Tag Archives: Guitar

Artist Feature: Alex Ruger

Alex Ruger

You can only change where you are by truly knowing where you are, questioning your motivations and why you’re doing what you’re doing, being brutally honest with yourself. There’s no room for self-deception or ego in an artist’s life.

– Alex Ruger

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

AR: I grew up in central Indiana, studying piano and guitar and a bit of viola. I played in some bands–progressive rock, funk, jazz, lots of stuff. There wasn’t really a point where I “decided” that I’d be doing music for a living–it was just the obvious choice and always has been, so I went straight to Boston’s Berklee College of Music after graduating high school. My first two years at Berklee were mostly spent studying jazz guitar and working towards being a sort of jack-of-all-trades guitarist, but after a horrendous bout with tendinitis nearly ended my career before it had even began, I changed my focus to what, in retrospect, was my passion and goal all along: composition (and more specifically, writing music for movies, TV, and video games). After a couple years adjusting to my new trajectory, I graduated Berklee and moved to Los Angeles back in September 2013. Since then, I’ve been working for a few composers–including Bear McCreary and Penka Kouneva–and as a freelance composer, as well as balancing the odd producing, arranging, or mixing gig. I’m falling in love with the cultural and artistic melting pot that is LA–and the fact that I can go surfing pretty much any day is a nice plus.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AR: Refinement. Self-awareness and mindfully whittling away the unnecessary is an important and ongoing process for me–not just in my music, but throughout my life.

With regards to writing music, John Mayer said it better than I can. I’m paraphrasing, but he once said something to the effect of, “When you write, it’s like when you were a kid, throwing glitter on to a plate covered with glue. But it’s only when you shake off the glitter that doesn’t stick are you able to see the pattern it’s making.” That’s the fun part–shaking off the stuff that doesn’t stick.

When making music, that process is fun, but when you’re whittling away at yourself, it’s hard, and only recently have I begun to the see the patterns–thought processes, motivations, etc. You can only change where you are by truly knowing where you are, questioning your motivations and why you’re doing what you’re doing, being brutally honest with yourself. There’s no room for self-deception or ego in an artist’s life. And none of that introspection matters if you don’t have the courage to change and put what you’ve learned to work. It’s all about working towards a more refined version of you, and hopefully your art will reflect that.

How does your piece “Christmas 1914 in No Man’s Land” fit in with that definition?

AR: A great example of this is actually one of my non-film pieces, entitled “Christmas 1914 in No Man’s Land” (inspired by the Christmas Truce of World War I). It was a beautiful near-miracle that occurred right in the middle of what is quite possibly the nastiest war in human history–the two sides stopped fighting and enjoyed Christmas together. But it’s also a sad story–they began fighting again the next day. So the crux of the piece is an emotion that’s hard to describe–bittersweet comes closer than anything else, but it’s still not quite right. I guess that the saying, “Where words fail, music speaks” isn’t just some dumb phrase to put on refrigerator magnets!

To achieve this weird intersection of emotions, I really had to reel myself in and make sure that I wasn’t stepping on my own toes. Certain phrases needed room to speak, while others needed to be interrupted by the next one. Every note really mattered–it took a lot of “shaking off the glitter” to come to the end result. Even though I recorded it nearly a year ago, I’m still very happy with it. The number of things I want to go back and change is unusually low.

Alex Ruger - Conducting What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next? Continue reading

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Artist Feature: Liam McClair

Liam McClair is a singer-songwriter out of Wilmslow, Cheshire, England that we met through our homie Sobi Thurairatnam. For Liam, Reflection is about unbiased retrospection and balanced analysis of the past. His music provides a medium for reflection on lived experience. Liam discusses this process through a showcase of songs from his first EP, How. We’re excited to say that he’s soon to drop his second EP HONEY through HourGlass Productions, and he’s also looking to perform with a full band after its release. Check out the interview below, stay tuned for tour dates, and make sure to check out the new EP soon!

Liam McClair

Reflection to me is considering the positives and negatives in a previous situation, but trying to be as objective as you can to ensure that you are seeing the outcomes and effects as they are and not from a biased position.

– Liam McClair

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

LM: I am from Wilmslow, Cheshire in the UK. I have been performing as a solo singer-songwriter for nearly a year. The highlights have been having my track played at Old Trafford twice, playing at Liverpool’s Sound City, being featured and interviewed on BBC Introducing Merseyside, and the continued support online from radio stations, fans and blogs.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

LM: Reflection to me is considering the positives and negatives in a previous situation, but trying to be as objective as you can to ensure that you are seeing the outcomes and effects as they are and not from a biased position. I reflect often with my music as my writing process is quite organic so upon reflection I can understand the theme of the song and subsequently direct the song towards that theme. Response is a person’s reaction to a stimulus, whether that be sensory or physical.

How does your work fit in with that definition?

LM: My song writing is predominately based on reflections. Most of the songs I have written have been based on personal experiences and personal emotions. Within my Debut EP, How, all of the songs are based on reflecting on a time and they are responses to things I have seen or experienced. The first track Roam The Globe acts as my travel journal from times I have spent abroad:

Rough Waters is a description of ending a relationship and the difficulties involved and experienced:

Somewhere Before is the story of a couple with dementia which I responded to initially, however I didn’t realise that was the topic of the song until I reflected on it:

How is a song I wrote about the feeling of pure desire you have when first encountering someone you really admire:

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Mike Gervais

Mike Gervais is a guitarist, singer, and songwriter, and  lifelong resident of Seattle, Washington. As he witnesses a changing city climate, Mike writes image-based music that inspires feelings in the mind of the listener, preferring to position his creative output within the physical dimension of response. In the interview below, Mike describes the natural imagery behind one of his songs Aurora Borealis and some of his inspirations such as impressionism and Chuck Close. Working extensively with his brother Matt as “Mikey and Matty,” the two have begun a busy 2014 playing dozens of shows and writing new songs they look to record over the next few months.

Mike and Matt Gervais

I don’t want to change or rearrange anything. If I could be successful at songwriting at all, I’d hope that what I came up with put a picture in the listener’s mind. I’d prefer to be an impressionist or even a Chuck Close to being a Jackson Pollack. Even though I envy that type of work.

– Mike Gervais

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

MG: I realized recently that I’ve experienced 21% of the entire history of Seattle as a life-long resident. Imagine the time elapsed since the Denny party first settled here- 163 years, as the price of your dinner date… My age is the tip. I suppose that I should consider this when lamenting the construction projects that seem to be replacing all of the old brick and 70’s architecture with steamy hot-yoga windows under impossibly expensive “mixed-income” apartments. I walk around mostly humming tunes and looking for plants coming up through the cement. Even though we’re so close to the mountains, it seems like it’s getting harder to feel that they’re so close. I think we could all use a good long walk up there.  

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

MG: I think a reflection is a response. I’m mostly about the tangible, equal-opposite reaction type of response. If light waves are bouncing on a puddle in the road, I want my music to be that reflection. I’m only looking for images that convey feelings. I don’t consider myself worthy of interpreting and translating events and relationships- I don’t want to change or rearrange anything. If I could be successful at songwriting at all, I’d hope that what I came up with put a picture in the listener’s mind. I’d prefer to be an impressionist or even a Chuck Close to being a Jackson Pollack. Even though I envy that type of work.

How does your song Aurora Borealis fit in with that definition?

MG: I work exclusively with my brother, Matt Gervais. Most of our work fits somewhere into the imagery=feeling spectrum. This is the first time I’ve had an interview without him, so I chose to highlight a song I can speak to more personally, Aurora Borealis. I tried to tell this story exclusively through pictures, and I normally look to nature for the best ones. The tide goes out twice a day and these squishy, delicate animals are exposed to the seagulls and the sunshine. You could write a thousand songs about that. Or the chaos of Saturn missiles going off on a dock at dusk in summer. I love the grandiose and the hopeless.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Armando Pérez

Armando Pérez is a focused and prolific musician, composer, and producer originally from Chicago, and currently based back in his hometown after stints in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Over the years, Armando has been an important, contributing figure in various musical scenes, with projects ranging from composing/recording under the name The Single Helix, hosting DJ sets and other concerts, playing with Latin fusion group Jugo de Mango and Afro-beat/cumbia ensemble ¡ESSO!and spinning house and global soul music. In his interview, Armando comments on Reflection and Response through the intriguing nature of his surroundings and the process of absorbing its various scenes. He also discusses his efforts to stay continually busy to help fuel positive production and creativity. The future is naturally bright and full for Armando with records coming out for his various projects along with multiple upcoming performances, so we were lucky enough to catch up with him for the feature below!

Armando Pérez

It’s pretty cathartic to read your own unfiltered thoughts. It helps put life into perspective.

– Armando Pérez

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

AP: I was born and currently reside in Chicago, IL. I am working and living in the Hermosa neighborhood, writing and recording new music under the alias The Single Helix, as well as hosting monthly DJ and live music nights around the city. I’m blessed to have the outlets I do; performing with Latin fusion band Jugo de Mango, performing Afro-funk and cumbia with ¡ESSO!, and DJing global soul and house music. I do music full time: licensing beats, engineering live shows, guesting with musician friends and recording various artists. Having lived in Los Angeles and San Francisco, I decided Chicago had the best scene for my creative aspirations. Home is where the heart is, so here I am.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AP: For me, it means I discover who I am and what I stand for: I witness, I absorb, I process, I respond. There are so many variables in where we are and what we see and feel. Strong moments make me reflect on what it means to be true to myself. It leads me to my voice.

How does your work fit in with that definition?

AP: I am surrounded by city life. I see people, friends and family coming and going, searching, dealing with their social and professional triumphs and problems. It all affects me. My entire creative life has been a documentarian response to all these experiences. I keep journals. I read them back and find idea nuggets to make new music. I’m literally talking myself into it. It’s pretty cathartic to read your own unfiltered thoughts. It helps put life into perspective. Beyond those lyrical ideas and notes, melodies sometimes come to me out of nowhere, sometimes in my sleep! I’ll have to wake up, get my guitar, figure out the melody or chord structure and record it on my phone. When I sit down to write, it comes out more controlled. Once my vocal melody is solid, I can fit it to lyrical ideas phonetically. It is all reflection of what I’m feeling.

Armando Pérez

What have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next? 

AP: I am really excited about releasing a special song I co-wrote and recorded with the talented rhumba flamenca, Vivian Garcia. We are now finishing the video for our single, “Loc@s.”

I’m also wrapping up a personal album of sexy songs entitled “Pillowtalk”  featuring prodigious opera singer Erica Rose Sauder. It will be released under the SonicOctopus/Dilligaf label at the end of April.

In May I’ll be completing an album with West Coast producer extraordinare Izznyce. We are working as a breakbeat collaborative called Oso Gigante, repping San Francisco and Chicago. We will be releasing our first record “Rarities Vol.1” and be back in the studio with emcee Planet Asia in early May.

Beyond that, I have DJ remixes in the works for the dance floor and a live ¡Esso! record and tour planned for this summer. Did I mention the new Jugo de Mango record coming out this Spring?

What inspires you?

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Artist Feature: Sobi

I first met Sobi performing as part of the Café La Palma Open Mic series in Madrid, Spain. Sobi had her EP up for download and quickly established herself as a dope songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist throughout the city. Originally from London and currently living in the musical center of Manchester, Sobi stays active playing shows throughout England. Music provides Sobi a way to reflect on and recast past experiences into positive expressions moving forward. The deeper the Reflection, the more honest her songs become. Sobi put out her first EP Betty La Guapa in 2012 and is ready to drop her second EP Creatures in my Mind with Hourglass Productions on April 5th on Itunes. Peep the dialogue below and be sure to cop the new record coming soon!

Sobi

Reflection is taking time to remember and ponder the past. Response is using the past as inspiration to create something meaningful and positive. Depending on how we respond our past can always have a positive effect on our future.

– Sobi

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

S: Hi I’m Sobi and I’m a Britain-based singer/songwriter. My family are originally from Sri Lanka but I was born in Madrid and have spent most of my life living in England. I grew up in London and at the ripe old age of 18 decided to move to Manchester to study where I very quickly fell in love with the city that I now call home. As a musician and a huge fan of music Manchester has provided me with some of my favorite musical experiences! From watching bands like the Flaming Lips to performing myself with some incredibly talented local artists.

Sobi

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

S: To me reflection is taking time to remember and ponder the past. Response is using the past as inspiration to create something meaningful and positive. Depending on how we respond our past can always have a positive effect on our future.

How does your music fit in with that definition?

S: Writing songs has always been an emotional outlet for me and a way of reflecting and responding to various situations that I have been in. When I’ve had a stressful day or am feeling anxious about something my natural response is to pick up a guitar and turn my bad feelings into something good. The more I reflect on how the past has affected me and made me feel, the more honest and real my songs become.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Jeremy Flax

I first met my dude Jeremy Flax stompin’ away at the Open Mic at Triskel Tavern beating out some dope sounding electric guitar blues tune on a Thursday night at 1:30 AM. Jeremy is from Virginia and lived in Madrid from 2011-2013 and is now back in the United States working with his group J Flax and The Heart Attacks. Below, Jeremy discusses the self-reflective nature of Reflection and Response, and how conclusions drawn from this practice can help us better ourselves. Jeremy also presents his dope practice of listening to his old groups and selecting elements that he is currently using with his group today. Be on the lookout for shows throughout the Virginia and Washington DC area from this powerful performer, composer, and vocalist!

Jeremy Flax

Reflection means really looking back at the actions you’ve taken and the things you’ve said and thinking about how they have affected others…Response entails what you decide to do with the conclusions you’ve drawn.

– Jeremy Flax

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

JF: I’m from Virginia Beach, Virginia originally. I’ve lived in Virginia my whole life except for two years that I spent in Madrid from 2011 to 2013. Right now I’m actually back living in Virginia Beach for the first time in several years, but I’m hoping to relocate to Washington, DC in the near future.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

JF: To me reflection means really looking back at the actions you’ve taken and the things you’ve said and thinking about how they have affected others. Did they have a positive impact or a negative impact? Did they help me to better myself or am I the same person now as I was then? Response to me entails what you decide to do with the conclusions you’ve drawn. What have I learned about myself and how can I justify the actions I’ve taken? Response is picking a road to go down after having examined the road you’ve already taken.

How does your band J.Flax & The Heart Attacks fit in with that definition?

JF: The music that I’m making now is in a way a response to conclusions I’ve reached having analyzed the music I was making with my former band, The Vermilions. Listening to both you can hear that the influences come from the same place but I feel like having gone back and listened to my previous record several years after making it I can pick out elements of those songs that I still enjoy and phase out the elements that looking back I find didn’t work. The result is a collection of songs that are far more streamlined and are a lot of fun to listen to as well as perform.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Achilles Kallergis

Just a couple of months ago we connected with Achilles Kallergis at El Born, a dope Spanish restaurant down the street from us. This multi-faceted Brooklyn-based artist by way of Athens, Greece, and Switzerland utilizes his guitar to reflect on and respond to the various sets of stimuli that comprise the reality we live in. Achilles has recently dove into the art of Flamenco music and he celebrates the power and continuity of this folk art form that has handed down generations of style, melody, and story. Drawing on his global presence, his future projects involve recording albums with connected artists from around the world. In a piece that locates the power of song as a common denominator around the globe, Achilles breaks down the collaborative and improvisational possibilities of music.

Achilles Kallergis

Art is very esoteric and personal but it is also an attempt to connect and communicate with people, the need to feel part of the world, of a place, of a community. And that is a contradiction: the secret or mystic world of the artist crying out for contact and connection with the rest of the world.

– Achilles Kallergis

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

AK: I am from Athens, Greece and currently living in Brooklyn NYC for the past five years. I’m a musician, guitarist, and composer interested in both written and improvised music forms.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AK: Any artistic expression is a response or in response to something experienced. Art reflects life, lived or even un-lived experiences so reflection and response is always at the center of any piece of art.

How does your work fit in with that definition?

AK: Especially in improvised music (whatever the style) I think everything is response and reflection. It can be a response to a musical phrase, to one note or texture (even to the sound of the cash register at the bar). At the same time though it reflects the mood, personality and experiences of the performer. It is responding to and “being at the moment” while reflecting who you are. 

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

AK: Recently I’ve been getting obsessed with flamenco. It’s definitely a new art form for me which I started getting deeper into more recently. Definitely challenging in every aspect but also extremely deep in a unique way. It is really heavy and powerful music. Also, at a time where everything is about the next “new thing” or new sound it is very refreshing to go back to a folk music form, that does not claim to be innovative but strongly rooted in the history of its people. One that has been orally transmitted from generation to generation and that brings with it the tumultuous history of Gitanos, perhaps the most misunderstood and persecuted group in history. I feel this connection to the past is something that is missing from many new music idioms. Maybe flamenco showcases the importance of response and reflection – a response and reflection on the history of Gitanos by Gitanos.

In terms of new works, I’m looking forward to record two albums. The first one will be based entirely on my compositions and will document my working jazz quartet featuring Timo Vollbrecht on saxophone, Adam Hopkins on bass and Nathan Ellman-Bell on drums. I’ve been playing with these guys for a while now and I’m grateful cause they are all amazing musicians who manage to add a new dimensions to my music.

Another exciting future project is a collaboration with some musicians from Switzerland featuring Ganesh Geymeier, great saxophone player and improvisor, Michael Gabriele and Marc Olivier Savoy who are both members of Ouizzz one of my favorite bands (make sure that you check them out!). I will be joining them for a recording in Switzerland next summer and I am really happy to reconnect and play with these guys. 

Who or what inspires you?

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Artist Feature: Franz Rothe

We’ve been fortunate enough to have become close friends with Dresden-born musician, writer, and filmmaker Franz Rothe over the past year here in Brooklyn, and his versatility and creative output are huge inspirations for us. In an insightful interview, Franz guides us through his perspectives on Reflection and Response, explores how these concepts fit in with his musical process, reflects on a recent album called Away that he worked on as part of the band Franz & Frau Schneider und dieser Andere, and talks through various current projects. Let’s dig in:

Franz Rothe

I believe that the urge to write a song results from the need to capture and express a certain feeling…You chase this feeling, this impulse, because it is haunting, like something you have once known but forgotten. And you try to figure out what it is, what it wants to be, how it wants to sound.

– Franz Rothe

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

FR: I am from a beautiful city called Dresden in Germany. But I have been living here and there in the recent past. Right now I live in New York, which is wonderful but won’t last very long either.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

FR: I think that, in a way, Reflection and Response describes the very essence of music or really any kind of art. I believe that whatever we create can only be seen as a response to what we have seen, heard or experienced before. At least I would say about myself, that I’ve never come up with any kind of idea that was not a response to something somebody else did before me. We reflect upon our experiences, our impressions, and we respond to them – knowingly or not – and sculpt them into something new.

Pessimistically, that view could lead to questioning the mere idea of originality, as everything is just a combination of what was there before. But on the other hand, I enjoy the thought of being a part in an endless chain of Reflection and Response.

(For example, I am not ashamed to say that my biggest form of admiration for any kind of art is the thought ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ followed by the thought ‘How can I take that and turn it into something new?’…)

How does your album ‘Away’ fit in with that definition?

FR: I think the album ‘Away’ is on many levels the product of Reflection and Response – it is what we made of music we heard, songs we love, songs we hate, books that touched us, people that surrounded us and places we have been. But it is also what we made of each other and ourselves.

I believe that the urge to write a song results from the need to capture and express a certain feeling. It’s never about which chords might go well together and which words might rhyme. You chase this feeling, this impulse, because it is haunting, like something you have once known but forgotten. And you try to figure out what it is, what it wants to be, how it wants to sound.

I think, in the best case an artist should be like the needle of a record player, materializing an invisible something.

As we were three musicians working together on this album, the most important part was responding to our surroundings in a similar way. Sharing an understanding of the feelings that we wanted to transport in the music we made. And with every musician we brought into the studio, we hoped they would be telling a similar story as we did, adding to what the three of us shared.

Then again, that sounds way more complex than it actually was. In the end we just made music together, simply loving each other for that.

Franz Rothe & Vivi

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

FR: I’m trying my hand at a couple of different things right now. There are so many languages in which you can express yourself, so I tried to look for other languages like film or writing. Kind of to find an outlet for things that haunted me, but couldn’t find their way out of my head through chords and melodies.

I made a documentary about forced evictions in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, with my dear friend Michael last year. It’s called ‘The Final Days’ and I’m happy about anyone watching it on vimeo.

Right now I actually started writing a book, which has been on my mind for ages. But first novels usually suck, so there’s really not too much to expect there…

Who or what inspires you?

FR: Places. People. My friends. Vivi and Lukas, who are the other two-thirds of the band. Their talent and their ability to always just naturally come up with exactly the right thing – that never ceased to amaze and inspire me!

Generally speaking though, in the best case, absolutely anything could be inspiration. But unfortunately I often have a hard time keeping the open eyes it takes to be aware of what’s actually around me.

So what I do is I travel a lot and try to see and live in as many countries and cultures as possible, to absorb as much as I can.

Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?
FR: Check out the photographer Ben Zank! I just had the pleasure of meeting him and he is as nice a guy as he is a brilliant artist.
Shout out to…?

FR: Huge shout out to Vivi and Lukas, with whom I made the album ‘Away’ and whom I miss terribly when we are too far away from each other to make music!

Franz, Vivi, Lukas

Reflection and Response.

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Artist Feature: Alejandro Aquino

Alejandro Aquino es un artista que ha vivido y aprendido de los varios contextos geográficos y temporales de su vida. Desde Guadalajara, México a Malasaña, Madrid, Aquino busca música sencilla que tiene poder en su propia melodía.  Desde lo análogo y lo digital, el músico contempla los efectos de la nueva rapidez tecnológica con que se comparte las cosas con un ritmo cada vez más rápido hoy en día. En el diálogo abajo, comparte su perspectiva ante esas cuestiones, muestra sus proyectos pasados y actuales, y habla de muchos temas más. Además urge que protejamos el costumbre de Reflexión y Respuesta en nuestro mundo actual que corre tan rápido que es posible perder el filtro de la honradez.

Alejandro Aquino is an artist who has lived and learned from the various geographic and temporal contexts of his life. Originally from Guadalajara, Mexico and moving to Malasaña, Madrid, Alejandro is in search of simple music that is powerful on its own. With experience from the analog world to the digital world, the musician contemplates the effects of new rapid technologies that are used to share ever faster. In the ensuing dialogue, Alejandro shares his perspective about these issues, speaks on his past and current projects, and much more. He also urges us to protect the custom of Reflection and Response in our world that moves so fast it is increasingly possible to lose the filter of honesty.

Alejandro Aquino

Yo he vivido la transición entre lo análogo y lo digital, y veo que ahora las generaciones actuales tienen mayor facilidad y velocidad para dirigir su arte a un colectivo mayor. Sólo recomendaría que la inmediatez, la prisa por dar a conocer el “arte” no nos ciegue, y no permita que lo que logremos crear pase por un filtro personal de Reflexión.

I’ve lived the transition from analog to digital, and I see that the current generation can spread their art to large audiences more easily than ever before. I would only advise that we not let this immediacy and overall hurry to spread our “art” blind us to the point that what we create doesn’t pass through our personal Reflection filters.

Para empezar con algunos puntos básicas, de dónde vienes? Dónde estás?

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

AA: Vengo de la ciudad de Guadalajara, México. Una ciudad populosa que se debate entre tradicionalismo y modernidad. La segunda ciudad en importancia en el país es el estandarte del folclor conocido como representante del país en el mundo entero. Y ahora, radico en el madrileño barrio de Malasaña, un lugar multicultural, donde se mezcla la vida nocturna distendida de copas con la oferta cultural de pequeños lugares donde igual se escucha música o se compra un buen libro.

AA: I’m from Guadalajara, Mexico, a populous city stuck between traditionalism and modernism. It’s the second biggest city in the country, and representative of the folklore that’s commonly considered to be representative of Mexico. Right now, I live in a barrio in Madrid called Malasaña – it’s a multicultural place where nightlife and casual drinking blend with cultural offerings found in small places to go out, where you’re just as likely to listen to music as you are to buv a good book. 

Que quiere decir “reflexión,” y “respuesta,” para ti?

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AA: Reflexión es el resultado de la confrontación entre experiencia y momento. El espacio donde se interiorizan las consecuencias de nuestros actos pasados basándose en nuestras expectativas y las posibilidades de hacerlas realidad en un futuro.

La respuesta sería la acción, el resultado de la reflexión anterior. 

AA: Reflection is the result of the intersection of experience and reality. The space in which we internalize the consequences of our actions, grounded in our expectations and the possibilities of making them reality.

Response would be an action [that comes about] as a result of a prior reflection.

Cómo se mete tu arte en esta definición?

How does your work fit in with that definition?

AA: Mi arte, por así llamarlo, aunque para mí sería artesanía, es una especia de bitácora que refleja mis inquietudes o mis momentos en la vida. Es el resultado también de la música que escucho, la edad y la gente que me rodea.

AA: While I think of my art, if you will, as my craft, it serves as a daily log that reflects my anxieties or experiences in life. It’s also the result of the music I hear, the people around me, and the times we live in. 

Que más estás haciendo actualmente? Que proyectos estás pensando trabajar próximamente?

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Rafael Alves

Rafael Alves is one soulful dude. Whether he’s showcasing his special touch on guitar, blowing some gritty blues on harmonica, blessing the crowd with his ill voice, or introducing us to “electronicbluesbossafunk,”  Rafa fills space with dope music. Coming at us from Madrid via Curitibia, Brazil by way of New Zealand, this Artist discusses the role of his craft, new projects, shares some truth about music in Madrid, and much more. Peep the dialogue below and vibe to tracks “Use Me,” “Will Be Mine,” and if you’re in Madrid catch Rafa at one of his many upcoming performances!

Rafael Assis

What I do is mostly based on the sound and the way I feel playing. I always try to enjoy myself, playing on my own or jamming with other people. It normally works and that’s how I communicate with other people.

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

RA: I’m from Curitiba, south Brazil. I live in Madrid, Spain.

 What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

RA: There isn’t much reflection in what I’m doing now; I don’t try to give people any good message, or advice through the songs I play.

What I do is mostly based on the sound and the way I feel playing. I always try to enjoy myself, playing on my own or jamming with other people. It normally works and that’s how I communicate with other people. 

How does your project Pure Acoustic Soul fit in with that definition?

RA: Everywhere I live I often jam with friends in my house, playing acoustic. So with Pure Acoustic Soul I try to bring this cozy atmosphere of acoustic music and friends to other people. 

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

RA: I’ve been working with some electronic Brazilian music, it’s difficult to label the style – it’s kind of a mix of “electronicbluesbossafunk” – it’s pretty fun making it. Trying to mix different sounds without knowing how it’s gonna end up. Traveling, I had the privilege of jamming with musicians from everywhere so what I do is send them the tracks and they record their part wherever they are (New Zealand, Brazil, Spain, …)

Who or what inspires you? 

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