Introducing the Semillero series, where we meet up & coming artists who are influencing the future of the underground scene.
Semillero is a section I’ve been thinking around for a long time. It will be comprised of small interviews with producers who are no Mr. big shot whatsoever. Yet their names keep appearing in my playlists, radio shows and portray massive potential: reasons why they need a bit more exposure.
In this first edition, we have JFR (a.k.a. Juan Franco Rivero). He´s an Argentinan producer with a die-hard love for progressive house.
I first stomped upon his name through Instagram, yet once heard I knew he had that je ne sais quoi. Though brief, his catalog of work can be seen in weighted labels such as Massive Harmony, Nube Music Records, Mystic Carousel and Light Side Music . . . there are other big labels to come, but we can’t say much.
Shares bodies of work with current talents of the progressive house scene and his tracks. When releasing Eps, he gets the support of big names such as Fernando Ferreyra, Lucas Rossi & others.
JFR – Meditaciones – Nube Music Records
JFR – Alma Blanca – Light Side Music
What was the first thing that attracted you to electronic music?
As a boy, I was always very curious about the musical environment. I took private guitar lessons; I started playing the piano alone at home. These were the one thing that led me to get more into it. I also took piano lessons but soon I left because the teacher scold me. I did not like reading the scores, I played by ear without reading it and she realized. My friends always went to electronic parties. At that time I was hanging around common clubs where cumbia and reggaeton are the music of choice. One day my friends told me “you have to play electronic music, you can play any genre you can think of so you need to do this one as well”. From that day I started to investigate and learned how beautiful electronic music is, and here I am, in love.
Do you still relate to music in the same way as when you first started?
No way! When I started doing electronic music it was like a hobby. It was making music for my friends to listen to, I took it very relaxed. A few months after I started taking production classes. Unfortunately, I had a person very close to me who was always looking down on me, “I do not support your style”. That hurt me a lot, I even thought about stopping making music. Luckily I did not do it. I guess that’s why I am answering these questions today. I knew I could improve and get to do something that people enjoy listening to, dance and feel at ease.
Nowadays I try to take it more “professionally”, even though I don’t take it as seriously as it should. It kind of stopped being a hobby for about a year and a half ago. Every day I try to learn something new and improve on my mistakes.
Where do you find the greatest inspiration?
Usually, I find the inspiration in the current state of my emotions. If during the day I’ve been feeling low, I’ve surely heard songs and artists that hit my inner-fiber at that moment. If at the time of producing I’m happy for sure I heard bands that lifted me up and the notes I’m going to use are “happy”.
It seems crazy, but many times I’ve come across melodies that came from the blue to my head. While I taking a shower, in my car, at working. I hum them in my cell phone and save it for later transcription.
If I’m not inspired at all, then I listen to Pink Floyd, Depeche Mode, among others, also movie soundtracks. If I like the instrumental of a movie, I look for the track-list and I’m inspired by that too.
I also try to listen to the latest radio show by my favorite artists. This helps me to be constantly updated with what’s new & fresh.
What do you hope to communicate through your music?
I am a person of few words; I find it hard to express what I feel at an emotional level. I’m very closed in that aspect, as I tend to keep everything that happens within me. As a consequence, I try to tell a little of what sense through music. Some of my songs are dedicated to people with whom I have felt important, beautiful or ugly things.
It also depends on what you feel at the moment. That dictates the chords and notes that I will use in a track. Most of my original tracks are sworn to someone.
What software plug-ins or workflow do you use to be able to produce?
I usually use Massive, Diva, Zebra and Exhale for Kontak, which is one of my favorite libraries!
What new things are you learning in production as time goes by?
As for producing, you always learn something new, unless you want to make all your tracks the same. I like to read forums, blogs, watch videos on YouTube of others produce, learn new scales, uploads, and downloads. There is always something new out there.
To finish my tracks I go to the studio of my “mentor”. He’s the one who makes observations on my mistakes or gives me advice on to change/ improve certain things. With him, I learn a lot (Demon Noise – Minno). Also, new plugins come out every day and that is beautiful, they make it easier for us to capture what we have in mind.
What mistakes did you make before and did you improve?
I used to have a thousand channels in a track and wanted to make a song with a thousand melodies. One day Luis Kiverling told me (may my friend rest in peace, we miss him a lot!) that “Sometimes less is more”. That I will never forget. It seems silly but it makes so much sense. I have improved on what is the structure of my tracks. Before in the first 30 seconds, I wanted to put the main melody, all the percussion, the bass, everything! And it’s not like that. I also tend to seek 3rd party opinions. I want to know what others have to say before uploading a track or sending it to a label, I learn a lot from comments.
Day to day I’m improving and looking for my own sound.
What things would you like to improve?
My studio. I want to have all the possible synthesizers, sound-cards, compressors, everything! I’m adding bit by bit. Having that said, you can have all the existing gear in your studio. But if you lack imagination and skill to communicate your feelings, whats the point of having it all?
Nowadays, with a notebook, a simple synth, and headphones you can create wonderful things.
Do you have any other passion other than music?
I am crazy for my local football club, Deportivo Godoy Cruz Antonio Tomba. Not only football but the institution in general. I like to support all sports, hockey, handball, futsal, women’s football, you name it. In my spare time is where I am the most and where I eat the more asados (BBQ…but better).
What current projects are you working on that excite you?
I would like to get out and have some gigs to gain a little bit more of exposure. I’m loading my pen drive with all the tracks that inspire me to get into a booth. I want to take the progressive house that I do throughout my country and someday if I am given the chance, outside. My dream is to know the world thanks to my music.
I’m also working on a project of a live set of 4 hours of live production but still needs a little polishing.
Step by step, this is just the beginning.