Interviews

Nacho Sotomayor Interview

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Nacho Sotomayor 

musician and producer of extensive professional experience and international recognition, for over a decade has been offering us a nearly annual installment of his album series « La Roca ». His work has been oriented almost in its totality to Ambient Chill, Downtempo, Lounge sounds, although it’s worth mentioning that he’s also done some productions in other areas and for other artists

In 2008 he received the award for The Best Electronic Music Theme for his track » Untiltled for a guitar« (from his album »Interior«, Absolut Ambient, 2008) in the XIII music awards granted by the Music Academy
of Arts and Sciences.

Essential in any compilation as Buddha Bar (Paris) or Café del Mar (Ibiza) in whose 2003 world tour Nacho Sotomayor took part of. He currently alternates his DJ residence in Maldives with sessions around the world.

Together with Francisco Sotomayor they’ve been directing for years their Absolut Ambient label through which they have developed projects for companies such as National Geographics, Giorgo Armani or the American film and television producer HBO

Nacho Sotomayor

1 When did you start DJing – and what or who were your early influences? 

I always use to play with a live band, La Rocca, until the economic crisis hit in 2008 and promoters started to lower the performance fees. Moving a lot of equipment and several performers became challenging. That’s when I started playing professionally as a DJ with just my laptop. It was practically the same but much cheaper and so it started. At the beginning I continued to play my own music and later I started to add tracks from other artists in my sessions.

My influences have been many. Currently I play higher BPM songs, especially melodic house, deep house, certain electronic pop tracks difficult to classify …

I especially like very musical electronic music and accessible to almost everyone. A good example would be many of the Anjunadeep artists.

2 What were some of the main challenges and goals when starting out as a DJ and how have they changed over time? What is it about DJing, compared to, say, producing your own music, that makes it interesting for you? 

 

At first my only objective is that my sessions sound like a live performance, with a development, a cadence, in short, a trip of one hour and a half.

Later, and with the incorporation of music from other artists, I thought that the most important thing besides exciting was to have fun and even in some moments to make people dance, more the soul than the body.

I think that playing music and producing it are two totally different things. In fact there are DJs, most of them, who don’t know how to produce music. To compose music is to give yourself completely to an artistic creation and for that, in addition to a certain talent, you must give your soul completely.

Playing music is something different, the responsibility is less because you play with tracks of other artists, your responsibility is to combine them in the appropriate way. I do not want to devalue and give more value to either of the two things but I think composing and producing music has much more merit, at least for me.

3 How would you define the job and describe the influence of the DJ? How are the experience and the music transformed through your work? 

It is obvious that in the last 30 years the importance of djs has been increasing. In fact, electronic music has been associated with club culture … On one hand, this has been good because it has made electronic music very popular, on the other I think it has been bad since there is a lot of electronic music that has nothing to do with or on the dance floor.

Also another not too good thing is the devaluation of electronic music due to the appearance of millions of djs of dubious quality.

4 What was your first set-up as DJ like? How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you? 

 

As I said before, my first sessions were only with my productions. In the studio I produced special and unreleased remixes of my songs and triggered them from Logic Audio so the work had already been done from home and there was little room for improvisation, but the important thing is that people loved it.

Launching songs from a DAW the boredom was terrible so I started using software like Traktor. So my library of tracks to choose from was huge and I could improvise whenever I wanted depending on my state of mind or the behavior of the public.

I currently use Traktor Pro 3 on a Macbook Pro and a MIDI controller / mixer. Sometimes I incorporate a small MIDI keyboard controller and with sounds from Kontakt or other virtual synthesizers through Logic Pro I play certain phrases or atmospheres live. It is tremendous fun!

5 How do you make use of technology? 

I have been making music with software and electronic devices since the late 80’s and therefore technology has accompanied me in almost my entire professional career. I no longer consider technology, I simply compose and produce music.

6 Tell us about a normal day in your life and a day when you will perform as a DJ

A normal day in my life is much more boring than when I have to travel to play my music somewhere.

On a normal day I do some sports, shopping, go for a walk, work at the studio almost all afternoon, watch some movies and read a lot. Sometimes I even have time to interact with other people (laughs).

When I travel for work, that same day is exciting and a bit stressful because I have to take a plane, get to the place, taxi, meet promoters and people from the club, hotel, meals with unknown people and then the show that is the most exciting. That’s where the true magic occurs, the connection with the people from other countries, cultures, ages, different economic level, through my language … my music.

Nacho Sotomayor tgs

7 How do you prepare your live sets/gigs 

In that regard, I am a very perfectionist and I don’t like to leave anything to chance. I compile dozens of tracks that excite me and I begin to study their tempo and key. Then I start to play with them to see the most appropriate order, even noting down at which second or measure the next track should enter. I take a lot of annotations and spend hours rehearsing. I even record the session and then shoot it on another device while playing the session in case there is a technical failure … it has never happened to me but it is better to be cautious.

8 What is your state of mind during a DJ set? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions?

The concentration is usually maximum. I try not to look at the people who are closest to you. I can’t stand anyone talking to me, greeting me, or entertaining me while I’m playing. I am alone, my music and the public and I try to make the connection between these aspects total. Only then I get everything to flow.

I do not demand anything from the promoters or organizers of the event, just a small detail: that the DJ who plays after me waits 5 seconds in silence to start his session.

9 What are some of the considerations that go into deciding which track to play next? What makes two tracks a good fit? How far do you tend to plan ahead during a set?

As I have said before, most of these aspects have already been studied in depth at home. I leave little to improvisation although sometimes I do it depending on the mood of the public.

To mix two tracks you have to take into account, in addition to technical issues such as tempo and key, the type of emotion you want to awaken in people. This is the most important.

10 Would you say you see DJing as improvisation? As composition in the moment? Or as something entirely different from these terms? 

As I said before, I improvise little because I work my sessions a lot at home. I want it to be clear that before traveling to the place where I will play I have been informed about the type of club, the type of people who usually go etc… so that I configure a special session for each place. Depending on that I build a different emotional adventure, a journey of sensations similar to a roller coaster.

I have always said that I am more interested in making souls dance than bodies … for that there are already others and very good ones.

Nacho Sotomayor

11 How do playing music at home and presenting it in the club compare and relate? What can be achieved through them, respectively, and what do you personally draw from both? 

 They are two totally different things. When I am composing, producing music at home, I forget about people, I never think about them. If I thought about people I think I would be unable to do it. I make music for myself, if it excites me I know that later it will excite many people.

When I’m playing my music in front of people the feeling is incredible, it’s a total connection. Despite my scenic panic I usually have a lot of fun and I think people do too.

These two aspects, despite being so different, are essential in my life and both make my life more bearable.

12 How would you describe the relationship between your choices and goals as a DJ and the expectations, desires and feedback of the audience? How does this relationship manifest itself during a performance and how do you concretely tap into it?  

It is very evident when people react positively during a session. The good and bad vibes are easily noticed and it’s like a drug … you want more and more. When the session is over the energy fills your whole body and your mind, it is something difficult to explain. I’ve been composing and producing music for an audience all my life that I only see when I play my music live, that’s when I see that there are people on the other side and that fills me with satisfaction.

Nacho Sotomayor 

13 Especially thanks to the storage facilities of digital media, DJ sets could potentially go on forever. Other than closing time, what marks the end of a DJ performance for you? What are the most satisfying conclusions to a set? 

It is difficult to establish the length of a set. A short set is as bad as a set that is too long. I prefer an intermediate but very intense set. I know things have gone well when many people congratulate me at the end of my set, they want autographs and photos with me, that’s a good sign.

14 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?

On this we could talk for hours but surely, besides creating problems for my radical reasoning, it would bore everyone. From my point of view the only salvation of the human being is art. He has saved and will continue to save millions of people and I pity those who live without having any contact with art. As Nietzsche said “Life without music would be a mistake”.

 

15 Recently your new album was released, can you tell me more about it? How long did it take you to produce it, where did you get inspired? What difference does it have with the other albums ?

My new album is called “Ephemeral”

Nacho Sotomayor tgs

https://nachosotomayor.com/ephemeral/

it is a reflection on the ephemerality of almost everything, of the mistaken idea that we will be forever and that all things will always exist. I composed most of the tracks during the absolute confinement that took place in Spain for three months, although I already had a lot of work done before. It is difficult to know how long it takes to make an album because when the last one is published you already have almost half of the next one.

It is also difficult for me to talk about the differences of this work with the previous ones since I cannot be totally objective. In my way of working there is some unconsciousness, although in this album I have realized that there is a background of hope, that soon everything will be better and we will all be happier, so perhaps the tempos are faster and the harmonies less dark. .

It is not because I say it but I think it is one of my most brilliant albums, or at least I am happy with the result.

16 Upcoming gigs ? 

In the current situation, it is difficult to know what will happen because everything is pending on how the pandemic will evolve. I have some gigs in common places I visit like Greece, Italy and France. Also my habitual residence in Maldives although as I say it is difficult to know if this year the restrictions will allow us to work normally.

Nacho Sotomayor tgs

Written by: Dezarate

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