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Runik [Interview]

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Based in Asunción and comprised of Casper Keys and Guillermo Corvalan, the Runik production duo first emerged in 2018 with a release via Record Union. The duo’s amalgamation of psychedelic rock, progressive house and cinematic sci-fi proved to be fresh and inspired, with world class DJs quickly chiming in with support and championing the duo’s unique work in their performances. Moving forward, two additional projects landed within the same calendar year, also coming courtesy of Record Union. Looking to further their creative scope, Runik then continued to work on their craft across the next two years, ultimately resulting in a creative swell of broad and genre-busting material. With Runik member Casper Keys already calling SLC-6 Music a home for his solo and collaborative work with label boss D.J. MacIntyre, the duo now continues their journey on an upwards trajectory, making their label debut with the much-anticipated long player ‘Dawn / Dusk’. We had a chance to catch up with the duo leading up to the release and we hope you enjoy it.

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

Hey!! Thanks for having us!! Our music library is such a weird mix of genres but (Gaspar): I’ve been digging into some classics such as Orbital and also OSTs from Dune and Blade Runner.

(Guille): I’ve been playing UUUU by WhoMadeWho in a loop for the last couple days.

How’s your year been so far? And what are your plans for the coming week?

It’s been quite busy finishing the album and preparing the release, all in between our personal projects.

Do you think growing up in Paraguay had any effect on your career path into music? And if so how?

Yes, a lot. Paraguay can be very isolated from the rest of the world (culturally), and we didn’t have much access to electronic music before the internet era. We didn’t even notice it until after the big EDM boom in the early 2010s. Before that we were more into classic rock, and you can hear those influences in our sound. Also, networking opportunities are rare if you’re not able to travel to a country with a bigger scene.

Can you name five tracks that were important in your musical development and why they are so significant for you?

Revolution 909 – Daft Punk: we can track almost every artist we like back to this track, it’s one of the most influential tracks in modern electronic music, in our opinion.

Genesis – Justice: The French duo is just the perfect mix of electronic and Rock N Roll, and they’re basically the reason we started to play live instead of djing.

Montserrat (Artbat Edit) – WhoMadeWho: is just a great example of how you can mix progressive house and psychedelic rock elements. It was a huge inspiration for the album’s sound.

We Are Mirage – Eric Prydz: We think this is the type of track that made a lot of people fall in love with electronic music globally. It’s just pure love and energy and we still carry that type of sound till these days.

Tivoli – Steve Angello: We’re huge fans of the late 2000s Swedish House. It’s deep and melancholic but powerful at the same time. It also fits so well in both club and main stage and we love that versatility. The main lead was one of the first sounds we tried to replicate when we started producing.

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

It was at Creamfields 2013 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where we decided that this was the music we wanted to do. We were mostly rock fans (we actually had a band), and we’ve never been in a festival. We were so impressed that we automatically knew this was going to be our new vocation.

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

It’s a very small scene but it’s growing a lot. Tango, Club Condesa and Café Salazar are probably the best places to go if you want to hear good techno and house music, and there are also awesome parties like Ologram, Sonico Groove.

How did you meet and eventually start collaborating together as Runik?

We have been classmates since we’re 4 years old! We had multiple projects like a rock band called “Cangrejo” and an EDM dj duo called Charlie & Zulu. Runik began in 2017 when we decided to step out of the mainstream in the quest of a more authentic sound.

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

It’s all about respecting each point of view and ideas. We start from basic jams and once we find the essence of it, then we discard the rest and polish it until we are both comfortable with the results. We also first discuss the theme and direction of a track, influences and reference tracks to get inspiration and then we let it flow until the track reveals itself.

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

Since we both have similar education and knowledge, we tend to do everything 50/50. There are some things each of us knows better, for example, Gaspar plays the piano, and Guille plays the guitar. But in the end, it’s all very balanced between both of us.

Do you guys consider yourself DJs or producers first? And which do you enjoy more and why?

We are producers first. We think of djing more as a way of showcasing our tracks, even if we play them alongside other artist’s tracks, than something we do as an artform by itself.

Your biography states that you have a style that melds psychedelic rock and progressive house with cinematic sci-fi”, talk to us about those specific styles and what elements from each you incorporate in your music.

One of our main goals was to imprint our biggest influences, even our pre-electronic era, into the sound of the album. One can hear Pink Floyd’s type of guitars in Twilight and there are also hidden Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix microsamples in many tracks. Cinematic influences from Hans Zimmer and Vangelis are present mostly in the interludes but also in the breakdown of “The Edge of The World”. The groove comes mostly from progressive house but also some breakbeats and downtempo.

What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in yourselves, both as producers and DJs since you first started out?

We started as djs wanting to break the dance floor and the music we produced was mostly directed towards that goal. After many years we realized that our main purpose is to find our own unique voice and authenticity, and the challenge of playing live shows seems way more fit to that goal. However, we still love to Dj because it’s tons of fun!

Your debut album ‘Dawn / Dusk’ is out this week via D.J. MacIntyre’s SLC-6 Music imprint, tell us about the release and how it showcases your sound.

Dawn Dusk is our first full length material, and it represents a huge challenge that we always wanted to accomplish as musicians. We are very grateful to David and the opportunity to release it on such a great label with so many great artists. We think the sound summarizes all our big influences, kind of like a tribute to them, and it was something we felt we had to do to move forward and look towards our future as artists.

Tell us how the album began to take shape? Was there an initial goal of writing an album from the beginning or did this happen organically in a way?

It all began with the idea of doing an album that we felt proud of, and one that we could use to tell a story from start to finish, and make it loop. We compared that to the movement of the sun around the earth and that’s how we came up with the name, and also with the overall tone of the album: it starts more melancholic and colorful and evolves into darker atmospheres right before resolving into the last track, where you can almost feel the sun rising again in the horizon.

What does your set-up like? Do you favor physical gear over digital? And what studio tools featured heavily in the writing of ‘Dawn / Dusk’?

Apart from our music influences, we wanted to make a tribute to our two main pieces of gear: the Sequential Prophet 6, and the Moog Subsequent 37. These are our two main synths, and you can hear them combined in all the tracks. Coming from a rock music background, we cherish the interaction between musician and instrument, both musically and visually. So yeah, we’re huge gearheads.

With just three discography credits thus far why did now seem like the right time to pursue an album project?

It was more like a personal challenge for us, knowing that nowadays is way more viable to release singles. But our favorite artists keep releasing albums and if they do it, why not us. We feel that an album is the best way to explore and dig deep into a concept.

Having not released on SLC-6 Music previously, what made this the right label to release your album?

Gaspar (Casper Keys) has previously released in SLC-6, and being friends with David, he’s pretty much aligned with the culture around the label, and the community that it has built through the years. David has always given us the confidence to explore this path and we really hope the label will grow with this process as much as we do!

How did you end up with the final track selection and how did you go about cutting stuff out? There must be a point where it becomes quite difficult letting go of certain pieces?

We’ve become quite good at recycling stuff. There were a couple ideas that seemed to far from the vision we had that we had to throw away. But most of the times, instead of discarding ideas we just tried to fit them in a pre-existing idea, and that lead to some quite unexpected but interesting results!

How difficult was it deciding on the flow from a listener’s perspective?

It was all about taking some time to refresh our ears. Sometimes we had to take breaks for a couple days or even weeks and when we came back, we knew exactly what the album needed. It’s good to step back and see things from a new perspective.

How much of an effect do other genres of music outside of the electronic realm have on your own productions? And in particular the album.

We like and listen to every possible genre of music. As producers it is great to get inspiration from different types of music and it’s probably the only way of getting to an authentic sound, nowadays. The album is a mix of all our different influences through different stages in our lives.

I would guess the writing of the album was a long process, now that it’s done and out what are your thoughts reflecting back on the process?

It was a huge learning process, and even if we feel that there are things that we could’ve done differently, we’re very proud of the end results and we see it as a big personal achievement. Setting a goal of that kind and getting it to a conclusion makes us feel that we have the power to achieve a lot more if we are disciplined and follow the same work philosophy.

How would you feel about these tracks being remixed? And are there plans for this?

YES. Things are already in motion and we’re so curious about how other artists will interpret and modify our music in their own way.

Do you think the digital era changed the way we perceive artist albums? Do they still carry the weight they once did or should? Is this something that perhaps depends on who (record label) is releasing it as well?

Well, it depends. The music industry is always evolving and nowadays you can actually do whatever you want to do, in the format you want, and make it work. There are definitely more options now, but we still see new and more experienced artists release albums all the time, and maybe that’s because it’s still the best way to achieve the best storytelling experience. But with so much great music out there, one thing is for sure, you have to make it count.

What’s the task you enjoy the most when producing and what is something you’d rather have taken care of by somebody else? And why?

Jamming, for sure. That’s when we feel more connected to our gear and environment and let the ideas flow, and happy accidents happen.

We love mixing, but at that point sometimes you can’t provide any further objectivity to the music, and that’s when we feel it’s better to pass the torch to somebody else that can give it that extra push to another level of quality.

In this case, the album was mixed by the great Hannes Bieger.

How much road testing or friend feedback is done before you’re ready to say a track is finished? And who is someone you share your new music with first for feedback?

It varies a lot, but we tend to be first almost 100% certain that a track will work. We are our harsher critics. Then, we try to show it to certain key people from different or almost opposite contexts. Honest feedback is hard to find and in the end, you need to trust your guts and your vision.

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?

20:00: Tycho

22:00 WhoMadeWho

00:00: Bicep

02:00: Eric Pydz

04:00: Stephan Bodzin

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

An Emerson Moog Modular System, autographed by Keith Emerson and Bob Moog.

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

We both agree that Blade Runner and Matrix must be the films that have a more profound impact in our lives. They both represent the quest for the truth about who we are and where we’re heading as humans.

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

If we could get away with time travel, that would be awesome, but not even the greatest minds can fully comprehend it. Everything else might be possible soon thanks to good old science.

If you could travel anywhere for one day, all laws and limitations void, where would it be?

Burning Man? But before social media.

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

Chasing a music career/art path, there’s more certainty in landing a jet plane with no practice.

But it still felt so natural and we love challenges, and every time we look back and see what we achieved so far makes us want to do it even more.

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

(Guille) Koggi’s meat sandwich (Korean bbq fusion place)

(Gaspar) Hiroshima’s California Roll (Traditional sushi place)

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

Dogs and cats and our beautiful girlfriends, of course.

What does the remainder of 2022 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

We’re really looking forward to the release and the reception of the album! It’s like letting your child go into the wild, it can be scary as the world outside can be cruel but also very rewarding. After the release we will focus on rehearsing the live performance and we’re preparing a cool show that we can’t wait to show it to the world!

Thank you so much!!

‘Dawn / Dusk’ is available now via SLC-6 Music: https://bit.ly/3f2vwgS

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