Matias Aguayo: Still Dancing As a Child

Matias Aguayo performs at the Red Bull Music Academy Thursdays at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.
© Tomislav Moze/Red Bull Content Pool

The globetrotting DJ and genre-hopping producer talks about what inspires his sound.

“I always loving venturing into new musical territory I don’t know,” says dance innovator Matias Aguayo. “It’s like moving to a new city each time. Which I’ve done a lot of, too.”

Between his genre-hopping musical style and stints living in Chile, Peru, Germany, Argentina and France, one-time Red Bull Music Academy lecturer Aguayo is a journeyman in every sense of the word.

Currently based in Cologne, the Aguayo has forged a reputation as one of the most exciting names in modern club music, fusing EDM and techno with world music textures and the sort of infectious pop melodies that rattle around your brain and refuse to come out.

Is his globetrotting the key to his unique sound or is there more to sounding fresh than air miles? Aguayo, who’s just released his third album 'The Visitor,' was on hand to enlighten us.

© Tomislav Moze/Red Bull Content Pool

Don’t Be a Musical Tourist

“A lot of musicians go to a place, sample their ideas, their musical culture, and put a beat underneath it, which is basically a form of imperialism. It’s much richer music you create if you really dive into a place. I’m in Istanbul at the minute, and I really hope to get the chance to go out and speak to the people and share the experience of the current protests. Just moments ago, police tear gas from a nearby demonstration was coming through the windows and I had to run to close them.”

Find Inspiration Outside of Music

“Inspiration is everywhere. Hearing someone talk on a bus can be like a jazz composition when you start listening to it musically – the rhythms, the pitches. Also, when I was a teenager I worked a lot in theatre. I think about things in terms of that when I make music, and film too – of having the role of a director.

"Might I branch out into cinema and theatre later in my career? I don’t think so, but I always try to put myself into new situations I haven’t been before, where I’m almost a beginner again. It keeps things interesting. When you get too familiar or comfortable with certain surroundings, certain processes, it’s less likely you’ll make mistakes or create surprises.”

Collaboration Is Key

“A lot of times, a dialogue is more interesting than a monologue. It’s inspiring working with artists because it can make me go over boundaries – each person you work with brings their own rhythm of working. A lot of people discovered my music after I collaborated with Battles, which was an interesting process. On my new album, [acoustic troubadour] José Gonzáles helped write a lot of the lyrics. I’ve known him some years. He came to hear some songs which had lyrics I wasn’t happy with, and offered to write some for me, which was a great honour, and created something quite unique.”

Don’t Forget to Have Fun (and a Bit of a Boogie)

“Wherever you go, no matter how different their culture, every city in the world wants to dance. It’s a universal language. I have always loved to dance. I grew up with it: disco, salsa and everything else. I love writing music, getting onstage, then discovering how I dance to it – the parts of my body each sound triggers and provokes. Music should be about having fun instead of worrying about staying innovative. That way it will come naturally. When I get onstage I inhabit the same childhood space I did when I was little, dancing as a child.”

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