EXCLUSIVE: FIVE MINUTES WITH A HARMLESS DEED’S J.C.
Spanish musician Jose Cabrera recently released his elemental new album Mugako. Here, he gives us the low down on contributing to Semantica’s series, his intentions for creating an honest album and how he manages to run two labels, Cabrera and A Harmless Deed with Damian Schwartz.
You released Mugako in August. What responses have you had from this release?
All the feedback has been great so far! Really happy with the result of the album and how people have perceived it! It was a different approach to techno from myself and I was intrigued about how the public would react, but I think the final result has been great.
To anyone who is unfamiliar with your sound how would you describe it?
Mmmm, that’s a tough one! It’s always complicated to describe yourself, I think. I can tell you what I like and it’s raw, hypnotic music that creates tension.
What influences did you draw on for the album?
I am always influenced by everything that surrounds me on my daily basis life. Not only the music, but also the films I see, situations, experiences… I take all aspects of my life and try to bring them out in the music that I make. Of course, I am also inspired by other artists and their work, but I try not to focus on anything in particular so I can express myself with honesty.
What was it like working with and contributing to Semantica’s series?
For me Semantica is one of the best techno record labels since years, so it’s been an honour to be part of it. Enrique does such a great job with the selection of artists and their music. He has a really precise concept of the music that he releases, and I think it’s a big part of the label´s success. I am great friends with him so the process was really natural and easy going.
The album is some aspects is quite elemental, especially tracks like Sendia and Apodaka. Did you have specific intentions with each track?
Those two specifically are both probably the deepest cuts of the album. It’s part of what I like the most when I am making an LP — being able to put out these kinds of tracks into the whole concept of the record. They are like transitions in between, and that’s where I like to experiment with frequencies and different layers to create concrete reactions among the listener.
How have you kept the album cohesive? Is it often a challenge trying to maintain cohesiveness in a body of work?
Normally, when I start a specific project I try to think the whole thing through before I begin working, and then see how I am going to do it. It can of course change later, but I like to have a plan and set things up in my mind and finally start work based on it. That’s why I think it’s easier for me to maintain the cohesiveness in the records. The production process is always really different. I am not always in the mindset to do something in particular, and I like to jump into different projects so I don’t get bored or stuck on something in particular. Firstly, I would start with different drafts and then, day by day, normally change parts of them until I have something definitive. The time is always really important in my music. I need to hear things with perspective in order to be sure of what I am finally putting out.
The artwork on this album is compelling. Is it symbolic of anything in particular?
Mugako is part of the Exhibition Design series of Semantica and all the records that have been released as part of it have been done with different paintings by the amazing artist Trudy Creen. She is an illustrator from Belfast and I really really like her work. I think its really interesting and original. She has also done works for Surgeon…definitely worth checking her out!
We also interviewed Damian Schwartz a few months back on how important having your own label is. Can you just touch on that too, since you also have your own labels, Cabrera and A Harmless Deed? What’s the dynamic like between running a label and producing your own music? Is one more fulfilling than the other?
Yes, of course! It’s really important for me to have my own output for music, not only for the stuff that I do, but also to release other artists that I like and respect. I love to share the whole experience of putting out records with other producers and then see the result with the listeners. It also reflects my own concept of music and gives me the freedom to do what I really want to without depending on somebody else. For me it’s basic.
Who are you listening to currently?
Right now I am on a huge Nick Cave obsession. I have always being a big fan of him, but at the moment it’s like the soundtrack of my current situation. He has so many amazing albums. I love his intensity.
What are the five albums of all time that have influenced you?
This is a difficult question for me because I have a really broad taste in music and I have been influenced by a large number of albums. But, I will say these five, because are the first ones to pop up in my mind.
– Drexciya – Neptune’s Lair
– Fugazi – Steady Diet Of Nothing
– Autechre – Amber
– KRS-One – Return of the Boom Bap
– Surgeon – Basictonalvocabulary
Lastly what lies ahead for you?
I have an upcoming release on my own label Cabrera with an incredible Efdemin remix and I have also finished an album with my friend Kastil on a new project we have called No Spiritual Surrender. We are just now trying to plan how to release it. Hope we have some news soon!
Listen to J.C. on SoundCloud below:
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