Pablo Bolivar's first album of completely original material for his own Avantroots label, 'Must' has just been released. He's not a newcomer by any stretch though, having realised three other albums: 'Motion: The Ambient Works', a compilation of previously issued material, in 2010 on the same label, and 'Anjanas' and 'Recall' in 2006 and 2007 on Regular respectively, as well as a huge back catalogue of singles/EPs.
'Must', however, marks something of a watershed moment for him, as it's where he seems to leave behind some old influences and embrace some new, all the while applying a meticulous touch around which everything coalesces.
We started by speaking a little about his background. "I'm from Cantabria" he says, "You've probably heard of Santander, but I live in Barcelona now."
With this in mind I ask him if he was at Sonar. 'This is still in my mind at the moment," he replies. "We did an Avantroots showcase in a bar near the Raval district, and on Saturday I played at a private party for some Russians, which was really nice."
I wonder if Sonar is something he feels that he has the need to attend year in, year out; the festival itself, that is. He tells me that he hasn't done this for some time, "since 2008"; (which was the last time I was there myself),... and that he's "... just around the city during this time..." Preferring the atmosphere of the fringe.
Talk turns to his music, with 'Must' being his first album proper on his label. I ask him how he feels he's developed as an artist, "Well, when I finished a record in 2009 I felt that I wanted to make a proper deep house album. I really love deep house, and up to now I've made techno and dub techno, but not really house. It's great because I'm really happy with it, it's exactly what I want."
I ask him who he likes to listen to, but instead of naming names, rather he describes a type... "I like really slow burning... not "slo-mo", but between deep house and disco, you know? Really deep, moody... stuff which is beautiful to listen to at home, on the iPod, in the car, whatever." Funnily enough, this sounds like a description of 'Must' so my next question relates to that, and if he feels he's bridged the gap between these different listening experiences, and he's quite happy to admit that he feels that he has and that he's "done it well."
I'm curious about how long it took him to put 'Must' together. "Well, between... about a year and a half. I started it at the beginning of 2012 and finished it about four months ago" (this would be about fourteen months, but what's a few between friends?) And does he feel he's achieved everything he wanted to with it or. looking back, is there anything he feels he could have done a little bit differently?
"I was thinking of putting some more ambient tracks on it but in the end I decided not to, because all of my other albums are like that. In the end I decided to stick with just deep house and forget the ambient for a while."
There is a nod to ambience on the album, however... so I ask him "You finish the album with 'Heat' which is a very "pure" variety of the form isn't it?... Do you enjoy listening to, and making, that classic, almost cliched type of piece?"
"Yeah, for sure, for sure" he replies "... I remember at the end of the nineties that Global Communication album ('76:14'), and I think from Tangerine Dream, to Klaus Schulze... Mike Oldfield... for me that was the beginning of electronic music, you know..."
We then discuss a few of the tracks from the album..."'Don't Hold' toys with a very established melody, while 'Midnight Frogs' is an almost onomatopoeic composition, while 'Rise Your Demons' is a woozy journey which hardly seems to evoke what it claims to soundtrack. What were you thinking of when you composed these pieces?" I ask... "Well, 'Rise Your Demons' was made to open the album, nothing more... 'Midnight Frogs' and 'Don't Hold' were made at almost the same time..." I feel that maybe he's misunderstood my question, but before I probe a little bit deeper he's very eager to tell me that the whole album is pieced together using "real atmospheres that I recorded in Thailand, Tokyo... (using found sounds)."
There's clearly an emphasis on melody, the more understated the better, so I'm curious to know how he comes up with his ideas, particularly because it may tie in with his job as a "Professor of Ableton Live". "I use Ableton like a sequencer" he tells me "Then I record my synthesiser on audio, but I use the the Arturia Laboratory plugin. I've also been learning the piano as well, which is super difficult... I've been going to private classes and the teacher asked me what I wanted to know, so it was very direct and I've been getting a lot out of it."
How does his work with Sergio Aphro, as Pulshar, differ from his solo material? "Sergio's more into black music from the seventies and the eighties, and this is what I miss, so I think the combination is perfect... his knowledge and my production skills... He's a graphic designer and he's always listening to new music and keeping up with everything, so the mix is perfect, and we work well together, turning our ideas into music."
We go onto discuss the current economic situation and how Spain, more than most, is getting the shitty end of the stick. I ask him if he thinks he'll be forced to move away in order to survive. It's not something which affects him too directly though; "I'm lucky, because most of my gigs and my work is outside Spain and my booking agency is... but I love Spain and its way of life. The club scene is really damaged now though, festivals have stopped, clubs have closed, but there are still a lot of great artists and the underground is still there..."
This doesn't seem to have affected Sonar though which, Pablo tells me "... was more (packed) than ever, because they changed the location of Sonar by Day, and it was a record turn out."
Finally I ask him how he divides his time when performing; does he DJ more than play live. This is something which "... depends on the venue, the club, the festival, the promoter... my music is deep and I prefer to play live more for festivals, not for clubs. I like to play longer when DJing than when live, but it depends on a lot of things... "
Thank you Pablo.
|Pablo Bolivar Online|