Techno Tuesday: Henry Saiz on creative inspiration, his ‘Balance’ compilation, and more
Techno Tuesday is a feature on Dancing Astronaut documenting the culture of underground dance music. We’ll bring you exclusive interviews, tracks, and narratives from artists within the techno, tech house, and deep house world in an effort to shed light on some of the best talent outside the world of mainstream dance music.
Originality, diligence, and authenticity are the cornerstone elements of being a successful artist — elements which Spanish progressive composer Henry Saiz possesses in spades. Having impressed his more established peers on with his ingenuity and ability to manipulate sound into breathtaking melodies and complex soundscapes, he established his label Natura Sonoris in 2008 as an outlet for his own music and to help cultivate careers of other artists he knew and shared a mutual vision with. Since then, Saiz has charted many successes under his belt, from having his label showcased at reputable global events, to high-charted singles and remixes, to putting together his ground-breaking audio visual album which is due come the end of 2017.
More recently, Saiz was invited to contribute a second compilation to the widely-revered Balance series — a rarity for the company, which has only invited a select few artists back beyond their debut contributions. Their recruiting of him was only natural, given his breathtaking first mix on the series in 2011 which saw him saw him recording the majority of his music in the field and through reel-to-reel tapes. His second Balance compilation is extra special: a hommage to Natura Sonoris’ tenth birthday. Fittingly, the dynamic mix takes place across several parts of varying energy. Each exclusive track and remix within is expertly weaved together by Saiz to create a proper, emotional journey through all shades on the label’s spectrum.
Dancing Astronaut had the privilege of delving into the world of progressive with Saiz right before the compilation’s release for this edition of Techno Tuesday, where topics including live performance, his vision for Natura Sonoris’ next chapter, and his creative inspiration were discussed.
You’re one of the select few to be invited to Balance for a second round; your talent and authenticity clearly speaks for itself! Can you speak about the importance of remaining true to oneself creatively in order to promote career longevity?
Remaining true to yourself is generally important for us as human beings and for career longevity just as much, especially in the ever changing music business. Unfortunately over time the pressure of the scene can cause a lot of damage for artists and their creativity, making them do things the way the industry, the label, or the management dictates. This is reality, we can’t escape that. What we can escape though is compromising our integrity. Getting involved in the music industry a musician has got to understand what he does and why he does that in the first place. Music is an art, it’s a form of self-expression. If you don’t have what to express or come here to express someone else’s self – it’s not going to last, people who are here for the music will spot a fake from miles away. Yes, taking easier paths can be quite tempting at times, but in the long run in order to succeed in this fiercely competitive industry you have got to keep your intentions pure, stay true to yourself, your authenticity and your originality, ignore limitations and focus on doing music that is deeply honest.
Did you select artists to make songs specifically for this compilation, like Hernan Cattaneo did for his most recent Balance contribution?
When shaping up the main idea for this compilation I wanted to create a mix that would showcase the spirit of the label, highlight its aesthetics, evolution and musical variety. I knew I wanted to feature some of the old tracks, but to just do that wouldn’t be much fun, so I decided to select some favorites and get them reworked by the artists I thought would fit that spirit and those aesthetics. With the original material it was pretty much the same approach, it was either from people we already have released on Natura or were planning to. There were so many more I wanted to get involved, but unfortunately I had a time limit for the mix hehe.
Touring around with a band and adding a “live” element has been a cornerstone element of your performance. Can you talk more about your roots as a metal band member and musician at a young age?
I started playing bass when I was a teenager and I was involved in a couple of bands of different genres at that time. But my most important project was exactly that black metal band that Luis and Eloy were also parts of. Actually we won the best black metal band award in Spain with it, and also the best bass player, so we were kind of cool haha. But anyway, that didn’t last very long and three of us left the band as we wanted to go a bit more electronic way with it, you know, to experiment with sounds, keyboards etc, which the rest of the band wasn’t really into and so our paths with them diverged. Then the three of us started experimenting with electronic music and that’s what we’re doing up until this day! Although the musical direction has changed, we’re still trying to reflect that kind of energy nowadays as well. Maybe some day we’ll get back to it and produce a proper black metal album too, who knows. :)
Your label is turning 10 already – wow! Where has the time gone? Of this journey thus far, what has been the hardest struggle you’ve dealt with in this swiftly changing industry, and your biggest triumph as a label boss? And, what do you see for Natura Sonoris over the next 10 years?
I know, right? When I look at the label, it’s like I just launched it but it’s really been 10 years. 10 fruitful years of good music and lasting friendships. This was the initial idea when I started this label. I wanted to make a platform for any musician who thinks in music to just come and speak to the world with exactly that – their music. No labels, no limits to a specific genre – just truth and honesty in terms of music. That’s the approach the label has followed for these 10 years, that’s the approach the label will keep following hopefully for another 10. A wonderful thing is also that we’ve managed to establish positive and lasting relationships with every artist so now it feels like one big family, that’s also very important. As to the struggles, well, just casual things like for every independent label: some support from bigger acts and exposure from media outlets would never hurt, because even though the main idea is to provide the audience with unique and honest music, it still needs money to function properly, so that’s where the going gets a little tough sometimes. But I’m positive we’ll get there eventually. :)
On another note, last year you stunned audiences with your audiovisual show which was a great crowdfunded project. It seems more artists are taking this direction as well. Do you think this is the future of electronic?
I can’t say if the future, but at this point quite a challenging turn of events for sure. Which can either lead to the expansion of artists’ creativity or to just another non-lasting hype until the next best thing happens. Incorporating an audiovisual component can get tricky. If more and more artists start taking this direction, it will get competitive and in order to stand out they will have to work twice as hard to deliver something truly memorable, that will attract attention and something that will stick. No one needs another commercial salad of images, or another making-of. I mean, yes it’s a nice insight but it’s boring, you won´t attract a lot of people with that. The point of the audiovisual concept is to make the eye listen. To create a story where the visual component enhances the audio one and not overshadows it. So there’s quite a lot of things to consider when conducting a project like that.
What are some of your favorite natural spots that you like to go to to seek inspiration for a track?
It’s no secret that I am unconditionally and irrevocably in love with Canary Islands, and Lanzarote in particular. My first album was produced there, there’s going to be a track representing that place in the new album as well. That island is very dear to my heart and it’s like no other, you’ve got to see it yourself to fully understand how special it is. Then last year’s visit to Joshua Tree National Park, which, by the way, is also going to be covered in the new album, has been quite a trip as well.
You see, with the job I have I am lucky to get that inspiration from pretty much everywhere I go as every place has its unique and special atmosphere that one way or another can and does influence a creative mind.
Who are some rising progressive acts that we should be keeping watch on?
Just as I don’t like to put labels on my own music, same goes for someone else’s. It either speaks to me, or it doesn’t, simple as that. It’s the only criteria I recognize. Last year preparing for the gig I came across this track that instantly got my attention for its emotion, and, you know, honesty; something that is a little too rare to find on the scene these days. It was ‘Shelter In The Sky’ by the dutch producer Joep Mencke. Since then I’ve been watching the guy and now I also have him contribute a track to my new Balance compilation and we’re going to have his release on Natura Sonoris as well. So I’d probably recommend checking him out. And then a good friend RIP Bestia, whose solo EP we already released earlier this year, is also working on new stuff I hope to get my hands on!