DJ Raff Helps Chile Find Its Own Space in Dance Music [INTERVIEW]
While much of our focus settles on major North American metropolitans for the sounds of right now, a little farther south a diverse musical movement is gaining traction in Chile.
DJ Raff is a longtime veteran of electronic music and has a vision for for the kind of music that Chile should be making. Based in the capital city of Santiago, DJ Raff has both witnessed and nurtured the growth of the Chilean music identity. Without the pressure to create massive main floor bangers, DJ Raff's Pirotecnia label is taking an independent approach to defining and articulating Chile's sound by giving artists a platform to experiment and hone their musical craft.
Today, Pirotecnia releases their second artist compilation, simply titled Vol 2, including two new tracks from DJ Raff himself with "Shake Shake Shake" and "Completed". The new compilation shows off Pirotecnia's roster of minimal and fierce beat driven tracks that cite influences of Latino rhythms as well as urban neo-futurism.
We had the opportunity to chat with DJ Raff about his career so far, starting Pirotecnia with his wife Dalal, and why Chile is a unique mixing-pot for electronic music.
EDM: Describe your journey with music so far.
DJ Raff: My journey began when I was very young. Since I can remember, music has caught my attention, and I had my first band when I was 12 years old. Since then until now, I have participated in many projects and nowadays I live surrounded by cables, vinyls, and musical instruments.
Your music has a distinct hip-hop flavor and yet borrows influences from many other genres. What have been some key inspirations in your music?
When I was 14 years old, I didn't know how to play the guitar nor the drums, and I also didn't have any musical instruments in my house. I only had a Casio keyboard that I never separated myself from. I learned about hip hop through the movie Beat Street. When I watched it I realized that I didn't need instruments to make music. Immediately I began to experiment with a double cassette radio to make loops, an old turntable my father owned, and my Casio keyboard. I began to make rhymes and to record everything I created. I think the key to music has always been curiosity and experimentation. To try to make sounds and tell stories with them.
You launched your own label Pirotecnia - can you tell us about that?
I launched Pirotecnia along with my wife Dalal, who is a cultural ambassador, two years ago.
Pirotecnia was born as a platform for artists on this side of the world who want to maximize creativity from different points of view and artistic territories. More than being label bosses, with my wife I spend time with the artists, and in collective form, we work so that their music reaches more people and can develop with plenty of artistic liberty.
What do you think make's Pirotecnia's sound and mission unique?
I think that the Pirotecnia sound tries to unify artists who are in the search for constant and honest sounds. Our interest is not in creating the latest world hit or getting close to the fashionable sounds, we look for the proper sound that sounds familiar and comfortable. We want to play at a nightclub and also during the day in the plazas, parks, galleries, etc.
What projects are you currently working on?
At this moment I am working on a new album for mid-2017. With it I wanted to go back a bit to my origins when referring to composition. I am working a lot with midi, sequencers, and keyboards trying to create simple and effective songs.
In what ways have you seen the electronic music community evolve in Chile, and where do you see it going in the future?
Electronic music has evolved very quickly in Chile. I think that by the late 80s and early 90s, artists here looked a lot to Europe and the United States when it came to their projects. In that era, they tried to copy and sound like them. Since a few years ago, Chile and Latin America in general found its own sound while looking at its roots, its cities, and culture. I feel super comfortable nowadays with this, and I think that the future looks very auspicious. Various independent labels are growing and are making partnerships with other parts of the world.
How would you describe Chile's relationship to music?
Chile has always been a very rich country when it comes to art. Although it is a very small and secluded country, a lot of our artists have had global recognition because of the music they make. Music has always been an important part of our culture and globalization, and a lot of our musicians have been able to showcase their art in different countries. Inside Latin America, nowadays Chile is one of the most important focus points for hip hop, electronic, and indie artists.
What can the rest of the world learn from the cultures and sounds of Chilean electronic music?
In addition to also being Latino, we don't have the cliche sound that the world expects from a country in South America. Many cultures live together, mix, and arrive to our country. Being so far away, we always watch with attention everything that comes from outside and we adapt it to our ways.
What are three artists that we should we check out?
There are many, but I would name, for example, Imaabs, Fantasna, and Daniel Klauser. I believe they have found their own sound and are very active in the music scene.
Cut my teeth with the Detroit techno scene before moving to Denver to see what the mountains have to offer.