6AM is no stranger to Fernando Lagreca, having already featured him for the 81st edition of Global Vibe Radio back in October of 2017. But now, digging deeper with Fernando Lagreca we get a better sense of who he is and everything he is involved with.
After an impressive 2019 filled plenty of sonic provocations and solid productions on such imprints as After an impressive 2019 filled plenty of sonic provocations and solid productions on such imprints as Awen, Natura Viva, Chrom or Sincopat, Fernando Lagreca is back with the announcement of his forthcoming Infamous album, a follow-up from his highly-acclaimed Control LP in 2014 on his own label, Beautiful Accident. Here he combines his passion for analog synthesis with eerie operatic samples and hypnotic melodic lines, branching into unfamiliar sonic territories such as Urban Soul, Drum ‘n’ Bass and Techno with a razor-sharp method of musical composition.
The new full length is, without a doubt, Lagreca’s most adventurous and fearless album in his entire career as a musician. Channelling this defiant approach, Lagreca’s new live set shows his own brooding militancy and darkly stylish aesthetic. The concept sets a stage consisting of synthesizers, drum machines, samplers and efx processors that allow the artist to create intricate sequences on the fly, keeping the same freedom he’s got at studio with only hardware gear, without the need of a laptop or computer, developing unique sounding palettes that go from techno to ambient, and from broken beats to modern urban harmonies, and back.
But Fernando is not just a music producer and DJ. He is also at the helm of Miracle MGMT, an artist agency and management company, and teaches music business at a local school in Barcelona.
When we caught up with Fernando a week ago, his home country of Spain had just began experiencing Coronavirus COVID-19 lockdowns, changing the way he and millions of Spaniards live life on a daily basis. The country is amidst one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks but Fernando’s outlook remains positive. Digging deeper with Fernando Lagreca in our interview, we talk about what he is living through and how he is coping with the quarantine, his upcoming album, juggling his various roles in the industry and more.
Nice to speak to you Fernando, especially in the midst of this crazy week. How is it going over there?
Thanks, my pleasure. Well, crazy times indeed. Hopefully, these dreadful moments come to an end soon. Things in Spain are weird and bizarre, as I guess also happens in US and in most countries nowadays. Unfortunately it seems that we will need a bit more time to see how this evolves and to get good results against the virus so the lockdowns will still go during April hence we need to be patients as collaboratives as much as possible.
How is life in your city?
I live 40km away from Barcelona, in a nice beach city, and unfortunately, it is banned to even go for a walk, so needless to say we cannot go to the beach or go out for sports or things like that, same in the biggest cities since the whole country is blocked, so life outside is at a minimum. For all the ones who have the luck to have balconies at home (I am one of them fortunately), that is a sort of blessing these days. Aside the fact you can go there to get a bit of sun (Vitamin D is really important) you can interact with the neighbours in very creative ways.
Every evening at 8pm, all Spanish people show up to pay tribute to the doctors, nurses and hospitals staff, giving them a symbolic round of applause, and it is also a sort of intimate moment in which all of us go onto the balcony or go out of the windows to honour them and also take a look to the neighbours to check that everyone is safe and good, followed then by some funny moments that take place where somebody starts singing and the other ones reply in chorus, etc., really emotional moments.
What are you doing to keep busy?
I already used to work at home before this crisis, so that part is not new to me. Besides we’ve got a lot of things to do in the agency on a daily basis, as our small agency (Miracle MGMT) manages and represent a good amount of underground artists that need us at full stamina and even more so during these hard times, so I spend the whole day busy, also doing some music and trying to keep more or less the same routines as before, some yoga exercises and stretches in the mornings, check the news while having breakfast, then catch up with e-mails, make some calls, etc., trying to get a normal working day ahead.
What is your take on the social distancing measures and quarantine being enforced?
Well, it’s not easy to accept but I believe we need to be positive thinking about the future and with this in mind, it is time now to embrace some measures that are unnatural. Social distancing, confinements, staying at home with no chances of going out to play a sport or enjoy leisure activities, seeing people, etc. is something we are not prepared to, not at all, but we need to accept this new momentary situation so I am totally in agreement with adopting these measures and I suggest to people to be brave, to follow this rule and show solidarity.
For the moment we just need to be at home, when we can work a bit (or try), keep reading, watching TV series or movies, calling each other, etc., so it is bad of course but not so bad. Most of us are anot in a hospital bed fighting for our lives and we need to be grateful while we can, and we need to adopt positive ways to see this crisis and stay home and healthy so yes, I definitely approve of the quarantine.
Luckily this is a time where music can still be used to spread positivity, love and hope. Do you agree?
Absolutely. Music is always the key. Is the engine that makes us wake up every morning since music is all around. So even at the hardest moments, music is a companion, a reference. Fortunately, there is a lot of technology at the moment that makes feasible music arrives almost everywhere and people can enjoy podcasts, mixes, sets, live streamings, etc., so at least for some moments, we can forget about the rest and dance a bit.
Your new album is about to come out. How long have you been working on it?
Yes! It’ll be released on April 17th. I worked on the album during July and August 2019, in that period I composed all the tracks, in my home studio, then I give them a bit of rest and by end of September started to work in the mix, making the director’s cut a bit, and exchanging files with the mastering studio (Pobla Studios) so that they could advise me about what to improve, what frequencies I should cut or enhance, etc., so the mixed versions were ready just before ADE in October, and afterwards I just gave the tracks a final listen and went to the studio, then I received the masters back during November or so, time to start planning the promo campaign, start working on the press release and thinking about the singles, since the first ones were released in late January.
It’s a multi-genre album, a real journey for listeners. Can you tell us a little about the tracks included, why you picked them and what you hope the album conveys to listeners?
Indeed it is a bit of multi-genre stuff. I have to say I never was into the same style, I like different kinds of electronic music and during my career I have developed several tastes and preferences so it it is easy for me to produce eclectic work. I like Ambient, but also Techno and Drum ’n’ Bass, just to name a few genres, but it was not until now that I present so many styles under the same album. Maybe in other albums and EPs there were differences between them but everyone was sonically oriented in a single direction, more pop or more electronic, more retro or more fresh but with a unique proposal behind each release, but not this time.
I simply felt it would be nice to show a different sonic palette under the same roof just because I am like that lately, I am not listening a single kind of music all the time, I am not attending same kind of concerts every weekend and I also like different genres into the electronic music and I say, why not? So the listeners will find some techno tracks, some house pieces and even drum ’n’ bass, rap/hip-hop and r&b soul tunes, all of them living at the same time in my universe. I wanted to deliver an album with no boundaries, plenty of freedom and imagination, full of creativity and no attachment to any decade or trend, and that is exactly what I expect the listeners find on it.
Can you give us some insight on the nature of the production process behind these tracks?
Sure thing. Like I already mentioned it was all composed and recorded in my home studio. I use only hardware instruments on it, no virtual instruments, so I used plenty of synthesizers both analogue as digitals. I have no preferences that way, even though I prefer not to use synth plugins, I am not a kind of purist so if a synth sounds good to me it’s good, no matter if it is analogue or digital, expensive or cheap. I do not even have any really expensive gear, just what I consider good tools and the right ammunition to bring the results I want and search at that moment.
Some of my weapons of choice (for the more technical gear readers) are Elektron Analog Four and Rytm, Digitone, Octatrak, Access Virus, Nord Wave, Novation Bass Station, Teenage Engineering OP1, Dave Smith Mopho, Yamaha MODX and a guitar and some delay and reverb pedals, and as DAW I usually work on Logic with some help from Waves and Ozone plugins for the efx part. No modular stuff in my setup currently, sorry if some modular fan are disappointed but even though I would like to get into that world I do not have enough space at the studio, nor time to develop my own modular system at the moment. It is something quite expensive and sonically talking honestly I never felt the need to jump into this until now and most likely almost every sound can be replicated with the synths I have one way or another.
As for the production process itself, every track is different, sometimes I simply start with a loop, sometimes with a bass, sometimes with the guitar, sometimes with an arpeggio; but it is always a process of painting layer over layer, and building the track. I like to record long takes, like if the tracks were recorded by a pop or rock musician. Usually in electronic music you use small loops and then repeat, I prefer to work with long portions of audio instead and then edit them on the DAW timeline before applying a new layer, the result is the same but I believe doing lit ike that it is maybe a bit more organic, and at least for me, more fun.
Are there any special collaborations in the album?
Yes, for this one I dug into some collaborative platforms and forums, such as Looperman, in which users (usually singers) leave their acapellas or takes for other musicians and producers to use. I connected with some vocalists and took pieces from two of them: Chantelle R. and B. Dopran, who are featured in some of the tracks, and then I picked an old spoken word I had from the rapper Kamal Imani, originally intended to be used in a house track, to compose ‘Jail Of Dreams’.
You’re not just a producer and DJ, but hold various other roles in the industry. What was a typical workday in your life like before COVID-19?
Usually I wake upat about 8am, do some stretch exercises, read some news, have some breakfast and start with the daily tasks, check mails, program the day a bit and run into the schedule of the day. Some days I’ve got meetings outside, or do some calls, etc. and do some catch up with artists and promoters, checking offers, options, planning a bit for the artists, talking to labels, sending demos, or listening to demos other people send us, then we jump into calls between the team, we have part of the team living in Europe and other team members in Buenos Aires, since we have an office there for our Latam branch.
So a common day can be really busy. Then I need to find some moments to post some content in my own social channels, or work the label, the album, and try to make some music from time to time. Besides this, I teach music business in SAE Barcelona and other institutes on a regular basis so I need also a bit of time to prepare some lessons, even though I do not pick so many hours at the schools now since I don’t have time for everything
How about these days?
These days are quite similar in terms to routines and dedication but totally different regarding the roles we need to play, while before we checked lot of offers now we are dealing with cancellations and reschedules, before we could plan a bit and now we need to talk more into a day by day basis and wait until we know how things evolve in our game, so it changed a bit. That is without considering the fact that people are getting anxious and worried in general, which of course affects the way everyone is acting in front of determinate matters. So, these days I don’t have time to be bored, but on the other hand the tasks have changed a bit and sometimes it takes a bit to get focused.
Do you feel your roles feed off of and into one another in any way?
No doubt, what I’ve learned on the agency and from the artists is something that I can apply in my own career and also can feed some of my teaching sessions or classes, and on the other hand, what I’ve learned from my career is also applied to my daily work. It is all about feedback, and generating new contacts and learning every day. However, my main focus and dedication are on the agency, then on my music and the classes. And even though I can take some benefit of contacts and experiences from the agency in my personal career as a music producer, I always put the agency and our artist roster before all, never pushing a promoter for my personal interest in first place. This is not just because of the business side of things, but it is mainly because I love what I do a lot in the agency, it makes it possible for me to live from and for music.
You’ve been working in this industry for a long time now, and sure have a lot of experience to share. What would be some of your most important pieces of advice to people beginning their journey?
I’d say trust yourself, try to learn, to read, to go out and meet people, don’t be afraid to show others what you are doing, take care of the contacts you have, use comparisons only to improve and never to get envy or to increase your ego, be honest with yourselves and put effort into learning how to receive a “no” and also how to say “no” to others.
Also, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, every one of us makes mistakes and actually, anyone with “no mistakes” is just someone who does not do anything.
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