Our latest artist interview features Van Did who has a brand new remix out this week on Manual Music.
1. How old are you, where are you living and how long have you been producing and/or Djing?
Im 23 years old, I live in Montreal, Canada and I was born and raised in Mexico City, I’ve been doing music for 5 years and started djing about 8 years ago.
2. Where do your musical roots lie, what are your first memories of electronic music and when did you know you wanted to pursue it seriously? Are there any particular productions or artists from the past that really made you think to yourself ‘this is what I want to do.”
I started getting into electronic music thanks to a good friend on high school, before I was into reggae and psychedelic progressive rock, when I started listening to electronic music I was into mainstream stuff, cause I use to listen to an electronic FM radio station in Mexico. Maybe the first two artists that really inspired me was John Digweed and Sasha, I remember being a big fan of the transitions show!
3. I was first introduced to your music on Wide Angle Recordings I think, but your first release was on Soul Shift Music in 2011, how has your music and also studio changed since that time?
I’ve learned a lot collaborating with other producers, and I think my productions evolve with every single gig as well. I like to test my tracks on the dancefloor and see how people react. My studio is quite minimalist I just got a couple of good monitors, small midi controller, my laptop and a good soundcard, I think now I care a little less about stuff in general. Sometimes the challenge on collaboration is not to lose my own unique touch. So putting a lot of attention to details is my way to preserve my own unique sound even when I work with very different artists.
4. You have a new remix out this week on Manual Music for Luis Junior’s ‘Pink Clouds’, the original is an incredibly strong production and one of Luis’ all time best in my opinion, how daunting was it working on this project and how did you approach the remix?
I felt lucky to remix this beautiful track, and at the same time I didn’t knew what to change, add or remove from the original version. So I preferred to stick around the original ideas and focus on the groove, percussions and sound design.
5. How difficult was learning to produce for you in the beginning? Did you take any Audio Engineering programs or production courses to help you out or are you pretty much self taught? And did anyone give any advice early on that really helped?
At first, I spent about a year and half learning by myself, every day after school I would spend hours watching tutorials, visiting blogs and experimenting with Ableton Live. At that time, It was quite difficult to improve myself, as I didn’t had much friends that would share this curiosity for electronic music. Then I moved to Montreal, I wanted to do a 1 year Audio Engineering program, but this kind of school are quite expensive and after little research it felt a bit superficial education to me. So finally I decided to go to university and study a 4 years electroacoustics composition program, now I’m almost done, just 2 more weeks to go (yeeeeeeeeeei !!!) I’ve learned a lot working with local and talented producers such as Groj and Melodule, to be patient and not having huge expectations it’s also things I learned from them.
6. What parts of the production process do you find the most difficult and what comes easiest for you? When you do hit a creative block what helps you through it?
Feelings a track conveys is the most important thing for me, so when I produce I try to connect with this emotional side. I think I’m good at spending a lot of time around sound design and little details this is what makes me want to keep listening over and over to a single track. Maybe for me, the most difficult thing is to find the right melodies or right baseline, as sometimes the border line between a beautiful melodies and a cheese one is really thin.
If I hit a creative block I tend to take a break, maybe try to do some yoga, listen to any other kind of music or prepare a tasty Mexican food.
7. You own and manage the ‘Grrreat Recordings’ label, it’s been running for just over three years now, you started it not long after making your production debut actually. What was it that make you want your own label? How can artists get their demos to you? and what advice would have for someone hoping to get signed to the label?
I launched the label in 2012, about a year and a half after my first release, the main reason I founded my own label is because I wanted to have freedom to release the music I want without asking my self too many question, also wanted to print a physical CD by my own.
I always try to reply to every single demo I receive, and I ask about 3 or 4 tracks per demo, I recommend to share their tracks on a private way. My main advice to release on any label would be, persevere, be consistent and believe in your dreams. On Grrreat Recordings we focus on detailed and emotional yet groovy music, specific advice to sign on my label would be: be gentle and humble, I only work with people I care about and got a good relationship with, cause I stand for building something meaningful together it’s not just about uploading some beats to the internet.
8. It’s also an interesting name for a label, how did you come to settle on Grrreat?
When I started getting into music production I was super enthusiastic, maybe even a bit too much and I use to comment frequently ”grrreat track!” or “grrreat idea!!” So the name comes from this positive and enthusiastic feeling!
9. What’s a normal day like for you? Do you have a job outside of electronic music? And what do you like to do when you’re not working on music?
A normal day: I get up, have a quick breakfast, check different inboxes and reply to important messages, than run to school and try not to be late ahaha than maybe i would see a student , as I’m also teaching music production with Ableton Live. Maybe later I would ride my bike and visit my friends as we are working nonstop on a new collective project called 8day. Than probably come back to my place try to finish a remix or a new track, do my home work or study for an exam, if I’ve some free time try to skype with my family , finally going to sleep around 2 or 3am!
10. Apart from electronic music what other genres do you listen to and who are your favorite artists outside of electronic? and do these genres or artists have a direct effort on your own productions?
I love all kind of music from rock to dub and experimental music. Some of my all time favorite artist are Pink Floyd and Bob Marley, for me they are inspiring examples because they were very socially engaged artists, this is some really important thing for me, as I wish to share ideas through music.
11. What are you currently working on? and what can we expect to see from you over the remainder of 2015?
I’m currently spending a lot of time developing 8day, a collective project! We invited Stephan Bodzin for our launch party last week, and we plan to invite other artists we love in the near future. But we don’t want to be just another promoter or event organizer, we wish to build a real community around some common ideas. I’m also working on a website called Art-Facto. Today, this a side project linked to contemporary art and sound today, we founded this online magazine with my sister, Natalia, that lives in Mexico a few months ago. Its been a really inspiring experience as well. Maybe starting working around an album as I’ve many unreleased tracks, but first need to finish my career at university before starting to plan anything else!
12. What was the first and last physical (CD, Vinyl, Cassette etc) piece of music you bought?
I stand for voluntary simplicity and simple living so I don’t buy much stuff in general, also as I’ve been moving and traveling I feel freer without having much stuff, even if I actually have much more stuff than I need (ahahaha). Maybe one of the last CDs I got was Playmorium from my friend Groj!
13. Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people?
That’s a difficult one… Surprise? I don’t know if its surprising but, maybe something people don’t know it’s that most important thing for me it’s relationships, I really care about my family, close ones and friends. Music, art and traveling are my passions and that keeps me awake until late, but what cares and give meaning to my live is people I care about.
14. Which producers in your opinion get consistently overlooked?
I think Teho, W.N.C and Clawz SG from France, would deserve a little bit more attention, recently discovered Whomi, I think he is a very talented producer as well. Also I believe Chiino, Rafa Pineda, Groj, Adam Husa, and Gab Rhome, all coming from Montreal, will become rising names in the next years, this city it’s an inspiring place to produce music!
15. Which producers consistently inspire you? And where else does your inspiration come from?
Gabriel Ananda, Guy Mantzur, Rone, Teho, Worakls, N’To, Max Cooper and Stephan Bodzin are some of the artists I always follow and keep an eye on.
Inspiration usually comes from feelings and sometimes when I’m traveling or really excited about something, than I really want to get into making music. Every track I’ve made it’s like a little piece of my own story, I try to capture intense emotional moments of my life.
16. There are countless producers out there trying to find their way and create their own unique sound, what advice do you have for them?
What really works for me it’s to stay humble and open minded, cause I always feel like I have something new to learn, every single person has something to teach you! Collaborating with other producers has been definitely a positive thing as well. I believe listening to your own voice, and trusting this voice is an essential artistic quality. Try to be organized, answer most messages and remember your priorities, getting lots of plays or views on the web doesn’t mean anything! Being an artist requires a lot of focus, be persistent and don’t ever give up!
17. If the final DJ/live set of your career was next week what would your last track be?
Paradefrom Rone it’s one of my all time favorite electronic tracks,, it has something magical and shiny that always make me smile and feel happy, I guess this what I search in music and live: happiness 😀
Finally I would like to extend a big thanks to Ghotiitout team that has been there for me, taking care of my bookings, to Piknic Elektronic for supporting me from the beginning, to Stephan Bodzin, Hernan Cattaneo, Solee, Blake Sutherland, and every label manager that has released my music, to my family in Mexico and Bolivia, to my close and distant friends from Tokyo to Greece and France that has supported me all the way! Thanks Mitch for this interview I really enjoy sharing what I believe in, hopefully there might be something useful in here! Finally thank you for reading and listening!
Luis Junior ‘Pink Clouds’ (Van Did Remix) is out now on Manual Music, you can purchase the release: here