By Cooper Saver
Chilean born and German based, Matias Aguayo is one of the most versatile and intriguing artists within the dance music community. He’s not just a DJ, he’s not just a band – the world of Matias consists of much more than only music. His latest project, The Desdemonas, proves the importance of Matias’ range of talents coming together as one. Read on as we learn more about the latest with Matias and his incredible label Comeme ahead of his appearance at Midnight Lovers here in LA on 10/15!
It seems as if The Desdemonas is more than just a collection of songs – it’s a fully immersive experience. How did you develop the story? Were these ideas you’ve been holding onto for a long time?
Yes, it is an experience that I want to share here, and the story somehow develops itself, of reflections on the past and present, and future visions, too. There is a narrative here, of timetravel, dystopia and doppelgangers, and it is all growing through something like musical necessities, like a musical liberation process. All started by a somehow self referential moment in which I got back to ways of making music far away from it being thought as something to be heard in some existing context, but more just like something to exist for itself, like when I started my first tape recordings in my room in the flat my family was living in, about 40 kilometres from Cologne. I wanted to get back to this experience and to things lost, but not out of a nostalgia towards the past, I think much more to create continuity, to draw lines between dots, or to somehow create sense in a narrative that is already there but that is just waiting to be discovered, and told. It is much about “how did we get here?” and “where are we going?”. From the first drafts of this project I heard a band here, a context of several musicians performing the songs together, and I also very early had in mind who to work with.
I read that you have a background in theatre. Would you say that this project is the perfect opportunity to combine your passion for performance art with your ability to write music? When I checked out some videos from your latest shows, I got the feeling of a musical rather than a typical concert…
Yes, if I watch what I’ve been doing all these years it’s a steady movement away from the booth towards the stage, which is also more in my nature, and this is where I am heading to. Definitely I want the performance to become more of a performance than it already is. It is a process, also with The Desdemonas, in the sense that I am already throughout the concerts developing different movements from song to song and characterizing different figures in each song, too, but I want to develop the whole performative side much further than it is at this moment.
Tell me about the musicians you brought on board to become The Desdemonas with you.
All musicians are people I have worked with in the past before but separately, Gregorio Gomez being the most involved one. I got to know him in his hometown Medellín, Colombia, alongside Sano, when we recorded the album “Rionegro”, which we released on Cómeme. During this time we recognized similar and very compatible musical sensibilities, so it was soon very clear that we would embark on a further project. He plays guitar and bass with The Desdemonas, but I think I should mention the use of the Fendersix, which is kind of a guitar / bass hybrid, an instrument we were looking for when we were developing the sound of The Desdemonas.
Matteo Scrimali the drummer, I was introduced via a friend when I was looking for a drummer. So we met for some jamming for a very percussion oriented project and I really liked his peculiar way of playing that for Desdemonas we combined with a Tempest drum machine, in search for a sound that fuses soul drumming with electro / techno fantasies somehow to create some modern day exotico, or something like that. And then there’s Henning Specht, who grew up in Toulouse but is now living in Berlin, just like me. First ever collaboration was on a remix I did for Colder (“Your Kind”) , where he played keyboards, which is what he is doing now for The Desdemonas. We also developed his setup together, which consists of several Critter and Guitari (a small Brooklyn based instrument brand) synths and several stompboxes.
You tend to engage with fantasies through your music, creating alternate universes and generally working with a theme of escapism. Where does this imaginative energy come from?
I guess maybe it’s because I grew up in a small town where there was not much going on and there was not much access to things, and so we always had to invent something, and if there was no underground music we just had to invent something that would somehow be what we imagined it to be. And that comes along with a world that is different and fascinating, and fictional, and the research in dreams and so on. I always, wherever I went, felt that most of people are conservative, even within alternative cultures, and that somehow produced a continuous urge to dream of other possibilities, other languages and so on. I guess the small town taught me not to give in to peer pressure and also not to feel the necessity to fit in a genre and its reality, it taught me not to care, in a good way.
How does the balance of DJing and playing in bands influence each other? Is doing both beneficial to each style of performing?
Absolutely. Djing develops very much the skill for a sensitivity towards a dancing audience and how to engage it and create a very physical dialogue. And my stage performance helps me very much to bring elements of it into my relatively performative way of djing.
Are there any current release plans for this project, or will it remain exclusive to live performances?
I like very much the idea of this being a project only to be experienced “offline” so to say, in a world where everybody seems to be permanently staring at some screen. Is it still attractive to release music where there’s no time to really engage with it and it mostly will be heard on bad computer speakers? And also at a time where alternative music sounds more mainstream than ever before in its history? We will release at some point, but it’s definitely not a main focus, and playing completely unreleased music to an audience that doesn’t know what to expect has been a huge pleasure so far.
What’s the latest with Comeme and what do you have planned throughout the rest of the year?
We just released an EP by Sano from Medellín and now one by Djs Pareja from Buenos Aires. Then I am very happy to announce we will be releasing music by DJ Spoko from South Africa and me! We recorded a couple of tracks together in Johannesburg and I always felt very inspired by what he does and am very happy we could work together and do this. Next year we will have new music also by Borusiade from Bucharest and the magnificent Inga Mauer who is from Russia but a steady traveling person, and therefore somehow a soulmate of mine. Our focus will continue to be releasing music from many places in the world, and also to support diversity on all its levels.