Filed under: Interview
Chilean born, but Berlin bred, Ricardo Villalobos is one of, if not the, most influential players in today’s ironically huge minimal surge. Milling around the streets of Berlin have seen Villalobos fall in with the likes of Richie Hawtin who recently used a disproportionate amount of Ricardo’s tracks on his “DE9:Transitions” CD. But the powerful connections don’t stop there, thanks to holiday jaunts to his homeland, the adopted German hooked up with Santiago local lads Luciano and Adrian Schopf and fellow Deutschland based Dandy Jack, organizing parties as well as producing under various group project names.
Best known for his works on Perlon and Playhouse Ricardo has also released on Cadenza and Frisbee Tracks, the latter releasing a collection of his works just a couple of months ago. With the list of cohorts Villalobos associates with, coupled with the powerful labels that sing his praises, it is no wonder why this Latin Lothario has been sky rocketed into the public eye of late. We chatted to Ricardo before his gig at Womb to find out about his organic sound, fictitious parenthood and a little bit about the internet.
Interview & Introducion by Nick Lawrence (HigherFrequency)
HigherFrequency (HRFQ) : We’re from Higher Frequency, Japan’s biggest club music internet website.
Ricardo Villalobos : The problem with the internet is it is an uncontrollable monster. You can say the truth or not, it doesn’t matter you know. When somebody is inventing the truth then people think it is the truth and nobody is controlling that. So that is the problem with the internet, it is an uncontrollable monster of information which is for good and bad.
HRFQ : Can’t you use it for your advantage?
Ricardo Villalobos : No, I don’t have any webpage and I only look at my emails every four weeks. It’s not my world. Talking and smiling is what I do.
HRFQ : We wanted to ask you about the Love Parade. It’s held in Germany…
Ricardo Villalobos : Held in Germany? It was invented in Germany!
HRFQ : Of course, but you are playing on a float from Chile. What we want to know is which country do you think has been more influential on your music, Chile or Germany?
Ricardo Villalobos : Chile for sure, 100%. Because when I grew up I was listening to only South American music. For sure South American music has influences from European and African music and this is all matted together. Later on I was listening to all these things like ‘Tangerine Dream’ and I was really impressed but for sure South American music is much closer to what I do now. Basically, when I play DJ at the moment it is just rhythms with a little bit of melody in between.
HRFQ : What about the community of artists in Berlin at the moment? There’s you and Richie Hawtin…
Ricardo Villalobos : It’s a melting pot. Sometimes the pot is too big you know and too much melting. But it is amazing because we have parties together with all the artists, all the artists go to the studios of other artists. It’s a very fertile city in this way and it is a very cheap city so artists can afford to live there. Artists need two to three gigs in a month to afford their lives.
HRFQ : How do you manage to keep your music so organic when a lot of electronic music is so mathematical and precise?
Ricardo Villalobos : First of all, one of the disadvantages of electronic music is that it sounds not organic. Electronic music is a sound expression that is very limited compared to acoustic music. Compared to a recording of sound and space, sound of a room, the sound of nature, the sound of a trumpet or a cello or whatever. The whole frequency, the spectrum is more developed, much nicer and touches you more than electronic music. Electronic music in itself only has a chance to survive if it is going to have a marriage with acoustic music. Sound design came to an end two three years ago with the last record of Autechre. You see that all the companies at the moment who were doing incredible synthesizers before are now selling piano sounds and trumpet programs and string programs. So sound design came to an end and now the acoustic thing has become more important. This all has to do with the approach of trying to put something organic inside electronic music and make it danceable but in an organic way. So the rhythms are a little bit lost some times but the groove has to be absolutely the groove.
HRFQ : You learnt bongos when you were younger, has that been really important?
Ricardo Villalobos : For sure. For me as a DJ the most important thing about dance, or the secret about the dancefloor is the rhythm. What relationship the bass drum has with the high-hat, the snare and the bassline in-between only little differences define whether it is groovy or not. When you see what is happening with the people every weekend you’re always getting a clearer picture of what is the dancefloor. For sure, it has to be organic, it touches people more if it is closer to them and electronic music is more like the opposite in a way.
HRFQ : You’ve been making music for over ten years…
Ricardo Villalobos : More like twenty years I think. My first record that came out was 15 years ago.
HRFQ : Why has their been a big Ricardo explosion just recently?
Ricardo Villalobos : I can’t explain that, you can’t ask me that. I can’t say it because if I was to say it then many people would do the same.
HRFQ : One thing that we wanted to ask you about, you’ve recently become a parent…
Ricardo Villalobos : No it’s not true. It’s one of those rumours of the internet. First time this rumour came about was when I was interviewed by MTV in Holland and I was in a really good mood. They asked what my plans for the future were and I said, “to make a baby with my girlfriend” and since then everybody thinks that I am a father that my girlfriend is pregnant for two years. Every time she appears somewhere it’s like, “Congratulations!”. It’s one of these little monsters of the internet.
HRFQ : Well we now understand what you meant about the internet, you can’t control it.
Ricardo Villalobos : No, the internet is even showing pictures of the moment when you are closing your eyes, you were playing for seven hours for the guy who took this photo. He was dancing, he was there and then he is doing this fucking photo in the moment where…Sure I am sweating, but I am just closing my eyes and he takes the photo in this moment. Then he puts the photo on the internet, “Look how fucked up Ricardo is!”. Then people call me two weeks later, “Ricardo, I am really worried about you. I saw a photo on the internet”. Fuck off, you know me. Every normal intelligent person in the world knows that this photo was taken exactly in the moment where my eyes were closing not because I was completely fucked up. If someone is looking like that he is on heroin I think and heroin is completely the opposite of what I do.
HRFQ : We’ve heard you say before that you don’t like making albums, that you much prefer making singles.
Ricardo Villalobos : For sure. The thing is an album is pressed into a form, the form of 80 minutes, the form of having different kinds of music in order to show all the kinds of music that you like. So you have to put everything inside the album and show a little bit of your musical side, your softer side and your harder side. All these stupid things are the expectations of people about any album. My concept is really doing timeless music for the dancefloor. For this situation where you go to a hospital for mad people hospital perhaps. You go inside the club and you forget about time, you forget the name of your father, where you live and whatever. I make music for this situation even if the people are taking drugs or not. So the tracks are very long and are done for mixing with other tracks that are the same so that people are forgetting which track is starting, when it’s ending and how long it is. I could do two songs on an album that are 30 minutes long but people would say, “That’s not an album, that’s two tracks”. Albums really force you into a form and this is something I really don’t like. If it was possible to have huge vinyl and a track that is 30 minutes long then that would be very nice. With new technologies you can substitute vinyl but I don’t like them so much, I like vinyl. The problem is with vinyl you have between 10 and 15 minutes. If you have a very good cutting and a very good pressing you can get 15 minutes of good quality sound but that is the limit. It’s very sad.
HRFQ : One more question before you have to get ready. What is coming up in the future?
Ricardo Villalobos : Well I am constantly in the studio making music.. It is always the same, I can’t say so much then for sure something like an album will come out but in a hidden way, you will notice in one moment.
HRFQ : Well, thank you very much for your time.
Ricardo Villalobos : You’re welcome.
End of the interview
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