Kiko Navarro - Inside The Track

House DJ/Producer & Palma De Mallorca resident Kiko Navarro got into the music business during the 90s, specifically with club DJing in 1990 & music production in 1992.

As a DJ, Kiko has held residencies at many famous venues like Pacha Palma de Mallorca, Club 113 in Palma de Mallorca, Neighbourhood in West London, he was also an official Pacha Ibiza Resident DJ (2008) and during the summer of 2012 he played monthly at Space Ibiza club.

His music represents the fresh modern vibe of today while at the same time fusing elements from the past to give it a unique flavour. Respected imprints like as Z Records, King Street, Peppermint Jam, Transport, Third Ear, Yoruba Records, Om Records, Stereo Productions & Chez have released various projects from Kiko over his career.

Kiko Navarro’s latest project entitled the ‘New Life EP’ via Local Talk is out now Exclusively on Traxsource. We sat down with him to get an indepth look ‘Inside The Track’ and more with this Exclusive interview.

The Interview

1) Congratulations on your new EP via Local Talk. How is it being received in your sets? & How are other club DJs responding to the release?

Thanks! The crowd reaction is amazing, actually I have been surprised how a simple track like “Dope High” can cause that kind of madness on the floor. Concerning other DJs, their response from the promo campaign has been amazing with many of them from different genres supporting and playing the cuts on the New Life E.P. To give you a few names, Laurent Garnier, Gilles Peterson, Luke Solomon, Osunlade, Ashley Beedle, Martin Landsky, Nacho Marco, Catz n’ Dogz, Alex Barck and Opolopo amongst others.

2) Tell us more about the New Life EP. What was the main inspiration behind it and what prompted the musical direction on this?

Well, New Life E.P. includes 2 different tracks, Dope High (Original and Vocal Mix) and Nea Kameni (Original and Glenn Underground Remixes). Nea Kameni is the volcano name located in Santorini island, Greece and since 2008 I’ve been playing there every summer and feel a very special relationship with the island and its people.

Ever since 2008, each and every year I look forward to my annual gig at Casablanca Soul Bar and lately at Wet Stories Beach Bar. Each time, I play long sets around 6 – 7 hours and the vibe is amazing. So because of all that, I wanted to do a track dedicated to the island, its dancers, and the great memories of all those nights & thats how I came up with Nea Kameni, I tested it last summer at Casablanca Soul Bar and the reaction was like the volcano eruption!

When I started Dope High, initially I worked over a jazz beat, I doubled it and added more flavour with some additional sounds and a heavy kick, then the snare, which I particularly love. I have been loving these kind of beats since the early 90’s and it was time for me to do something like that. After I got the beat, I played some sound textures with different hardware synths. What I knew from the beginning is that I wanted to do something simple, not really that musically but with lot of energy for the dance floor. I took some old school samples like the the brass stab and the vocals, twisted them a bit and there you have the Dope High track.

When I sent it to the guys at Local Talk records, they liked it but felt it needed something else. I talked to Derrick Burrows a.k.a. D7, a great singer from Chicago living in Mallorca where I live too and he recorded the vocals in my studio.

NOTE: Click the images for large versions

3) Production wise, what is it about the tracks that make them work?

On Nea Kameni I basically worked with the Korg MS2000R for the main synth lick and some other chords as well as the bassline. With Studio Electronics SE-1 I used this for some acid blips.

I totally believe that you can’t compare the sound power of a hardware synth with a plugin, although there are very good ones. When I began making music with computers, I produced most of the tracks with plugins but since I’ve been able to get some hardware, I can’t get my hands of my machines and sound toys. I prefer to work with my fingers rather than the mouse.

Dope High is a more simple track. I think for those who like the vocal mix, Derrick Burrows – D7 work on it is the main key to its success as he has a special flow on the song, I really like the contrast of his soulful vocals with the energetic background. On this track, apart from the beats which I programmed with Native Instruments in Steinberg Cubase 5, I only used the Dave Smith Tetra synth. Its a small one with reasonable price but has very good sounds inside.

4) What is the one machine, program, sound, drum machine, technique that characterizes your sound?

At the moment I couldn’t tell you just one, I’ve been a Cubase fan for many years, I know that doesn’t characterise your sound but it’s definitely an essential tool for me. I also work a lot with N.I. Maschine for my beats. Regarding the kind of sound, I don’t know because normally I change my sounds and even the style on each production.

My two favourite plugins are Zero G Nostalgia and includes an extensive collection of drum machines, synths, event obscure and unknown ones. Its like virtually having all the best machines from 80s and early 90s. Also Latigo which is very good for latin percussion.

Lately I bought the Roland TR-8 and TB-3 so you can expect some acid and oldschool vibes on my future productions.

5) What is the one piece of kit that you simply cannot do without?

Definitely Cubase, I’m upgrading to 7.5 and I cant make music without it. I’ve tried Ableton Live and it has many features which Cubase doesn’t have and its much more easy and faster to use, but I’m not use to fully working with it yet.

Personally I think that this Cubase-Live combo I have is ace and I’m looking forward to managing both as time progresses.

6) Any advice for your fans on how to make it in todayís fast paced game?

I think the most important thing is to have fun while you make music, express yourself and do your own thing. Always try to be creative, don’t worry about anything, just do it, don’t be concerned if people like or don’t like your tracks, if it sounds like this producer or not etc.

Obviously its important to keep updated with technology because thanks to that we can create and develop better ideas. I know its more expensive to work with hardware rather than plugins, but I recommend to try whenever you can.

Nowadays its very easy to have your home studio, with a computer and audio monitors. When I started it was much more complicated and expensive, just do what you have inside and enjoy it!

Kiko Navarro’s artist page & releases on Traxsource.

Kiko Navarro