Filed under: Interview
Chilean born, Ricardo Villalobos has been living in Berlin. He is best known for his recordings on Perlon and Playhouse and his work with Luciano and Richie Hawtin. We caught up with him at Club Womb in Tokyo, just following his performance at the Metamorphose festival.
Interview : Laura Brown (Arctokyo)
HigherFrequency (HRFQ) : Yesterday you played at the Metamorphose festival here in Japan. How did it go?
Ricardo Villalobos : It was very nice. It was too short. Normally I try to build it up, to get the people in the right mood, but 1.5 hours is not enough.
HRFQ : How many times now have you played in Japan?
Ricardo : This is the second time to Japan and I have to say that the Japanese audience is the most sensitive to what is happening in the music. For example, when the high hat has disappeared, the people notice that. And especially in the mix, the people are getting that in a very sensible, sensitive form.
HRFQ : You are well known as a pioneer of “click house”. Do you really agree with “click house” represents your music style?
Ricardo : I don’t agree with all definitions. Basically everything is house music and there are different versions. Even techno music is a different version of house music, it’s a little bit faster and more aggressive. I try to be somewhere in between techno and house, and the reality is that everything is based on house. I would say I’m a house DJ for sure. And all this click-house, and micro-house and bleep-house, it’s only to sell better the product, you know? At the end, everything is obeying the rules of house — the breaks, the snaps, the snare-drums, the high-hats. Everything is absolutely house. You can substitute different sounds — instead of a normal high-hat, you can use a click or whatever, but it’s all house.
HRFQ : Can you tell us how that style came out? Do you use particular software to generate that sound like Reaktor or other plug ins?
Ricardo : I don’t use so much software. I have like 50 little machines around and things and the machines have their own lives — they are doing what they want. There’s a combination of all the little loops, and machines is what I’m doing. And at the end, of course I use the software Logic and Ableton Live, for example to coordinate.
HRFQ : It’s interesting that 3 Chileans – you, Luciano and Cristan Vogel all left Chile because of Pinochet’s regime and now are amazing artists. How did leaving your homeland at such an early age impact you?
Ricardo : For me, I was three years old, so you don’t get it. The only thing that is absolutely clear is that you are connected to your parents and when your parents are afraid of something, you are afraid of something too. So this energy comes – you are so connected. It’s the only connection you have in life is your parents, so whatever is happening to them is happening to you also. But this comes out after a time. When you are three years old, you don’t realize it, but when you grow up, you realize it. It was a good excuse for me to not go to the army [in Germany]. I explained to them, “I had a military coup in Chile” and they said “OK OK, no problem!”
HRFQ : You’ve performed with Richie Hawtin quite a bit recently. When he was last here at Womb, he mentioned his respect for you (as well as Tobi Neumann and so many others mentioning their respect for you). Are you and Richie currently working on any new projects together?
Ricardo : I perform a lot with him. The best situation is when it is very spontaneous. Always when we both start to think about everything, he is a little more tech-y and I’m a little more organic. But if we are out of mind, then it’s incredible – very nice. At the big festivals, for example, everybody is expecting something special. The thing is that you can hide yourself behind all the machines and things, but at the end, what counts is the music you play. Sometimes, Richie is going harder and I’m going a little bit softer, and then he goes softer because he thinks he’s too hard and then I go harder at this moment because I think I’m too soft. Especially in the big situations it’s a little bit strange, but it’s always fun – it’s always cool for sure. But for the after-hours, when you are completely out of mind, then it’s fantastic — perfect.
HRFQ : What new projects are you currently working on? Have you already started working on your next album following ‘Alcachofa’ released last September?
Ricardo : We are all living in Berlin, a lot of musicians. I’m doing remixes for Richie and he’s doing a remix for me also and we have some projects together and stuff. We have another project and this is like a collective name. And all the names in this collective disappear, so no one knows exactly who is working. At the production or when we play live. At the end of Sept. we are playing live. Like 10 musicians synchronized with Ableton, we are playing live. It’s going to be amazing. For the Pop Komm exhibition in Berlin.
HRFQ : Can you tell us “What is your love and what is your hate”?
Ricardo : What I love is the instant energy between humans. Sometimes without explaining, something is happening. There is an energy coming from every human. You notice that when you play in front of 20,000 people, you get so much energy at this moment that you start. And you realize that this energy is existing. My father is a scientist and he’s always trying to explain things in a logical way, but it is not like that. It is the nicest experience that I’ve been having in the last 10 years or so. What I hate the most is the foreign politics of the United States. This is absolutely too much. It’s like a tumor or cancer which humanity is having at the moment. I think it is impossible to get rid of this behavior because it is all about money, so it is very very terrible situation. And if this imperial is going down, then the impression is that they will take the whole world with them, so I’m afraid a little bit about that.
End of the interview
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