo García, and me. Agencia de Viajes has organized several interesting events, and the people who go to those events know that our parties allow people to submerge in music.
What would you like people to feel when listening to your record? And what about at parties?
I don’t know about that, it’s a mystery to me. My music is for people to feel as good as possible, for them to feel like they want to move to the rhythm but also for them to feel touched at some emotional level. As for parties, I want to see them have a good time and travel through music; perhaps some of them will only focus on the rhythm, but maybe others will take their pleasure trip to another level. I always associate music with the notion of travelling.
What events and/or parties have been landmarks in your career? Why?
There have been several important events in my career: some of them I cannot forget because of just how good they were, and others I can’t forget because of how bad they were. Anyway, I like to stick to the good ones. Last year, for instance, was very important to me because I played in Europe. Playing at Studio 652 with Tobias Thomas and Ivan Smagghe was blast; then, playing at Big One with Woody Mc Bride and Ro-k was great too. And I also played at the Bue festival’s warm-up for Andy Fletcher. And there have been quite a few memorable parties too: a Brandon party at the K-dos was quite good. I also had a great time at Biotech and Technacia. I have good memories of lots of parties because I’ve been playing for a long time now, but I’m always ready to be surprised.
I heard a remix you did of ‘Perfecto Radar’ by DJs Pareja at a party in Cocoliche, it was the bomb! Was it your idea or was it a joint initiative? How do you end up remixing a local artist? You’ve also remixed Cerati and other legends of the Buenos Aires music scene. Who would you like to try now?
I’m glad you liked it. DJs Pareja are friends of mine and I like their material very much. ‘Perfecto Radar’ is one of my favorite DJs Pareja songs, so I asked them to give me what I needed to get a remix done. I started playing it as soon as it was ready. It’s a way to spice up my sets with some music that’s more on the pop side. I’d like to have it released.
In general, other people come to me asking me to do a remix. This year, the record company Mónika from Germany released a remix I did of a Rosario Bléfari song. I also worked for Mujik, who decided to launch a record including remixes of songs by several Argentine musicians.
I recently did a remix for Roberto Mendoza -who belongs to art group Nortec- and I’m planning to work with Tre/molo, who’s part of Tijuana too, on another remix. I love doing remixes of some songs, I love giving them my own personal touch. I sometimes respect most of the structures of the songs I do remixes of, and in some other cases I only use certain recognizable parts of them, or I use them to create material that sounds more like me.
Are you working on any projects you can tell us something about?
Well, I just finished a new album called ‘Mareo’ (Dizziness), featuring most of my ‘dance floor’ music. It will be released by Casa del Puente pretty soon. Now, things will be the other way round: this record will be released in Argentina, not in any other foreign country. I’m also planning to release some album abroad, and I’m even thinking of having a net label release a record of mine. As for live performances, I’m playing at a festival in Colombia in November, and then I’m playing here in Buenos Aires for a few days.
What’s the relationship there is between Buenos Aires and your music like?
Recently, when I was listening to ‘Brotes’, a motorbike passed by making lots of noise, and the combination of the song’s sounds with Buenos Aires street noises was almost perfect. Is there a relationship between the two? What kind of sounds inspire you?
I think my music is very Buenos Aires, it’s big city music. The street’s noises are there in the background all the time. Those noises affect me; I like living in this chaotic city. I think those big city things are part of my music in a subconscious way. I’m also inspired by other people’s music, music that prompts me to make what I believe is a tiny contribution to the endless varieties of music there is out there.
More about Gustavo Lamas: http://www.gustavolamas.com/