For the twenty-fourth installment of our interview series, we introduce Tensal.
Tensal is the name of the solo project that Héctor Sandoval has created to give space to his more cyclical and modern vision of Techno in which he combines different rhythms and textures. He’s also well known for his collaborative projects as Exium, Komatssu, and Selección Natural.
Throughout his successful career he has published more than 100 releases on the best labels on the circuit and his music has been played by the best DJs on the planet.
In his DJ sets, Tensal explores all the facets of techno by alternating different textures and intensities that are nourished mainly by his own material. A journey through the present that has led him to perform in more than 50 countries around the world.
For his next solo release as Tensal, he debuts on Ellen Allien‘s imprint BPitch with “The New Land Order“, a four-track package of intense, minimalist techno, that finds the beloved producer in total control of his craft, carefully arranging layers of sound to create a powerful collection of atmospheric dancefloor structures. Pre order: Link
We chatted in depth with Héctor about his new EP, plus a few more aspects of his career and we got really interesting answers. Read the full interview below.
Hello Héctor, Luis from Living Techno here, it’s a pleasure having you in our interview series, thank you. First of all, how are you and where in the world are you taking this interview?
Well, right now I’m in London making a stopover on my flight back from Berlin, I played at About Blank on Thursday, it’s a perfect time to do something like an interview…
How and when did you realize that electronic music was your thing?
I realized it from a very young age, probably the first time I heard Acid House in 1988, I was about 11 years old and there was something in the repetition of those metallic and strident sounds that I heard for the first time that attracted me deeply, I couldn’t stop listening to that cassette, then when I was able to enter a club for the first time in 1991 I felt that there was a natural force, that It was extremely attractive, and I knew immediately – that is my place in the world.
What’s your view on the current state of the scene… since you began in this journey, what has changed?
This question is difficult to answer without developing it a lot, the internet changed everything a few years ago, it has been the best and the worst thing that has happened to the scene. Now everything is very visual and other parts of the brain are stimulated for the general public, different from those that were stimulated before. Society in general has changed, these are difficult times for artistic development and work discipline but it is also a nice challenge to combine these concepts with the immediacy that currently surrounds us.
What’s the story behind your solo project ‘Tensal’? How and when did it begin and how do you see its progress so far?
Tensal started almost 10 years ago out of a need to express a more cyclical sound based on repetition and hypnosis, the project has matured and other of my influences have filtered in, all my projects are based on a particular composition with an ideology in common.
What differentiates ‘Tensal’ from your other collaborative projects such as Exium, Komatssu, and Selección Natural?
I have many projects focused on different styles because I feel a great connection with very different music, there are many more than these projects that you mention but I keep most of them secret.
Tensal is my personal vision of Techno, fast, danceable and functional, with a very marked inspiration in the Techno of the mid-90s but also from contemporary concepts.
Exium is my joint project with Valentín Corujo, together we started producing in the 90s and our influences range from industrial music to IDM or American techno of Detroit and Chicago.
Komatssu is where I look for my most musical and abstract part, combining melodies with rhythms, mostly broken.
Selección Natural is a specific project of some friends making music together, there was no great concept behind the survival of the 5 in the world of techno for so many years.
Do you remember what was your first important release, in what label, and how do you achieve it?
It was an Exium release on Zet Records, a label that belonged to Regis and was part of the distributor Integrale, at that time the most important in the world and located in Birmingham.
I remember that Christian Wunsch was their friend because he had lived in England and he sent them a model of ours.
Congratulations for your new EP ‘The New Land Order’ which will be out this month on Ellen Allien’s imprint Bpitch. How does it feel to debut in such a great label and what’s the story behind this big achievement?
It is a pride for me to be able to release on this important and influential label. I have always been an admirer of Ellen and many of the artists who released on BPitch. I consider it a brand that is always at the forefront. Regarding the contact, they simply invited me to play at one of their parties and the possibility of sending them something arose, it was all quite natural.
Listen below to the premiere of the track ‘Tensal – Kodex’ featured in ‘The New Land Order EP’:
What’s the concept behind ”The New Land Order’, and what can we expect to hear from the EP?
The combination of my past and present influences with current compositional techniques is the concept, I always look for a kind of balance, I tried to create a kind of mechanical Funk.
Can you tell us about the production processes and inspiration behind each track of the EP?
My processes are always the same, I start by making sequences with a synthesizer, in this case I used a Waldorf Iridium, then I process these sequences and add percussions and everything else, when I have everything I start the mix and it’s time for the plug ins and so on. Let’s say that balance is present again because I don’t know how to compose anything without combining the 2 worlds, analog and digital, I suppose it is a reflection of my feelings, I always go forward without stopping to look back.
How much time did you spend in the studio working on the EP, and what were the highs and lows in writing and producing it?
Not too much, after so many years it doesn’t usually take me long to make tracks, it takes me much longer to think about and plan them.
Any other upcoming releases already scheduled that you can give us some details about?
I’m working on quite a few things currently, there will be a couple of EPs for important labels that may surprise some, I hope to continue collaborating with BPitch, and a new EP will also be released on A.R.T.S. There will be some important remixes like a couple I’ve done with Mick Harris and a few more appearances, I’m also finishing the next Tensal recs and there will be new music from Exium, anyway…I’m usually quite prolific, I like to make music, play it and edit it.
What do you enjoy the most, producing music or DJing, and why?
I started DJing at a very young age and I love playing and selecting all kinds of music, I love the energy that is generated and the contact with the public, but I also love the calm of my studio where I can spend hours on rainy days while I discover new sounds and I imagine the effect they will have on the dancefloor, I couldn’t choose, it’s like choosing between your 2 children, impossible.
How do you prepare your DJ sets when DJing? Do you take a lot of music on your USB and improvise on the go, or you’re more a DJ that goes with your tracks previously picked in a playlist?
I am a completely intuitive DJ, I never know what I am going to do because it depends on the energy I receive from the people when I am playing, so what I do is select tracks that I like and try to order them by intensities, then I jump from one to another depending on the feedback received from the public.
In your personal opinion, do you consider it important that every DJ should produce his own music at some point in his career?
Yes, unless you are a very good vinyl DJ….
Before there were DJs famous for their skills who did not need to make music, but nowadays technology makes everything easier and you have to have something more, although lately new paths are being discovered to have important careers that are not based on any of this, but I honestly don’t know those techniques.
Can you describe to us your studio, what gear do you have, and what gear do you wish to have, how are your sessions and regularly how many hours do you spend in each session?
Many people have asked me this over the years and the truth is that I have never considered the equipment that each one uses to be relevant, I care about the end result, not so much about the means. I like music and I don’t care how you make it, everyone must find their own way of expression, this is part of each person’s art.
That being said, I use a combination of analog and digital elements, my music always starts from an analog source that I then digitize in the process until I find the balance, I am not interested in digital sound, nor modular, nor analog, nor in any one in particular, i am interested in developing my own sound.
So I have what everyone has, synths, rhythm boxes and plug-ins, but I use them in my own way, I don’t use Ableton or Elektron machines either, I usually finish my mixes in Pro tools and I avoid everything that sounds very familiar to me or that reminds me of the sound of others.
To this moment, what would you consider as your most significant achievement in your career as an artist?
I don’t think anything beats the day I saw Aphex Twin play several of my tracks in several of his performances, It’s what has made me feel most proud, I have seen many play them, Mills, Hawtin, Garnier and it is great…but Richard…Richard is God hahaha
Thanks for your time, to close the interview, what advice would you give to young producers who are getting started as artists?
You’re welcome, it has been long but fun, my advice is to look for a job, that will free you to make your own decisions and the right paths.
Listen exclusively here to the premiere of the track ‘Tensal – Kodex’ to be released with the ‘The New Land Order EP‘ on September 29, 2023 via Bpitch / BPX030 Living Techno · Premiere: Tensal – Kodex [Bpitch] Release date. September 29, 2023Label. Bpitch Pre order Vinyl: BandcampListen premiere
PRESS photos by: Laia Flynn
Thank you for visiting Living Techno, don't forget to subscribe!