For the Fifthteenth installment of our interview series, we introduce Victor Santana.
Víctor Santana is one of the Spanish reference artists of today’s underground electronic culture. Dj, producer and a romantic of the analog equipment in the middle of the digital era, part of his success is the meticulous and artisan work with his label Chaval Records.
His music has been published on labels such as Subsist Records, EPM Music, Motech Records and Involve Records; and has made remixes for artists such as Orlando Voorn, Dj Skull or Hiroshi Watanabe; his tracks also has been remixed by big players like Ken Ishii, Eddie Fowlkes, Mark Flash (UR), among others.
He has passed through the stages of the main clubs on the peninsula, parties in Ibiza such as Cocoon in Formentera or Privilege Ibiza; festivals like Mad Cool or A Summer Story; plus several world wide tours.
A few months ago (April, 2022), Victor released his album ‘Missions‘ via Subsist records, We chatted with him around this release and a few more aspects of his career.
Spanish producer Victor Santana landed on Subsist Records with his 11-track debut album titled ‘Missions‘. The LP is dedicated to some of humanity’s most important…more
Read the full interview below.
Hello Victor, Luis from Living Techno here, for us it’s a pleasure having you in our interview series, thank you. First, how are you and where in the world are you taking this interview?
Hello Luis how are you, the pleasure is mine. It is appreciated that you spread my work and my latest album. Well, I’m writing this interview from my studio, which for musicians, Tuesdays are like Mondays and I’m trying to start the week. This weekend I performed at a very important party in our country called Goa Electronic Parties. The brand had been on pause for a few years, but they have just decided to come back with great enthusiasm.
The truth is that many incredible proposals are coming back all over the world, normality is appreciated after all this pandemic situation.
In your own words, what is techno music?
In my opinion the definition of Techno is absolute freedom. Techno is based on being free. Since its inception in this genre, all influences are valid since Techno is very broad and conceptual. The Techno movement was born as a movement to fight against social injustices and the political class.
I see Techno as a music to share to unite people of any race, color, sexual orientation or religion since the greatest symptom of being free is being able to dance as one wishes.
Techno is a music based on being alive. Although today the word Techno is very corrupt. Being a style that is fashionable, they use marketing to call anything Techno, but the great debate of any world scene would be: Who should decide what Techno is and what it is not?
It is something very complex, truth be told, because right now the word Techno is in a good moment, but they are taking it to a very corrupt definition.
But we don’t care, the best thing is that Techno is more alive than ever.
What led you to start your career in the electronic music scene, how, when and where did you get involved?
My beginnings come from a very young age, I have always been a very passionate person about music. I come from a creative family. Creativity has always been very present in my house.
I started in music like many people from a clubbers vision from that moment I realized that I loved electronic music. From the age of 18 or before I love going to clubs, parties and concerts. Like many others, I started creating our own raves and our own collective where little by little we advanced by having our own parties in different clubs until the clubs called us for our music. Little by little I realized that what I wanted to do was my own music since, like everyone who starts out, they usually start playing music by other artists.
That moment was key for me as it is when I realized that I needed to move forward and learn to make music in a professional way.
I had musical studies and decided to start studying sound engineering plus various production courses. Little by little I began to acquire machines since I was passionate about making music from my devices without having to depend on the computer. Based on very hard work, dedication and a lot of effort I managed to professionalize myself by releasing my first vinyls. When I released my first vinyl records, I began to make Lives and an album, another album, Lives, Lives. That path led me to perform around the world and create many of the musical projects that I have today.
I define it as there is only one path, which is to make music and constantly work very hard. Music should always speak for itself.
Since you started producing music, how would you describe the sound or style in your tracks, do you think is it possible that it fits into a specific genre, has it changed since your very first release?
Good question. I started making music from my machines with a musical direction more oriented towards classic Techno with great influences from Detroit Techno and Chicago House, but little by little my sound has been mutating as one improves like good wine. I consider myself a more timeless music producer as I never get carried away by any fashion or new musical trends. I never closed myself in learning to listen to others since music and more Techno is a continuous movement and today, I walk between my own vision but with all the influences of other paths of this style.
Do you remember what was your first release ever, in what label, and how do you achieve it?
It is impossible not to remember that important moment for an artist. In those years I was still studying sound engineering and in classes they always tried to take us on a direct path to the mainstream but I always tried to tell my teachers that I wanted to make different music with devices. They told us about David Guetta but I told them that I wanted to make music like Kraftwerk. That university or school had agreements with brands so that the students always carried fashionable interfaces and all kinds of devices that were fashionable at that time. It was just the explosion of the digital world.
But I showed up at school with the Akai Mpc which was my sequencer and my sampler to make music. They tried to separate me from the analog world but I needed to understand the digital world so that my world and the digital world would make me better every day. Well, after a lot of work, many tracks with continuous trial and error, I decided to create my own Chaval Records label. That was the moment I thought I was ready to release a vinyl with my first track.
It was an Ep shared with my teacher at that time Boris Divider.
My track is called Analog Life and I’m really proud of it.
I will not forget the moment when the vinyl came from the factory with my first album, that moment of putting your own music on the turntable cannot be defined in words.
Or the magical moment of seeing how other artists play your music at festivals or clubs around the world.
From that moment everything began to change.
Congratulations on your debut album ‘‘Missions’, which was released a few months ago (April 2022) via Subsist. In your own words, what is the concept behind this brilliant LP?
I started this album in a direction that was the way to put music to everything that had to do with missions and outer space.
Luckily I have been dedicated to music since I was very young and I have a professional studio where I have the opportunity to create many different projects. It just started when we were working on other more musical tracks for another album by one of the fathers of world Techno. Precisely from working on another album that I don’t know when it will be able to see the light, this one came about.
I define it as 2 came out of an album.
The main concept of this album was to do something different within my musicality and with a clear concept that is everything that has to do with space missions, but above all the technology with which the materials are manufactured to carry out those space missions.
There were many reasons that made me think about the technology that NASA may have, for example. NASA manufactures ships and devices that have a durability of hundreds of years or perhaps more. Because tools are not made in our normal life that can last a lifetime on planet earth. (The system prefers to manufacture devices that die quickly so consumption multiplies, it is purely economic interest) When they manufacture a ship to travel to space they have to be clear about many factors such as resistance to cold temperatures as well as to very high temperatures. There are many factors that must be taken into account or simply the remote updating of computers as the years go by on a space mission.
It is a long story to tell in a few lines. In this album I tried to musicalize very important moments according to my criteria of space missions. There are many missions and it was difficult to decide, but my passion for movies of everything that has to do with this helped me to decide. Because tools are not made in our normal life that can last a lifetime on planet earth. (The system prefers to manufacture devices that die quickly so consumption multiplies, it is purely economic interest) When they manufacture a ship to travel to space they have to be clear about many factors such as resistance to cold temperatures as well as to very high temperatures. There are many factors that must be taken into account or simply the remote updating of computers as the years go by on a space mission. It is a long story to tell in a few lines. In this album I tried to musicalize very important moments according to my criteria of space missions. There are many missions and it was difficult to decide, but my passion for movies of everything that has to do with this helped me to decide.
While you were making the LP, can you tell the highs and lows about the production processes and inspiration behind each track of the album?
As I was telling you, this album was born from a creative moment working with a saxophonist friend for another more jazzy and experimental album. At that creative moment I realized that I needed to make an album with this very space concept based on space missions. In the studio I have many ways of working but the vast majority of these tracks are created from the Clock of my Akai Mpc and from that synchrony I sent tension to my Doepfer sequencer.
It was like a Jam Sessions between synthesizers and my Roland Tr 909 along with my little modular.
It was a way of creating absolute improvisation all the time.
Many samplers on this Lp were sampled from movies, documentaries from my Akai Mpc. I would take my Akai to the couch with my laptop and when I heard samples that I think might be worth it I would capture them on the Mpc. Then, having those samplers in the Akai Mpc, I could transform them, edit them and create something totally different from how the original sample was captured. That creative flow leads you to create sequences all the time. Cinema and documentaries are one of my sources of inspiration. Those very creative moments in the studio came from visualizing the music through the visual.
The main concept of this album was to do something different within my musicality and with a clear concept that is everything that has to do with space missions, space but above all the technology with which the materials are manufactured to be able to carry out those missions. space missions… There were many reasons that made me think about the technology that NASA may have, for example. NASA manufactures ships and devices that have a durability of hundreds of years or perhaps more. Because tools are not made in our normal life that can last a lifetime on planet earth. (The system prefers to manufacture devices that die quickly so consumption multiplies, it is pure economic interest) When they manufacture a ship to travel to space they have to be clear about many factors such as resistance to cold temperatures as well as to very high temperatures. There are many factors that must be taken into account or simply the remote updating of the computers as the years go by on a space mission. It is a long story to tell in a few lines. In this album I try to put music to very important moments according to my view of space missions. There are many missions and it was difficult to decide but my passion for movies and everything that has to do with this helped me to decide. I will try to explain the reason for the names. The year 1974 was a very important year for space exploration. Humanity launched 16 space missions, among which was Eros 2 (or Eros B); the satellite dedicated to the study of the upper atmosphere (Stratosphere) that is part of the earth’s atmosphere and outer space. Another example would be Jupiter Odyssey, it is the largest planet in our solar system. A key planet in mythology and astrology; one of the brightest natural objects in the night sky. There have been (and will be) many missions to study this gas giant. Jupiter Odyssey musically expresses that moment when you look at the sky, see its brightness and think: Jupiter. Infectious synthetic lines that are supported with very deep pad sequences and effects from my Lexicon Mx. And lastly, the track Magellan, this was the first planetary probe launched by a space shuttle. Its name is a tribute to the 16th century Portuguese explorer – Ferdinand Magellan, one of the most famous explorers of humanity.
It is difficult to explain in a few lines such a complicated concept.
In your ‘Missions’ album description its stated that it is an hybrid, in which you seeks to describe the perfect symbiosis between “man and machine”, the perfect union between the human mind, artificial intelligence and machines… speaking of the connections between AI and music, do you think this can be done without disrespect the human artist’s creativity and uniqueness?
This album for me was trying to get out of my comfort zone and explore new paths and try to get away from my most jazzy side. The album is composed in an open way, first for creativity and second because I wanted to delve into digital tools that generate mathematical codes that in turn create random notes. Many tracks it was like a fight between myself and my machines where I had absolute control of my devices but at the same time I took it into digital tools. I have generated sequences with some applications where I introduced the audio of my machines so that the audio generated a harmony through this app. This app is created so that you can generate mathematical codes that create notes. They are applications based on what is to come artificial intelligence. I define it as a balance between human and computer. Something that we must accept since in a very short time everything will be like this.
Machines and computers are here to make us move forward and denying that would be a mistake. We cannot say no to great advances like these.
Music must be created by humans but why not create a balance between humans and artificial intelligence.
I always try to have a vision of the car being driven by the driver, but why not help yourself with something technological to drive better.
To this day, what has been the scope of ‘Missions’, how have you seen it since it was released, and more importantly, how do you feel about having released this excellent album?
The truth is that I am super happy because getting out of your comfort zone is something that we all like, at least me. This album came from the composition of another album so I didn’t expect it to have the results it has had. Many people told me that I should do more things like this. Normally I am associated with a more organic Techno and I just need to do different things.
The feedback is very good. I did a lot of interviews and some radios.
The tracks are being played by many artists from all over the globe.
For these and for many reasons I am happy.
Also I have 2 more albums to release so this is the reason not to stop working harder.
There is only one way and that is to work hard.
Everything else usually comes by itself.
Are there any other releases planned to come out this year that you can tell us a little about, it could possibly be your next album?
I have several vinyls in small labels from my country that are in the factory. There is a great collapse with vinyl factories and physical formats, so you can’t stop working. When they arrive they have arrived and in the meantime one continues to work hard in the studio. I hope at the beginning of next year to be able to show the world my most important work to date. I’ve been with him for years and it’s the story of my love of music. On the other hand, this other album with my aka 28024, which is a project with 2 friends, is my escape into the world of dance music.
This album makes us very proud with collaborations with many singers. After the summer before Christmas I will return to Epm Music with an EP and I am waiting for confirmation of when another EP will be released on a label that means a lot to me. I prefer not to name it.
I have too many things but I don’t give up. I keep working very hard.
There is no other way.
How would you describe the experience of Producing music and DJing, we know both are very different, do you like one more than the other, what are your thoughts on this?
I love working in the studio with the thousands of projects I have with musicians and friends. But the feedback of being a DJ is different. Making music in the studio alone or with more people is cool. I think it is necessary for DJs to make music. A DJ has to make music today it really doesn’t make sense to be a DJ without knowing how to work in the studio. It is as if a live musician only works in the studio. The two things need to complement each other. One thing doesn’t make sense without the other in my humble opinion.
Composing music should be 50% but the other 50% should be being able to present it live.
Can you tell us three pieces of advice you would tell the producers who are getting started into the electronic music world?
The 3 tips I would give would be:
1 – The love and passion for music must be the main engine to work hard in this career. If there is no love, passion and dedication one will not have results.
2- Work very hard without thinking about results but try to do it in an organized way with time and have a reason for everything you do. That path is the one that will make you grow, do things with a reason and a meaning.
3- Music should always come first, one can never forget that.
What would you consider your most significant achievement to date in your career as an artist?
Uff is a difficult question since there were many, simply being able to live from music is for me to be lucky. But I think one of my most important achievements would be having my own label and owning my professional studio where I can dedicate myself to it with complete peace of mind.
Having a professional space where I can do all kinds of things is something very important for an artist.
What do you like to do when you’re not in the studio or at a gig?
I try to maintain a balance between music and sport. I think that sport is necessary for your head to stay alive and awake.
Very creative people need to have an escape valve so that we can disconnect from our musical world.
I believe that not losing closeness with your lifelong friends is necessary and try to make parallel plans outside your musical environment.
Not everything in this life is music music music…
Thanks for your time, to close the interview and for curiosity, what music do you listen to besides electronic music? ¿Can you recommend some artists to follow?
Thank you for sharing my work and giving me the opportunity to be myself. The truth is greatly appreciated. I have prepared a podcast for you with love. I hope you like it. Well, musically speaking, I recommend that you try to see Bonobo and his music live with an orchestra. I would recommend many things outside of electronic dance but Portico Quartet, Curtis Harding, Buena Vista Social Club, 40 Winks, Klaus Schulze and a long etc.
Thank you Living Techno
Listen below to the Living Techno Podcast Episode 22 with Victor Santana.