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Interview: ALMA (AR)

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Maria Pedraza (aka ALMA (AR) is an Argentinian DJ and producer who is distinguished by the versatility of her mixes. Her percussion studies, especially in Afro-Cuban rhythms, love and passion for music, leads her to play and produce sweet, hypnotic and dark melodies and rhythms in which she fuses varied musical genres such as progressive house, techno, melodic techno, house and more. Her music had the support from great artists like Hernán Cattaneo and Nick Muir and has been part of labels like Droid 9 – Faraway Scope – Shine – Ah Digital – La Cura de la Semana – Nube Music. Alma has her own Radioshow – BOREALSOUNDS which brings us monthly podcasts with the best of Progressive House , Deep House and Melodic Techno. Now making her debut on DJ Ryan’s La Cura de la Semana, we catch up with ALMA for an exclusive interview. Enjoy!

Hello Maria, thanks for joining us. What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to?

Hello everyone and thank you for this interview! I just woke up so I’m having some mate and listening to the last release on Bedrock by Soel.

How’s your year so far? And what are your plans for the coming week?

Definitely this year brought a lot of good things so far so I couldn’t be happiest. This week my energy will be on my next gig “Hera” Festival where I will be playing with some friends like Gabriel Borgo, Fabri Lopez, Ramiro Alvarez and more.

Can you name five tracks that were important in your musical development and why they are so significant for you?

Sure. I will name tracks that are from different musical genres that I listened in different moments of my life and inspired me through the lyrics and the music.

Pink Floyd – Pigs (Three Different Ones)
Gustavo Cerati – Magia
Pablo Milanés – Años (SUMO VERSION)
Bedrock – Heaven Scent (OC & Verde Remix)
Nick Muir, John Digweed, Eagles & Butterflies – Crazy Diamond

Talk to us about growing up and living in Argentina, how has it affected your musical taste and the music you make?

Argentina is a country with people who have a great love for music. It is a country with a lot of cultural diversity, so music is part of our daily lives. I have brothers much older than me and that is why I grew up listening to bands like The Police, Supertramp, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, UB40. My musical experience since I was little was very varied and that enriched me musically.

Progressive music is well known for being hugely popular in Argentina, how did your country become the genre’s mecca over the last 10-15 years? What would you attribute that to?

I believe in part that today Argentina is the mecca of world progressive is due to the enormous work that Hernán Cattaneo has done around the world. Artists like him and also like Martin García have given us a lecture on the best progressive sounds of all time, we have had a very good musical education through them.

What are some of your best memories from first going to clubs in your country? Were there specific nights or sets that really made you feel you wanted to pursue electronic music?

I have in mind the best night I have ever experienced in a show and it is that one with John Digweed at Orfeo Superdomo in the city of Cordoba in 2016. That was the best show both visually and musically that I have experienced.

What are your favourite venues to play in Argentina and why?

Rosario, Cordoba and Buenos Aires are the best places to play for me. The crowd knows what are they looking for and that’s why they are so passionate about the music and have the best energy on the dancefloor.

Who are some up and coming Argentinian artists to look out for?

For me Argentina has actually the best progressive producers of the scene right now. Artists like Andres Moris, Agustin Pietrocola, Agustin Fiscarra, Felipe Gonzalez, Mayro, Rocio Laurenza are really growing up in the scene and they are fantastic dj’s and producers.

If you could set up an event with a line-up of five artists of your choice, who would you book and what set times would you ascribe to the artists?

John Digweed
Sasha
Guy J
Nick Muir
Martin Garcia
That would be the perfect line up for me.

You have a new single ‘Sati’ out this week via DJ Ryan’s La Cura de la Semana, tell us a bit about the track and how it showcases your sound.

Sati is one of my favourite tracks so far. I think in one way I reach the sound I was looking for in Sati. I like dark grooves that enter us into an introspective journey with sweet melodies that brings light into us when we hear them.

You’ve had past releases for Droid9 and Faraway Scope, what makes La Cura de la Semana a good new home for your music?

I’m really excited about this release because is an original mix and it fits great with La Cura de la Semana sounds. Also Ryan and his team were really nice to work with and I definitely would work with this label again.

Can you walk us through the production process on the track?

I was going through a really hard time in my life when I made it. So it has a special meaning to me everytime I hear to it. I was inspired by the tricks of the mind and how important is to be aware of the thoughts we have and how they create our own reality. I was in a dark place and the melody of Sati always reminds me that we have the power to go from darkness to light if we have the consciousness of what we are going through and flow with the moments.

What does your set-up like? Do you favor physical gear over digital? And what studio tools featured heavily in the writing of ‘Sati’?

I have my own set up with 3 Xdj1000 Mk2 and Djm 850 Pioneer mixer for my mixes. I would love to have the opportunity to work with physical synths. I recorded some samples with percs instruments I have at home that I used for Sati like shakers. Sati was completely worked with my midi controller Launchkey Novation 49.

Generally speaking, do you find it more difficult to come up with original tracks than remixing a track from another artist?

It depends on the track. Sometimes it comes a really nice track where I find the opportunity to put my sound on it and it’s a great experience. Making originals is much more personal and reveals more my identity.

What’s a piece of gear or software that always gets used when you’re writing a track?

Actually I work with my computer and my Launchkey Novation 49 on Ableton Live and some great Vst like Dune 3, Diva, Hive 2, to name a few.

How much road testing or friend feedback is done before you’re ready to say a track is finished? And who is someone you share your new music with first for feedback?

I belong to a beautiful group of producers called Prod Community where we share tips, projects in progress, we do masterclasses and we help each other. This is where I find great feedbacks from some friends like Lio Q, Andres Moris, Felipe Gonzalez, German Tedesco, Evegrem and more. All the members of Prod Community contribute to my musical career in some way.

Tell us about your radioshow ‘Borealsounds’, where and when can people listen to it and is what you play there a good representation of what you would play in a club?

Borealsounds is a monthly podcast where all artists are invited to show their music. It’s been almost 3 years now since I started with the radioshow. You can listen to it on its Youtube Channel – Borealsounds Radioshow (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBehesf7emKlt3Gs7NiG96w) and Mixcloud (https://www.mixcloud.com/BOREALSOUNDSAR) Sometimes I record sets for the radioshow where you can listen to the music I would play in some of my gigs and also new music that may not be for a show but still great music to listen to.

What would be a musical extravagance for your studio you would pay for, if you were very wealthy?

I would have a lot of analog synths to play with Focal Alpha 65 Evo monitors and also the new CDJ3000 with a DJM 900 NXS2 as a mixer.

What’s a book you’ve read or film you watched that has left an impact on you, and why?

V for Vendetta was a movie that really touched my heart in a way where it expresses the revolution of the people in front of all the injustice.

If you could travel anywhere for one day, all laws and limitations void, where would it be?

I would love to go back to Tulum Mexico no doubts.

In your opinion, what’s the biggest risk you’ve taken and what made you do it?

I feel my biggest risk was my first Ayahuasca experience. I was truly afraid of how was it was going to be. For my surprise it was one of the best self-knowledge experiences I had. It opened my heart and my mind in ways I could never have imagined and revealed me a lot of information for my life.

What is your current favourite place to eat and what do you generally order there?

My best place to eat is at home with my partner in life Luciano who cooks really great.

iPhone or Android?

Android.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

Be surrounded by friends, my family, my life partner Luciano, my plants, my cat Diwi and my dog Quiaca that’s happiness for me.

What does 2022 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

I hope I can travel to Mexico this year to share my music around the globe and I expect to be healthy to do what I love the most – playing and making music.

‘Sati’ is available for pre-order now via La Cura de la Semana: https://bit.ly/3KaJMyB

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