Spanish Chaval Records head honcho Victor Santana gives us the low-down about his debut album which is coming out on Subsist Records later this month.
Victor Santana - Interview
Thank you for speaking with us at Minimal Mag, Victor. Could you please briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
Hello Minimal Mag! Nice to meet you and thank you for this interview. My name is Victor Santana, and I am a music producer from Madrid (Spain), with a big passion for the music since a very young age. As an artist I am recognized as music producer, Dj and for my live shows with analog and digital machines. My fascination for the digital and analog machines has led me to develop different musical facets such as Victor Santana & Band, Victor Santana Quartet or 28024 between others.
I also have a professional recording studio from where I collaborate on different projects from film and advertising industries. Globally speaking, I am an electronic musician who cannot sit still, who always tries to do different things without forgetting the dance floor as the main axis.
You are releasing your debut LP on Subsist Records dubbed ‘Missions’’, what’s the idea behind the project?
The idea for this project started with my musical family, a cast of musicians with whom I have been playing for many years. I wanted to try to mix ‘my machines world’ with ‘the work of organic instruments’ as we had done on so many occasions, but taking it to a spatial and experimental field.
Specially ‘Missions’ arose on one of my improvisation days with a saxophonist friend in my studio. We were working on a track for another album, which was a tribute to Blade Runners and Cosmos. It was so special what came out, that the next day I decided to start working on this album on this album totally focused on outer space and space missions. In the beginning, my idea was letting myself be carried by my Akai MPC and the Doepfer analog sequencer, from where I would step by step sent voltage to various analog and digital synths to my little modular. And that led to a more general concept and the common thread of ‘Missions’’ where almost 20 tracks came out finished and oriented along the same line of inspiration: space, space missions and the materials with which the ships they carried out were made those missions. One of the topics that most inspired me was the materials with which these ships are made and, above all, to think about the advances we have made so that these materials are so resistant – to high temperature changes, for example.
Where does the fascination with space come from? What hobbies, interests or passions do you pursue outside of music?
My fascination for everything that we are not able to see and everything related to space comes mainly from the world of cinema and especially documentaries, it is perhaps one of the things that opens my mind the most.
I am a very restless and hyperactive person. My head is going at 3000000 revolutions per second, I am always daydreaming and thinking things and more things and always positive. I think that restlessness is healthy, it’s what makes me so strong, never giving
up on anything. In music, when I get passionate about a new idea, I don’t stop until it’s done. Maybe that work doesn’t come out or it stays on my hard drive, but I’ve already done it, which is what matters to me. I love working in the studio, I’m lucky to be able to live doing what I like the most.
Since I was a boy I have been dealing with my hyperactivity (I am diagnosed with ADHD) to take it to the creative part, and the things that focus me the most are weed, music and sports. Personally, in addition to music, I have achieved a great balance between body and mind doing sports 3 to 5 days a week, I am a lifelong vegetarian, and a lover of animals.
What would you say are the most important things to keep in mind when setting out to create an ambitious and lengthy project like an LP?
What a good question! Well look, right now there are 2 more albums to come out. I’ve been with them for years and years. Those albums have mutated over time and that’s the good thing, I think. It is super positive to let things breathe.
Precisely these albums are very complex. I have been working on them together with 20 musicians in Big Band format, so you can get an idea. But for now, I can’t tell you much more, when the time comes, I’m happy to return to Minimal Mag to give you all the details.
Now it’s time to focus on ‘Missions’.
The idea of creating an LP from my vision is to try to tell a movie, a trip or a development. A story where the music and the creator merge.
Creating tracks to create does not make sense if there is no common thread that unites that path. I always visualize music with the visual part; for me they are united for that reason that everything is trying to tell a movie or a story.
The album seems to alternate between full-blown Techno tracks and more ambient, textural numbers – does it follow a storyline?
Yes, precisely ‘Missions’ tells the story of certain key technological advances and all the research work carried out to carry out missions that have been really important for humanity. And to explain it, for me it was necessary to do something that looked not only at the dance floor and for that what better than that synchronization from my AKAI MPC and letting myself go at that moment with my synthesizers.
‘Missions’ is like a jam session with musicians in my studio, when you turn on the gear and capture that magical moment. Improvisation is one of the main foundations of this album. I often use my Daws as an old-fashioned tape recorder, where sometimes I just capture the audio created with my hands and other times, I edit it to go another way.
I have many ways of working in the studio, but that “here and now” moment fascinates me.
Victor Santana - Soundcloud
You are known for your wizardry on analog gear, both live and in the studio, can you share something about your hardware process for this specific release?
I am really passionate about this question, if it were up to me, I would always continue making live music with my devices and my musicians, but there have been many years of touring with my hardware in tow with all that that entails, and it is one of the reasons why that I started to make Dj Sets.
I learned to make music with a drum machine and a keyboard. I come from how people worked in the ’90s, but I’m passionate about the digital world too. That’s why I never close myself to musical technological advances. I think that coming from where it all started opens up a different path for you, although I also like working with your computer and with everything ‘in the box’. But being able to touch things with your hands is magical. You can’t get that magic with a VST and a mouse, but as I say, I also love digital and precisely the digital world is almost ahead of the analog world, but hey, that’s another movie and another story to talk about another day.
This album is born from my AKAI MPC, an Analog Sequencer Doepfer and various synthesizers such as Waldorf Q Waldorf XT, Yamaha Motif or a Moog Voyaguer.
I always make the simile that it is as if 5 jazz musicians got into a studio without knowing each other. When you put the machines to work without thinking about a main idea, it is very similar; in the end you get to something incredible, to the magic that I was referring to.
I really like processing my machines with my multi-effects, especially one called Lexicon MX, with which I can cascade effects and generate incredible harmonics. Those harmonics generate different tonalities. It’s a very digital way – analogically speaking – with digital Daws, since you can do cascades of effects -if your computer allows it- and it’s very similar, but with hardware.
You fuse many styles of Techno with your own unique analog sound – how do you feel about the increasing introduction of rave, experimental and in general external genre influences in a formerly, generally purist Techno scene?
I have always been a mixture of many worlds, the truth is, for me music is that. This album is less soul and jazz than is usual in my more musical side.
I tried to experience my most Martian and futuristic side, always in that direction to try to achieve the concept of this album.
Today purist concepts are thoughts of the past, everything is digitized. Music consumption changed completely and we must accept this reality, because if you don’t stay out of this industry.
A few years ago, I was a resident of a club where the fashionable artists of the moment passed every week, and that made me realize many things. Above all, it made me learn much more about how to understand the dance floor and the new generations that are taking over from the clubber scene. Techno is a very broad concept where everyone has a place, as long as you try to do things with love and professionalism.
Music is a wheel in which almost everything is invented and fashions are fleeting. They are temporary cycles in which some years one thing works more and other years another wave of another returns, but in the end, as I see it, everything is invented. I believe that timeless music will always be present to a greater or lesser extent. Sometimes it is in full swing, other times in the background, but it is always there. The new fashion of calling any dance music Techno is something that we must accept, since not everyone who is a consumer of electronic music has a ‘musical culture’ to know where things come from. I say this out of respect, nothing and no one is absolutely right.
You are a champion of the Spanish scene – could you please share your favourite thing about the music scene in your country? It undoubtedly stands tall amongst Europe’s music hotspots, please tell us some of its best qualities.
Spain has been a party country for centuries; we are Latinos we like to enjoy with music and without it. It goes in our DNA. We have some of the best festivals on the world scene, such as Sónar or Primavera Sound; and many of our artists enjoy great international recognition. I have many friends and colleagues who have been working very hard all their lives to achieve what they have achieved and I am happy from the bottom of my heart for their success. In this world where the ego rules, for me music is to share not to compete.
Speaking of colleagues and friends, I must name Oscar Mulero, as one of the fathers of mental and industrial Techno. In a more acid and raver Techno line I must name Regal, I know him well and I have seen his development until he became a headliner. Others like Paco Osuna in the epigraph of the Techno-House, an artist for whom I feel absolute respect for his career, and for being one of the artists in Spain that attracts the most people by far. On a more experimental Detroit side and that wave, I would say Reeko with her Architectural project. From the electro and bass side, one of the best producers in this country is Dark Vector, a Catalan with half a life editing records. If we are already talking about Classic House, I must talk about Pau Roca’s Crew together with the Galician Certain Music, who are incredible. To finish I must mention Ed is Dead and Reykjavik606 who are the best we have in the most ambient part, experimental jazz, breaks, etc… They have been working hard all their lives to try to teach their different vision of understanding music and that is something to admire.
I could talk about hundreds more, but it would be difficult to name them all. Long live the Spanish artists.
Thank you so much for speaking with us. Would you like to leave our readers with any upcoming things they should know about?
Thank you for taking an interest in my music.
I only wish that both this global pandemic and the war in Ukraine will end soon. Hopefully everything will return to normal quickly and let’s remember this as bad times are remembered: with distance but having learned a lot and trying to be better.
I wish you the best.
Peace & Midi.
Victor Santana - Links
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