Home Interviews PNEUMA & Cristian Hidalgo [Interview]

PNEUMA & Cristian Hidalgo [Interview]

41 min read

PNEUMA welcomes Cristian Hidalgo to the family! Not only is this his first release with PNEUMA, but he's also the first artist from the other side of the world that we're featuring. 'With Alchemist, I want to convey a message of hope and transformation. The music we listen to becomes our own soundtrack of what is happening to us. I hope Alchemist will be the soundtrack of many sunsets for everyone' he says. Alchemist is just the beginning, and we're looking forward to everything that is yet to come.

Cristian Hidalgo resides in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The musician has always been connected to art in all its forms, especially to music. It's no wonder, then, that alongside his career as a music producer, he also works as a tutor at Escuela Sónica, sharing his deep understanding of crafting melodic journeys. There is something special about his connection to music, as he loves to explore new forms of expression through it, not only as a producer but also as a listener. He believes that the best way to improve is to step out of one's bubble, experience new music everyday, and fill one's entire life with it.

Alchemist was created on a beautiful spring afternoon in Buenos Aires. At this time Cristian was was going through the famous balance that we all do at the end of the year. He was in a very positive and happy mood for what he had achieved in 2023, and it was then that he realized how important it is to be a good alchemist of our life, keeping what allows us to transform. The music producers feels that the song tries to reflect that transformation is a magical and epic sense at the same time. 'Alchemist embodies the idea of transformation and evolution.' With his release, Cristian invites you to immerse yourself in a melodic journey.

Progressive Astronaut caught up with Yannick and Shannon from PNEUMA, along with Cristian to learn more about the release of 'Alchemist’, PNEUMA's label vision, content creation, events and more. Enjoy.

Hi Guys, thanks for joining us. How has your start to the year been? And please tell us something interesting about your day today.

Hey Mitch, thank you for having us! We're thrilled to be part of this interview! Our year kicked off greatly. After a brief pause towards the end of 2023, our release schedule filled up rapidly, and we're incredibly grateful to be releasing such fantastic music.

First off guys, please introduce yourselves and tell us where you are from and how you discovered electronic music.

We are Yannick & Shannon, founders of PNEUMA from Hamburg, Germany :)

YANNICK: Back then, I went on a trip to Amsterdam with some new friends, and it was my first real encounter with electronic music. We listened to the Kontor Sunset Chill 2015 album throughout the trip, even on the way there. One of the tracks on it was "Looped" by Kiasmos – I remember how much that song caught my attention back then... In Amsterdam, we went to a rave, and after that, there was hardly anything else for me. I was so fascinated by it all, and it was so new. I immediately decided that I wanted to make this kind of music too and downloaded my first DAW as soon as I got back home.

SHANNON: I had always listened to electronic music here and there, but at that time, my focus was mainly on hip hop and R&B. However, my best friend ignited the fire in me. She dragged me along to Übel und Gefährlich in 2019, a well-known techno club in Hamburg, and since then, techno or electronic music has become an integral part of my life. Not only does the music touch me deeply and evoke feelings in me that I never experienced with other music genres, but also the people and the culture surrounding it.

Please tell our readers about your label PNEUMA, what kind of music do you plan to showcase with it? And given your history, why was 2023 the right time for you to create your own imprint?

We founded PNEUMA in April last year, and our debut release was "You're Mine" by Yannick (Wood) in June. Yannick had finished this track after a long production break, and it was the perfect first release for the label. We release music in the genres of progressive house & melodic techno. Within these genres, we cover a broad spectrum from calm to energetic & driving. Essentially, we release whatever we feel – we love the diversity in music. "PNEUMA" means something like "The breath of life that pervades everything and fills it with life." And this is also important to us for our releases: they should be lively and filled with life.

Shannon & I both had a strong desire to realize ourselves, and we both love music. Music has always been and will always be an integral part of our lives, and independently of each other, we always harbored the dream of creating something entirely our own. We had been talking about this desire for a label in 2023 repeatedly, and then we had the idea to start our own label. In our discussions about what it takes to build a music label and how we would implement it, we realized that each of us brings the right expertise to the table, and we complement each other perfectly. Yannick has gained experience in the music industry through his career as a producer and also within the label project "Ton Töpferei," and he comes from a background in content marketing. Shannon comes from a background in social content marketing and has good connections to camera operators and the production area. Each of us can bring the right things to the label, so we decided to launch PNEUMA in 2023. Through Shannon, we were able to quickly build a great & talented team behind PNEUMA, for which we are very grateful. Additionally, we were also fortunate to enter into a great partnership with FPV-Unity, a film production company specializing in drone footage.

What is the vision you have for it? And what would some of your goals be for the future of the label?

PNEUMA was founded with the idea/ desire to develop great overall concepts for each release and to tell stories together with our artists. We want to move away from today's fast pace and towards taking time for each individual release. At PNEUMA, an artist is not just another catalog number: We want to support artists of all sizes and become a platform for development, further growth, and collaboration. We work closely with our artists, trying to develop a beautiful overall concept for each release together, allowing the artists to realize themselves – out of love for the craft itself and without compromise.

With PNEUMA, we hope to become a strong and inspiring voice in the music industry. We want to improve our work with each release and hope to be able to grow quickly to collaborate with artists beyond individual releases in the future. But we are still at the very beginning, and currently, our main goal is simply to create great releases, become part of the music industry, and of course, inspire people with what we do. Currently, the focus remains on the Progressive House genre. However, in the future, we also aim to establish a stronger presence in the Melodic Techno genre.

Tell us how you run the day to day operations and how you go about collaborating with artists on each release?

As mentioned earlier, Shannon and I complement each other very well, and this synergy is evident in our day-to-day operations. We have divided responsibilities effectively to handle the tasks associated with each release. Shannon primarily oversees event management, conceptualization of social media content formats, accounting, scheduling shoots, and more. On the other hand, I manage the execution of releases, develop the visual identity of PNEUMA, collaborate with artists on release concepts and music video shoots, and create content, among other tasks. Decisions are always made collaboratively, ensuring that PNEUMA evolves in line with both of our visions and desires. Essentially, we do almost everything together.

Additionally, we are fortunate to have a fantastic team of cameramen, post-producers, and photographers supporting us. They assist us in content creation and development and in executing music video shoots. Without this team, we wouldn't be able to accomplish everything we do, and we are incredibly grateful for each and every member – big shoutout to them! <3

As part of the pneuma-family, we nurture close relationships with our artists, built on trust and transparency. We aim to support our artists in realizing their artistic potential and maintain close communication with each one. We provide advisory support to our artists, offering feedback on song ideas and collaboratively refining them until the release is finalized. Moreover, we endeavor to equip our artists with the necessary tools to meet the modern demands placed on them. For instance, we provide briefings to help them create social media-friendly content and collaborate on formats used to promote releases. Our goal is for the artists to be seen, to infuse their personality into each release, rather than being hidden behind a release cover.

Having good, engaging content is so important in this age of electronic music, please tell us how you guys are utilizing that to your advantage.

In this era, merely producing music is often insufficient. Artists must also be content creators to garner attention. Therefore, we strive to impart knowledge to our artists and develop formats that we implement with them. Creating social content is thus an integral part of collaborating with PNEUMA and is included with every release. Additionally, we aim to offer glimpses behind the scenes, illustrating what it's like to work with us and who contributes to PNEUMA.

Your fourth release has just come out with Argentina’s Cristian Hidalgo making his label debut with ‘Alchemist’, please tell us about the release and why it fits the label’s ethos so well.

'Alchemist' is our first international release, and we are thrilled that Cristian has honored us with this beautiful track. 'Alchemist' resonates so well with PNEUMA because the song tells a story. We immediately sensed that Cristian wanted to convey something with 'Alchemist,' and that message is clearly conveyed through the song. 'Alchemist' takes you on a melodic, captivating journey from the first second and doesn't let go until the last. We felt the essence of the song right from the start.

How did you end up getting in contact with Cristian, was it just a matter of him sending in a demo or was there a previous relationship in place?

Cristian became aware of PNEUMA through Yannick's alias, 'Wood,' and subsequently sent us the demo for 'Alchemist.' We are absolutely delighted that Cris is now part of the PNEUMA-family.

Let’s now focus a bit more on the track itself, tell us about the process of creating this track Cristian and why you felt PNEUMA was a good home for it?

Cristian: The process was really smooth, it all started with a very melodic arpeggio loop and a dirty beat that gave me the perfect atmosphere to develop the song. As soon as I finished the track, I immediately thought of Yannick and his new label. I had been following everything Yannick had been doing as an artist for a while, and when I found out he had founded his own label, I didn't hesitate for a minute to send him my music.

I know from speaking to you in the past you like to work off of inspiration on some of your creations so what was it that inspired ‘Alchemist’?

Cristian: Alchemist was born on a beautiful spring afternoon in Buenos Aires. Spring here in South America is the other way around, meaning it happens towards the end of the year. I was going through the famous balance that we all do at that time. I was in a very good mood and happy about what I had achieved in 2023, and it was a bit of that, becoming aware of being a good alchemist of our lives, keeping and staying with what allows us to transform ourselves. In a way, Alchemist was born from that mood, it has those epic and melodic touches that captivate me so much.

I’m curious where ‘Alchemist’ would fall in one of your DJ sets Cristian, how would you program that in? And have you gotten a chance to play it out at all?

Cristian: "Alchemist" is a really melodic and epic track, perfect for a sunset. I think it fits great for either starting or closing a set. We've received several supports for the track, and DJs have indeed used it in those magical sunset moments. It's interesting to see how each DJ uses it, incorporating more percussion or overlapping with another groove, and the result has been really good. The first time I played it live was during a sunset at a rooftop bar here in Buenos Aires, and the crowd's response was beautiful. It was definitely a romantic moment of the evening.

Going back to the subject of content, there is a beautiful video for ‘Alchemist’ which we’ll embed here, tell us where the idea came for this and if you will return to the live video shoots you did on your first three releases?

We aim to provide each release with a captivating visual identity that supports the idea and vision behind it. Unfortunately, conducting a music video shoot is not always feasible at this early stage of PNEUMA, although we would certainly love to. Therefore, we had to consider how to implement this even for releases where a shoot isn't possible, such as when artists are located on different sides of the planet. In this context, we also explored the topic of artificial intelligence and decided to develop a release concept for Cris. We associated the release name 'Alchemist' with something ancient, hence opting for a friendly visual environment with ancient Greek ruins. Cris described 'Alchemist' as embodying the idea of transformation and evolution, leading us to search for a suitable style for the music video. We chose this style of video because the constantly changing and merging images effectively reflect the concept of 'Alchemist.' Additionally, like the song, the video takes you on a journey. However, we will continue to produce music video shoots. We love this collaboration with the artists. It's always fantastic days at beautiful locations, and we always have a wonderful time with the team and the artists – and we are very proud of the results.

What is it you look for when signing music to PNEUMA and what advice would you have for artists hoping to appear on the label?

For us, the success level of the artists is irrelevant. If we believe in the music, you're in. As we've mentioned, it's important to us that the songs take listeners on a journey - we appreciate strong developments within the songs.

I noticed the artwork on this particular release deviated a touch from your first three releases, is this a new look you’ll be using going forward and speaking about artwork in general?

Our previous artworks consisted of abstract color gradients. However, at the beginning of the new year, we decided to further develop this visual identity to give each release even more uniqueness. AI, in particular, allows us to explore entirely new realms here. These artworks also always form the basis of the music videos, content formats, etc., allowing us to give each release a coherent concept. With the new artworks, we also aim to build a universe around PNEUMA, one that we can expand as we please.

And to add to that, is the importance of artwork something that has maybe gotten lost a bit as music gets more rapidly consumed? Should labels be putting more time and thought in their artwork?

It seems that sometimes such aspects are unfortunately neglected in today's times, as consumer behavior changes and this naturally affects the work of labels. We believe that a release benefits significantly from a captivating visual identity. Ultimately, singles, EPs, or albums are all journeys that listeners experience. And artwork is a fantastic tool to enhance or sharpen that journey. In the end, it's the sum of all elements that make a great release, so we believe it's worth taking the time to consider every aspect of a release.

You had an event to launch the label in July of last year, is this something you plan to continue with going forward and how did the event help in establishing the label?

We definitely plan to host more events like this in the future, especially to shape the scene in our hometown of Hamburg. The event certainly helped us showcase to the city that we're here and now part of this scene. We hope to host several such events this year, providing a platform for our artists and expanding our connection to the scene. Additionally, these events are also a great opportunity to record and release live sets, showcasing our artists' live performances.

You also have three Spotify playlists which are certainly worth a follow, please tell us about those and how they differ from one another.

We have created three playlists to showcase the taste of PNEUMA. Additionally, we aim to present artists with these playlists, giving a sense of what music style to expect from us in the future. Sometimes you might even find hints for future collaborations here. Currently, there are three playlists, with one, "PNEUMA | RELEASES," reflecting our entire release catalog. The other two are "PNEUMA | DEEP" and "PNEUMA | RAVE." The Deep playlist, as the name suggests, leans towards a more progressive and melodic direction. Most songs have a personal connection as well. With the "RAVE" playlist, we provide you with the best techno toys for your night.

What does the remainder of 2024 hold for PNEUMA in terms of releases and/or other special projects? Anything you can share with us?

As mentioned earlier, our release schedule is continually expanding. You can anticipate some fantastic and highly diverse releases. Up next, we have a delightful remix of PNEUMA's inaugural release, 'You're Mine' by Wood, remixed by Max Blücher, a young talented musician from Berlin, whom we see tremendous potential in.

We would also like to mention an upcoming event for the first time, serving as the kickoff to an entirely new event series called "PNEUMA meets Art." The aim of this event series is to support the local music and art scene, all for a good cause. On June 22nd, we will be hosting a non-profit vernissage in Hamburg. Eight different artists will create artworks in their unique styles inspired by our releases. Each artist will select a song and interpret it visually. These artworks will be exhibited and sold alongside other pieces by these artists at a gallery in Hamburg on the event day. The proceeds from this event will be donated to the 'GANADORA' Foundation, a charity dedicated to SDG Gender Equality. Live music will be featured throughout the day, culminating in an after-show party. Further details will be announced in the coming weeks. But one thing we can already confirm: 'Alchemist' by Cristian Hidalgo will be part of it!

And now over to Cristian, what does the remainder of your year look like? What can we expect to hear from you?

Cristian: This year will be very important for me. Pneuma is a great family, and we will do many things together. The guys have been very kind to me, and we clicked right away. I found the home for my music that I was looking for.

I'm now working on several projects and focusing on deepening my own sound. I have several releases coming up in the next few months, and I'm preparing my Live Set to start playing it live by mid-year.

'Alchemist' is available now via PNEUMA: https://tinyurl.com/3fubhy5d

Load More Related Articles
Load More By Release Promo
  • Rockka [Interview]

    Hailing from Sri Lanka, Rockka aka Lakith Adikaram has been releasing his own unique style…
  • Xspance [Interview]

    Myles Webb is behind the XSPANCE moniker and can be described as a self-taught electronic …
  • Rabiee Ahmad [Interview]

    As a professional artist for well over a decade, Pakistani musician Rabiee Ahmad began his…
Load More In Interviews

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *