, - on 10/1/11
Whether he's tearing up clubs with his quirky Latin minimal pop, touring with his old Chilean rock band, producing wayward house music with Villalobos, or spitting political hatred towards Pinochet and the Chilean Militar, Jorge Gonzalez (AKA 1/2 Los Updates) is seriously cool. Since appearing on the electronic scene just over two years ago he's been extremely busy and worked with many of the Cadenza/Perlon royalty including Pier Bucci, Argenis Brito and of course Ricardo Villalobos, with a string of releases under his belt. Fresh from reworking Anthony Collins’ killer ‘Bruised Inside’ on Curle Electronic, Jorge Gonzalez speaks to Bruno Schmidt about burnt out DJs, the Chilean techno dreamhouse and the apocalypse.
Download the podcast here
Pulse: Great to meet you, how’s it going over there? Jorge: Fine, I've been doing some shows with my old group over here. I used to be in a big rock band in South America in the 80's. We've just done out first gig again at a big festival, it was very nice. 3 days ago, something like that. The biggest names from Argentina and Chile… It was like 60,000 people. Proper gig [laughs].
What will you do in a normal week as Jorge Gonzalez? It depends, if I’m in Europe I'm making my music, electronic music, doing some DJ things and getting some gigs over there. I live in Spain with my wife and my four kids, it’s a lot of fun.
Family man? Yes, family man.
You’ve spent a lot of time in the studio recently? Not really, since I’m in Chile I’ve been rehearsing a lot with this band I’ve put together for the Chilean gigs, and visiting friends and family. But yesterday I was in the studio for this guy who calls himself the original hamster. He’s known also as San Fuentes and he does a lot of work with Mathias Aguayo, so we are making an EP together. Proper old school house music thing!
You played in a pop band for a long time, yes? Yes.
Did you always follow dance music whilst being in a pop act? Well, I was 12 in 1977 so my first parties and nights out were with disco. That was my introduction. People like Earth Wind and Fire, KC and the Sunshine Band, The Beegees… Then when I was 15 I discovered Depeche Mode, Visage, Soft Cell, Gary Numan… New wave. That was my thing. It was like they were trying to do soul music with machines!
You still play pop, but obviously you do a lot of stuff as a DJ. How does the lifestyle differ from being in a band to being a DJ? It’s very different. When you are in a rock thing you travel with maybe 12 - 15 people, you have a sound man, a lot of room for rehearsing. You have to do interviews and stuff. But when you're a DJ on tour, it’s just you, your backpack, your laptop and a couple of records. Much more simple and much more intimate.
Is it ever a lonely thing? No, it’s a lot of fun, because everywhere you go there are people waiting for you. Usually the promoters are very nice, and since I’ve been on Cadenza I get treated pretty good.
How is it to be part of such a big stable like Cadenza? Well, I am in Cadenza, but I’m also part of this Chilean thing that started in Santiago in 1997. A lot of Chilean kids that grew up in Europe, like Ricardo Villalobos, Pierre Bucci and Luciano, they all came over to see what it was like. I was living in New York back then and we all went and lived in this giant house that was owned by Dandy Jack for a full year. We did parties like 6 times a week. Villalobos and Luciano developed their style back then. There was no 'scene' so to speak so they were playing exactly what they wanted. They had the freedom! I’m very proud to be a part of that.
How did this come about though? Dandy Jack's grandmother died, so the family were selling the house but Dandy Jack wanted to live in the house for a full year before they finally got rid of it. He invited everyone, Ricardo, Luciano, Dinky, a lot of friends. Ricardo was a master of the decks, but people like Dinky and Luciano were still learning. Luciano was the guy who played when all the other DJ's were going to bed, that was when he had his chance. He learned really fast.
You've lived in a lot of places, is that right? Yeah, I lived in Manhattan for 4 years in the mid nineties, then Mexico for 3 years and now I’ve been in Spain for 2 years.
"I had a heavy experience at the last Sonar in Barcelona. I went there and tried to look at the big names, to see if I could reach their level ... I got a big shock. Some big names are just doing standard stuff. A lot of rubbish music, man; really fast tempos, everything sounds the same, no respect for melody. So, I think that maybe its not about doing music better or worse, its more about creating something different."
Where was the most inspirational place you’ve travelled to for music? Mexico was the biggest experience; it’s a very magical place even if the scene is very hard to break. It’s not really organised over there but the vibes, the food, the way people behave and the freedom in their minds is so exciting.
Weird, Guy Gerber said pretty much the same thing last week. He said that people’s minds were freer. A lot less chinstrokers! [laughs] Yeah, I know what he means. Mexico is a lot like Japan for house music, I think, in the way that they both have a big food culture, a very strong sense of identity, and they really listen to the music, you know? Manhattan wasn't bad at all in the mid nineties. I witnessed a big change in Manhattan because when I first got there, there were a lot of clubs, but when I left, half of them were shut. It became tougher to get a licence and they started cracking down. There was a place called St. Roberts on Avenue 8 that used to be really good. They used to play really deep house, you could get whatever you want [drugs] in there and it was amazing. Then I read an article saying it got closed down in the late nineties because someone pulled out a cigarette and the bouncer tried to stop him. Next thing someone pulled out a gun and the guy was killed. He was killed by a fag, you know, by a cigarette.
Cigarettes do kill. [Laughs] That’s a nice one.
What has it been like to work so closely with Ricardo Villalobos over the years? Well, Ricardo's dad was one of the 'free thinkers' in Chile. He had to leave the country because of the political troubles back then. There was heavy dictatorship in the 70s. Ricardo grew up in Europe, but with the influence of his dad's Chilean free thinking. Then Ricardo's dad got some of my old music, and Ricardo got interested because of the lyrics, very heavily politically geared they were. He listened to the music and loved it. Then in Chile, when he came over to do some DJ stuff in 1993, we became good friends instantly. Its amazing really; he doesn't have a website, he barely does promotion, every time I go to Berlin, he's surrounded by his old friends. It’s amazing that a guy like that got so big. You don't get a lot of people like that nowadays. You have to be really special to break through without marketing.
What’s it like to produce with him? Usually, I get there with a couple of songs that already have structure - sounds, vocals etc. Then we start jamming on top. He usually recreates the bass and the kick drums and the percussions, mainly. We do like a long jam, say 30 mins, and see what happens. Usually we can knock out 4 or 5 tracks in 2 days. It happens very fast when we work together. We have a new EP that will be out on my label in late Feb, or sometime around then.
"Ricardo was a master of the decks, but people like Dinky and Luciano were still learning. Luciano was the guy who played when all the other DJ's were going to bed, that was when he had his chance."
How would you define your sound? Have you taken influence from when you were a pop star? Definitely, I usually try to make songs rather than ‘tracks'. Back in my pop days, the thing that really got me into electronic music was the 12”’s. Like the [Francois] Kervorkian sides and the old remixes. I have to admit, though, that I'm not that happy with the music I've been making in the past months. I'm going to try and re-think it and really create some fresh music. It’s only been 2 years since I came onto the electronic scene and it’s hard to survive on the circuit, man, the big guys, they are playing everywhere and the new guys, they aren't playing. I had a heavy experience at the last Sonar in Barcelona. I went there and tried to look at the big names, to see if I could reach their level... I got a big shock. Some big names are just doing standard stuff. A lot of rubbish music, man; really fast tempos, everything sounds the same, no respect for melody. So I think that maybe its not about doing music better or worse, its more about creating something different. It’s all about hype; all about certain hype surrounding one person. I think some of these people are getting a little bit burned out. They are playing every weekend, meeting loads of people, lots of drugs, travel etc, Its really easy to lose it.
It’s a profession though; It’s hard to be disciplined. Yes, It’s very hard not to go crazy at some very beautiful places!
Do your old pop fans follow your new music? I try not to have old fans. In South America and Chile I don't release my electronic music, because people will get confused. Can you imagine what will happen if tomorrow, Robert Smith turned around and wanted to be a techno DJ? No one wants to listen to that.
You still play records? Yeah, sometimes, but in the last year since the Traktor revolution, and especially in South America, a lot of clubs don't have a proper setting for records. The decks aren't properly maintained so I've been getting a bit lazy and just going around with my laptop. No worrying about bags of records being lost on the plane.
What do you like better; playing with your band or playing electronic music? Well, this live performance I did recently; that’s the first thing I’ve done in 2 years, so I'd rather do the electronic thing. That’s where my mind and my soul are now. Playing in a band is very nice but it takes a lot of promotion. A lot of TV shows, a lot of interviews and stuff like that. I don't feel like doing that anymore. I would rather just go to a little club and spin records in the darkness because that allows me to play a different thing every night. Plus, all my good friends are in the electronic scene. Pier Bucci, Argenis Brito; I want to be with my good friends, because they haven't changed. In the pop world, people change and you need to watch out for that.
How? Well - last week, I was in the middle of my set, and I was doing a speech about these motherfuckers who run my country for 50 years now. The guys who put Pinochet on the tower, all the military! They still run my country. So I did a speech, and I named them, and all hell broke loose. I was supposed to do an encore with Gustavo Santaolalla, and the motherfuckers cut the whole thing because I was naming the people who cannot be named. So that’s the reason I don't do many shows with that music. It has heavy connotation, and says a lot of things that the people in power don't want to hear. There is oppression in our country and its very sad.
You've just done a podcast for Pulse Radio; what kind of thing have you gone for? I started with music from my beloved Earth Wind and Fire, chopping it and trying to make something original. Then I used a few samples from my early influences, some stuff by The Clash. I've tried to do my best, but I have to say; I think I will do better music [laughs]. Sorry If I’m getting negative, I do hope you enjoy it!
What does 2011 hold for Jorge Gonzales? I want to work on my new album. I'm going to start mid-January, get some sketches and some basic tracks. Then in mid-February, I think I will move to Berlin and get a little help from my friends over there, especially my friend Tobias Freund who is really good with mixing and engineering. Going to try and get the best album I can, then release it. I want to get lost in the music… I don't know which style it’s going to end up as and I don’t know where I will release it.
Are you going to show Cadenza? For sure I'm going to show them. I don’t know how it’s going to end up, if it’s necessarily their style, but I’ll show them for sure.
Going in with an open mind? Yeah man, I've got to discover a sound soon. I'm going to do it. I don't have that much time to fool around. I'm 46 years old man. Besides, the world; it’s going to end!
start selling tickets with ease
start sharing your music for free