Hello fellow wax heads. Since its inception in the winter of 2013, our exclusive interview section has been growing steadily by featuring some of the most amazing artists from all corners of Europe: from Sweden to Italy, from Germany to the UK, from Netherlands to Romania. This makes our 12th interview session even more special as it is the first time we had the opportunity to chat with someone from a totally different continent. In the wake of this second gig in Berlin’s Griessmuehle on August the 28th (that’s this Friday, a.k.a. tomorrow), the Argentinian record collector and vinyl enthusiast Javier Denevi sat down with us for a warm and friendly one-on-one, and opened up about his love for the physical medium, his exquisite musical platform and future musical plans.
PS: Many thanks to Vallerio from Select*Elect/Inground Booking for setting this interview up (and the previous Veniceberg one too) and his constant support of our little vinyl project.
Hello Javier, thank you for accepting my invitation.
It’s not everyday that I get the occasion to talk to someone from across the ocean, especially from Latin America, so I will start with asking you about your roots, your culture, your heritage. What was it like growing up in Buenos Aires, how did the city shape you and led you to the path of musical expression?
Hello Victor and thank you for this interview :)
I've been surrounded by music from day one. As a kid I used to play drums during summer at my grandmother's backyard, and then piano while back at home. Then, I grew up and my taste evolved, the city inspired me and made me explore many genres during my school years which led the way to the current approach.
Tell us a bit about Soul Agency, how did it came into being, who are the people behind it, what is your goal? I’ve read that you have worked with several artists, so it must be difficult to keep the spirits calm and leave the competition at the door. What’s the secret behind your collaboration and how do you manage all your gigs?
Soul Agency started in late 2010 as a platform to freely develop our own expression on house music events. At that time, there were not many good parties in the city beside festivals or big events and most of the regular clubs were into latin music. So I teamed up with an old friend, she's a photographer and comes from a media production background and we decided I would mainly take care of the musical directions and she would manage the general production. It all started with a few DJ friends as well, so in the beginning our main goal was to keep it as simple as possible, having fun, enjoying the music we love and being able to help other artists showcase their talent.
Regarding gigs, it's not easy to manage everyone's needs, but we try to diversify the artists that we work with and we are always open to hear new ideas and proposals from them. It's also really important to support them on how they are approaching music, so they feel free to play whatever makes them happy when joining us.
Rumour has it that you are as obsessed with vinyl as much as we are, perhaps even more. Was it love at first sight, were you always attracted to the physical medium, or did it come later in your life as you already pushed the limits of digital?
Ha, well… I think it was love at first sight. Being able to keep your music on a physical format makes it attractive to me, building a collection is a thing that can take years and it could never end as long as you keep feeling excited about it. Finding gems while digging or being after that certain record for a long time and then finally getting it somewhere makes you keep loads of stories, memories and adventures in your mind. At the same time, sharing those moments with other music fellows make those experiences even richer. I think this is where the love for vinyl lies.
So why did you chose vinyl in particular? We know everyone has its reasons: some grew up with it, some are more attracted to the physical aspect, others are into it for the artwork and the majority preach its warm natural sound. What’s your reason?
In the beginning I was playing digital. I have tried several formats and setups but all of them were kind of boring when playing. So I was in Chicago for the first time, and I (obviously) went to Gramaphone. This was my first true experience in vinyl digging, I was finally staring at all those covers that I had for years on MP3s, but this time it was real, it was happening, and I was overwhelmed! So I got a bunch and went back to my hometown. Right after, I bought my first 1200s and I realised I have found my choice.
I have checked all your online mixes and they are very diverse musically speaking. You seem to play anything from acid jazz, soul, funk, disco, trip hop to deep house, funky house, raw house and even mild techno. How do you manage keeping up with all these genres?
I studied piano and drums when I was in secondary school, so at that time I was into jazz drumming and power trios in particular. So that's where my taste of acid jazz, funk and soul comes from, that's the music I like to hear while driving or at home, but at the moment I am not digging it 100%. When it comes to house or techno, I keep an eye out on different artists and labels and I try to keep myself updated on them.
So I assume you have quite an impressive record collection. How do you prepare for a DJ set in advance, tell us about your selection process: how long does it take, how many records do you usually pack, do you have any favourite records that you always take with you?
My collection is around a thousand records at the moment. Before a gig I check who is playing alongside with me so I can sort of picture a vibe in my mind. Then, the selection process begins: sometimes I feel like playing my newer stuff and sometimes I feel I want to play those tunes that I kept hidden for a while. I think it depends on my mood and what direction I want to take. I usually take the day before or even the same day to pack my vinyl. Usually, I bring one bag with 60 records, but sometimes I take a second bag if I can play longer sets. And yes, I do have my special crate filled with favourites, at this moment I am really digging french house records. Old stuff like Freak n' Chic and some new stuff like Oscillat, among many others.
Speaking of vinyl records, what’s the scene like in Argentina? Are other DJs jumping the vinyl bandwagon like they do in Europe or USA, or are most of them still preferring to pack lightly and just bring a couple USB drives at the club?
Argentina is definitely not the best place to buy records, they take so long to arrive if you order online and there are not many record stores as you can find in Europe or America. Also, prices are much higher, so I think that's why many local DJs continue to play digital. Otherwise, there would be many more.
Last question about vinyl, I promise. Where do you go shopping for records? Can you recommend some good record stores, in case any of our readers land in BA anytime soon?
It depends on what kind of records I am after. For news I dig online, for the difficult ones I use Discogs and for backorders I check directly with the labels, but I really enjoy buying records while traveling, so I get to know local stores on each city I visit. In BA I would say Strobe (even though I don't go there really often), but worldwide there are so many good stores like A1, The Thing, or Submerge in the US, Sounds Of The Universe or Rough Trade in London, Syncrophone in Paris, Extend & Play in Marseille, Recycled in Madrid or even Rush Hour in Amsterdam. The list could go on and on...
I bet you travel a lot in your line of work. Care to share one of your most memorable experience that DJing brought to you?
There was this time I had to cross the river with a bag full of records up north in Buenos Aires to play a gig, but I was too late to catch the boat, so a gentleman rowing a canoe kindly offered to help me cross it. Even though it was only a 10 minute ride, the canoe was shaking so much and I was scared that my bag might fall down in the water. Finally we arrived on time, safe and dry!
Speaking of travelling, you are playing in Griessmuehle along with Lamb ent, Federico Farina, Marginal and Daliyama at the end of this month. Is this your first time playing music in Berlin? Tell us a bit about this event and what should people expect (or not) from it.
No, fortunately this is not my first time playing in the city. I already played for Select*Elect earlier this year, but this time is even more exciting as I've heard nothing but good comments about the venue. Playing in Berlin is always a good idea, and such a learning experience as well!
Last, but not least, what does Javier Denevi have in store for the remaining of 2015? Any upcoming gigs, future projects or something special on the horizon?
On September I will return to Buenos Aires. I am really looking forward to plan the upcoming projects for 2016, to finally make some time to finish my first EP and we also have some dates confirmed until NYE :)
Wow, that is really great news Javier, looking forward to 2016! Wait, did you just say you are finishing your first EP? Care to share more about it or do you want to keep the mystery around it until it’s ready?
Well, it's a solo project and the inspiration came from some early west coast house records that I really like. I'm focused in only using samples from my collection in a kind of MPC-workflow, so it can take a bit longer than using sample packs. At the moment I just finished mastering the first track and I could say I'm happy with it. I just need some time to polish the other ideas and put them all into a package.
Thank you very much for your time and kind words and good luck with your release!
Follow Javier Denevi on soundcloud.