I met Rodriguez Jr., aka Oliver Mateu, at the Mobilee party at Silken Hotel during Sónar Festival 2015 and we remained in touch afterwards.
In his words, “apart from the first time I played here, when the rain unexpectedly started falling and I had to stop as the electrical installation was getting dangerously wet, this event is like a family meeting to me. It’s the perfect situation for hanging out all together, talking, sharing ideas, showcasing new tracks… It’s an ‘ideal’ environment somehow”. His set was intense, capturing, Rodriguez Jr. seems unstoppable when is behind the console. He mixed tracks from his repertoire and rendered them unique by throwing in improvised beats and piano sounds. Here is what we talked about.
ilCartello: Hi Rodriguez Jr.!
Rodriguez Jr.: Hi guys!
I really liked the way you used keyboards in your set, I imagine you started with piano and developed a passion for dance music then. Am I correct?
Well, I had piano lessons from the age of 6 but I quickly stopped as my aim has always been to create and record music! I began producing dance music in the mid-90s with an Atari computer and a couple of keyboards, and everything took really off when I got signed by Laurent Garnier’s label F-Communications in 2001. I’ve actually started playing the keyboard again during my live sets quite recently as I noticed that it was a great way to connect with the crowd and add a twist of randomness.
Speaking of randomness, what role does improvisation play in your sets?
It actually depends on the feedback I receive from the crowd. I can make things getting deeper or harder, I can program beats from scratch on my pads or on the TR8, I can also improvise or play different stuff on the keyboard. I really try to make my lives ‘as live as possible’.
You officially started with Mobilee in 2010 after the release of Princess Guacamole EP, and I read that you and Anja Schneider knew each other and collaborate from before. That’s a long-lasting relationship, how did it work out so well?
Yes, I officially joined the label and the agency in 2010 after a couple of well-received releases (Kids Of Hula, Pandora, Soledad…) on Mobilee’s sister label, Leena Music. It’s really a wonderful friendship the one I have with Anja and Ralf – that actually goes well beyond the music. We met back in 2003 at Anja’s radio show ‘Dance Under The Blue Moon’ and have been in touch ever since. When I started working on my Rodriguez Jr. project back in 2007, she was the first one to receive my new tracks, and she’s been a fantastic artistic adviser: she definitely helped me find my own path and sound signature.
The world is increasingly interconnected. Discovering new talents is easier, and the evolution of technology eases the creation of electronic music. Do you live this as a threat or as a source of inspiration?
It has to be a source of inspiration! It’s really a great time to produce music: the evolution of computers and software renders the hours in studio very exciting. I am also amazed at this modular synths madness – analog technology is coming back with more power and flexibility than ever. You know, the whole music market has totally changed over the past decade. There no longer is any gap between the artist and his audience. Everything is connected. You can produce a track during the week, perform it on stage on Friday, receive direct feedbacks from the crowd and distribute it on digital platforms on Monday. In my opinion, the only problem of this new system is the quantity of artists, tracks and labels around. There’s too much of everything and too few filters. I believe the next big step on internet will be music curation.
I guess this is affecting the electronic music industry as well. Is the artist cultivated by a label or is there a tendency to go for the ‘viral dj’ of the moment and drop him when he no longer makes hype?
It’s getting more and more difficult to focus on the core. Social media don’t help making things better. Artists are also becoming products of mass consumption and it’s all about hypes and trends indeed. Yet, we can learn how to deal with it and use these tools as creative weapons. That’s our responsibility!
On Mobilee’s Youtube channel you have quite some videos that are very ‘clicked’, what is the track that represents you best?
That’s a tough question: each track carries its own story and has a special place in my life. You know, in the end, it’s not even about the ‘clicks’ but about how long a track will keep on existing. Nowadays, everything is based on a short term cycle: a track is released, it spends some weeks in the Top100, and everybody eventually forgets about it. Such a shame. I am so happy that some of my tracks are still receiving positive comments and feedbacks after 7 years!
I read that ‘Chrysalism’, your newly released EP, is the result of the interplay of various factors such as the intense touring in the months before going back to the studio or a greater deal of experimentation. Could you guide us through the creative process that gave birth to it? Is this EP going to influence your forthcoming album?
I am always collecting ideas and sounds while touring, so it has been stimulating going back to the studio to create new material. It has been all about developing my sound signature, making things wider, deeper, bigger, in order to emphasize the core emotions. When recording in the studio, I love this fragile balance between the technical and emotional side. This EP is obviously going to influence my forthcoming album. I actually have a very precise idea of how it should sound like: ‘Kenopsia’, with its interacting melodies and epic structure, is a good preview of how I feel it.
‘Chrysalism’ EP is out now on Mobilee and you can find it here.