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Interview: Guti's 'Playground' Album

A jazz virtuoso as a child, then rock n’ roll hero in his native Argentina, Guti talks us through his musical journey into the world of electronica.

Guti & Dubshape - Every Cow Has a Bird

Spotlight: So Guti let's start off with your new album Patio de Juegos which translates as ‘Playground'. Why did you call it that?

Guti: Well music is my playground, I feel like a kid when I'm in the studio and I come up with ideas. It's like when I was a child and first started playing music and discovered the piano, so I always try to relive this feeling.

There are a lot of different sounds on the album, where did all these influences come from?

Everything is an influence for me, new cities, shows, as well as my personal life…a broken heart, new friends, new love. The album is a result of my first year in Europe, as I moved from a really big city Buenos Aires to Dusseldorf, and this album is that journey. I wrote the first song the day I arrived and finished a year later after touring the world, so it was made in a lot of different places and while I was in a lot of different moods.

Guti & Shaun Reeves - Saudade:

And what about your background growing up in Argentina and being a classically trained jazz pianist?

I have this South American flavour in my blood which comes through on the album. Other DJ's grew up listening to disco or house but I was listening to Latin and jazz. My family is full musicians so music has been everything to me since I was a kid. So if I have to choose one influence…I don't know…my uncles, my grandmother who also a pianist, all those things stay with you.

Tell me about some of the collaborations on the album, there's a really diverse range of artists.

Everyone was super special and it came together naturally. Guy Gerber is a real good friend and it was amazing making music together, a really beautiful experience. I also worked with Ryan Crosson who is one of my best friends, on the track No Promises. But my favourite collaboration that I'm really proud of is Daniel Melingo. He is a legend in Argentina, a Grammy nominated tango musican. It was one of the experiences of my life, he was just amazing in the studio as he can play every instrument and he is full of ideas. We wrote like 6 or 7 songs together.

Daniel Mellingo - Sin Luna

Prior to being a house DJ you were in a very successful rock band Jovenes Pordiosero. What drew you to electronic music and how did you make the transition?

I started to make electronic music as a break from my band because it was really heavy touring and you know the lifestyle…so I started to make some songs just because I was curious. Then some of those songs got to Loco Dice and he wanted to meet me in Detroit, where he basically said that I could be a great electronic artist. So I moved to Dusseldorf without knowing so much and he started teaching me, and here we are!

How does the process of making electronic music differ from making jazz and rock?

It's kind of the same, the way I write music is without thinking. I go to the studio, I turn things on and start recording, most of the time I start without an idea I'll just be playing the piano or singing. I also record everyone around me. For example, My Whole Thing featuring Anthea, she's not a singer. We were just hanging out and I was like OK sing, and she was like I'm not a singer. She sounds like Tracy Chapman on that track it's amazing!

Pupkulies & Rebekah - Hold Me Tight (Shaun Reeves & Guti Remix):

Do you think being classically trained in music from a young age helped or hindered you writing house and techno music?

It definitely helps because many things that can take time for some producers I don't even have to think about. But it's not the case that if you are a musician or a pianist you will make good electronic music and be a top producer. After making music for almost 20 years now, you can get the picture of a song really fast and I think that is my best quality, I can make 2 or 3 songs every day that are totally different. Although it's not like everything is amazing some is crap! [laughs] For me electronic music is now, so I try really to finish the song in a couple of hours, I never work on a song longer than that and most of my known songs were made in 2 or 3 hours.

How do you find the experience of playing live as a DJ? Do you miss performing as a pianist or in a band?

It's different, I love to perform with other people because you have this dynamic where you start to just go with the flow and make harmonies, whereas now I am my own band and I am controlling everything. But also for me it was a natural step because I feel really safe performing when every song is my own work, so I can't see myself performing other people's music.

Guti (far right) in Jovenes Pordioseros days

So have you found your calling in house and techno or are there plans to branch into other genres in the future? Guti the popstar is about the only thing left to do!

[laughs] I have many, many projects…maybe in the future I will get a band and also I am starting to play the piano again so this could be a next step. I really want to make a piano record in the future.

You are now very much part of the Desolat family and close friends with another rising star from the label tINI. Tell me about your relationship both as friends and DJs, otherwise known as GutINI.

[laughs] She's great, and also Livio and Roby. We have such big friends like Dice and Martin [Buttrich] whereas we are just starting out, so we are like the new generation of Desolat. She's starting to produce so soon we will have some tINI songs around that are really great. I am super in love with Livio & Roby, they are so good and one of the biggest inspirations I have in dance music.

Team Desolat! (from left to right - Martin Buttrich, Livio, Guti, tINI, Roby, Yaya, Loco Dice)

See more Desolat Family Album - Ibiza 2010

I also hear you have another DJ mate Seth Troxler's name tattooed on your arm and he has ‘Guti' on his. What's the story behind it?

I love guy you know and I think he loves me too! We are very similar in some ways but also totally different – he's from Detroit, I am from Buenos Aires, but when we get together it's such an amazing energy, he shines everywhere. And the tattoo story is a really crazy story…I was in Buenos Aires playing with my band and he was DJing there so I missed his show. So when I came back from tour we had 2 or 3 days of insane hanging out. And in one of the nonsense, sleepless talks, I don't know if it was him or me, said I think if you get a tattoo of a guy's name but you are not gay, that's big! [laughs] So then after this we just did it!

Other than promoting your new album what does 2011 hold for Guti? Any more exciting collaborations, musical tangents or tattoos we should know about?

After March I have a world tour performing my album so this will keep me really busy. I'm doing a remix right now for Get Physical on Audiofly's new album. I also have a record with Deniz Kurtel coming out on Supplement Facts.

And any plans for Ibiza this summer?

Yes of course many! Last Summer Desolat crew had a great season and I think this Summer will be even bigger. I'm looking forward to playing Amnesia again, it was amazing playing with Troxler and Dice and that was one of the biggest shows of the year. Last Summer we also had tINI and the Gang at Ushuaia, maybe this Summer its Guti and the Gang or whatever [laughs], but the group will have a party for sure.

Patio de Juegos is released 21st March 2011 on Desolat.

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