Having shared the stage with a number of legends in electronic music (Armin Van Buuren, Tiesto, and Paul Van Dyk to name a few), Juan Pablo Torrez has a stored history in electronic music. Finding his path through experimentation with genres of electronic, Juan now possess the fluidity to jump among styles, giving him a versatility to his sounds that keeps the listener rapt with attention. From a DVD of a Tiesto concert to DJ school and now a label founder, Juan Pablo Torrez has covered the full scope of going from a fan of electronic to a staple in the community.
Adding his new show ‘Progressions’ to a list of platforms he has to express himself, Juan Pablo Torrez is seeking to examine the music that resonates with the sound he has been creating and share it with the listeners of FRISKY. After experimenting with a multitude of styles, Juan has found a calling in Progressive House, a genre that lends itself to sonic journeys for the listener.
Speaking to Juan, we learned about his history with electronic music and DJing, how it is to balance running a label, producing, and DJing, and the task of helping grow the burgeoning electronic scene in Colombia. Tune into the debut of his show ‘Progressions’ on FRISKY on June 17th @
Hi Juan, first off I’d love to learn about your history in music? Has it always centered around electronic music? Can you remember any artists or sounds that inspired you to follow a path in music?
Hello! Thanks for having me!
Well, I started listening to music at a very young age. The genres that I was into back then was Salsa and Vallenato, music that is very popular in Colombia, but I didn’t feel a great connection with them. It wasn’t until I was 15 years old that I started to like electronic music thanks to a DVD I get from the first ‘Tiesto In Concert’. I remember that I told myself that I wanted to do that.
The first sounds in electronic music that I really liked was the kind of trance that Tiesto played back in the day, afterwards I learned to like several genres inside of it.
What impact do you think attending a DJ school had on your journey in electronic music? Would you be in the same place with your productions, DJ events, and label had you tried a different route in making it in music?
I think the DJ school where I learned how to mix did deliver me great tools and taught me a lot of great lessons and to love electronic music in several ways I think I wouldn’t be if I learned by myself to mix. The DJ school is called Mix Masters in Cali, Colombia. They were the first to believe in me together with my grandmother, and they started to assign me gigs and take me to events, so I’m really grateful to them as they gave me the first gigs and first steps to where I am now as a DJ. So If it wasn’t for them I think it would take me a few more years to be where I am now.
What I did on my own was to create and grow the label and also taught myself to produce, I think this is the hard way but also it is a very rewarding experience as you find your own sound and your own way to do things. If I have taught this in a DJ school I may have taken less years to learn but maybe I wouldn’t have the sound and the way to do music as I have nowadays.
Previously you have talked about the difficulties of being a DJ in Colombia. How have you seen the community around electronic music change? Are there actions or communities that have been vital to advancing the dance music movement?
Yeah, through the years several collectives and movements started because of the love people had to electronic music, I’m talking about promoters, djs, fans and all the ones involved in some way with electronic music. Also, electronic music started to spread really fast globally thanks to genres like EDM which allowed to have more audience that started to be interested in this kind of music and to explore different genres inside of it.
In a past interview you have also mentioned the prevalence of a native Tribal Colombian sound mixed with EDM. It reminded me of this newer movement within electronic music referred to as electronic Cumbia. Has the traditional music of Colombia had an impact on your sound? Do you see an importance in using folk music within electronic?
The traditional music of Colombia is very rich in melodies and groove, because it is a blend of different cultures. This music hasn’t had a big impact in my sound, I study their dynamics and see if I can apply them to what I do, but the elements change drastically.
I think there’s some kind of relevance to use folk music within electronic music. As humans we are constantly looking for new ideas, to recreate stuff that keeps traditional and give it a fresh look. Lots of bands and DJs has done stuff with folk music and have had a great impact with it, what I’m not really sure if the tradition will be maintained, but maybe people that are interested in the sounds they heard from bands and djs can approach them to traditional/folk music from each country.
Recently your sound is centered around Progressive House and Melodic Techno. Have you experimented with any other sounds before getting to this point? What have been some of the current influences in the sounds your creating now?
Yes, I did. I experimented with several sounds in the past. Trance, Techno and House, but to be honest I didn’t feel complete until I found Progressive House and managed to learn about it.
My current influences right now are guys like Eelke Kleijn, Tale Of Us, Artbat, John OO Fleming, Guy J, Ezequiel Arias, Emi Galvan, Kamilo Sanclemente, Simos Tagias, Stan Kolev, and some more.
Having traveled around the world to play music how do you approach a DJ set? Do you have themes that you incorporate into each show or do you follow more of freestyle approach and play to the crowd’s energy?
I do have some tracks that I have already picked up to start with (like having 5 to 8 intro tracks) and I pick one of them depending on how DJ before me is performing and how the crowd’s behaving. Afterwards, I just do a freestyle set following the crowd’s reaction and where I want to take them. I usually play long sets so this allows me to take the whole venue to a trip 🙂
Your label, Clubsonica Records, is named after a club that you held a residency at. Is the label a way to carry on the sounds you crafted at Clubsonica? What has it been like running a label while also DJing and producing?
That is correct. In Clubsonica (the club) I was able to play Progressive House in Cali, Colombia when there was no other club in Cali that was oriented in that kind of sound. So, my approach with the label was to have the essence of the club printed in it.
Running a label while DJing and producing has been quite challenging as I do have a daily job 9 to 5 – monday to friday, so I have my time really measured to do all the things necessary to have it working. But fortunately, I have managed to find time to do all this stuff, dedicating the right amount of time for each one.
What does 2019 hold for Juan Pablo Torrez and your Clubsonica Records label?
There’s coming some nice tours that I’ll be announcing later this year. Also, some great productions in Solo, with Kamilo Sanclemente and with other fellow artists as well as some nice remixes.
About Clubsonica Records, we will start to do showcases again in some cities in Colombia and maybe taking the brand to do showcases in some other countries. Also we will keep pushing forward our sounds with some great Colombian producers and some new talents we have found and also some established artists that I love at the moment.
For your new show on FRISKY do you have any themes or ideas for how you are going to curate the show?
I always like to tell a story and ‘PROGRESSIONS’ will not be different. I will try to showcase some nice music from all around the world that really impacts me and to take all the audience in a Progressive 1-hour trip.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the listeners and readers?
If you are a fellow producer that want to have your music being played by me in the radioshow please send me your promos to firstname.lastname@example.org. In case you want to send a demo to Clubsonica Records please use email@example.com. I always answer both emails, just gave me time to answer as I get some times several emails throughout the day.
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Listen to the premiere episode: