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Julian Nates [Interview]

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Born and raised in Argentina, Julian Nates has emerged from his country's progressive music landscape. Noted for his attention to detail and inventive percussive arrangements, Julian's craft shines through vividly, making each one of his creations an exhilarating experience. Choosey in his projects, the Cordoba resident lays claim to an impressive resume, highlighted by releases via Nick Warren's The Soundgarden and Antrim's Or Two Strangers, while progressive music tastemakers Hernan Cattaneo, Nick Warren and Guy J have been steadfast supporters along the way. Having made his Musique de Lune debut with a contribution to the label's 'Rayons De Lune' collection, Julian now makes a welcome return to the label with 'Crystal Eyes', alongside a remix from Tristan Case, Covsky and FRAIS aka Inherent.

Progressive Astronaut caught up with Julian to learn more about the release of ‘Crystal Eyes’, his studio process, future plans, and more. Enjoy.

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

Hello! Thank you for having me again! Nowadays I’m feeling great, last night I had a really nice barbecue with friends and today I’ll be working on the studio all day long, doing both things make me happy. Now I’m listening to Led Zeppelin, I’m a big fan of this band.

How has the start of 2023 been for you? And what are your plans for the coming week?

2023 started great for me. A couple of weeks ago I played with John Digweed in a Buenas Noches Producciones event, luckily, I have been playing in many different places in Argentina and I’m very happy to be able to share my music in many gigs. For the next week, I have planned to be in the studio working on new material.

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

When I started to get interested in electronic music and decided to take this new musical direction, I did the production and dj courses at the same time, but at first, I was more focused on the studio than playing live, but nowadays that has been equated. I think that playing live music or being in the studio fulfills me in a very positive way and today I couldn't choose one over the other. Seeing people on the dance floor enjoying the music I make in the studio is priceless, I can't choose one over the other.

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your production work and more, please.

On a normal day of the week I start early in the morning with a good cup of coffee and right at this stage of my life I am taking guitar lessons, so I dedicate the morning to an exercise routine of at least 3 hours. Then I have lunch (always in a hurry haha) and I start listening to new music to add to my playlists and then I start working on my new music all afternoon until I get tired. The time varies depending on the inspiration of the moment.

If you were a tour-guide for nightlife in Argentina, what would be the clubs you’d take the people to see and what local DJs do they need to hear?

Argentina has a very wide nightlife, there are massive parties for 5000 people as well as underground clubs for 300 people where you can have a great time. It will also depend on where you are because most cities have their places where national and international artists go to perform. Personally, I am going to talk about the places where I have played and I choose Berta, in Córdoba where I recently presented myself with John Digweed with a magnificent production by Buenas Noches Producciones, La Biblioteca in Buenos Aires and Fruta also in Córdoba. Currently it is very difficult for me to choose among the many talents that are standing out locally but, by making an effort, I would tell you Sebastian Sellares, Julieta Kühnle and Polo (AR)

If you are not DJing or socializing at clubs, where do we find you in Argentina? And doing what?

Nowadays I am taking guitar lessons, something that keeps me very motivated. I really like sharing dinners with my friends, going to the movies and sometimes I play paddle tennis.

When you were first getting started in production did you have someone help you or are you completely self-taught? And what would you recommend new producers do to help with the learning curve of production?

I started producing in 2016 where I took 3 courses at an academy in Cordoba called Orbital, which I recommend. There, I simultaneously took the course to learn how to use CDJs and Ableton, after these two I did one exclusively on synthesis. Beyond the fact that there is a lot of information on how to produce on the internet, to me it is very important to sit down with an experienced teacher who explains how to use the program to produce from scratch or even the most basic things so that later on you can go your own way. The recommendation I always make is to study and spend time using the DAW of your choice. If you want to improve and find your sound, highlighting that a person can take more or less time to find their sound, the most important thing is to spend hours and hours searching and testing in ableton.

You have a new EP ‘Crystals’, out this week on Musique de Lune, tell us about the release and how these tracks showcase your current sound.

I am very happy with this release that has two original tracks and a beautiful remix by Australian colleagues. It's an EP that defines the sound that I'm always looking for, which is very clubber. Beyond the sound that I am looking for, I always try to externalize my feelings of the moment in my music.

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

My current set up consists of a pair of Focal 5-inch monitors, a focusrite sound card, Audio Technica M50X production headphones, and a micro korg synth. I am currently working with purely digital sounds but I hope in the near future to buy a couple of synthesizers because there is a difference in sound between the physical and the digital, I especially like the sound of the Prophet. For this EP, I use especially Omnisphere and Zebra two, I highly recommend them!!

Let’s talk about production for a moment, 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 the tracks which make up your ‘Crystals’ EP?

By listening and analyzing the tracks I made some time ago, I start thinking of the context in which I made them and each of them come with some sort of an emotional charge according to the time I was going through.

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 really don't have rituals that condition me when it comes to producing, I just sit with my feelings and that's it. I like to drink mate, which is typical of Argentina, or I like drinking coffee, nothing special!

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? And who is someone you share your new music with first for feedback?

I am one of those who think that once you feel that the song is finished, you don't have to think about it too much, because there will always be something you can add or take away from it. It is important to give your ear 1 or 2 days of rest and listen to it again determinedly to adjust details but I don't usually take time to finish it. If I consider that the track doesn't work, I delete what I don't like and take a few more steps back and look for elements that make the track work or directly start one from scratch. You have to be careful with anxiety, you always have to think cold and take the time that each one considers necessary when presenting the track to a label. I have a group of producers who always send them the finished track so that they can give me their opinion, which always has to be the most sincere and objective possible, and not getting upset for receiving a negative review. It is advisable to be open to the different opinions that can be received and try to use them to keep on growing.

What is the task you enjoy the most when producing and what would you prefer someone else to do?

The truth is that I enjoy doing the entire production process, from the moment I choose the first sounds to the mastering. Beyond the fact that I like to make my own master, it's good that someone else does it for different reasons, whether the label has its own engineer who takes the sound of the track towards one more typical of the label, but I always ask to compare between my master and the one that they do to me to see which is the one that can work best.

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

Nothing in particular comes to my mind honestly, I would like to invest in different synthesizers to be able to achieve a sound with more body than the one with digital sound which sometimes it is more difficult to reach.

Now let’s talk about DJing for a moment, it’s a unique discipline at the border between presenting great music and creating something new with it, between composition and improvisation to an extent. How would you describe your approach to it?

In my case, I consider it very important to listen to and download music every day so that I can constantly update my playlists. And I also don't think it's the best thing to go with a strictly armed set, different situations can happen during the set that make it change from the intensity of the music to the duration of the set and you can't go with a single idea because there's always the possibility of something unforeseen, so I always recommend accommodating the playlists on the pen drive in a simple and dynamic way.

Can you tell me a bit about how your work as a DJ has influenced your view of music, your way of listening to tracks and perhaps also, your work as a producer?

It seems very important to me as a DJ to be constantly looking for new music for the sets (either music promos that are about to be released or music that might be years old but oneself thinks it can work). And I think that listening to a lot of music undoubtedly influences you when it comes to producing because you can become interested in the different ways that other producers work with to keep learning from them. I also consider it a very important job at the beginning to analyze your favorite artists and try to understand their production process.

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?

This is really complicated, anyone can go as a main of course.
Guy J
Hernan Cattaneo – Nick Warren
John Digweed

Current top five tracks?

Ivory (IT) - I Need You Now (Club Edit)
Joan Retamero - The Orb (Original Mix)
Ed Ed - Multi-Flavour (Marco Resmann Remix)
Scippo - Flown (Cid Inc. Remix)
Mike Rish - Tunnel People (Original Mix)

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

I am going to choose one of my favorite movies, which is The Truman Show, and what I highlight about it is how humans are in the constant search for answers that one formulates as life advances.

What is one superpower you would like to have and how would you use it?

I don't know if it would be a superpower but I would love to be able to travel in time and be able to know the events that marked the history of the human being and for which we do not have completely clear answers in this regard.

What does 2023 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

I hope to be able to continue sharing my music everywhere, to continue improving in production to be able to express myself better, the year started in a way that I never imagined and everything indicates that it will be even better!

Thank you very much for the interview and I wish you the best for this 2023 (:

'Crystal Eyes' is available now via Musique de Lune: https://bit.ly/3JKenGb

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