Guti: Music Is Endless
Argentinean DJ-producer Guti has enjoyed a colourful rise to his current, influential position. And fittingly, perhaps, his latest album – a remix revisit of this summer’s poignant long-player Rompecorazones – captures that journey perfectly, pivoting as it does between his significant loves jazz, rock and house. Jazz was Guti’s first discovery. He grew up in a large, hugely musical family in Buenos Aires, teaching himself to play the piano at five before progressing to a classical education in jazz, embracing the blues as a teen and, eventually, jamming with major Argentine rock bands such as Viejas Locas and Los Piojos. In time, Guti’s own band, Jovenes Pordioseros would play to over 10,000 wild-eyed fans on a weekly basis.
But, still, the jazz study continued. Guti worked, on the side, under various teachers including world famous pianist Ernesto Jodos. And then, in the studio of Latin Grammy-nominated producer Leandro Martinez, he started playing with house beats and singing vocals over them. The year was 2006 and Guti, having avidly consumed house and techno production across the early Noughties, was determined to follow his sonic instincts. Keen to avoid confinement within one genre and excited by what the uptempo pulse of electronic dance might offer him he decided to expand horizons – follow his heart.
Elastic, unrepressed techno tracks started to appear on smart labels like Unlike and Desolat (including 2009’s ‘Las Cosas Que No Se Tocan’), and then a fizzing Latin-piano hustle with Damian Schwartz, ‘Salson’, which blended many of Guti’s influences to that point and secured a prominent place on Loco Dice’s NRK compilation The Lab 01. Guti soared.
And how the last four years have flown. Guti has demonstrated electronic craft and guile via a string of blazing EP releases for Crosstown Rebels (collaboration with Dubshape, ‘Every Cow Has A Bird’, as well as with Fosky, ‘Step EP’), Wolf + Lamb (alongside Shaun Reeves, ‘Hold Me Tight’), Hideout (Davide Squillace tie-up ‘That Ginger Ponytail’), Intec Digital (‘Busuki EP’) and, last year, DFTD’s strident ‘Hope EP’. Remixes of Carl Cox and Nick Curly have dazzled and Guti’s DJ schedule has lengthened to well over 100 gigs per annum. Incredible.
But if the focus has been largely electronic then, artfully, Guti has continued to incorporate elements of jazz and acoustic. His 2011 debut album, Patio De Juegos (appropriate translation ‘playground’), proved that, weaving Latin and jazz around muscular house frameworks but this summer’s stunning follow-up, Rompecorazones (released on Guti’s new label of the same name), pushed far harder on conventional boundaries – gentle electronics a mere accompaniment to bold, impressive and intriguingly ruminative work on jazz piano, Hammond, brass and guitar. Bringing his creativity full circle, Guti is now readying the release of Rompecorazones Remixed on Defected – an ambitious project re-packaging his original opus with stellar remixes of specific tracks from it; remixes by Carl Craig, Osunlade and Guti himself, among many others. The worlds of jazz, rock and striking house are firmly in alignment….
Guti, remind us how the original Rompecorazones project came about…
My previous album was released in 2011 and it just felt like the right time to make a new record. But Rompecorazones wasn’t like this big dream of mine. It was only when I sat down to start planning a new album that I realized my feelings towards club music and other ideas, and wanted to do something completely different. That was the biggest surprise for me.
And now Rompecorazones Remixed?
At first I wanted to do the album as a completely separate thing, on my own label. But then I talked with Simon [Dunmore] at Defected, the label having a good name for house, and there was an opportunity to put my two worlds – the club and outside of the club – in one place. I’m really lucky to have so many musicians and artists as friends, all of them wanting to get involved here. Carl Craig is a friend, for example, and I would never ask him to remix anything but he liked the fact that this was a different thing…not club music, and wanted to do something. Damian [Schwartz] was also excited about getting involved. There’s a nice mix of friends and other artists that I admire on the album, and they had the freedom to do what they wanted to do. Therefore there’s some really different sounds here, some club approaches and some wildly different ideas.
How did it feel having other people interpreting such a deeply personal album?
Actually it was super exciting…exciting to see what people would do with my music. I wasn’t worried about it at all. I sent across the files and just waited to see what would happen…it was a nice problem to have. The results were totally amazing.
How do you sum up last year for Guti?
Last year like every year went so fast. I’ve had something like 150 shows, and after recording the album [the original Rompecorazones] I was touring Ibiza and the world. It’s been so intense but a very good year. Every year I have new motivations and 2014 was big in terms of building my new studio and coming home to that [in Barcelona]. It’s probably the biggest thing for me in 10 years.
In what ways would you say your studio mentality has evolved?
I work as I always have, from the heart. You have an initial mood when you’re making music and that comes across in the production, but then you’re lost in the different sounds…so it’s always a mix of sonic and feeling. There were certainly a lot of things going on when I made Rompecorazones…moving from somewhere cold [Germany] to the sun, leaving behind years somewhere else and some heartbreak [the album title means ‘heartbreaker’]…I was assessing and reflecting. But it was also a moment of revolution and all of these feelings and sounds came together.
What’s coming up in 2015?
The never-ending gigs! But, no, also some projects for my label. I’ve been working with Enzo Siragusa [cult London DJ] in the studio and have some upcoming projects with two great classical musicians Julien Quentin [French pianist] and Francesco Tristano [experimental Luxembourg-based composer]. I really want to push a deep fusionism with my music…a fusion of the electronic with other influences. I want to make new music that meets in the middle of the club and non-club worlds. It’s important to be out of my comfort zone…I want to push myself. The label will reflect this next year.
Do you think that purely electronic music has a shelf-life? Will it run out of things to say?
Music is endless. Some people get a feeling from artists making the same music and focusing on repetition, and that is fine. But other artists will always look to try different things in all music scenes and that it what keeps them, and their scenes alive. As along as artists are committed to trying something new then there is no problem. For me, I’ll ask myself from time to time ‘why do I do what I do?’ It’s because I want to experiment and always try something fresh. I may look back in the future and think ‘what the fuck was I doing there!?’ but you can’t think like that. Music is about the now and today; for me it’s about making something new and expressing myself.
And your opinion of the club scene in 2014?
It’s in a great moment. Electronic music is more popular, and there are more great places to play. There are many artists like me, helping to grow things and make the opportunity bigger for others. There’s a good mix of new and old talent, good clubs and a variety of labels…the small labels doing interesting things, and performing as well as the bigger ones like Defected. I feel honoured to be working where I am. I’m actually a shy person, in that I make music and don’t think what will happen when it is released. I didn’t think Rompecorazones would be this big album and the reaction to it makes me proud. The travelling as a DJ is difficult but that is the thing that comes with this beautiful job. I am always motivated, because I am creating music and inspired by the different cultures I see and experiences I have. This is a beautiful moment right now….
Guti’s Rompecorazones Remixed is out 15 February 2015 on Defected Records.