Rewind back to 2010. At almost every party you go to, DJs are playing the same tune. On some nights you’ll hear it three times in different rooms. Over the course of the year, the cut becomes a genuine club anthem, creating madness for the dance floor. A stripped down acid track with honey-smooth fractured vocals, ”Raw War” was the real deal: a fresh jacking house track from this cutting edge musician who gave us the – “Hallucinogenic Raw EP” that somehow managed to sound both classic and contemporary. If it had been made by one of the legion of new deep revivalists, you’d have given them a round of applause for nailing the sound. Cut to sometime later, a sublime floor killer – “The Valley” released on Supplement, from the “Cinematique EP”, a slice of hypnotic dance heaven to put it simply. Of course it wasn’t.
These releases are by the one and only Simon Garcia himself, and tuning in to his career of records form one of the most intriguing back catalogues in dance music. For newcomers this man and his discography is a rich vein of music to dive into. From proto-acid Techno to Electronica and Deep House, it all cuts like a knife. Garcia’s musical explorations encompass creatively fuming remix work for many of dance music’s leading lights as well. Now the revival of interest, of course, isn’t so surprising, as Simon Garcia hasn’t come back to the clubs; the clubs have come back to Simon, as he is poised to release his latest EP titled – Ataraxia on Poker Flat Recordings this September 2015.
Reporter Priya Sen chats with Simon Garcia about the early days of his career, tries to decipher what his secret is that continues to stun clubland, and to talk about his latest release out soon. Here goes…
Hey Simon, firstly thank you for taking time out to chat with me at Decoded. To start at the beginning, I hear that you were influenced by artists such as Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk, New Order to name a few, while you were growing up. Is it safe to say, that you wanted to be part of the music industry due to these early rumblings, and shaped you to the DJ/Producer you are today?
First of all, thanks to you guys for the chance to get interviewed in one of my favorite on-line Electronica mags. Well, those mentioned above were some of the bands that my older brother and sister use to listen frequently at home, so their influence made a strong mark on me.
What steps did you take to start up as a DJ, and also if you could take us through how the production bit came about?
It was around 1993, when my brother bought two turntables and a mixer, the time I got my first contact playing records, I was 13 by that time. He bought those to learn himself, but at the end it was me constantly using the equipment and playing his records. A couple of years later, I had to stay in bed at home for a couple of weeks due to a surgery operation. Unable to stay still, I started to look for any music software in my old PC 486 computer, where I found a really basic program called Evolution MIDI. By that time, I was 15 and discovered what I wanted to do the rest of my life.
Your profile lists that you go by the aliases of Kornelius or Larakki, is there a difference in aesthetics vis a vis Simon Garcia we know, and is it an active project?
These parallel projects are my way of exploring other fields apart from House and Techno. Kornelius flies over sounds of the 80s, synth-pop, post disco wave, while Larakki, which finally became The Blaxploited Orchestra project, offers me the chance to deep dive into soul, funk, hip-hop or seminal house stuff. From time to time, I feel the strong needing of doing different music beyond club music.
Since you’ve been producing music, for a long time, you must have seen a lot of changes over the past decade, is it all going bigger and better, also is it helping you in evolving to other soundscapes, you may not have thought off a few years ago?
As far as I’m always trying to deliver my own sound, I’m also trying not to get distracted with trends or fashions – somehow these always influence you, whether you want it or not. But I don’t think the music has changed as much as the industry or the business have done.
Do you think that all the record labels you’ve released under are doing enough to push these cutting edge sounds that you stand for, is it at a good place right now?
Absolutely. I only release my music in labels I really feel. It’s a matter of trust on my own tracks and try to get them a proper home to be released at, so that they hit the right people and the right floors. I’m truly lucky to have the chance to choose where. If someday I can’t find a suitable label for any of my tracks, and I feel the strong needing of releasing it, I would definitely start my own label instead of giving to a label that i’m not feeling.
You’ve displayed cutting edge prowess with your remix work for many fellow musicians, those pieces of have been met with great appreciation through the dance floors of the world, do you approach a rework project similar to when you are making your own tune?
I always try to deliver a totally new taste with my remix works to the original track, getting any element that attracts me of it and creating a totally new atmosphere. Yeah, we could say it’s like making a new track using the soul of the original one. So that’s why I normally put a title to my remixes, e.g. ‘Simon Garcia’s Treptower dub’ or ‘Simon Garcia’s Future Funk remix’. They’re remixes, yes, but with their own identity.
I’ve found myself with two kinda weird super personal tracks and, honestly, I didn’t know what to do with them. I loved them, but was also afraid to get negatives from the labels as I knew the tracks weren’t that easy to release. Luckily, I felt brave enough to send them to Steve for consideration, who picked them both at first sight. I know they’re a big bet, but fortunately feedbacks are being great, many DJs asking Steve who are those tracks that he just played. Let’s see how the release works, but for me having it released on Poker Flat is a success itself. Happy times.
How long did it take you finish this one up?
This one didn’t take that long as other tracks. Around ten days of work were enough to have them almost ready, plus tests and all this kind of stuff. And I think one of the big values of this release is that it’s been thrown up naturally.
Any other projects you can tell us about that you’re working on?
I’m working on a live set to be launched next 2016. Something different than the usual controller + laptop set-up, more focused on making music on stage with (almost) all the equipment I use for producing my tracks. Will release more info about this soon.
Getting back to DJing, nothing has changed over the years; you seem to have a full gig schedule! Any countries you love playing at in particular?
Portugal is always off da hook, as well as Switzerland and Italy. Beyond Europe, my USA experiences were great, as well as Mexico. But playing in Madrid in my residency at Replay Sunset Parties (best party in town so far!), or my own (together with my partner Patricia) vinyl-only parties MAD_WAX, are still unbeatable for me, it always feels great to play home surrounded by friends…
Tell us about your DJ set up. Do you have any hardware add ons?
I added the Roland TR-8 a couple of times, which inspired the idea to bring my whole equipment on stage for this brand new live set. In a regular set, depending of the club, I normally ask for 2x Pioneer CDJ2000 or 2x Technics SL-1200 (usually only in my MAD_WAX parties or clubs I’m 100% sure they’re prepared to play records) + Allen & Heath x:one92. I’m really easy going with set-ups, actually, I like the classic way of mixing one track after another, not much into loops, FX or something like that.
Can you tell us a little about your home life away from the music? Any other pursuits of interest to you?
Good films and documentaries for sure. Oh, and I’m also an amateur cooker, I love cooking the traditional Spanish food: Paella, Tortilla, Cocido Madrileño, Fabada…
If you weren’t a musician, any other profession you could see yourself in?
Journalist. It’s a profession I truly respect and admire since I was a child. (Editor note: Feel free to write for us)
What’s in current your top 10?
In no particular order:
Emmanuel – Cargo
Rio Padice – Mission To Mars
Simon Garcia – Ataraxia
The Move – The Move (Par Grindvik Tolkning 1)
The Maghreban – Wonder Woman
Alan Fitzpatrick – U Said U
Mike Denhert – Rewerk
Inner City – Ahnnonghay (Carl Craig remix)
Beesmunt Soundsystem – Searching
DJ Koze – XTC
Do you carry your classics with you for those challenging times in a gig?
Absolutely, I’m always trying to deliver unknown music from the past, and sometimes the set just needs a good classic to bring on that old-school feeling.
Lastly, any plans to do something different with the rest of this year, something you are working on or excited about?
As said, I will be completely focused on develop this brand new live set in 2016. It’s a whole concept which I will release more info very soon. And I wish you all the best too! Thanks for the interview and congrats for such a nice magazine you guys are involved in. Speak soon!