Flavio Tortora aka DJ F could be considered as one of the finest artists the underground scene in Madrid has to offer. Starting off working in local record stores, Flavio started finessing his skills as a DJ and producer and has been releasing records for the past five years on labels including Jose Rico‘s Freebeat and Svreca’s Semantica imprint. DJ F has also just released his debut album ‘1974‘ featuring six tracks influenced by the early 90′s sounds of Detroit, electro and IDM. In this interview Flavio discusses the album writing process as well as the current state of the electronic music scene in Spain.
Let’s start by talking about the mix you’ve recorded for Inverted Audio. When was it recorded and how? What was the thought process behind the track selection and are there any tracks that are particularly prominent in it?
The mix was recorded at Damian Schwartz’s home a couple of months ago, two turntables and a Vestax mixer. Music selection is about what you want to tell and how to do it through music. In this case House music may be the leitmotif but it´s just a part of what I usually play in a club.
Here I focused on a theme and I tried to create something with many connections, while in a club music selection depends on other factors, the place, atmosphere, the moment…The mix is my vision of house, but it could also be techno, electro or IDM.
You recently released your 6 track debut album ’1974’ on A Harmless Deed. Can you tell me about the album writing process? How long you’ve been working on it from start to finish, the good and the bad experiences, plus is there a context behind the album?
Well, I couldn’t calculate exactly the time because since A Harmless Deed told me about the possibility of making an album until it was finished maybe spend about a year.
We started with a song that was made earlier, about 3 or 4 years ago, “Primavera en Kyoto”, which we were looking for a place to release, and the actual album writing process lasted until a few months ago.
From my view, every song has its own history, they could be their own single landscape with a beginning and an end, but as a group they create a wider horizon, therefore, there’s a different reading of the songs as individuals and as a group.
1974 is what I want to say as a DJ and producer, to go through all that motivates me and moves me from music in a large space that allows you LP format.
I can only think about good experiences, I feel very well working with A Harmless Deed, since “Transformación”, which was my first work released on the label.
Where did you spend the majority of your time writing the album? Do you have a particular environment or head space you prefer to be in when writing music?
I work at home as I have my studio setup there. It’s important for me, I like to feel that I’m in my own space, plus I can write an idea at any moment by having my studio at home, I guess it could be improved, but I’m happy just the way it is.
Each track on the album presents different influences and sounds that have clearly been paramount in the genetic makeup of your musical taste. Can you tell me about your music heritage, your journey in discovering different types of music and those who are responsible for exposing you to these sounds?
Well I’ve been working in music shops since an early age, and I learnt a lot thanks to that.
At first, music was something absolutely captivating, new and exciting, something that opens the path for you to imagine new places and interesting sensations. Over time you interrogate those feelings, you rationalise them and learn to analyse the deep impact they have in your persona.
Some things grow more on you than others, knowing what was a very important process for me; there are styles and groups that settle your path into music.
I don’t like to speak too much about my main music influences, we live in times of over information and sometimes the history behind it is more important than the music by itself, but it definitely was a turning point the first time I listened to early 90s electronic music, IDM and Detroit.
Which track[s] really stand out to you and why? (For me it’s Primavera En Kyoto).
Could be for me too, it is in fact responsible for this album, but it really depends on the moment for me, I like them all and I’m really happy with all of them, but it all depends on my mood, I think I’ve been rediscovering this record every once in a while during this last weeks.
I read that you record to DAT tapes and sequence live. How have your production methods and studio setup developed over the past 5 years? Has much changed?
My method hasn’t changed that much for the last 10 years or so, sure some of my gear has changed, but my way of working is still the same. My biggest change could be changing from the MPC2000 to the 2500.
I sequence live and record that to a DAT because it is just easy for me, not because of any particular characteristic of DAT. I guess I’ll change that soon.
You’ve released a couple of records with Jose Rico, who we spoke to earlier this year. Tell me about your relationship with Jose Rico and your shared interest in electronic music, do you get to hang out with each other much?
Yeah Jose is a great artist and a big friend of mine, we used to spend a lot of time together listening to music and talking about music and projects. Freebeat and Downbeat are also great labels and I really like all the stuff we did together.
We live in the same city but lately we are both very busy and it’s difficult to see each other as much as we used to, making electronic music in Madrid is not an easy task.
There are some great record labels in Spain such as Semantica. Tell me about the state of electronic music in Spain, from clubbing to consuming drugs, buying and releasing records? What are your concerns and do you have any suggestions for improvement?
Well as you may know Spain is going through a very difficult moment. The government is cutting out loads of money from education and culture, and you know, without education there’s no freedom, without culture there are no dreams.
Clubs are dying here, there are a lot of them, but all of them struggle from local restrictions, they find it difficult to make money too so they bet for the easy music and names that let them make money at the end of the night.
Even in this situation we are a bunch of people fighting to put out our music, I guess the harder the times the bigger the necessity to express… Labels like Drivecom, Semantica, Frigio, or artists like Arcanoid are a good example of how things can find their way even in this situation.
Tell me about A Harmeless Deed records, what was your initial connection to the label and how did it develop into releasing your debut album?
I was showing Damian my songs when he came to the record store, that’s how we decided to put out the first release “Transformación”. I felt very confortable with them from the first time, and despite my friendship with him and Jose (JC Partner in AHD) they’ve always been very professional.
Finally what’s next for DJ F?
Work. I don’t have anything quite planned yet, I hope to start having more gigs to show my work, meanwhile I’ll be in the shop selling records, and at the studio making them.
DJ F’s debut album ‘1974’ is out now on A Harmless Deed. Order a copy of the album from Juno.DJ FA Harmless DeedHouse