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Juan Buitrago [Interview]

26 min read

On the strength of a release for Nick Warren's The Soundgarden, Colombian artist Juan Buitrago made his Deepwibe Underground debut with 'Glide'. Co-produced with Ric Niels and appearing on the label's Chapter III collection from May of this year, it set the course for summer projects via Mango Alley and Transensations. Now making a welcome return to Deepwibe Underground, Juan steps up for his first label showcase entitled 'Stomp'. We had a chance to catch up with Juan for an interview leading up to the release. Enjoy.

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

Hi guys, first of all, thank you for the invitation, I’m really excited to be speaking with you. The las piece that I heard was Adventure of a lifetime by Coldplay.

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

It has been a very productive year after the pandemic, not only in the studio but in releases and collaborations, as well as on a personal level. Next week we have new music going on and I will be performing for the first time in the city of Rosario, where there are some of the best audiences for electronic music.

Do you consider yourself a DJ or producer first? And which do you enjoy more and why?

Well, to be honest, I think being a DJ comes first, most of us enter this world from that side, I enjoy both in their own way. The studio part is more introspective and unique, but that feeling of seeing how people react to the music is unmatched, it's a shot of adrenaline.

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

Las caleñas son como las flores - Latin brothers
Soda Estereo – Profugos
Led Zeppelin – Starway to Heaven
Armin van Buuren – Never Say Never
Guy J – Opera

Although they are all different genres, they marked several stages of my life and were present throughout it. Because of their rhythm, composition, and artist.

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

It is a multicultural country with many genres, all rhythmic and passionate, without going too far I was born in the music capital of Colombia, there was always something to celebrate and music in all its splendor was there, in my early years as a child, I had studied music at school and participated in all stages of the school band. I think this helped music to be present and in one way or another it shapes you.

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?

Back then, a friend took me to a club called "Paradise" for the first time, it was the club of the moment that we all wanted to go to. Nights, many of them, the more you get into the world of music the more it makes you love it.

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

Some years ago I do not live in Colombia, but there are quality places that have an infrastructure and professionalism that has nothing to envy to the rest of the world.
Viuz in Medellin, Octava in Bogota, Sonido Central in Cali, Garden Club in Pereira.

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

Nossia, Armadhe, Nufects.

You got signed to Nick Warren’s The Soundgarden earlier this year and just over a year from your first ever release, tell us about that and what it did for your confidence moving forward?

This was a goal to accomplish, without a doubt more than a label, The Soundgarden is an identity, it is a beautiful community formed by Petra and Nick in which we all want to be in one way or another. Everything happened by itself, first we signed, then the good comments about the release and the support started to come in, to see so many artists playing my music in massive events was great, like for example Eelke Kleijn in Mandarine Park in Buenos Aires. This reaffirmed that what I was doing was working.

You have a new EP ‘Stomp’, out this week on Deepwibe Underground, tell us about the release and please walk us through the production process on one of the tracks, whichever you like.

First of all I want to thank the whole Deepwibe Underground team, they do a great job and always opened their doors to me in the best way, I sent them the tracks and they loved the material, they proposed me an EP of three tracks for the end of the summer and here we are. I had a melody in my head that I wanted to capture in a track (Otun), I just put together a drum base, created some bass lines and everything flowed, as a touch I added a deep vocal effect to give mystery to it all.

What does your set-up like? Do you favor physical gear over digital? And what studio tools featured heavily on your Stomp EP?

My setup is an AMD RYZEN 5 computer, 2 Yamaha HS7, DEEPMIND 6, PRO - 1, K2 Allen Heath, Audio-technica x30, Sennheiser HD 25. I prefer to do a mix between physical and digital, I think we have all the tools at our fingertips and some are very good in this digital era, I don't see why not to use them. In Stomp I particularly used bass lines made with VSTs, Wavetable, Repro.

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

Maybe it depends on the inspiration or formation of the idea, when you remix there are some ideas formed, and then it's creativity that awakens from that idea. If you have good ideas I don't think it's hard to make original tracks.

Let’s continue talking about production, where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play? And was there anything that inspired your ‘Stomp’ EP?

The impulses come from wanting to create something that transmits what is in our head and you want to see it on the dance floor or in the listener. Dreams or art forms are fundamental, they are strong sources of inspiration. As for personal relationships, of course it is a mainstay in a person's career. Particularly Otun one of the tracks on the EP has a nice meaning, as it is the name of the river that crosses Pereira, the city where I lived part of my youth in Colombia.

For you to get started on a track do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called ‘visualizations’ of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?

It's a 50/50, maybe the ideas are flashes and you have to be prepared to capture them, but this can be 50% of a track, the rest is planning and methodology, of the finished work.

Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?

I like to make music mainly during the day, exercise is vital for anyone's mind, I think it helps release the mind and get you out of certain situations in which you may be stuck.

Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite, I think. What marks the end of the process for you? How do you know when a track is done?

You will only know that when you have all the parts assembled, I think everyone should have the good judgment or the good practice to understand when it is ok.

Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you're satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practice?

This is very important, your mind needs to clear, because at a certain point you can be overwhelmed and you don't know it. I don't know if there is a process, but in some cases it's days or weeks of changes and corrections.

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?

Testing, as much as necessary, I try to test the music in every audio device or place where I can. I share with my close circle of friends and colleagues who are always a source of help and support in these cases.

What’s the task you enjoy the most when producing and what is something you’d rather have taken care of by somebody else?

I enjoy the compositional and creative part, I prefer someone else to do the mastering process, first of all because of a perception issue and secondly, there are very virtuous people in that field.

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

Moog One 16 voices.

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?

17:00 – 19:00 Mariano Mellino
19:00 – 21:00 Jeremy Olander
21:00 – 23:00 Eelke Kleijn
23:00 – 02:00 Nick Warren B2B Hernan Cattaneo
02:00 - close Guy J

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

I am currently reading “¿Cómo saber quién soy?” (“How to know who I am?”) Written by Fernando Garriga, a friend. It's a journey about self-knowledge, it's very interesting.

What’s a superpower you wish you had and how would you use it?

Teleportation, I would use it to see my friends and family more often.

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

Without laws and limitations I would go to the last identified planet in the galaxy.

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

Moving out of my country without a real plan, and I was motivated by the power of change.

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

Holzen Hops, hamburger with fries.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

It makes me happy to be able to go to bed every night with the satisfaction of building a life path. My partner and all the beautiful things we are building together.

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

I am working on some remixes for excellent artists, as well as originals that will see the light of day in late 2022 or early 2023.

Stomp' is available for pre-order now via Deepwibe Underground: https://bit.ly/3fbPO7M

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