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Kalima [Interview]

22 min read

Since first emerging with releases via Balkan Connection's BC2 and Future Avenue, Argentinean artist Kalima has firmly established himself in the world of progressive and organic house. In adding key projects from Hoomidaas and TRYBESof to his resume, the Buenos Aires resident has gained recognition from genre tastemakers Armen Miran, Ezequiel Arias, Hernan Cattaneo, Lee Burridge, Mariano Mellino, Nick Warren, Nicolas Rada and Simon Vuarambon, amongst others. This week finds Kalima making his debut on Mayro's Traful imprint with a two-track collaborative EP 'Say No More', written in conjunction with fellow Argentine Mai Lawson.

Progressive Astronaut caught up with Kalima to learn more about the release of 'Say No More', his background, nightlife in Argentina, DJing and much more. Enjoy.

Hi Kalima, thanks for talking to us today.

Hello! I express my gratitude for the interview opportunity.

Let’s look back on the first half of the year, what is a track which has come out this year that has impressed you the most and why?

One track that has really impressed me this year is 'Maze 28 - Aer8'. The production quality, the unique sound design. Really good work from Maze.

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?

When I started around 2013, it was thanks to the YouTube era. I was able to learn production, and I have fond memories of Erick Kauffman, a Latino who made videos on FL Studio.

What was the music genre you discovered first before you turned to electronic music, and what made you continue with the latter?

From a young age, I was heavily influenced by my dad's music, listening to Modern Talking, Virus, Depeche Mode, Miguel Mateo, among others. They were the first ones to catch my attention with those synthesizers that still drive me crazy to this day!

How did growing up in Argentina influence your music taste and direction? Or did it all?

Growing up in Argentina definitely influenced my musical taste and career direction. The rich musical diversity of Argentina, from tango to national rock and electronic music, exposed me to a wide range of sounds and influences. This diversity inspired me to explore different genres and merge elements of Argentine music with electronic music, creating a unique style that reflects my roots and experiences.

What have been some of your favourite venues to perform or attend events at in Argentina, and why?

The events by Hernán Cattaneo, especially Sunsetstrip, have been my favorite. It's my go-to place in the world to attend. From the beginning to the end, it's a unique experience that I always remember with joy.

What are some of your best memories from first going to clubs? Were there specific nights or sets that really made you feel you wanted to pursue electronic music?

When I turned 18, my first electronic party was Hot Since's "Open to Close" at PM, Open Air in Buenos Aires. I was fascinated by how the parties were, the good vibes, and the people's energy. As for what made me feel like I wanted to dedicate myself to electronic music, that goes back to 2009 when I listened to David Guetta's album 'One Love'. Since that day, everything changed. I've always loved electronic music since I was a kid, and I've gone through and learned from all genres.

When we ask most artists what is responsible for the popularity of progressive music in Argentina the overwhelming answer is Hernan Cattaneo, would that be your feeling also? And if so please speak on that, also to add to that, who else from Argentina inspired you when you first discovered the music.

I agree with that response. Since I discovered the genre, Hernán has been a major influence. I like his track selection, the musical variety, and the palette of sounds he creates in his sets. I think that's why he caught my attention the first few times I heard him. In addition to Hernán, other Argentine artists who inspired me when I first discovered music were Mariano Mellino, Soundexile, Simon Vuarambon, among others. Their creativity and talent have been a constant source of inspiration in my own musical journey.

You have a new EP ‘Say No More’ which was co-produced with Mai Lawson which is out soon on Mayro’s Traful imprint. Tell us a bit about the tracks and what sort of vibe you were going for on them, and also how you and Mai decided to collaborate on an EP together. Are these your first collaborations together? 

Regarding the EP, Mai and I had already been discussing the possibility of collaborating on some project. She sent me some ideas, and I added my own touch. What we aimed to create was something beautiful, something that truly entices listeners, incorporating all of our musical influences. From synthesizers to atmospheres and basslines, we wanted to merge our ideas to deliver a unique experience.

Let our readers inside your studio for a moment, what is your current setup and what studio tools are featured heavily in your recent productions and more specifically on your ‘Say No More’ EP?

In my studio, my setup is entirely digital. Regarding the tools that have been essential in my recent productions, I can mention some key elements. Firstly, my computer with Ableton Live and virtual synthesizer plugins like Diva, Hive, Zebra, and Pigments have been crucial in shaping my tracks. Regarding the EP 'Say No More', these same tools were extensively used in the creation process.

I’m curious how these tracks would differ from something you have produced in solo capacity? And which of the two have gotten more play in your sets?

These tracks differ from my solo productions in that collaborating with Mai Lawson added a new layer of creativity and perspective to the production process. Her input and unique musical approach helped expand the sonic scope of the tracks and brought forth new ideas that I may not have explored on my own.

As for which of the two tracks has received more play in my sets, it depends on the context and the audience I'm performing for. Both tracks have their own appeal and may be suitable for different moments in my sets, so they are usually well-received by the overall audience.

You’ve released on some prestigious record labels like Hoomidaas and TRYBESof for example, please tell us why Traful was a good home for your ‘Say No More’ EP.

We believed it was a good fit for the EP because Mayro and his label are growing in an incredible way. We admire their musical approach and thought it was the ideal "home" for the EP.

Now let’s talk about DJing for a moment, you have been a regular in Argentina’s thriving nightlife for the past five years or so. How would you describe your approach to DJing?

My approach to DJing focuses on creating a unique and captivating musical experience for the audience. I strive to carefully select tracks that best suit the atmosphere and mood of the party, always maintaining a balance between energy and emotion. I enjoy blending different styles and genres to keep the audience interested and surprised, and I'm always attentive to the audience's response to adjust my set accordingly. Additionally, I consider myself very agile when DJing, whether it's using vinyl turntables, CDJs, or Traktor with 4 channels.

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?

Thanks to DJing, I've gained an understanding of how the dance floor operates and how to replicate it when producing music. I've learned what the audience needs and how to create pivotal moments throughout the night.

How much prep do you put into the sets you play, or are they spontaneous for the most part?

Before a performance, I usually prepare a lot of music, but never in an organized manner. I go with the flow of the moment and the energy of the crowd. I only have a few options for the opening track and several options for closing the party.

Current Top five tracks in your sets?

1. Depeche Mode - Stripped (Kalima Remix)
2. Kalima - Machine Gun
3. Kalima - Dharma
4. Maze 28 - Aer28
5. Kalima - Heaven

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

Usually, outside of my life as a producer, I enjoy spending time with my family, friends, and loved ones. I also love playing basketball and having some mates.

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?

Hernán Cattaneo - John Digweed - Nick Warren - Stephan Bodzin - Peces Raros. In this order

Looking back on your career thus far, what advice would you offer to your younger self?

I would tell my younger self not to listen to anyone, to focus on myself, and to forge my own path without letting others interfere.

If you were not a DJ/Producer what do you think you’d be doing with your life? (Something not music related) 

Maybe I would have focused on something related to technology.

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

People don't know that I am a producer of Rap, Reggaeton and urban genres for other artists.

What’s something people do not know about you?

Lately, I haven't been watching any series. But the best series of all time is Dexter.

What TV series have you been enjoying recently and what are some of your all time favourites?

For the rest of 2024, I'm looking forward to releasing a lot of music. There will be releases on Mango Alley, Onedotsixtwo, and also some remixes in the works.

What can we look forward to from you for the rest of 2024? Any releases or gigs you are looking forward to?

'Say No More' is available now via Traful: https://tinyurl.com/2e82e6f6

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