Matias Aguayo Talks EDM in the Streets: "It Is Obviously Possible to Dance Outside a Club"
Matias Aguayo is not your garden variety EDM artist. Not by a long stretch. In many ways, the Chilean-born producer is Latin America's answer to UK sonic mad scientist Matthew Herbert, approaching the formulaic house and techno genres with an irreverent spirit of experimentation and unconventional studio techniques. Mirroring Herbert's use of bodily noise samples, for instance, Aguayo's 2009 long player Ay Ay Ay employed little more than his own voice to create harmonic and rhythmic textures.
Aguayo is also intent on defying the conventions of dance music, taking it out of a nightclub context and into the streets. Like flash mobs or situationist happenings, his BumBumBox sound system parties pop up in urban centers around the world, disrupting and engaging commuters with a unique, impromptu musical experience.
Of course, his Latin American heritage is central to Aguayo's sound, which draws from salsa, cumbia, baile funk and other homegrown dance music influences he's picked up during his travels in the region. And it follows that his label, Cómeme, has become a homebase for some of the more colorful and eccentric electronic dance music producers in South America -- many of them featured as guest musicians on Aguayo's new 2013 album, The Visitor.
Ahead of a rare Miami appearance to perform with Slap & Tickle at Bardot on Tuesday, Crossfade caught up with the one and only Matias Aguayo to chat about BumBumBox, the new album, and more.
Crossfade: The term avant-garde comes to mind to describe the Cómeme label, because so much on the catalog defies categorization and seems to be playing with and pushing the possibilities of sound within the house and techno format. What is the concept behind Cómeme for you? What is the criteria you use for selecting artists to sign and material to release?
Matias Aguayo: In Cómeme we are always reacting to the impulses and ideas of this growing family and its members -- it is complex to keep up with that. Cómeme being a very small label despite its presence. Techno for me was always a space for aliens, for the non-fitting. And to establish a genre, a certain sound, etc., for me, sounds like the opposite of what made this music attractive to me. So I am very happy when I listen for instance to the upcoming album of Sano from Medellín, as I really doubt any other label would dare to release that, and on the other hand it is a record that I would surely take home with me if I'd find it in some record shop.
I want Cómeme to be a space exactly for that, for the non-fitting dance music, and also a space for the musicians who work in a different way, and are not mainly driven by ambition, but by the love for music and are open to collaborate. I strongly believe in better musical results through communication, through community-sense and collaborations. Cómeme for us is a platform to create and live our own musical context.
Tell us about your BumBumBox sound system parties. What have they imparted to you? How do you apply the insights from these happenings into what you do as a producer and DJ?
Using the public space was a possibility to reinvent the city for yourself, and also to leave the formats in which dance music is pushed. It is obviously possible to dance outside a club also, and often more inspiring, as you are confronted with an audience that you don't know and automatically you have to open your musical language. I just played a few months ago in front of the record shop Serendipity in Milano, on the street. It is beautiful to play in front of an audience that doesn't know you and doesn't expect anything. In general, it is vital to me to not generate all inspiration in the clubs that automatically lead you to a certain sound or a certain way of producing music.