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Interview: Fernando Olaya

24 min read

As one of Colombia’s most recognized progressive house artists, Fernando Olaya has showcased his music on the genre's top tier imprints such as BeatFreak Recordings, Movement, Parquet, Traum and his own Sonnet Speciale imprint. Also an accomplished DJ, the Zipaquira resident has performed with Dubfire, Paul Van Dyk and Sasha. Now on the cusp of making his debut on DJ Ryan's La Cura de la Semana imprint, we catch up with Fernando for an exclusive interview. Enjoy!

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

It is a pleasure to greet the Release Promo team, at this moment my mood is great, i am too relaxed on the beaches of Santa Marta listening to some progressive rock "Kent – If You Were Here" Album recommended by Isola 1997

What are your plans for the coming week?

Next week i will travel to the beautiful city of Medellin, i will play in a new club called "Viuz". I am very happy to play with this audience that loves my musical style.

Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you discover electronic music and what led you down the path of wanting to be a producer and DJ?

I discovered electronic music at the age of 7, my sister listened to Colombian youth stations such as "X and 88.9". Genres like House, Eurodance, Trance. I fell in love the moment i heard these sounds, i always wondered how they produced this type of music and curiosity led me to be a DJ at 16 until i became a professional musician.

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

I grew up very happy with my family in the city of Zipaquirá and listening to all kinds of music. Despite the stigma that everyone has about my country, drugs and insecurity, i can say that living in Colombia is wonderful, the people are very friendly, the food is delicious, we do not have seasons of the year and you will find magical places. Our motto "Colombia, the only risk is that you want to stay there"

We have musical rhythms like salsa, vallenato, cumbia, reggaeton but we also have very good rock and metal groups and of course a new wave of electronic music producers in all genres.

This diversity of rhythms and traveling through the beautiful landscapes of my country is part of my influence when i create groove and exotic melodies for the dance floor.

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

The Dark Side of The Moon is one of my favorite albums from start to finish, it is a unique musical journey for its time.

track 1 - "Pink Floyd - On The Run" (1973) is a revolutionary track, when i heard it for the first time, my head thundered to the rhythm of the arpeggiated synthesizers, I was wondering how they generated these sounds.

2 - The Chemical Brothers - Electronic Battle Weapon 6 (1996)
This is a track that captivated me by its energy, i saw a video of Sasha playing this at the Love Parade in Berlin, at that moment I really wanted to generate this type of sounds, there i fell in love with electronic music.

3 - Gill Norris - Forme (2003) I am a lover of acid sounds and techno, this song reached my ears in 2003 that changed my perception of sweet and progressive sounds, i did not assimilate that something so slow of bpm made me repeat over and over again this track.

4 - UNKLE - Follow Me Down (Fergie Excentric Muzik Mix) (2010) I have always been a lover of the sound of UNKLE but one day i heard this Remix of Fergie a style of dark techno but with groove in the melody, i played it mostly from the 2010 parties just this riff and the voice invaded my brain.

5 - 16 Bit Lolitas - Murder Weapon the day i listened to this song i understood more about electronic music and what progressive house represents, feeling that the track evolved from start to finish, i definitely wanted to make tracks with a slower bpm but musically more elaborate, this track took me to another state of mind.

You’ve been releasing music for a decade now, how has your sound evolved over the years?

I have gone through different genres, trance, techno, deep, minimal with my first aka Ferty (2005-2010), but for the last ten years i have been working on a progressive and melodic sound, i have been able to incorporate a lot of groove and percussion, exotic melodies , sounds more organic and i constantly try to improve the sound in my mix every day, i produce music that captivates me personally but also makes people dance that is the new musical concept of Fernando Olaya.

You have a new EP out this week on DJ Ryan’s ‘La Cura De La Semana’ imprint, tell us a bit about the release and how it showcases your individualities.

In 2018 i was invited to Cuba to perform some presentations in Havana, there i met DJ Rayan and established a beautiful friendship. Dj Ryan released his label called "La Cura De La Semana" and i am part of this second release with two tracks that i really like: Figarus and Camaguey. They are tracks designed for the dance floor with a lot of groove, exotic melodies, organic and also progressive sounds.

Was there anything that inspired these two tracks? And where does your inspiration come from generally?

These tracks were exclusively designed for "La Cura de la Semana" my inspiration was different Cuban rhythms, in the track Camaguey take samples of Cuban percussions and create a more organic groove, this track has the title of a beautiful Cuban city called "Camaguey”. Figarus is a more progressive track but also happy as is the Cuban spirit

My inspiration in general comes from traveling to other countries and getting involved is their traditional music, but I constantly listen to other musical genres such as rock, and also Latin percussion.

In my youth i studied music in a conservatory, traditional classical music is part of my training, i am a lover of listening to new styles but i will never stop listening to Beethoven, Erik Satie, Debussy, Strauss, Bach ...

Was La Cura De La Semana a label you had in mind for the project from the beginning? And what made it a great place to release these particular tracks?

After Ryan released music on my label "Sonnet Speciale", he proposed to me since mid-2020 to be part of one of the releases of his new label. I decided to accept and create two songs with references to Cuban music, full of percussion and colorful synthesizers. I wanted to support my friend with his new project and emphasize that in Cuba there is very good electronic music, an example of this. Dj Ryan, Dhany G, Soyuz 38. I look forward to many successes in this beautiful project.

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

I use physical and digital equipment, i play some analog synthesizers but lately i use digital more, every day better plugins and incredible audio processes appear, this allows me to produce music anywhere in the world. Use in this Ep plugins like: Omnisphere, Avenger, Diva, Nexus 3, maschine libraries and ableton instruments, i like to work the mix with waves.

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 honestly do not share my music with anyone before releasing it, i simply generate an idea, i work 3 continuous days in the studio and stop 15 days or a month and then i listen to it again and if it moved me in the same way as the first time i finished track or modify it. Then when i go on a trip with some friends or my girlfriend we listen to our tracks and if the mix sounds good in my car, these tracks are ready.

How have you been dealing with COVID-19? How has it affected your daily life, music production and overall inspiration to write new music?

At the level of events, the pandemic stopped parties around the world and i think that all DJs and producers have been affected, but i think that after June everything will improve. The positive is that i have had time to create new music and experiment with new sounds, i have had time to organize my libraries and presets.

What is the current situation with the pandemic in Colombia?

The pandemic has left many dead in my country and also many affected economically, the night industry was one of the most affected in the country, different companies had to close. My family and i had Covid and it was difficult for everyone, at this moment we are already much better. We are waiting for the arrival of more vaccines in Colombia.

Once nightlife eventually resumes globally what kind of effect do you think this period in our history will have on the clubbing experience?

I think that this year several countries in the world are going to have masks in different clubs until the end of the year, people are going to want to go out and enjoy the parties all over the world, we are going to have an excess of people at festivals in 2022, different Clubs had to close due to the pandemic, but i also believe that new brands and spaces will emerge for the public to enjoy the night and i also believe that new opportunities will emerge for entrepreneurs and artists.

What have been some of your favourite tracks over the quarantine period?

It is a very difficult question, daily i receive more than 60 new promos and there are spectacular tracks and artists but i am going to name a few that captivated me.

Agustin Pengov – Introspective (Original_Mix)
Double Touch – Circles (Original_Mix)
Djimboh - Radiance (Extended Mix)
Ivan Aliaga - Fire Drop (Original Mix)
Victhor Christian Lepah - Sundar Newman I Love Retouch
Francisco Garcia, Ramiro Drisdale - Mirrors (Original Mix)
Noiyse Project & Dylan Deck - E G F F (Original Mix)
Alex Kaspersky - Lovalost (Original Mix)
Barbaros - Anela (Original mix)
Sebastien Leger, Roy Rosenfeld – Veetoo (Original_Mix)

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

I believe that music is an important part of my life and i think that producing music is a necessity for me. But i also have things that make me happy such as: Cooking, designing, doing physical exercise but above all traveling and sharing with my friends and family.

What does the rest of 2021 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

I have created an online academy of electronic music production for new Latin American producers, i created the design, the platform, the courses and this has taken me time and little by little, we continue to improve the content. I will continue to produce music for 2021, several releases are coming with important labels and also i hope to resume the contracts that i already had with different clubs and festivals in the world.

'Figarus' is available for pre-order now via La Cura de la Semana: https://bit.ly/3m7ivCw

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