Dark Vektor has been one of the most prolific artists of the modern Electro scene since the third wave began around the turn of the century. With releases on prestigious labels such as Fdb Recordings, Drivecom, and Fundamental Records to name a few, he catapulted himself to worldwide recognition as a solo artist during the early part of the new millenium, after much success with his previous collaboration on the infamous duo Sbles3plex.
With a style all of his own, and one that in many ways has redefined the Electro sound with a certain character, sense of depth, and an approach to Funk and Miami Bass that is very unique, his music really speaks to the heart of the region of Catalonia which he grew up in, and is really quite a special part of the world.
One that for many years has displayed an abundance of talent and an enthusiasm for our music that in this particular degree of saturation, is quite rare. Catalonia, and specifically the region of Barcelona or "Basscelona" as it's been dubbed, has been responsible not just for iconic artists such as Dark Vektor, and Sbles3plex, but others as well like Carlos SicRock, Replicante Norman, and The Bandit, not to mention powerful labels like Electroclub, and even the recent Util Records.
In this short interview, Dark Vektor talks about why Catalonia thrives the way it does when it comes to the Electro sound, and who the key players are in this scene, past and present. You'll be surprised that it isn't just the few, but the many! And that's exactly what we wanted to convey...the abundance that lies within this very special part of the world! Let's go.
Talk about Electro music in Catalonia from a historical perspective first. How popular was it back in the 80's when it all started? Was there a really strong B-boy scene in and around Barcelona? Where would you say the music became more popular first, Madrid or Barcelona?
Dark Vektor: I was never a B-boy. At that time I used to listen to Sex Pistols, Kortatu, Ramones, La Polla Records, Mike Oldfield, Vangelis, Jarre, etc....I wouldn't be able to answer that question, that would be a question for Kapi aka Downrocks, since he is the pope of the national Hip Hop scene, but in my city; and I assume it's the same in all of them, the breakin' scene hit really hard and everyone was breakdancing in the mid 80's.
There were competitions in the parks and streets. In a discoteque that I frequented at the end of the 80's/early 90's, there was a really big party organized that brought in B-boys from all over Catalonia, and where a guy named Nando Dixcontrol would rap over Electro like Electrobreakers.
From the old school generation of artists, like Newcleus or The Egyptian Lover for example, who would you say were the most influential for Catalonian artists?
I sincerely don't know, I assume everyone had their own influences, but it's clear that Afrika Bambataa, Grandmaster Flash, Newcleus, Egyptian Lover, Paul Hardcastle, Al Naafiysh, etc, were everything back then.
What about new school Electro? Around the turn of the millenium, let's say circa 2000 when your project Sbles3plex was about to sign with famed label Djax Up Beats, who were the really popular contemporary Electro artists at the time in your region, perhaps even influencing your own sound?
Well, at the beginning of the year 2000 the influences of new Electro for me were basically Aux 88, SEM, Ectomorph, Anthony Rother, IF, Underground Resistance, Drexciya, DMX Krew, Dopplereffekt, Dynamix II, DBS, The Advent, Dave Clarke,The Hacker, International and DJ Gigolos, to name some....like with everyone else I suppose.
While a lot of people's view is that perhaps Spain in general produces a lot of talent in the Electro music scene, my personal feeling is that we see a particularly rich scene in the Catalonia region, which is very different from Spain altogether. What do you think is particularly different about Catalonian artists, what drives them to make such unique and often profound Electro music?
I don't see it as being that different. The thing is in Catalonia there are many big cities like Barcelona, Cornella, Badalona, Terrassa, Sabadell, Cerdanyola, and Hospitalet that make up the greater metropolitan area of Barcelona, and that makes it so there are a lot more people into Electro who know each other, and so we can collaborate, or just to have a few beers, go to parties or maybe organize them, etc. But in Madrid, Valencia, Pamplona, and Andalucía in general there are a lot of people doing Electro as well.
In Barcelona (Basscelona), we have a really great community, and each year there are new artists gaining us more adepts, but what's more is that right now it's the "Age of Electro", which as you know is cyclical, and every 8-12 years there is a resurgence and it's trendy again, but this last time around there are lots of young people, and so the whole thing is a bit different with clubs such as Tresor Berlin hosting Electro.
Who are your favorite artists at the moment coming from Catalonia?
Oh sincerely I like them all! But if you want me to name some, I don't know, I guess The Bandit aka Spy, Downrocks, Univac, Vema Diodes, Replicante Norman, Carlos SicRock, The Honexters, Gravedad Cinética, Atom, Pablo León, Annie Hall, Split DJ, and Anbau to name some.
There is quite a bit of tension in your region right now as the autonomous government of what is in your people's view, your own sovereign nation, fights with Spain for independence, something that has been going on for far too long in my opinion.
Aside from your own music, which has always had a fairly conscious, political, often societal if not spiritual undercurrent throughout most of your songs, who would you say in Catalonia is also using the power of their music to bring about awareness of much needed social and political change?
Unfortunately there aren't many artists writing songs of political or societal themes. I have always touched on those subjects because it is something that affects me a lot, but it's something personal, and so to each their own. What I do know is that there are many songs that are very ambiguous, where you can have your own interpretation, and that's very beautiful.
Right now I'm not sure who to say is writing political or societal songs, but I know with Seek2012 we are doing it, plus with my own works as Dark Vektor. Also Spy is doing it as well.
For those local producers looking for means to get themselves out there in your area, who would recommend as the strong labels to submit demos to? What are the great Electro club nights currently in Barcelona and around the Catalonia region where like-minded folks meet? Who are the key players today?
This thing about labels changes a lot from day to day, so my advice is not to shortchange yourself and send your music to all your favorite labels. I suppose that everyone has their own, but right now in Catalonia the labels that are doing really well are Util Records, M.U.S.A., Aspecto Humano, End of Dayz, and Polybius Trax.
Right now, Vema, Jose aka The Bandit, and Maria with Util Records are going really strong, and they also do parties to showcase their references. Hector aka Beatteznician as a DJ who does a weekly stream, Carlos SicRock who doesn't stop making tracks, Sandroide aka Turbolover, Serkin aka 1985 who has been organizing Electrodrome/Technodrome parties, the people from Laut who keep pushing Electro, the label Strumentsand and its sub-label M.U.S.A., the label Aspecto Humano with its references and parties, and of course Club Moog with its programming and always keeping all of us in mind. DJ's like Gus Van Sound, Ruben Seoane, Ignasi d'Egara, Serkin, Oscar Garcia, Dani Simplexia, and journalists like David Puente, who have always supported us, and even did interviews when no one really knew about us. And of course, stores like Discos Paradiso, and Rhythm Control in Barcelona.
Finally, as a producer who in so many ways helped build the Electro scene in Catalonia, what would be some words of inspiration for those artists coming up behind you, both local and abroad? What does it take to become a long-lasting and accomplished Electro artist like yourself?
For me, words of inspiration could be: we are all one!!! What this means is that, if we grow the scene, we all grow together at the same time. That's why I have always tried to support my local scene as best as I can. It doesn't serve to have an ego, as we are all doing this for fun and to have a good time, and we can share our experiences and our artistic work together.
To be able to become an artist with longevity like myself, you have to work hard and never give up!!! The truth is that for me to have longevity, you have to be consistent with your ideas and not change what you are doing musically. With experience you learn a lot, and with time you consolidate that more and more.
I just wanna say that in this interview I have given a lot of artist names, labels, etc, and I have likely forgotten someone. I hope no one gets mad at me, and if they know me, they know it wasn't done with any bad intention! :=)
Thanks for your time, very insightful! Keep up the amazing work you do.