Some would say that it would be quite difficult to understand the true value of Ideograma aka DJ F– online clips of his productions are scarce and his releases are hard to find but dig a little and it is obvious that he is a true electronic artist. A producer, a DJ, a musician who plays live and alongside these elements of music, he has his record store Recycled Music Centre and label Prayers For The Long Life – music is the only job he has known.
Whilst having heavily contributed to the underground scene in his hometown Madrid, his achievements lie under the radar… and that’s where Undersound comes in, a party that has a knack for unearthing underground talent. Podcast 023 was DJ F’s electro Ideograma offering, somewhat of a warm-up to the party on October 7 where he will guest DJ.
Here he gives us an insight into his music and projects to date…
Hi Ideograma. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, we’re really honoured!
So you’ve been DJing since 1992 – that’s more than 20 years of experience. You must be able to mix records with your eyes closed! But do you find yourself still entering uncharted territory, having to learn new ideas, familiarize yourself with new processes etc.?
Of course – one never stops learning. And to be honest, I appreciate almost every type of music, I listen to many different styles and I still enjoy discovering a connection with a different artist, a different style of music and era… the more you know about something, the more you realise that there is so much more to know.
You also play live – can you tell us about that.
When I make music, I always try to make tracks that can be played live – that’s something I always keep in mind.
I’ve been playing live on a regular basis for many years now, although my last live appearance was about a year ago. At one point it did get too much – with my machines each time producing solo. It’s very demanding and at times it can be frustrating but in the end being able to play your own music is something wonderful – and that’s something that I don’t forget.
You’ve released music on a number of excellent Madrid labels: Semantica, A Harmless Deed, Titan’s Halo Records, Freebeat, Area 51, Chaval Records and of course your own label Prayers For The Long Life. What would you say these labels represent in Madrid? Is there a strong sense of interconnection?
Like every city Madrid has its own artists and platforms, and most of the DJs producers and label owners know each other, but I couldn’t say if it’s more interconnected than other cities. At the moment the scene is healthy, lots of different people working well together, doing things right and delivering quality music, although it can be hard because you don´t get any help from the institutions or the club owners generally but that’s a bit like everywhere I suppose.
I believe the ethos of a city is expressed in the music that’s being produced – your personality and your living experiences influence the music you put out.
In George BTP’s documentary ‘Madrid Exploring Underground‘, Ernie from Minuendo Recordings explains that the scene is “strongly influenced by music from USA and Western Europe…and of course Latin America as well”. To what extent would you say your music style fits with this description?
Well there’s nothing strange in that, the whole world is influenced by what happened and is still happening in those places. I’m influenced by all the music (not only electronic) that I have heard, but when I produce I do try to find my own sound.
Would you say your label Prayers For The Long Life is representative of your music style?
Yes, every one of my projects – ‘Dj F’, ‘Ideograma’, and ‘Acid Future Overdose’ – is represented in the label.
What drove you to create your own outlet?
I wanted to be able to control every aspect of the process involved in releasing my music.
And so not only have you started your own label but you also run your own second hand record store ‘Recycled Music Center’. Why did you decide to open the store? And what makes it different to the other stores in the city?
I’ve been working in record stores for 25 years – it’s the only job that I’ve ever done. So now yes I run Recycled Music Center. It’s different in the sense that it’s vinyl-only and 95% second hand (We have a limited selection of new records, based mainly on the Madrid labels ‘Semantica’, ‘Frigio’, ‘Downbeat’, ‘A Harmless Deed’ and others). There’s a wide range of records in store – the stock is constantly renewed but I try to carefully select each vinyl. And as people can bring their own records to sell, it’s become a sort of meeting point for many of the people involved in the scene.
Can you also tell us about the workshops you organise?
The workshops are something new… there’s a team of people behind the concept. Eric (PirX8Z8) and I are in charge of the organization promotion and so on. We have an excellent teacher on board, Boris Divider – another good friend and one of the most widely recognized techno and electro producers to come out of Madrid. Our objective is to do something useful, straight and low cost, which helps people with their first tracks or to simply improve their production skills. We’re also hoping to act as a catalyst for the local scene by bringing people together – the people who are interested in electronic music.
Let’s talk about some of the labels that you have released music on… Madrid’s Semantica Records has a pretty impressive catalogue and they’re celebrating 10 years at Tresor on the 30th of September! If you had to name a release that particularly stands out for you…
This one is hard, because as you said the catalogue has many excellent titles. I feel closer to the initial years of the label as that’s when I released my music. I’m very impressed by Enrique Svreca’s work. For me he is an example of how, when you work hard and well, you can go as far as you want – maximum respect for those who fight for their dreams.
You also remixed an ERP track “Lodestone”. What inspired you to do this?
Actually my main inspiration was his music – he’s one of my favourite artists. It was a challenge yet all the while beautiful… ERP / Convextion makes eternal tracks that are saturated with interesting elements.
Perhaps one of your most sought-out records would be your limited edition mini album Exobiology that was released on Semantica. Can you tell us the story behind this art piece?
Well, all Semantica references from that period are very sought after because they’re rare. At the time Enrique was only pressing 100 copies of each title. The possibility of having a split record comprising two different projects made it very special. It was a risk for the label but a record that I produced with a lot of commitment and excitement.
The album is split between two of your aliases: the A-side by ‘Ideograma’ and the B-side by ‘Acid Future Overdose’. Can you explain to our readers the differences between DJ F, Ideograma and Acid Future Overdose?
Dj F is Techno, Ideograma is Electro, IDM and Techno, and Acid Future Overdose is for other expressions that don’t have a defined style or shape as such but usually deep low-pitched sounds.
And how about Titan’s Halo Records, another Madrid-born label that you’ve also released music on as ‘DJ F’ and another alias ‘Flavio Tortora’. A quick question, Flavio is your first name right…what about Tortora?
Tortora is my last name. It’s Italian. My father’s family emigrated from Italy to Argentina where I was born, my parents then moved to Madrid whilst I was still a child.
That’s a rich cultural background. You said earlier that you draw influences from your living experiences, this and amongst other things, is alongside the musical inferences drawn from Detroit… the Calma EP, would you agree that it’s a Detroit love story?
Calma EP is Detroit rooted, and it could be a love feeling as well as a state of mind… I like both definitions.
If you had to name your top three most influential Detroit techno, electro and IDM releases which would they be?
Model 500 – The Chase
Cybotron – Clear
Autechre – Overand
And finally, can you tell us about some other sources of inspiration, other artists, even concepts and places that we wouldn’t so readily guess?
Well, like everybody my inspiration and influences are constantly changing and evolving but in general I would say that the Fact of Life, and also the Universe, are ideas that I often dig into when I create my music. Other times I’m inspired by other forms of art and expression, and it makes me want to capture or re-interpret that moment with my music.
[Edited by Kaajal Shah]