Coyu’s new album, to be fair, is a monster. Released on his label Suara, it’s a proper piece of work that he should be immensely proud of. Yet, while sitting right in front of him, he explained to me with great modesty that he is content that music lovers and Suara fans are moved by it and hopefully gain an insight into a previously unknown side of his character. I like him already!
You Don’t Know is a compelling selection of tunes featuring solo works and killer collaborations. I was really looking forward to its release, so when Decoded Mag editorial asked me if I wanted to meet him in Barcelona for a coffee and a catch-up to discuss it, it was firm yes from myself! I was also keen to find out more about his thoughts on the scene and the Suara Foundation’s activities in the feline community.
“They will just come and play with us up here and sit all over the laptops,” Coyu warned me as we sat down in the Suara Foundation’s Cat Sanctuary. He was quite correct.
Coyu, or Iván as he is better known at the foundation, is of course, one very cool cat himself. Speaking for myself, he could very well be one of the last, truly underground artists that emanated from my cherished generation of electronic dance music. As I was expecting, the album is fresh, which is extremely difficult to deliver in an over distributed marketplace flooded with overproduced tracks of mediocre quality. What wasn’t expected at all – I never read the blurb or PR – were the subtle throwbacks to the early days of Acid House and Techno packing his sound with impetus and meaning, and alongside music produced in his customary genres, there are some drum n’ bass and trip hop inspired gems which really lifts the whole package to artist album warrior level.
Coyu is leading his label into a future sound trajectory, and he is also paying considerable respect to his musical roots. The reality is that the journey is not so new, more that he is revealing a sound that influenced him and shaped a genuine passion that drives his production and technique mission today.
“People might not get surprised by what’s on the album, because there’s maybe nothing new, but at the same time, you might get surprised by some of the tracks because the idea and the concept behind the album is very 90’s influenced. And that makes the album really interesting, because while lots of people are ‘coming back’ to a 90s sound, it probably won’t be the same as the 90’s I like,” he states.
“I’m paying respect to the influences that may not be apparent in what I have been able to present in my sets and performances so far. It’s my own vibe, so I’m not trying to recreate, but rather pay maximum respect to my little corner in the rave whether it’s Techno, Hardcore or Drum n’ Bass,” he added.
“When I was 18 I made time for a couple of years to discover all the music I possibly could: he said. “So with the album I tried to do that and unleash the Coyu you don’t know… which is why I called the album that!”
While the album still doesn’t exactly reveal any of those forgotten times exactly, collaborations with the crème de la crème of kick-ass producers might give you some clues to work some of those out for yourself. Reading the album’s credits aren’t enough to get it. Check out the track he co-produced with Moby for example – at the time of writing, 500k+ streams had been knocked up on Spotify. So just how far back does this love for the pioneers stretch? Well quite far actually.
“I remember meeting Laurent Garnier for the first time at Sonar 2016 where we were both playing. He is my favourite DJ ever. I love him and it was great to meet him for a short while at the festival in between our performances and share a few words. Especially because when I sent him music he would always reply and talk to me about it, telling me if he liked it or not. He is a great gentleman!” Coyu confirmed.
In the past, Barcelona was a cool hunting ground for awesome all night and all-day parties, whether they were in a club, on a beach or at an afterhours. There are quite a few to mention in Barcelona, and most of those have disappeared. What sticks in his mind?
“Isladencanta was a special place for me in the past. So was La Macarena where I had my first residency, Moog… lots of great parties, like when I played for my first time at La Cova Forrest Club. Monegros and Florida (Florida 135) were also really important to me in those early days,” he reminisced whilst tripping down memory lane.
So where is the cool electronic sound heading? Is it dying? Is it in a transition? It’s not what it was twenty odd years ago but Coyu clearly thinks it’s not in any kind of decline and is continuing to adapt the Suara label’s output to a constantly changing marketplace.
“Electronic music is healthy. For Suara, we were a tech house label, but that genre got very commercial, very cheesy… So I decided not to release tech house any more. We are not taking any demos right now, but we will be listening to those again soon. I mean I’m always listening to demos and new stuff. I understand that is becoming more and more difficult to make contact with the larger labels for younger artists, but I am trying to do more research, listening for new material on Soundcloud, Bandcamp and Beatport. If I like it, it is easy to reach out to an artists through social media and vice versa,” he said.
While not necessarily touring the album as such, he is touring all the time – playing from Australia, South Africa, Asia, to South America, road-testing the album for some time in his recent live sets. But does he listen to his own promos? A relevant question today as more and more DJs seem split on “Music Discovery” either by sticking with a trusty old promo system, but getting someone to do the donkeywork for them, or indeed, sacking off the promo platforms all together and just heading straight to Beatport et al to dig through the new releases.
“I had someone once. Yes. I mean I receive a crazy amount of material, but I don’t have anybody doing this now!” he confirmed.
So, cats? “I love them!” he replied. “Before I met my partner, who is a cat vet, I was more of a dog person believe it or not! But, of course, when I fell in love with her, I began to fall more and more for cats. So I have this foundation and cat sanctuary because I wanted to do something for stray and feral cats… to give them back some love and the feelings that they have given to me in the past,”
Nobody said Coyu’s album was or wasn’t groundbreaking. But it literally skips off into some very pleasurable and uncharted water. You Don’t Know lives up to it’s a non-hype and pretty much zero promotion – especially when compared to most of the EPs sent for review recently. The album is waiting for you to discover it and make it part of your sound stack to define future electronic music eras.
The funny thing though, is that I usually hate reviewing albums, and to be fair, I’m not known as a cat lover either. But a 9/10 from me on both Don’t You Know and the Suara Foundation’s rescued residents that I was also lucky enough to meet.