Cristian Varela - Pornographic & Baroque Music

Words by: Lena Kochetkova
Posted: 25/2/13 9:05

Cristian Varela One of the most famous techno DJs in Spain, Cristian Varela launched his own party in Ibiza relatively recently, in 2011. Pornographic Label Nights, named after the label that Cristian runs together with his long-time friend Marco Bailey, brought to San Antonio’s Eden the long awaited feast of quality underground music. Last summer the musician debuted at Bora Bora, appeared in an amazing graffiti campaign and now is working on a symphonic soundtrack to a movie – so we had indeed lots of things to talk about.

Are you going on with your Pornographic Label Nights parties at Eden this summer?
I think yes, but there might be a change. We have some offers and proposals from other clubs, so we will see what happens.

Are you generally satisfied with Eden? It seems that the club was not doing very well recently.
Last season was very nice for us, because our audience increased by 15% if compared to the previous year. In our second season we did an average of 1800 visitors every Wednesday, which is really good for San Antonio. I can’t speak for the other Eden promoters, but our night worked very well.

You started the party together with Marco Bailey, but in the middle of the last season he disappeared from the line-ups. What was the reason for this?
Marco and me are like brothers, but when it comes to business it gets very difficult to work together, even when you know someone for as long as 20 years. As for the music, we have been working together since 18 years ago and share the same outlook on it. But we couldn’t find agreement on financial issues, so Marco decided to step back.

Doesn’t it seem to you that the Pornographic show is a little too much even in Ibiza?
Not last year: we did erotic show instead of porno, we added more performance like acrobatics, a show of a girl splashing in a big champagne glass. In the beginning we wanted to do more porno just to produce an impact on Ibiza. Otherwise it’s difficult to get started, because there are so many good promoters and so much good music around. Also we had to take into account the fact that Eden is located in San Antonio, and 80% of the audience here is English. Porno was a marketing thing, but now we are more erotic.

During your first year did you have problems with guys getting so crazy about the girls that they would try to jump on the stage and grab them?
First year yes, because the security team at the club didn’t know exactly what would happen and what to expect. After the 2 first weeks we had everything fixed and the security were ready to save the girls if needed, so no problems arouse anymore.

So in the beginning the security team was just shocked?
Yes. Everyone was shocked.

Which is the difference between playing for Carl Cox at Space and for your own party at Eden?
Each time is different. Each club and each dancefloor is different, and Space is Space, of course. When I play with Carl I play very similar music, but the energy and the atmosphere at Space are completely different. It’s not better and not worse, it’s just different.

Is it because of the public? There is no San Antonio trash in Space.
Probably. But the good thing is that in our second year we had more Spanish, Italian and international people coming to our night. And the English people coming to listen to good underground music are completely different from the English people going to listen to cheesy commercial music. Last year we didn’t have trash public, we had people who are really interested in quality music.

Last year you made your debut at Bora Bora. How did it happen that you were invited to hold a residency there?
We had a deal with the Sisi’s restaurant, whose owner is also involved in Bora Bora, and he asked me if I wanted to make my party there. Also we got Bora Bora contacts from John Acquaviva who had done some parties there. We tried to make just one event, it went very well and the owner asked us why wouldn’t we do our parties every Tuesday so that could also promote our Wednesdays at Eden there. We did it and it was fantastic. Before that I came to Bora Bora several times to drink and to eat, but I had never been a guest DJ there.

Your graffiti promotional campaign last summer was just incredible. What prompted you this idea?
The graffiti artist Jerom, who is to my mind one of the best artists of that genre in Spain, saw a big promotional photo with my face in the street, called my manager and asked for permission to make a graffiti with my face. But he wouldn’t put there any name, any promotion, the name of the night – nothing. He wanted to keep it very artistic. Of course I agreed, it was such a pleasure for me. So he did one, in Rotonda de Figueretas, in front of the McDonald’s, and then asked if I would allow him to make the second, at Avenue Ignacio Wallis. For me it was amazing, because everyone started to make photos with the graffiti of my face and post it on Facebook –it turned out to be one of the best promotions.

Jerom's graffitiOnce I saw people, definitely not that advanced in electronic music, who saw the graffiti with your face and mistook you for Skrillex. Maybe you could think of adding your name to it?
No, Jerom doesn’t want to make any promotion. If people know me, it’s good. If they don’t, it’s a shame. Some Ibiza promoters now try to get in touch with Jerom and ask him to make graffiti for their campaigns, but he always refuses to do it for promotional purposes.

Did you know that Steve Lawler’s Viva Warriors would also make a graffiti campaign?
No, I didn’t.

You spent all January working in the studio. What did you do there, if it’s not a secret?
I am preparing a soundtrack for a movie that will appear soon on the Spanish national TV. It is about general Prim who was the president of Spain in the Republic time. The soundtrack has nothing to do with electronic music, it’s a symphonic orchestral thing based on baroque, which is my specialization.

So I was concentrated on this project and also I signed several releases to Pornographic. When I started my career of a pianist and composer I was very focused on this kind of music. Not before, not after, just Baroque: Vivaldi, Bach, Handel.

Do you see some similarity between baroque and modern electronic music?
There is something similar in classical music and electronic music – the construction. In classical music from construction comes the harmony, and with this harmony you make different variations.

In electronic music happens the same: you start with the original base of a kick drum and then develop the melody. One construction is more harmonious and the other is more experimental with sounds, has more percussion, more atmosphere, but all in all they are similar. Every time I say this in an interview people think I’m crazy, but it’s really similar, it’s mathematics. Music is mathematics.

So you must be good at mathematics?
It’s the only thing I was good at school: mathematics and music.

You announced the launch of several new radioshows on such stations as LightWaveRadio, La ISLA FM, Vicious Radio, Cross FM and Shouted FM. Do all of them broadcast the same music or do you make a special programme for every station?
I started working for the radio in 1990, and 5 years ago I launched my radioshow at Ibiza Global Radio and then at Ibiza Sonica. After I launched my shows in Ibiza, other radios out of Spain got interested in having my shows.

So one of my shows, Paradise at Ibiza Global, broadcasts downtempo, ambient, chillout and classical music, and the other, Pornographic, is where I make different sections with guest artists and DJs from the label.

I also make a section where we speak about the next releases coming on Pornographic. And there is a section for 80s-90s electronic music which is really nice because we can listen to techno, trance and everything from the very beginning. Sometimes we reach as far late as the 70s, such as Kraftwerk or even Vangelis.

You’ve been teaching DJs from the very beginning to master level for many years. There are tons of knowledge that you give to your pupils. If you could concentrate all this knowledge in only 4 sentences, which would it be?

  • 1- Listen carefully and feel the music
  • 2- Have patience and control with yourself
  • 3- Practice thousands and thousands of hours
  • 4- Listen to me and look inside your soul
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