“Music helps me connect and transmit whatever I want to say without words”
Luijo is a DJ based in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, that has been delivering less commercial forms of house and techno since 2002. Luijo is the emblematical Deep Techno and Dub Techno artist in his country. Currently, he performs worldwide
How do you define yourself?
I am a Simple, down to earth, and straightforward person
What does the music mean for you?
This is a question that has made me reflect every now and then. Ever since I started listening to selected music on a daily basis, it has become my life. Music helps me connect and transmit whatever I want to say without words because it is for sure the universal language. Its a companionship for my daily living, during both happy and melancholic moments and helps me get through the day. There is no more sublime expression than music. It can match and create moods and give you the freedom to your soul when you need the most, so in shorter words: Music is everything to me. When I started working professionally on music, the initial definition of what I thought it was, changed progressively. I say this because when you decide that your passion will become your profession, many factors open your mind even more. You start to enter this world of business, marketing, media, traveling, and somehow become a trademark for what you do. These factors that get present in your life aren’t necessarily bad, the issue starts when you forget the initial meaning of music and why you really do what you do. The danger in this artist life is to get lost in trends and to follow things that aren’t really your choice
This is the most interesting question in this interview for me. Its funny and I finally have the chance to clarify this. Luijo (pronounced Lui-ho) is a common short name that people use in my country for my real name, which is Luis Jose. My family and my friends have been calling me Luijo since I can recall. To be honest, I even feel weird when I listen or read someone calling me by my original name. My name was not something decided for any artistic purposes, it’s just the regular name all people call me by. There is no second purpose intended with this name, for real
How do you describe or define music you’re playing?
The conceptual approach of my music concentrates on building atmospheres and creating plenty of space between sounds, constructing a very harmonious balance between sound and silence. I like to give the opportunity for people to understand my music and the setting as a whole; therefore it is utterly important that the venue is proper. My musical vision can drive from the most penetrating and perceptive deep techno sounds, to the warmest, soul touching house rhythms. Mysticism is transmitted through my music and it’s all inspired from both visual and sensual aspects of nature. For me it’s all about combinations of rare and elegant sounds without limiting myself to play music from specific labels or artists. Its never about any hype, its about careful selected music from all epochs. The case of this mix I made for Muzaik is really special. These tracks I chose have come across my life in one or another important period of time, and they all have a resilient meaning. Most of these tracks are always with me whenever I travel and take a plane, especially the very first of the set, which is my favorite track for takeoff and was one of my very first records. This is mostly my soundtrack for airports
What has the experience within Mixcult (Radio show and Record Labelfrom Saint Petersburg)?
Mixcult for me is home. Since the very start, Mixcult carefully engaged with a remarkable roster of artist that to be honest, I think are the best in the world and have my complete respect. They all share basically the same vision I have on music and on what we play. Although everyone has a different touch, which is necessary of course, each team member is so well cultured, sane and down to earth on what they play and produce. I think the music really comes from the heart and its authentic, which is something so unusual these days. I remember back a couple of years ago when Andrey Pushkarev and Kirill Matveev invited me to join the team and to be honest, I forever will be grateful and really lucky because It was a dream come true that my favorite artists asked me to be part of this. From that day on, just positive results
have come out and its even much better what is yet to come. The real grace of the project is that even though its a formal thing and work has to be done every day, everyone is like a family and really trust the music and the concept each one represents. Conceptual authenticity is Mixcult’s insignia. As for the moment, we are working on the next record pressing which will be announced in a near future. Every day with Kirill Matveev and the others, I have worked as one of the curators of what comes out and what doesn’t. Vinyl pressing for Mixcult is very strict, so expect always the highest quality and conceptually authentic tracks on each pressing. This has nothing to do with big artistic and overrated names whatsoever; it is purely about quality music, regardless of who writes it
We know that the main feature in your performance it’s playing with turntable. Currently we find lots of different ways to play music. Which digital or analog equipment do you like to use for playing music?
The style music I play is structurally simple, and tracks are elaborated perfectly in its own way, so I keep myself to play with standard equipment of choice rather than too much buttons, computers and gadgets that work better for loop-intended, layered samples and mashup designed music. My preference when performing in a club or event is always an Allen and Heath mixer (92, 3D or 4D), 2 Pioneer Digital Turntables, and 2 Technics MK5 Turntables. I like to have these mediums so I can execute without any limit. During each presentation I usually play both digital tracks and vinyl, but mostly vinyl, it all depends on the travel limitations that can come up at the moment that limit the number of records I can bring with me
Can you give us one reason you love to play with vinyl?
I think one reason is not enough in this case. First of all, I have a rather reasonable sized collection of vinyl, which is composed by almost 2000+ carefully selected records that are always available to me. Regardless of the age, I have been choosing and buying very specific records for more than a decade, not considering the labels, nor the artists that make this music, but rather choosing them because they represent the concept I like to share. I think my collection of records can provide me for playing under any circumstance, time and under whatever styles I want to be crossing by, mainly techno, house and electronica/drone. Good music is ageless, and vinyl is the strongest medium to conserve it. Second, vinyl has a different sound and has something that digital tracks will never provide: Vinyl feels. To be able to control with your hands and really touch the music is really indescribable. Every record has a story behind it, starting from the artwork, the whole deal of pressing, choosing what it will contain, the process of manufacturing, and of course, the music inside. The fact that a label has to spend so much money to make a pressing contributes to the fact that they tend to provide higher quality music. Now anyone can come up with a digital label and release whatever they want without proper curation. Third, I totally support digital releases because the ease of use that can provide for traveling DJs, or in many cases, to people that cannot afford the sacrifice of obtaining vinyl. Buying records is not cheap and can have a big impact in your economy if you don’t control and select what you buy without thinking it twice, but to be honest, vinyl music is more personal than digital tracks and will never give you a hard time when playing. There is no freezing, no card error or any other computer related trouble. You just have to put the record and let it run.
What is your favorite place to buy music?
I live in a country that in its whole history has had only one electronic music record store. This was around the year 1997 and it closed a couple of years ahead, so I have been buying all my records when I travel outside and nowadays mainly in digital stores such as Deejay.de, Juno Records from London, Decks Records from Germany and of course Discogs, which has the biggest catalogue of vinyl worldwide. As in for digital purchases I use mainly Beatport, Juno and Bandcamp
Are you producing music? Will we listen to any production from Luijo?
You will hear in any time soon. For once in my life I think I have the proper direction to engage production and I think it’s my time to sit down in the studio and write what I have in mind. For the moment, my first production will be exclusive for Mixcult Records
What is you favorite club to play music?
I like to play wherever I have a proper space to perform and concentrate accurately. A space where I have a stable equipment, space for my record bags and of course a good sound system that stands up to the ideal level. Rather than playing in a club, I always prefer open air spaces in nature, some place where I can see the faces of the ones who dance, not a dark room where at some point I can get lost and misinterpret the mood. Natural environments are my preferred type of venue because they let me create the connection I like between my music and the setting. Any interesting waterscape or mountain with a fresh weather is ideal for me. I also like big dance-floors much more than clubs where people can sit down and have the common club behavioral pattern with fancy dresses, expensive drinks and so…. I like warehouse and unusual places that permit a more open artistic expression and people feel free to dance and enjoy themselves. In Santo Domingo, the ideal dance spaces are: The Warehouse and The Cave, which is a natural underground cave full of stalactites that
create a fantastic natural environment for good sound. Also any good rooftop in New York City that combines the sky-view with the musical experience is more than good for me.
What is you favorite club to enjoy music?
Ironically, I am not much of a party person. I mostly visit clubs when I am playing or meeting an artist of my taste or is related to me in any way. I rather enjoy better going out to more quiet places or traveling to places where I can enjoy nature. I still am very curious to play and enjoy in some specific clubs around the world. These clubs are: Stackenshneider, located in Saint Petersburg, Gazgolder Club, Propaganda and Rodnya, in Moscow, Club Der Visionaire in Berlin, and Kristal and Club Midi in Romania
What is your next project?
Production and more gigsApart from electronic music, what other genres do you like to listen to? I really like listening to piano solo music, baroque, classical, and jazz. In the past I enjoyed playing rock and metal subgenres, but that was a long time ago and those days are definitely over
What is your opinion of the electronic scene in Dominic Republic?
In terms of acceptance of music genres, Santo Domingo is very open-minded. Potentially speaking, Santo Domingo has all that takes to have an even bigger and more solid scene, and the crowd and attendees really come together whenever one of the good parties goes along. Some changes can be made little by little, and first of all is to support the talented artists that perform locally. You never know the full capacity of any of those bedroom DJs that stay at home working and studying music until you give them a chance. This is something personal for me; local support is highly important and can’t be taken for granted. This allows correct direction of things. The scene is getting the attention of many young people. Nowadays there is a very young and fresh crowd that is interested in underground music and that make anything possible to explore and to attend events of this kind. In terms of crowd and music appreciators, I think Santo Domingo will be forever my favorite place in the world. There is always some magic in some point time of an event. Something you love about your country:The natural environments. No question here. Dominican Republic contains breathtaking places, especially the virgin beaches across the island and the mountains in the north region. Despite the constant heat all year, in the north you can find relatively cold and foggy places that make an interesting contrast with what is regular in most of the places of the country. Also the food. Dominican Republic was currently named as one of the Americas gastronomic capitals. To me, Dominican food can compete up to a world-class level if it’s consumed in the right places
What is your favorite film?
Just One?? Haha c’mon!
– La Vita e Bella
– The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
– 2001: A Space Oddyssey
– The Last Samurai – El Secreto De Sus Ojos
– Forest Gump