Hello Agustin, where are you right now, and what did you do this past weekend?
Hi, Mike. Well, I live in Valencia, on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. Nothing out of the ordinary, to be honest. I took the opportunity to rest a bit and work on some things for the labels that I had pending.
I want to ask about the origin of your project name. How did you come up with “Warmth”?
I spent a lot of time playing with sounds randomly, before actually starting to produce. It was something that I was doing in my free time, just for pleasure. At first, I didn’t intend to record anything of what I was doing, but at some point, I started to work on some full projects and I saw myself in the obligation to find an artist name. I was always looking for “warm” sounds, so it was the first thing that came to mind. I didn’t expect it to be something definitive, but I guess it fits with what I was at least trying to do and when I realized, I had already signed some works with that name, so I was comfortable with it.
How would you describe your compositions to someone unfamiliar with the genre?
I guess there’s nothing very special about it, even for someone who is not used to listening to ambient music. The most characteristic thing is that I usually work with very low tones, with a lot of emphasis on low frequencies and I try to make everything as subtle as possible. I often hear about what I do or that ambient music in general, it’s like something to have as a background or even something “to sleep” and well, I respect any opinion, but it’s not really what this is about for me, in fact, I think ambient music should be probably be listened to, with more attention than any other, to be able to enjoy and capture every last detail.
What does this type of music mean to you?
For me, it’s about generating the emotions. I mean, the music that moves me as a listener is the one that makes me feel something. Not necessarily something pleasant, but something that moves me inside and invites me to forget everything and immerse myself in it. When it comes to producing, the same thing happens to me. I have never thought about doing something that most people may like, I just do what I like and I feel at that moment. If I feel that a project really starts to speak for itself, I keep working on it and If I am lucky and someone feels something listening to it, not necessarily the same as me, then great. I think that’s the best thing about ambient music, is open to very different interpretations. That’s why I don’t usually make big descriptions of the albums I make. Many times it seems that some albums come with a manual and yes, I can have a more or less basic concept of what an album means to me, but I really find more interesting that each one looks for their own story and interprets the music as they want.
What is some of your favourite gear in your studio?
My study is quite humble, to be honest. I have an Access Virus, which I use a lot for the pads and an old Moog, but I also use virtual instruments, mainly Kontak and Reaktor from NI. I usually work with the same. In the end, most of the work and also the most fun is to process all those sounds until you get what you want.
Tell us a bit about your label, Archives.
Everything started over three years ago. At first, the label was oriented to dub-techno music, which was the main type of music that I was doing at the time. We released several digital EPs in that direction and over time turned to ambient music and I started to edit everything on CD. I have been lucky to meet people who make music that I love. Some more known, others less … this has never really been important, only that their music followed the story of the label and above all, that the artists were happy with the whole process.
And what about Faint? What is the difference in the aesthetic between the two?
The idea was to focus Faint on darker sounds and even ambient-techno. It is somehow more difficult to find material that I really like and fits in the direction of the label since it borders more minimalist genres, which are not always what I like the most. I don’t know how it will end up, because sometimes these guidelines change a bit, naturally, along with your interests, as happened with Archives, but I would say that the few releases so far are quite consistent in terms of sound with each other and that they are in a very interesting section of the ambient side of electronic music.
What are your thoughts on the cassette culture?
I was a bit sceptical at first. I was born in 1980, so, as you can imagine, it was the most basic way of listening to music I had known since I was a child. It was something cool, it was laborious to create your own tapes, with the tracks you wanted and that, made it something special. Now it is clear that there is a nostalgic factor, which is not different from the one on the vinyl, except for the quality or depth of sound of each format. I would say that most people listen to music in digital format, it is at least what happens to me because, in the end, you don’t have as much time as you would like to sit at home and listen to an album on vinyl or on CD on a proper equipment. Even so, there’s a lot of people, I include myself, that want to have something tangible and from the point of view of a label, the cassettes are very affordable and fast to do. I would love to press vinyl for all the releases, but the reality is that making about 200 copies of a double 12″, can cost you around 2600€/3000$ and the shipping costs are prohibitive for the customers, so at the end is not really so easy to sell them or find distribution, unless you are a big label or a widely known artist. And also, if you are lucky and there are no major problems, the process can take about 5-6 months. You always have that feeling that everything is in the air and you don’t know how and when things are going to come out, which makes very difficult to have any kind of schedule for the releases.
Who or what inspires you to create music?
Well, the music of Boards of Canada caused a great impact on me at the time and from there I discovered similar artists. Also James Holden and Border Community… Once I started producing, it was like an addiction. I remember that I could spend whole nights working on projects that probably I would never end, but spending time like that it’s like something very intimate: you alone with your music. Now I can spend a lot of time without really working on any project, managing the labels takes a lot of my free time, so when I start to work on something, it’s because I really feel the need. Sometimes I throw myself behind because I know that once I start to shape something I will not be able to stop and I will spend weeks looking for a time that I almost don’t have, to continue working on it.
I guess you are influenced by many things, from your mood to the time of the year or the weather… During the past year, I barely produced some single tracks and remixes. After ‘Home’, on which I worked at the end of 2016, I was not inspired at all. I tried several times to work on an SVLBRD album, but I felt completely stuck with it. It wasn’t until the end of the year when I really came up with a sound that I found interesting to develop and as soon as I finished ‘Stratus’, I started working on ‘Parallel’. I had some Warmth projects started by then, but I didn’t think they would bring anything interesting and suddenly I came across something that I found refreshing and in just a few weeks the album was ready.
What do you think is the future in ambient soundscapes? Where are we going to be 10 years from now?
I don’t think there will be very significant changes in terms of sound. If you listen to some early works of Steve Roach, Biosphere, GAS or Brian Eno, to mention some, they still sound very contemporary. I would say that ambient music is such a pure and simple style that there is no room for big changes, if you try to do something very different, it simply stops being ambient music. There may be some small currents within the genre, with bets for certain types of sounds, but in the end, it’s the most primitive style that prevails.
What I do feel is, that it has been built like a community around ambient music. Some decades ago it was a thing of a few because it was very difficult to have the possibility of producing and distributing your own music and among those that they could do it, those focused on ambient were like outsiders, it was almost something marginal. Now, things have changed a lot, there is a very large audience, but even so, the usual thing is that, for example, the stores are not interested in anything that is not techno or house, unless, as I said before, that you are someone very well known, because they still don’t think it’s something profitable so it would be interesting that the trend changes at least a bit in the coming years.