Home Interviews Interview: Hugo Ortiz (Funkstate)

Interview: Hugo Ortiz (Funkstate)

30 min read

Funkstate is a duo from Córdoba Argentina formed by Hugo Ortiz and Emilio Reyna. It was born in 2010 with the idea of ​​combining the musical preferences and artistic gifts of both members, trying to promote certain sensations and feelings through their tracks and live performances. They cite Hernan Cattaneo, John Digweed, Henry Saiz, Sasha and Nick Warren among others as influences. Their productions usually fuse basslines derived from techno using more complex structures from progressive house, highlighting their effusive melodies and powerful bass. This week marks the launch of their new Buddhabrot imprint with an EP from Funkstate themselves. We had a chance to catch up with Hugo just prior to the release for an exclusive interview. Enjoy!

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

Hello, friends, thank you very much for inviting me. I feel incredibly good enjoying this beautiful week with a lot of positive energy. The last track I heard was Life on Planets - Fork in the Path (David Marston & Dan Izco Remix)

What are your plans for the coming week?

Next week is one of the most important weeks of my life. Next week my dream of having an independent label comes true. We are very anxious and happy, looking forward to it with optimism I have just moved in so next week we must also set up the home studio to resume music production.

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

I am very lucky to have been born in Argentina and to have grown up with all the culture that my country has. Despite the political, economic and social adversities that can characterize my country, I prefer to focus on what really feeds my creativity and my well-being. Argentina is an exceptionally large country, with mountains and sea outlets, desert environments and jungle environments. It has all kind of climates, from -10 to 40 degrees. All this, together with the great ethnic diversity, generates an extraordinarily rich cultural mix. My musical tastes have always been wide. I consider that all the musical genres heard in my country are very inspiring to make my music. Latin rhythms, harmonic composition of folklore, tango, rock; everything has contributed to my way of appreciating music and cultivating new ideas to apply in my musical projects. In Argentina, we had a great artist called Gustavo Cerati, who thrilled me and inspired me with his music to apply his atmosphere to my tracks. I cannot omit to mention Hernán Cattaneo, who guided us and pushed us to follow his steps, presenting music of Argentinian´s artists all over the world.

What are your favourite venues to play or attend an event at in Argentina and why?

In the last years, Argentina built incredible places and events producer up. In Córdoba, where I live, the production company BNP has achieved beautiful events in very particular places. Just to name a few, I would say that my favorites are Forja and Orfeo. Also, another production company called MEED has one of the most beautiful places to play, La Fabrica. In Buenos Aires, there are producers like “Freak Me Out” who, together with “Desert in Me”, makes incredible events. In another city, Rosario, the production company Lado B has incredible massive parties in a place called Metropolitano. I absolutely recommend you go to all these places to have a great time.

Tell us about your record/music collection, where do some of your early influences lie?

My first influence has nothing to do with electronic music. When I was young, I listen folklore, tango, rock, and reggae. I was born in a small town called Villa Dolores, where electronic music was not heard. When I was a teenager, I met a DJ that created one of the first radio programs of electronic music in Villa Dolores. This man educated me with classical house music and introduced me new genres like deep house. I could say that my music collection started with Frankie Knuckles' tracks, Hernán Cattaneo's Renaissance compilations and Gustavo Cerati's records like Amor Amarillo.

You're one half of the progressive house duo Funkstate along with Emilio Reyna. Tell us how you guys met and eventually started working on music together.

I met Emilio through Orbital, an electronic music academy in Córdoba, where we both attended. I was a student and Emilio teach music production. We also had friends in common, so we started going out to clubs and meeting at my house. After a while, we realized that we shared tastes and that we have similar objectives so Emilio proposed me to start producing together. This was in 2011, where we called ourselves Hypnoise. After several tests, we started building our identity and we decided our name was going to be Funkstate.

Do you work out of the same studio together or separately and do you have different roles in the production process?

Each one has their own home studio, and we have dynamic ways of working. We usually start projects separately and then we get together to finish the tracks in one of the 2 studios. We use a lot of cloud storage tools. Currently, we are living a few blocks away, we are practically neighbors, so work is more spontaneous when we get together. Emilio, usually has a technical role, focusing on the sound quality and I start the creation of the bases and grooves of the tracks. At some point we both end up doing everything. I consider Emilio a great partner, he has a technical and musical background that contribute a lot to our project

The first release on your new Buddhabrot imprint is out this week, it’s an EP from your Funkstate moniker, tell us about the tracks and why they were right to launch the label with.

Having been managing the Strangers Beats label this past year with Guillermo Cornejo aka Antrim was the impetus for making Buddhabrot a reality and adding a new option in the industry. All the learning that I have been doing with Antrim had to be focused on a new project, it was the moment to do it and the quarantine ended up closing the idea. Buddhabrot's first release is the Untimed Souls EP, which includes 2 original tracks. The first track (that gives the EP its name) is our favorite because it has a simple but effective bass line accompanied by an emotional atmosphere and vocals that reinforce the flight of the track. It is also accompanied by guitar arrangements that give it a spaced-out sound effect ideal for big places, such as Forge, the one I told you before. The second track, Memory of that Night focuses on emotional arpeggios and melodies, with a deep and marked bass line that ends up reinforcing the emotional charge. As the previous track, they both are intended for large areas. We decided to inaugurate Buddhabrot with this EP because it's very important for us to push our last favorite tracks on our own label. We understand that the key to our label is to support it with our own creations at the beginning, thus generating a feedback loop.

What is your vision for the label, who else is involved and what are your future plans for it?

The label is also integrated by Carl OS aka Carlos Schiavi, a great Argentinean artist. With Carlos and Emilio, we have been friends for many years and we share the dream of having our own label. For this reason, is very satisfying for me being able to start this project with them. Buddhabrot has the same fundamental pillars that we have as values of life. They are fair and honest treatment, always respecting the artist because without them nothing of this industry would exist. In the first stage the label seeks to grow and establish itself as one of the the main in Latin America. At this point we are looking to promote Argentine talent, that is why we are already working with several artists, but in the end the main objective is to count on artists from all over the world. We want to promote musical creativity without limiting ourselves to what the industry is currently asking for. As artists, we know that many tracks often stay out of market because they do not meet the standards necessary to be a club track or because they do not have the most trending elements. For this reason, we want Buddhabrot to stimulate the creativity and freedom of the artists who are part of it. We believe that if an artist has freedom when it comes to creating, his work will transcend in time. Currently we still have to organize the Buddhabrot presentation showcase but due to the context established by the Covid-19 we cannot move forward with that.

What advice would you have for someone hoping to get signed to the label?

Having a distinctive personality would be my best advice, that their clues have their personality impregnated. It is important for us to be able to identify the cultural influences that the artist had to create his tracks. As I told you before, we believe that the cultural environment nourishes the artist directly. For that reason, those artists who achieve transmitting that in a clear way and with good taste in their fusions, will already have our attention.

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

To tell you the true, what affected me the most with COVID-19 was my creativity. At the beginning, I was blocked because the saturation of catastrophic information was overwhelming for me. Argentina is a country with an unstable health system that works but only in normally circumstances. That made me concerned about my environment originally, above all about my dear ones. Over the months this blockade was released and the Buddhabrot project began to develop. This project was planned in 2019 but was forged during the quarantine. Today I can say that the creativity was once again driven by Buddhabrot and the happiness that cause fulfilling a dream. The music production was reactivated and today we have material that is waiting to go public.

What is the current situation with the pandemic in Argentina? Are there any clubs or small events happening yet?

Today the situation is coming more flexible, I can tell you. Argentina is still in quarantine, the longest in the world, but in these last weeks several groups of DJs, Musicalizadores, producers of events and clubs managed to agree on protocols with the government in order to be able to begin with a minimum reactivation. Presently there are no events in clubs as there were before. At the moment, only some restaurants and bars count with DJs. In Buenos Aires, artists such as Mariano Mellino and Soudexile were able to do outdoor, like drive-in events and thus begin to test the protocols. In Córdoba, the production company BNP is working to establish protocols so people can go to places like Forja, where social distancing is respected and thus resume regulated events. I can also tell you that there were many clandestine events that only affected in a negative way the effort that the industry was making to retake the events.

What is something you do now (regularly) that you did not before COVID-19?

To enjoy more the meetings with friends and loved ones, that mainly. I will never fell tired again or cancel a meeting with them haha. I also learned to value more those little moments that were once part of everyday life. The quarantine also made the relationship with my girlfriend Nadia, more transparent and kindness. We have been together for more than 6 years and this situation made us know each other more in depth.

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 in Argentina the main change is going to be that the local DJs are going to have more participation. Here we have a lot of talent and little appreciation of the industry, but I think that is going to change because of the economic impact that pandemic cause (bringing international artists to the country is more expensive that having the local ones). On a global level, I believe that there will be also changes in respect for artists and mainly for the audience. I think that hygiene protocols will have more importance in clubs. Above musical production, I think the level is going to rise widely. Many artists spent the entire quarantine within their studio, there were no more tours and events every week. That will generate that creativity has exploded and will raise the level of the creations.

Current five favourite tracks?

1. Ezequiel Arias - Images of Time (Original Mix)
2. Nacho Varela & Cruz Vittor - Chilled Moon (Original Mix)
3. After Burn - How Far Can the Fear Go (Original Mix)
4. Carl OS - Train of Thoughts (Original Mix)
5. Antrim - Hopelessness (Original Mix)

What does 2021 hold for both Funkstate and Buddhabrot? Anything you can share with us?

We see 2021 as a new opportunity to make goals and dreams come true. Every year brings new opportunities, but 2021 has something special. It's a year where Buddhabrot will be taking its first steps in the industry, looking forward to integrating the label into their favorites. With Carlos and Emilio we will be very focused on all the issues that can contribute to the artists who trusted our label to feel a fair treatment and that their art can reach the audience in an honest and transparent way. We hope to make the showcase of presentation of the label with our artists and that the audience can attend in a safe place and with the appropriate protocols. We are also working on developing tools from our website that will serve to support our artists and also provide educational content related to electronic music for the audience. Funkstate will have a very productive year with several releases on the label and remarkably interesting collaborations such as with Sarah Chilanti. I would like to take this opportunity to invite artists from all over the world to join our project, since the aim of this is to form a community that promotes creativity and love for art in all its expressions.

'Untimed Souls' is out now via Buddhabrot: https://bit.ly/2USzknN

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