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Oliver & Tom [Interview]

23 min read

"Music transcends us all," that's what Oliver & Tom, composed by Andrés Martynowicz and Mauricio Infiesta, is all about. This duo’s symbiosis originated in their childhood. Growing up together, they shared diverse musical experiences in rock and pop bands, where Andrés excelled in the electric guitar and Mauricio in the acoustic drums. A few years later, both continued their studies now choosing the piano and synthesizer as their main instruments of production and giving rise to the creation of the electronic music group "Oliver & Tom." The name honors two characters of an anime called “Captain Tsubasa”, who were known for their strong bond both on and off the football field.

These two Argentinian producers found their way to Progressive House in 2017 when they signed their first tracks with the famous and very prestigious label "The Soundgarden," founded by a current legend of the genre, Nick Warren. The musical style of “O&T” is defined by incorporating groove and emotion into their songs, allowing the audience to experience different sensations and movements while listening. The musical influences of this duo come from some of the best electronic artists such as Nick Warren, Hernán Cattaneo, Sasha, John Digweed, Guy J and Guy Mantzur.

Oliver & Tom came to stay, creating a musical alternative and a sound of their own that seeks to remain at the highest levels of Progressive House. We will be following their productions and the future that awaits this phenomenal duo. This week sees Oliver & Tom making their debut on Canada's Deep Down Music with a two-track EP entitled 'Temper'. Progressive Astronaut caught up with the duo to learn more about the release of ‘Temper’, their musical background, studio process, inspirations, future plans, and more. Enjoy.

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

A: Hey, thanks for having us! We're doing great. The last piece of music I listened to was some jazz, specifically Takuya Kuroda!

M: My last one was “Slow” by Kylie Minogue.

You guys grew up together so you’ve been friends for quite some time but how did you initially meet?

Well, we have an interesting and long story. We're from the same city and actually met in kindergarten. We went to school together and even after that, we've continued hanging out with the same group of friends.

You guys spent some time playing in bands when you were younger, with Andrés playing guitar and Mauricio playing drums. How did those musical endeavors eventually lead you to electronic music and the formation of Oliver & Tom?

We were part of various rock bands as teenagers, but to be honest, it became challenging to work with so many people with different opinions. When we discovered how electronic music was made, it was a game-changer for us. It gave us the freedom to do whatever we wanted creatively.

A successful partnership is generally based around balance and compromise; how do you manage these things within your production dynamic?

We have our own specific roles, and we try to compromise as much as possible. Although we can't rely on music as our full-time job yet, and we both have day jobs, we commit ourselves to deliver the best we can.

Do you have different roles in the production process? And if so elaborate please.

Yes, we do! While we both contribute throughout the entire production process, Mauricio is more technically inclined and handles mixing, mastering, and most of the post-production work. On the other hand, Andres focuses more on the creative aspects and building the track ideas.

Working as a duo is an interesting dynamic. Do you guys share a studio where all the sessions are together or do you produce separately and pass files back and forth? And if you have done both, what do you prefer and why?

We have our studio in Buenos Aires, but since we currently live in different countries (Andres lives in Barcelona), we produce separately. We share everything through online drives. It's not our ideal situation, but it works for us given the circumstances.

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

We were self-taught, relying a lot on YouTube videos, but later we did an extended electronic music course at Sonica in Buenos Aires. Our advice to new producers is to focus on learning music theory, particularly how to play the piano. Nowadays, it's not too difficult to learn how to use DAWs like Ableton, but the real challenge lies in using those tools to create something you can be proud of.

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

Definitely Mandarine Park, The Bow, and Crobar. Buenos Aires has numerous clubs and independent events catering to different tastes. It depends on what you're into on a particular night. You can find amazing progressive, house, techno, and tech-house events from Friday to Monday. One of our favorite venues is La Biblioteca, which hosts many great events.

You have a new EP entitled ‘Tokyo/Temper’ out now on Deep Down Music, tell us about the tracks and how they showcase your current sound.

These two tracks, in particular, were experimental for us. We wanted to move away from our usual progressive sound and try something different. The idea was to create tracks that still maintained the groove but explored new territories.

Let our readers inside your studio. What does your set-up look like? Do you favour physical gear over digital? And what studio tools featured heavily in the writing of ‘Tokyo/Temper’?

In Buenos Aires, we have a physical studio. Most of the effects, sounds, and synths for 'Temper' were recorded live there. We made heavy use of the Moog Sub-Phatty and the Dave Smith Mopho x4. However, we also love using Ableton's Wavetable and TAL's Juno VST. Those are our two main VSTs when producing.

Let’s talk about production a bit more 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 ‘Tokyo’ or ‘Temper’?

Inspiration often comes from the moment we're in and our desire to try something new. 'Temper' was produced while we were together in the studio, and we wanted to create a more minimal techno sound, using as few channels as possible to achieve a clean and loud result. For 'Tokyo,' Andrés was watching a lot of anime and wanted to bring that anime atmosphere into a progressive track.

Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate later on? And to add to that, how much gig testing is done before you’re ready to put a finished stamp on a track?

We usually let tracks sit for quite some time. We're still finalizing tracks from 2021, so you can imagine how much time it takes for us to release them. We always strive to make them the best they can be.

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

We enjoy the entire process, but we would love someone else to manage our social media since we're not very good at it yet.

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?

We aim to tell a story with our DJ sets. While we sometimes have to adapt to the venue's atmosphere, we always follow a story premise. We believe that taking listeners through different moods in a groovy way and finding the right moments to introduce melodic tracks or bangers is crucial.

And how do you DJ as a duo? Is it a b2b one track each type situation?

We DJ back-to-back, but sometimes we each play 2 or 3 tracks at a time. We allow each other to get into the mood while mixing.

Can you tell us a bit how your work as a DJs has influenced your view of music, your way of listening to tracks and perhaps also, your work as a producers?

Our DJing experience has primarily influenced us as producers. When creating tracks, we often consider what would work in our DJ sets. The groove and mood of a track, most of the time, take precedence. We tend to lean towards tracks that bring positive vibes.

If you could set up an event with a line-up of five artists of your choice , who would you book and what set time would you ascribe to the artists?

We both agree that it should be like this: Hernan Cattaneo playing all day and night long.

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

A: "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho made a profound impact on how I perceive life. I highly recommend it.

M: The movie “The Pianist” had an impact on me, shows that music can save your life!

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

For both of us, watching or playing football of course!

What does the remainder of 2023 hold for you guys? Anything you want to share with us?

We have new music coming out in the final semester of 2023! We hope everyone enjoys it as much as we do.

'Temper' is available now via Deep Down Music: https://bit.ly/43Y21RH

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