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Totally tropical taste

Matias Aguayo unleashes his Latin spirit

Talking to Chilean-born, German-raised techno producer Matias Aguayo about his new album 'Ay Ay Ay', out now on Kompakt, it's almost impossible not to become stereotypically English and talk about the weather. While you can feel the cloudy days that have gone into the new wave of British techno-influenced innovations, 'Ay Ay Ay' exudes so much brightness and sunshine, it could come with a complimentary bottle of sunscreen.

A huge departure from his previous work, dubbed 'heroin house' for its dark overtones, it marks a radical overhauling of both Aguayo's mindset and working methods. Abandoning the clinical use of digital technology, 'Ay Ay Ay' instead bursts with layers of Aguayo's vocals, harmonies, tics and beat-boxing, intricately latticed to form beguiling, organic tracks. And the reason for this? A move to the Southern hemisphere.

"Since the last album, I've spent much more time in Buenos Aires and that atmosphere," he tells us over the phone. "Being away from the context of music in Europe made me feel freer. There was much less necessity to relate to certain references."

It was this distance, and the absence of any underground music scene setting an agenda, that left Aguayo free to pursue his instincts.

"I decided to just record things with my voice, because it's the instrument I use best. When I started ideas in the past I would sing them first before I played it with a synth. I wanted to improvise and have fun so this was the easiest way. But within the process, I liked it more and more and decided to stick with it, and concentrated instead on making the recordings as good as possible."

The results are songs like first single 'Rollerskate', a joyful ode to self-propulsion packed with hypnotic grooves that mimic the graceful movements of skating that, says Aguayo, should have you swaying your hips in mimicry.

If this spirit of dance permeates everything that the South American does, then Aguayo's Bumbummusic parties have proved an equally liberating experience. Descending on public spaces with a soundsystem consisting entirely of boom-boxes, the parties gave him a new insight into DJing.

"Anything can happen. People really get on the dancefloor — meaning the street — right away, and encourage other people to participate," he explains of a concept destined to fall foul of a regulations-obsessed UK.

"It's very different to clubs. I still love them but it's more restricted and controlled. You can have fun but you know what kind of fun you're going to have. As a DJ it's inspiring on the street because you can't assume you're playing to an audience who know your music and are of a certain age or social context."

Such activities have led to a close-knit group of friends, and the formation of his Cómeme label whose output throws techno and house together with more rhythmical styles such as Columbian Cúmbia or South-African Kwaito.

With a European tour soon to be completed, Aguayo is already looking to the future, with the logical next step being to expand his work to some kind of community venture. But for now, he's happy to enjoy the success of 'Ay Ay Ay'.

"It's a result of my life in Buenos Aires, my friends and the parties, but also getting closer to my reason for making music," he concludes. "My initial motivation for music was always singing, improvising, having fun and recording it. Getting back to that, I feel the continuity in my life. It's like being a kid again but this time with more sophistication and experience."