Dark Soul Project real name Ivan Jaime is a progressive house and techno DJ/producer and label owner hailing from Buenos Aires, Argentina, one of the new wave of an exciting movement in South America, Ivan has already developed a large following of fans and fellow DJs with his classy and complex dark and driven productions which have been supported from some of the biggest international DJs in the scene.
His label We Are The Underground continues to go from strength to strength with the upcoming release by Arturo Escudero & Flexible Fire feat. Ger Reccitelli – All My Plans generating a serious buzz complimented by Ivan’s own remix.
Our intrepid radio host, Ian Dillon caught up with Ivan to find his influences, passion and uncover a few of his new projects as an artist and as a label owner.
Hi Ivan, great to meet you. Thanks for taking time out to speak with us, we know everyone is always very busy in this line of work. So first of all, how has your day been?
Hi there! How you doing? Many thanks for contacting me, I really like Decoded Magazine and it’s content. It’s an honour to be interviewed by people who know and value the music. Regarding my day, well, I woke up and made a cup of coffee like every morning and just starting to think about what this day will be.
Can you tell us how you got into making music and DJing? Was there any particular experience that pushed you to pursue this career?
The truth is that everything happened without thinking too much about it, like a cause/effect regarding life facts. Since I was a kid I started to record tracks from the radio and then arranging them in order, based on my personal taste, their intensity and atmosphere, without even knowing that this was like being a DJ. Then I went to an event and saw a guy who was playing music and I started to feel attracted to that concept, that was similar to mine but presented to other people that were dancing and having a good time, that was when I realised about the concept of being a DJ.
I loved building my own music collection and then sorting it out and playing it for my friends, that’s where it all started for me. Then I knew a record shop called ‘Plasma’, where I started to hang out and talked with the owner, Pablo, we started to talk about the DJ world and music, he was always very kind to me and I started to buy his records and knowing about the musical scene, one day he said to me: “There is a DJ that you will like, his name is Hernan Cattaneo, you should go to see him live.”
Then I realised that there were DJ’s that liked the same music as me and they could make a career too, that was when I learned the concept of being paid by playing, anyway I was not paid at that time for being a DJ as I played for my own pleasure. I started my career in college as a lawyer and I did not have too much time to listen to music, but I started to go out clubbing, mostly to the legendary club Pacha Buenos Aires and Bahrein too, almost every weekend without realising that inside me the love of being a professional DJ was growing more and more.
Little by little, I started to use Fruity Loops in my free time as I wanted to produce my own original music, then a friend of mine, Andres Lopez, told me about Ableton Live and I made the switch to it, the DJ’s that I liked began to ask me for music, that was totally unexpected for me!. With Andres, we produced a track called ’76 Spheres’ that was played by Hernan Cattaneo on John Digweed‘s Transitions radio show, that day was amazing as we cried for the emotion of hearing our music played by our musical hero, then many people from Argentina and all around the world started to contact me and my professional career as a DJ/Producer began.
Tell us about growing up in Buenos Aires, Argentina. What unique challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
The truth is that I can’t complain about my childhood, as my parents always made an effort besides the social/economic difficulties of my country, they were always trying to give a good education and good values since I was a kid. Therapy as helped me too with my problems or doubts, I think I started to go when i was about 5 years old!
There were many family issues that made me more mature before the normal process I think, that gave me like certain grade of sensibility about life and made me realise that in our lives we should learn and try to find what we love to do, besides those family issues being not related to me directly, it was hard to learn that concept, thanks god my family always supported me. I think my most unique challenge was to understood that life is beautiful and you only got one shot, therefore we should live it with passion and share it with people with your same values and attitude towards life and always stay away fro bad and selfish people.
South America as a whole seems to have seen a huge boom in dance music in the last few years especially in the more progressive and techno based genres, with more and more artists gaining exposure and huge events taking place in those areas. Can you describe to us your first hand experience of Buenos Aries as a clubbing destination and what is it that makes these styles of music so popular?
To grow in Buenos Aires could be beautiful and chaotic at the same time, luckily I spent half of my life in Córdoba were I was raised too. Regarding the night life, I started to go out clubbing at Córdoba with my cousin Cesar Lombardi, he is a DJ/Producer too, I admire and love him a lot and has been a great friend to me since we were kids. At Córdoba I saw that the electronic music scene was growing and as I were at Buenos Aires too, I started realising that the underground music was starting to be more popular, as more and more people were part of that elite movement, a selected piece of society.
From there, Martin Gontad (Hernan’s manager) started to create and build our scene producing club nights at Pacha Buenos Aires with a very clever marketing strategy, I don’t know if that was done on purpose or not, but more and more people started to feel attracted to that just to see what was going on and to experience what was about as many people went for the music and others just to experience a good party. Later, those parties started to be advertised on local communication media and the scene went from underground to mainstream.
Regarding my experience about night life in Argentina, it was amazing and really beautiful around 2002 to 2004, it was Hernan Cattaneo’s boom when he went outside the underground scene to become a superstar DJ, it was really incredible to live those moments and I think that helped Progressive House genre to have a lot of success, the musical scene was blooming as you could go to any event and listen to good House or vanguard Techno, that was when Minimal was born and James Holden revolutionised electronic music with his melodic Techno and mix between Microhouse sounds and Minimal too.
In that fantastic era we could hear many great artists, since some years ago and nowadays, the scene has changed as everything is more popular and therefore more commercial, some DJ’s have changed their musical taste and they play what they know that is going to work, without exploring too much. Those who lived that era are not surprised too much by the current music, that’s why I created We Are The Underground, my record label, for the people who are passionate about that music and in order to try to show those sounds updated with a fresh groove.
What’s your studio set up like now? Do you have any favourite toys?
Actually I don’t have a proper studio at my house, I just produce with my computer, a soundcard and regular speakers, I have a synth also that I lend to my friend Andy Arias but I think I used it a few times! I work a lot with VST’s, I think the magic is about what you do and not so what do you use to make music.
Anyway, a record company came to me recently and gave me the chance to use their studio so I go there from time to time, you can check it as I recorded a video that was posted at my fan page in Facebook where you can see that we are using many musical instruments, it’s very fun really and that could be reflected in my next tracks that will have more sound quality and some interesting elements. If I had to pick a favourite instrument, it would be a VST, I love Absynth and it’s oscillators, it’s a lot of fun to modify sounds from there.
It would be fair to say you’ve developed a very distinct sound that manages to transcend both the darker aspects and also contrast with beautiful melodics. When writing new music, how do you prefer to sketch out ideas?
Good question! I think I’m a bit crazy haha! I don’t know how to categorise me as I think of myself as a versatile artist inside the music production field as i always like to learn new things, it’s like a hobby for me to learn about new concepts, instruments or VST’s for example.
Anyway, I can’t deny that there is a common factor in all my music that is groove and hypnotic swing, I love melodies too as I really dig melodic music, dark or happy, it depends of the moment in the set, the environment or how I feel. In my sets, I tend to play any kind of music, I think that is a direct influence from DJ’s like Hernan Cattaneo, Sasha, John Digweed, Nick Warren and Lee Burridge. I like darkness and mystery regarding music!
Does it alter at all for when you work on remixes and re-edits?
I always try to make my own vision with remixes, I don’t like the idea of taking elements of the original track and change them a little in order to make it a bit different. I tend to work more with the composition and then analyse in which musical note was originally written and then continue working from there, sometimes is more difficult as there are key elements that are very strong on the original production, therefore you have to work more in order to create a good remix.
Tell us about some of the new material you have coming out this year.
Thankfully, I’m pretty versatile with producing and DJing too. I’m very happy with my new EP ‘Undisclosed Files’ at We Are The Underground, my label. Where I can release music that was played on my sets too. ’Paradise’ is a track that I like a lot, it was composed with a very thinked part where I played the piano and that gives a touch of colour and distinction to it, another one that I like a lot is ‘Jungle Arpegio’ as it’s swing was inspired in jungle sounds combined with arpeggiated melodies that are popular at the moment but with emotional notes that are part of my own personality, also it has a lot of energy in the breakdown, the track works really good at the dance floor and I’m happy that Hernan Cattaneo has supported it already.
Regarding future releases, I have other tracks that are more towards a Techno melodic sound, I sent those tracks to Solomun and I know he has downloaded them, but I don’t know yet if he is already playing them or if he likes them to release it on his label Diynamic, if not I will release them via my label or Sudam, that’s Kintar‘s label, who is a friend of mine and I have been working with him for many years ago, his label is like family to me.
We believe your productions and remixes are receiving support from some major international names. How does it feel when you find out certain people are playing your music at major events and festivals?
Hernan for example… It’s very gratifying to see that many people support my music as I do it with all my passion and heart, to see that people that people I admire support my work it’s beautiful really. I get emotional many times and perhaps I don’t know how to express it sometimes, but inside me I’m about to explode with happiness as I’m very grateful to life and to Hernan too of course.
I think that all of this was because of him at the first place, I’m deeply grateful to him and when he plays my music I get goosebumps!. I like another artists as well, Lee Burridge for example, I have always been a fan of him but as far as I know I think he’s not played my music yet.
Let’s talk about your life in front of the turntables. When you play out, do you have set plans or play as you feel?
I tent to select music all the time as I’m very meticulous about my sets, i play mostly my edits of another tracks as well as original material of course in order to test it on the dance floor and then going back to the studio to modify something if needed.
Talk us through your mix for Decoded. Did you have a particular story in mind for us?
It’s very nice to have this interview by you as I’m a follower of Decoded Magazine. When I was told that the interview would be joined by a set, I started to select and prepare tracks that I would play live as a main DJ in a club atmosphere.
I just let the music flow, it starts with a deep and hypnotic progressive groove and then it begins to develop creating different climates in order to close with a classic track that I like very much and brings a lot of memories, I always try to play classic tracks as I’m very fond of the music that moved me emotionally in the past and of course I like to share that with people that can appreciate it.
Where can we see you playing this year?
I have been playing since many years ago and this one I decided to rest a little and try to focus more on producing music, as i was a bit exhausted, actually it’s been a month since my last gig and I will start to play again soon. Actually we are working with my colleague Lavigne to do an European Tour in some months, I was about to do the tour last year but I had a health issue that prevented me to travel, I would like to apologise to all my fans and the promoters that were expecting me last year, but I had a hard time but thankfully now I’m optimal conditions.
I will be there around August, to anyone interested in booking me, you can contact do it at email@example.com I also have requests from Mexico and I would like to play again in USA as I did last year at Tree House Miami, but perhaps I will do it in 2017 for WMC, also I would like to tour my country as I did before and play at my second home, Córdoba.
Can you tell our readers a little more about your label – We Are The Underground and what your aims are for this?
We Are The Underground is a record label that was born between friends, to share music that is made with the heart, with my friend Maxi Zamac who works as A&R for the label, we search for those records that are special and that when played they make you want to move and lose yourself on the dance floor and leave you thinking about a particular element in the track, a melody or a vocal sample, we tend to seek memories with records that last in time, things that are lacking right now in the electronic music scene as there is like a “fast food” culture, where almost everything is disposable, low quality or just based on marketing and not on quality.
On the other side, we care a lot about the visual part of the label too, as we like art. Personally I draw, paint and design since I was a kid, anyway i prefer to have that work to be done by Ema, he is a graphic designer that i knew when i travelled to Mexico, he is very talented and a great guy also and i feel very satisfied working with him. We have another audiovisual projects that we are working on but you will know in the future via our social networks!
Regarding music, we have plans to release my second artist album and compilations too from some artists we like, as well as original productions from around the world. Thanks god we are having a great response by our followers and from talented DJ/Producers too. We also care about the human side of the people we work with as the scene is quite filled with people who just want to be recognised or chase money or fame, as we don’t like that we just focus on good people, dreamers, hard workers and passionate about music. We just want to give our contribution with musical joy but also with human values, those that are kind of lost in the world nowadays.
Whats been your biggest learning curve from starting a label? And if you knew about it before would you have reconsidered?
The major challenge is the budget as the respected artists that produce quality music have their price, and that is correct of course. It’s a dedicated work to make a track and it must be well paid. The thing is that some artist have quality in their work but when you start to investigate you realise that they don’t produce themselves as they have what is called a “ghost producer”, so in some cases they will tell you that they can’t or that they don’t have time to do it, as they have to pay the other producer to make the track.
Another challenge is that you have to make people to believe in your project, luckily we have been accepted by all the people we have contacted so far and that makes us very excited about the future as we never thought that this project was going to be so well acclaimed and that was going to grow so fast, it’s really something beautiful for us and i would like to thank all the people that still believes the quality of underground music and enjoy it with passion.
The recent tragic events at Timewarp again shine a spotlight on dance music and paint a negative picture. How will the South American scene bounce back?
I have my own personal thought about it but it’s far to be something related with music directly, I think the world is in very bad shape and the system is more perverse actually than in the past, some people want to be like others regarding popularity or just for the reason to be part of something and that’s were other people are involved and try to take advantage of that situation and make money and business out of it.
I hope that this will change in the future and the people will care more about their lives. As well that many things have to change regarding organisation, some promoters and people involved with massive events are thinking more about the money than in the conditions that those events are made. Regarding South America, I’m sure what happened will have an impact on our nightlife and changes will be made regarding prevention, organisation and even more strict laws for maximum capacity and other things that were not so well made before this tragedy.
Many thanks for speaking with us Ivan, It’s been a real pleasure, we wish you all the very best with the new releases. and can’t wait to hear what else you have in store for the rest of 2016.
Thanks very much to all the Decoded Magazine team for giving me the opportunity of having an space to think and express myself. Greetings from Buenos Aires, Argentina!
01// Dark Soul Project – Iguazu
02// Dark Soul Project – Paradise
03// Dark Soul Project – Jungle Arpeggio
04// Dark Soul Project – The Message (Mathov Darkrooms Remix)
05// Dark Soul Project – We Are The Underground
06// Shosho & The Foreigners – 6AM
07// Van Bellen – Let Me Take You (Sebastien Leger Remix)
08// Noir – Obscurite
09// Third Son – Aldous
10// Joachim Pastor & Oliver Koletzki – Oulan Bator (Oliver Koletzki Remix)
11// Maribou State – Rituals (Sasha Remix)
12// Few Nolder – Wisher
13// Dark Soul Project – The Message (Forerunners Remix)
14// Forerunners – Strange Days
15// Junkie XL – Don’t Wake Up Policeman