Sunshine Education: Pépe Talks
It’s always lovely when you get the opportunity to interview an artist like Pépe. There’s a weightlessness to the way he speaks; a refusal to be dragged down by the negative vibes of the mundane, responses rhyming off like poetry.
Growing up in the culturally vibrant settings of Valencia has aided the artist in crafting his own unique brand of space age electro. A brief move to the UK only broadened his musical pallet further. Inspiration channelled from the sounds of UKG, grime and 2-step, combined with simple, innocent pleasures such as the first sip of a cold Lemon Fanta, have resulted in a couple of ear catching releases on Parisian label Renascence 9293 – a pair of these ears belonging to Hotlflush Recordings affiliated artist Or:la.
Or:la and fellow artist Breakwave have set off on their own musical journey. Deep Sea Frequency is rapidly emerging as one of the finest up and coming labels in the UK, and that’s after just one release.
Pépe is the creative mind behind the imprints second outing. DSF002 sticks to its creators ‘all things bigger than us’ inspiration whilst remaining symbolic to the label’s forward thinking aesthetic. It’s a real, natural connection. A creative alignment.
I caught up with Pépe to talk about the upcoming release, record digging and the inspiration of both UK and Spanish culture.
Tell us a little about yourself. What was it like growing up in Valencia?
Valencia is a wonderful place to be a kid; it’s a small city with loads of parks, a beautiful old town, a real culture for home, food and the sea. As a kid I spent a lot of time diving in little beaches an hour away from the city (I still try to do that). It’s a city that has its own very unique culture, where the local language really bleeds into the way we use Spanish but also our character. When I think of Valencia I just think of my aunt making paella for the whole family and all of us sitting in the shade and having 6 hour meals. And orange trees, orange trees everywhere. I’m living here again and all these memories come back daily, it’s a wonderful city.
How long have you been producing for?
I think this year marks around 5 or 6 years since first opening garageband and consequently ruining any chance of me being a good student ever again.
I read somewhere that your Lobster Theremin release was homage to Valencia. In what way does the city inspire you and how do you feel the sound of the release represents this?
Valencia is Spain’s citrus capital; we have oranges, lemons, tangerines, clementines and all the vitamin-c you could ever wish for. I feel Lemon Fanta (if the title isn’t a giveaway) really reflects that, it also has this naïve, sweet vibe, as a kid I used to drink lemon Fanta when we were out for a meal with the family, so whenever I drink it I have instant flashbacks of childhood. The A-side, “Rainfall” is me trying to depict what occurs when it rains in the region of La Marina, 90 minutes south from Valencia. It doesn’t rain that much, but when it does, the whole sky turns pitch black, there is a deep silence, and after thumping thunder the pine trees do a thing that I call “screaming”. They turn this very deep fluorescent green that is quite breathtaking.
What’s the electronic music scene like out there?
I’ve really got to give credit here where it’s due, I want to give a really big shout out to Pablo, Fausto and Vladimir from Club Gordo, and David and Dario from La3. These people have really changed the landscape here. When I left the city 3 years ago, there was nothing to do, crowds where horrible, and you only had really bad indie clubs. Now we’ve got A-list bookings every week and parties where you can let yourself go all night. Valencia is a city where everybody has been big into electronic music for decades, it’s no fashion here. This really shows with incredible residents like Gregori or Alber Hi, who deliver astonishing warm up sets everytime. Valencians are very passionate and visceral in everything, and it really shows in the clubs.
What was your thinking behind your re-location to Brighton?
Well, at the end of my high-school years I started to realise that music was the only way to go for me, the only lifestyle I could sustain without becoming bored or giving up too quick. At the time Valencia was like a no-go because I struggled to find anyone who shared interests with me and I felt like I needed a change because I had lived in the same place for 18 years. Some of my teachers in school recommended Brighton, and I kind of blindly followed their advice. It was a good idea.
Do you feel a move to the UK has broadened or changed your sound?
Definitely, I really love the UK’s attitude where everyone you meet has a different favourite sub-genre of dance music, and they go deep with it. In Spain, it’s rare to find people into Hessle Audio stuff, OG dubstep, juke, 2-step, UKG, Grime. I mean, none of this stuff really exists in spain. When I arrived to the UK and started meeting music heads, I realised I had no idea about dance music, I was living in a box where only 4/4 and maybe DnB existed. Being exposed to all these genres has bled into my sound and every now and then I like to reference, or transpose other genres into my stuff, albeit subtly.
How did the release on Or:la’s Deep Sea Frequency come about?
This was the most natural and laidback process.
Upon receiving a DM on Instagram from someone saying Or:la had been closing with my track, I went to message her to thank her for the support. After talking for a bit I asked her if she would be down to release Weightless In Orbit on vinyl, on her new label. I put some tracks together with it and she instantly said yes. It might be because she’s naturally talented (and incredibly so) but I feel like she really understood the music I had put together for this EP. I felt really comfortable in the process and was very pleasantly surprised with the artwork design her and Breakwave had sourced. Sometimes labels work so hard and have such a strong manifesto that you have to compromise a bit, or maybe skim through tracks to make something that fits with the label aesthetic, you might disagree with descriptions, release times, formats, scheduling, but with Deep Sea Frequency, I’ve felt like every step was natural, an easygoing process. Special thanks to Or:la and Breakwave for their work!
You seem to have a real interest in outer space. Does this influence your creative process and musical output? If so, how?
I think my interest for space comes from the same interest that I have in the sea and sailing. That vast, calm extension that you have to treat with utter respect, reacts in unpredictable ways and hosts the most mind-boggling creations causes in me some really strong sensations. I always try to structure my tracks so that they feel like a rocket taking off, there’s always these intense build-ups and stacks of things going on, there’s a slight pressure, like we might not know if this giant machine we’re in will take off or explode, killing us all. Weightless in orbit comes from a Ted-talk Chris Hadfield did about the extreme anxiety you feel from takeoff up until 8 minutes up in the sky, when you become weightless and you can finally breathe again. I also try to focus my music on the “exploration” side of the space race as opposed to the idea that at some point we will start colonising space and destroying everything, if you have read Bradbury’s “Martian Chronicles” you will understand the kind of dread I’m filled with.
Your music has this real care-free attitude to it. When I listen to it it’s like my worries go away. Is that what music means to you? A momentary escape from the real world? What else inspires you to make this music?
I attempt to make music in a kind of “electronic impressionism” style, so the first thing I try when writing is to depict a landscape or a set of emotions as vividly as possible. The main ideological focus for me here comes from studying the roots of Detroit techno for some university research. The goal for them was to create hopeful music, something that would separate them from the alienating machine landscapes that had formed around the motor city. When I hear this angry V-neck-black-t-shirt-clad-techno I feel like we’re missing the point, so I try to bring that back. Bring utopia, not dystopia. I tend to read on things that are much bigger than us for this kind of inspiration, the sea, space, nature, chain reactions. I want my music to be political in a different way.
What’s your favourite record store?
I don’t have a particular favourite, but I love a record shop where you can talk to the staff and they tell you about the stuff they’ve been listening to, and tell you that you’ll love this record or that one and they are honestly interested in getting the perfect record for you. I hate the shops with snob owners that have a real attitude and give you a grim face of superiority because you didn’t pick the right record. Honourable mentions are:
Harbourage in Porto Middle Floor in Brighton Lighthouse Records in Tokyo
What’s your favourite rare gem that you have found in a record store? Where did you find it?
My definite top digging moment was the day I found Meiko Kaji’s “Kyō no wagami wa” in a cheap crate. If you are into Enka or Japanese pop-folk you know this is a pretty rare record. I read on the internet that this is the singer-actress that inspired kill bill to be written. It also has two amazing inserts, one with calligraphy lyrics and a 4 page photo shoot with incredible 1970’s clothes. The best part? I found it for 1 pound, it sells for at least 50. It was at Across the Tracks, in Brighton.
Where can people catch you gigging over the next couple months?
I’ve just confirmed Budapest for December and there should be a string of Europe shows coming around that time.
Any other future projects you can tell us about?
I’m going to be re-visiting labels I’ve already been on aside from a couple releases on labels I had not released on before. There will also be a side project coming soon, a different genre and moniker, see if you can spot it!
Follow Pepe on facebook HERE.