Home Interviews Juan Pablo Torrez [Interview]

Juan Pablo Torrez [Interview]

38 min read

The fourth installment of our label manager interview series welcomes Juan Pablo Torrez who owns and runs Clubsonica Records. As one of Colombia's most highly regarded artists and Djs, Juan has compiled an impressive resume since first emerging in 2007. Beatfreak, Mango Alley, The Soundgarden and more have served as a landing spot for his progressive creations, while Hernan Cattaneo and Nick Warren have been steadfast supporters along the way. As the man behind Clubsonica, Juan has built one our scene's most beloved progressive house imprints. Alex O'Rion, Analog Jungs, Antrim, Dmitry Molosh, D-Nox, GMJ, Jamie Stevens, Mass Digital, Kamilo Sanclemente, Navar, Stereo Underground, Shai T, Weird Sounding Dude and more have all showcased their sounds via the Colombian imprint, while the label's long running radioshow continues to be a much listened to monthly series. Now taking a deeper look into the label's ethos, history and more, we catch up with Juan for an exclusive interview about all things Clubsonica. Enjoy!

Hi Juan, thanks for sitting with us today! What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to?

Hello Mitch and everyone! Thanks for having me. My current mood is happiness to what’s coming as I have recently finished a project which is allowing me to continue the musical path. The last piece of music I’ve listened is On My Own (Hernan Cattaneo & Marcelo Vasami Remix)

What are your plans for the week?

As I have finished my recent project. I’m able now to start again the bookings with my label Clubsonica as start with some musical projects. Looking forward to have my studio finished so I can finalize all the stuff I’ve been working on. On the weekend I’ll be playing in an amazing venue just outside Bogota, Colombia which is a mine salt.

Before we get into some label discussion tell us how your recent gigs were, I think you just performed alongside Hernan Cattaneo, Sasha and HOSH, as well as your B3B with Kamilo and Dabeat?

It was amazing. All of these happened in Medellin (except with Hernan, that we did 2 dates, one in Medellin and the other in Pereira). Medellin is growing as a city with good club scene and the people are starting to like melodic genres more than before. I had a wonderful time doing the warmup for Hernan, Sasha and HOSH. The B3B with Kamilo and Dabeat was one for the books, the show, promoters, the people and of course the djs had a truly lovely vibe which made us feel comfortable and at home, like playing for your friends.

Tell us more about your story. How did you discover electronic music?

I discover electronic music because of my sister and the Trance Factory CDs she used to play. I really liked what I hear back in the day, because it was so different than the latin music that was played over and over in every place here. After that seeing Tiesto In Concert made me decide that I wanted to be a dj.

How has growing up and living in Colombia contributed to your passion for electronic music?

At that time, there was several djs that did this for passion. It was really hard to have a career from it because people just didn’t care about electronic music. I had good mentors that teached me everything I know and that instructed me in the ways of the beauty of this enchanting music.

Growing in Colombia listening to electronic music was truly a niche, it was a few bunch of people that liked this kind of music and also, the global trends came to Colombia very late and the international djs didn’t usually come to play to Colombia. Fortunately, everything has evolved for the good.

At which club or event did you experience electronic music for the first time and what memories have stuck with you from that moment?

It was called Vertigo at Cali, Colombia. I was underage to go clubbing so it was kind of risky. The first dj I see live was Alexa, a pioneer and entrepreneur of electronic music in Colombia. I just felt so alive hearing her mixing and sharing and enjoying that moment with friends.

Can you name five tracks that were influential in your musical development?

Wow, there’s too many that led me to know more of the electronic music scene were. If I had to pick, then these would be (in no particular order):

  • Sasha – Xpander
  • Tiesto – Suburban Train
  • Cabala – Dark Blue
  • Moby – Porcelain
  • Depeche Mode – Enjoy the Silence
  • Bonus: DJ Gregory - Elle

What led you to start the label Clubsonica Records? Was your first foray into running a record label?

Clubsonica was born as a club in Cali, Colombia. We talked about having a label so we can start giving some more exposure around the huge talent that Colombia had in the melodic and progressive scene. Unfortunately, he died, but I carried away the legacy and started the label, doing some events to capitalize it to invest on it so it will become a better and more professional label. The dream kept alive: we want to give more exposure to our national talent, get them inside the music business, regardless of having amazing international talent that helps us to increase exposure for our fellow Colombian artists.

Before Clubsonica, I managed a label called One Music Records, which give me experience and several hints to know about how to run a music label.

In terms of DJs and artists who would say are the biggest sources of inspiration for Clubsonica?

There’s a lot of artists out there that continuously keeps us inspired in our headquarters, but since the beginning we wanted that the sound we released was craved by some of the biggest names in the progressive industry such as Hernan Cattaneo, Nick Warren, Sasha, John Digweed, Guy J and more.

If you had to pinpoint a few tracks that you released which were crucial in the development of Clubsonica, what would they be and why?

Wow there’s too many, but for the development of Clubsonica, which was around 2015 and 2016 I can highlight these two.

Kamilo Sanclemente – The Art Of Voice (Antrim Remix)

This was the first track from our label that received heavy supports from some of the most outstanding names in the industry and also it is part from a first release that we started investing in having a professional mastering, PR and promo.

Dmitry Molosh – Eclipse (Original Mix)

This track was one of the best-selling tracks we had. The response from the music industry was great and it put the label in the map for several stores and another fellow artists and labels.

Organic House has become quite a trendy sound in electronic music this past year, you’ve done a little bit of this on Clubsonica with Shai T and Greg Ochman. Would you ever consider creating another label to focus on this sound? And what are you thoughts on the rise of this sound?

For now, I won’t consider creating another label specialized to this sound. We have around 20 releases per year, and we give space to everything that is melodic and can be called Progressive House, Melodic House, Melodic Techno, Organic House or even Deep House. I really like the rise of the Organic House sound and more nowadays because it has more melodic elements than ever.

Are you solely responsible for the A&R on the label? And if not, who else contributes to what gets signed or is helping with the weekly duties?

I’m one of the A&Rs with Kamilo Sanclemente and soon Dabeat. We work together to get signed new and experienced talents. Kamilo and Dabeat help me more in the technical side of the sound of each track that is sent and that I have checked first, so the track is heard for more than one person before it gets signed. I do all the administrative work and do the first filter of all the demos we receive weekly.

Do you have someone who you get a second opinion from when it comes to signing tracks? A significant other or close friend perhaps?

Our A&Rs gives the second opinion on the track. I’m confident that when they check it we can discuss what’s the next move with every track.

When you get to a point with a track or set of tracks where you’re close to committing to signing them what can push the decision one way or the other?

First of all, I have to like the track a lot; find myself playing this track to a live audience/radioshows. After the A&Rs check the track and give me their opinion, then we decide, by details, which one make the cut and which one we will pass.

Do you have a special spot to listen to demos? Outside of the studio I mean, a place where your mind resets a bit and you have fresh ears in a way.

Not really, everything related to demo listening I do it in the studio as I need to check technical execution and sound of every track.

Let’s discuss artwork for a moment, Clubsonica has a very distinct look which is working very well for you. Should labels be putting more time and thought in their artwork?

Yeah, I think that artwork completes the vibe of what’s in the release. We are in a more visual world hence if you find the artwork appealing there’s more chances that a DJ/listener checks the stuff inside the album than a generic artwork. This also applies to videos that has the visuals of the artwork and the music of the release, so people can have a sneak peak of what’s inside while the video helps to take/immerse the listener to the trip.

What advice do you have for artists hoping to get signed to Clubsonica?

Always give a short introduction about yourself, your achievements, share your socials, your soundcloud. We want to see who you are; we want to listen what you do besides the demos you’ve sent. Try to send more than 1 track as a demo. Don’t send attachments. Try to send one label at a time, allow the label to know that you are doing music exclusively for them.

Is big DJ play a factor in signing something? From someone like Hernan Cattaneo or Nick Warren for example.

It sure helps but it is not a groundbreaking decision. If we like it a lot, we get it signed even though it is not supported by any of the biggest names.

You generally do remixes on your releases so what is your thought process behind remixer selection on a given project and how many is too many in your opinion?

What I usually do to pick remixers is to find what’s the music I’m mostly playing, which artists hit me in my heart and give me goosebumps when I heard what he/she ‘s doing. Then, I compile a playlist with several tracks available to remix and I sent a remix request to them so they can have options and pick one, if they like any of course.

For each track I think 2 is more than enough.

What is your biggest pet peeve about receiving music for the labels?

Receiving a demo, just with the link, or with an attachment, without any introduction whatsoever. It gets deleted as soon as I open it.

Looking back over the Clubsonica discography, which one of your early releases / tracks still puts a smile on your face when you listen to it now, and why?

Wow there’s too many again. Let’s try to see if I can pick a few.

Martin Gardoqui, Paul Deep (AR) – Alliance (Soluna Remix)

Armandhe, which previous AKA was Soluna, delivered an amazing remix that truly blew my away. I play it a lot and always that I heard it, it gaves me the same goosebumps feeling.

Antrim – Catwalk

I love this track so much. It has a vibe that all my soul feels gets in tune with it.

Dmitry Molosh – Expression (Kamilo Sanclemente & Golan Zocher Remix)

Amazing remix by my bros Kamilo and Golan. This remix is special because it is the first remix that the label had as a collaboration of two close friends of mine. Also, it did very well so it had moments of great joy for everyone involved in this one.

Kamilo Sanclemente – Sea of Tranquility

This is one of the tracks that I love the most from Kamilo that he has done for our label. Looking back it has beautiful elements, a true progressive house song.

Juan Deminicis – Now Is Never

I’m still in love with this track. The vibe is just perfect. Everything in it is perfect. It feels like a laidback tune, but it has a mesmerizing energy.

Rick Pier O’ Neil – Something Wrong (Original and Mauro Aguirre Remix)

I heard these tracks, and it takes me back to the moment I saw Hernan Cattaneo play it in Forja and that it was streamed live via Facebook. Epic moment of our lives for sure.

Matan Caspi – Crosswinds (Kamilo Sanclemente & Juan Pablo Torrez Remix)

First remix with my bro Kamilo Sanclemente in Clubsonica. I love the progression on this one.

Kamilo Sanclemente – Gemma

One of the best tracks that Kamilo has released in Clubsonica. It is a mesmerizing one, so powerful, yet so beautiful. The main drop is what this track is all about.

Armandhe, Soluna – Sacred Heart / Ozadya

This is a superb EP by Armandhe. The breaks are just amazing and one of the best I have heard in my life. It touches so many sweet spots.

 Golan Zocher – Shush (Alex O’Rion Deep Dub Mix)

Love the vibe in this one. It is truly mesmerizing and works so well in the dancefloor.

Parallel Universe – Trip

As the name of the track says, this is a Trip, a truly ear experience. It just moves me to the bone. One of the best tracks I’ve heard from these Colombian guys.

Andre Sobota – Prescience (Alex O’Rion Remix)

This is a remix that will be always in my mind and in my heart as one of the ones that have gave me such a joy and such a nice push for our label’s path.

Jan Dalvik – Mahat

A track that was given by Jan to me because of my birthday. I was stunned when he gave it to me as it was a meaningful gift for sure. It has such a momentum and such a vibe that takes everybody that listens to it to a journey.

Gux Jimenez – El Fin (Original Mix and Kamilo Sanclemente, Juan Pablo Torrez & Dabeat Remix)

This is the first of more collaborations to come between my musical brothers Kamilo Sanclemente, Dabeat and me. We sound so different here, yet it has all of our knowledge by that time. Also, I had a wonderful time, creating with them and hanging out with them while we did this remix that it is hard for me to not have a smile on my face everytime I heard it.

Who do you see as future stars in Progressive House?

Kamilo Sanclemente, Dabeat, Sebas Sellares, Analog Jungs

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?

  • Hernan Cattaneo – 6 hours extended set
  • Stephan Bodzin – 2 hours set
  • Sasha & John Digweed – 4 hours set
  • Nick Warren – 3 hours set
  • Kamilo Sanclemente – 3 hours set

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

That would be 100 Years of Solitud (100 Años de Soledad) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Reading that book was just like dreaming awake.

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

Move to another city is kind of one of the biggest risks I have taken and starting Clubsonica as a label where nobody knew about it or about me. I did it because I felt that I was stuck and no progress was being made in my personal and professional life.

Who from earth would you like to be abducted by aliens?

Lol… well I guess that these aliens are intelligent so I would say some of the big minds right now.

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

I wish I had the power to read minds just to be able to know person’s true intentions.

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

I love burgers, so there’s one place called B&V bar where they serve one of the best burgers in town. I do like some other places but this one has a great vibe and they play some nice electronic music 😊

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

Mmmm this is another hard question, but the happiest besides the music would be to know different places while traveling and meet people from that place.

What can we expect from Clubsonica this year – any special releases we should be looking out for?

Expect a few newcomers that are doing a great job as well as some of the old Clubsonica favourites and some artists debuting in all the melodic spectrum. We are near our 100th release milestone 😊

Check out the entire Clubsonica catalog here: https://bit.ly/3dAC99w

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