Ricardo Villalobos - from South America with love

Incorporating this sonic vision into a DJing schedule heaving beyond most human limits, Ricardo spends his nights (and often mornings) engaging in sets that detonate with drums and low-end frequencies on sound systems across the globe. And, as his notoriously epic sets often shimmy into the after-after-after-hours, in his path of musical demolition he leaves dance floors littered with a loving army of long stayers, demanding more than the usual 5-hours from their leader.

As he dove deep into the world of electronic music and continued on with his quest to discover the secrets behind dance floors, Ricardo began throwing illegal parties around Germany. These parties led to his warm introduction to the Playhouse family, who welcomed his innovative productions with open arms. Records were spun, records were pressed, labels were opened (and closed shortly afterwards – "It's not really my thing to run a label"), and a blink of his rapt eyes saw his DJing and production careers had both exploded beyond his wildest expectations.

Naturally, he enjoys the opportunity to give his rhythmic, percussive melodic sound such a large platform, but with this stance comes the inevitability of the one problem that has haunted him throughout his vibrantly successful career: hype.

All these files and numbered music, all this kind of culture is the absolute opposite of what I'm doing and against everything I'm fighting for.
Beat Factor: What first sparked your interest in music? And dance music in particular?

Ricardo Villalobos: It was the record by Iron Butterfly called In A Gadda Da Vida. It was a record my father listened to every day when he came back home from university. It's a 17 minute long psychedelic rock track from around 1969. I was born in 1970 and I heard it throughout my whole childhood, almost every day! It's my no.1 song and the and a track that's influenced most.

This got me into music, percussion, the psychedelic notes, tones and frequencies. I especially loved the percussion and drum solos.

Beat Factor: Tell us about your musical heritage, the Parra family...

Ricardo Villalobos: Yep – there's a lot of musical heritage. On my grandma's side I have the Parra family which was a very musical family. We used to play music all the time – with my uncles too.

Although everyone was making music I didn't really have any direct influence because my father was studying mathematics and my mother was in publicity; they weren't musicians. Also we lived separately – I was living with my parents in Germany but my Uncle and Grandma were still in South America.

There was a big influence of South American music but there's nothing hereditary you know? It's not just about having music in your blood – I think you have to want to learn about music; its not genetically defined you know?

Beat Factor: Who were your major influences in those early days of electronic music?

Ricardo Villalobos: I think it was people like Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk and Depeche Mode you know? Daniel Miller especially for the early electronic music.

Beat Factor: How do you think growing up in Germany was different than if you had grown up in Chile?

Ricardo Villalobos: If I had grown up in Chile I think I would have to have gone down the academic route as my profession. You can go down the academic route as a mathematician or engineer or the other way by trying to work immediately. But there's almost no opportunity to develop and have a career as a musician or something like that! So my development would have been completely different!

Beat Factor: What is your view on the current state of the music world, specifically digital sharing of music? Do you think blogs and file sharing is helps or hinders electronic music?

Ricardo Villalobos: As long as the sound quality is ok I'm with it. Also, as long as the artist is getting paid by the labels' internet activity and the download stores. However at the moment the quality development is going in the wrong direction. I can't support anything that has to do with MP3! It's something that goes against everything I do! As well, for all the people that buy the best computers, mixers, speakers and software to get a result, to have it on MP3 is a paradox!

I have to say I'm super un-interested in all this internet stuff! I'm interested in people buying records, or at least CDs or just original copies of the musician's that they love and respect. All these files and numbered music, you know this is track no. 4 and 7 and 8 – all this kind of culture is the absolute opposite of what I'm doing and against everything I'm fighting for. It's absolutely the opposite! Behind these tracks numbers and files the musicians are disappearing. The music is becoming cheaper and cheaper and the artists being paid less and less. For me its very critical

All this file sharing and all this blogging, you know, with internet music spies (!), all this culture I don't know anything about this!

Beat Factor: Having played all over the world – what makes fabric a special place to play?

Ricardo Villalobos: The interest of the people who are running fabric is the music. You notice that with the sound systems and different rooms. They also have very underground line-ups in a big club and give many foreign musicians and artists the chance to present themselves in the UK. It's the right place to be if you want to play special music! Perhaps the most special place in the world I'd say.

Features Archive


Ricardo Villalobos - from South America with love

September 18, 2007 at 6:19 PM CEST


Fabric London

Beat Factor: What did you aim to do on your Fabric CD?

Ricardo Villalobos: The aim of the fabric CD was to create a sound; a dense trip which doesn't have to rely on big hits that bring you out, or stand out from other tracks. The whole thing is a trip from the beginning to the end about sound and light and a house feeling. The target was not to place one hit after another, its more about the music in general, and the music all together as a soundtrack.

This is what I wanted to do, so it was important for me to get the best quality into the mix, to make it at the best resolution (24bit). I know in the end it will land on a CD but I made the process behind it the highest quality possible. Although it will be mastered on CD at least it's better than MP3! Its something different from a normal mix CD – with that you would just intentionally put really strong tracks on there, you know tracks you love or special tracks...but I have to say I listen to these kinds of mix CDs three or four times and after that its too much.

For me the idea was to do something that you could hear again and again – whether you're travelling in the car, or at home or taking it easy with friends. It's not something that needs all your attention – it can run in the background or you can get into the sound thing if you like! Its completely different concept to a normal mix CD with other tracks from other people.

Beat Factor: In particular, are there any new artists/labels that are inspiring you right now?

Ricardo Villalobos: First of all, if there's something very special I wouldn't tell as people have to find out for themselves! But on the other hand I've been listening to all different labels and all electronic music over the past few years and I've been discovering really interesting musicians here in Berlin. Not only electronic musicians but a lot of jazz and new classical musicians too. My target is to mix everything together one day. I'm already starting to do it but am always trying to find new influences. Its impossible to name you names now of special artists, I'm just searching for new good music. I don't have any particular artist or labels that I'd like to mention now because there are so many!

Beat Factor: So how will having children change your view on the world?

Ricardo Villalobos: I don't know really! I've had no experience of that. I hope it will make my life a little more normal! That's what I want – to build a family. I want to have my laughs and then have my point where I can return to. To have children is a big part of a dream that I think everyone in the world has. I think every person in the world has a dream of belonging to somewhere, of building a family or a place or a group of people around you. To have children is the most normal process and biggest meaning of life of course. This won't change anything professionally, I'll continue to do things with the same intensity as before you know, that's my job! It will change the organisation of my time and how long I can stay for at the after parties but not professionally.

It seems a natural progression then for this most accomplished soundscape shaman to create his own productions specifically for the purpose of fabric 36, so that the mix is both artist album and mixed compilation, incorporating both his own compositions and his performance as a DJ. This collection of new original material, including collaborations with Jorge Gonzales, Patrick Ense, and Fumiya Tanaka, bridges the disparate listening environments between the solitary home sessions attributed to most artist albums and the club time swerve en mases given many mixes.

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