Who are you and what do you do? How long have you been a working musician?

That's very good question which a committed musician may never be able to answer. As a musician, you may be able to say that you make music (depending on the definition), but the serious musician is always searching for a new kind of sound that is constantly redefining what he does. So, at best, all I can say that I'm involved in that search because I've only been producing for over two years. Maybe after several years and an improved technique, I might develop a new sound that is clearly my own, but that would take a couple more albums, I think.

The thing about my 'Dark Matters' album is that I had no production skills whatsoever when I started to work on it. This album is the result of my first two years going to production school, so the first tracks were taking forever, and the last ones were going much faster. Basically, the first tracks were simply production exercises in class. My idea was to create an album with different moods, that would work as a mix, so many of the tracks were never conceived as dancefloor sensations (which was never a priority in making the album). 'Dlython' and 'Pangea' are good examples of this, as they have more of a soundtrack feeling to them. I also wanted to have natural sounds in there, so you have violins, a harmonica played by me, bagpipes generating warped sounds, Mongolian throat singing, whale sounds, etc.

What is your educational background? Are there any schools, courses, or books you recommend?

Well, I didn't study music until just a couple of years ago, so my college studies are of no help here. Back then I didn't think there was money to be made in music, so I studied international relations in the US. Would have been nice to go into production instead, but that didn't come until much later. But when it did finally happen, I immersed myself in production school for Logic, synth use, programming, automation, crash levels, etc.

And my recommendation there is to go for private classes, if you can, because you will go a million times faster. And the faster you can get ahead of the learning curve, the sooner you will develop your own sound. What I did, and what I think is probably the best approach, is to use those classes to develop your own tracks. At first I started in a production school where I was based (Madrid), and eventually I went into private classes to solve the problems I was having with my tracks.

What hardware are you using?

To be honest, I don't really think in terms of hardware because hardware limits mobility. My main priority in building the studio was to be 100% mobile because now, with such computer power and software, it's perfectly possible! I've never really understood the need for those high end home studios because 95% of the work is based on research (at least in my case). I don't think you need a great studio to try different sounds or ideas for a track, because the home studio is meant to be a testing lab. Personally, I only need a proper high end studio for a few hours out of the entire production time (which is dozens of hours). So all I need are good monitors at home, and then a good mixing/mastering studio at the end to control the low frequencies.

As for monitors, I have the very first Unity "The Rock" and a Velodyne Impact 10 BVE subwoofer. In terms of controllers I have a Novation 25SL (mini/portable keyboard), a Korg Triton (full keyboard), Maschine, Kore and Korg Kaoss Pad 3. Kaoss Pad is the latest addition because I need more effects in my productions (at least some of them). I also have a Native Instruments S4 for my "Invisible Radio Show", as well as two Pioneer CDJ-1000 Mk3 and the Pioneer CDJ-800 with the Kontrol X1 controller for Traktor. In addition to the Pioneer mixer, I also have a Vestax PCV-275R with rotary faders, which I prefer. I've also had the Xone 92 in the past, but I don't think the extra EQ is much help. I also have two soundcards: Traktor Audio 8 and M-Audio Firewire. I must say that the S4 has probably the best jog wheel I've tried, much smoother than the CDJ1000. As far as the rest of the equipment goes, the only indispensable hardware are the Unity monitors, which are a little low on the high ends, but as long as you know that you're ok in mastering.

When I travel I carry a MacBook Pro and the AKG K 702 headphones. I've been working on the album all over the world with just these two gadgets, and you could in fact go directly from just that gear to the mastering studio, without ever going through monitors. Not that I would ever do that… but it's perfectly possible! When I travel I also carry an Olympus LS-11 recorder. That's how I recorded tons of bands in Cuba this summer, or in Mongolia last summer.

What software are you using?

Of course it's nice to have all those controllers mentioned in hardware, but it's also nice to be happy without them! It's true that the main studio may be more comfortable, but the mobile studio can certainly have a better view, which also counts when you're making music! Plus I don't think the sound difference between real and software synths is that huge anyway (or worth the money). So I have Logic on the one hand, and then Native Instruments 'Komplete', Arturia 'Collection', Trillian, Stylus, Omnisphere and Traktor.

It would take a whole decade to go through all that stuff, so I don't think I need anything else in terms of sound at this point. I've recently started to add all the Computer/Future Music stuff (they just featured 'Dark Matters' as the Album of the Month in December). Within NI I specifically have to mention the FM8 and Absynth, since Reaktor is a different story, because they seem to generate the most leads (meaning ideas). And in Arturia, obviously the Minimoog and the Moog Modular. Nothing can sound better than one of those pads. Stylus is nice but can lead you into progressive, just like Reaktor might lead you into minimal.

What would be your dream setup?

I think I actually might have completed my dream setup just very recently. I've had my mind on this little gadget for quite some time, so a couple of weeks ago I just decided to freestyle it: the Roland TD30-KV (V-Drums). As we all know, one of the problems with electronic music might be the lack of human feeling, so with these V-Drums I hope to make the beats more natural. I'm also hoping to speed up the production process this way, but it's too early to tell because I'm still mapping the bloody thing to Maschine (which requires a PhD in cartography!). But so far, the analogue sounds that come with it are working well in the new EP, and I'm actually thinking of calling these tracks 'Roland's Baby'! These drums have reached such a point of perfection that you simply wouldn't tell the difference with a regular set. And the neighbours find them amazing because you can play them with headphones. With this new addition to the studio, which I can hook up to the Mackie HD1531, I think I may finally have my dream set up for a long time. You can see my studio in this Future Music feature.

Can you describe your creative process? Is there a particular routine or schedule you stick to?

To be honest, I don't believe in inspiration. To give you an example, the album has several natural sounds in it, such as violins, a real harmonica, whale sounds, Mongolian throat singing, bagpipes generating warped sounds, etc. But I don't see how any of this comes from inspiration because anyone can come up with those ideas. For me, it's all about hard work. It's more the scientific and diligent process that ends up producing the track, than any type of inspiration.

Another example is the Cuban remix I'm working on now called 'Lagrimas Negras', following what I recorded there this summer. Anyone can obviously come up with that idea, but it's really up to many hours of hard work in the studio that will generate any seemingly creative results. So it's really the diligent dedication and not any inspiration that will generate anything. For instance, the warped sounds you hear in 'Delaython', towards the end of the album, are actually generated by bagpipes! But I had to go through approximately 30 different Scottish CDs in order to find something that works. Or countless different whale sounds from many different sources, or skipping through 40 or 50 Mongolian throat songs, or spending many hours recording violins, etc. My 'Dark Matters' album is the result of many hours of hard work during almost two years, plus taking productions courses along the way, rather than any particular inspiration.

Where do you shop for and discover music?

Mainly promos and massive buying sprees. I actually like to pay for music because I want to support the industry. So I don't mind spending money on large blocks of music at once, because the promos won't meet all your needs. I don't really do it progressively, which I probably should, because it's very time-consuming to go through so many releases coming out. It goes in waves really. I either spend most of the time on production, or I spend a lot of time going through promos. Maybe like 200 tracks at a time, and then throwing many of them away. And I'll also buy a lot of tracks that I'll never use. But I find that this process generates more eclectic type of podcasts for my "Invisible Radio Show" and live sets.

Any highlights from your latest musical discoveries?

Now that I've discovered the Olympus digital recorder, I've been recording sounds in places as different as Cuba and Mongolia. The result from Mongolia last summer is, of course, in the album ('Mongolium'), and in Cuba I recorded tons of bands this summer (by channels!). I want to experiment with mixing electronic and Son, which is the traditional Cuban music, closer to jazz than to salsa. So right now I'm working on a remix of a famous song called 'Lagrimas Negras', in which I use some of the recordings I brought back this summer. Eventually I'd also like to go back to the idea behind my first ever track, before 'Viclone', which was a remix of a 1954 blues recording by Howlin' Wolf called 'BPM Blues', but never released because of the sample and very poor production quality. I think this idea has a lot of potential. I've always been a huge blues fan, and eventually I'd like to come back to this idea of mixing blues with electronic.

What's brewing in your studio?

In addition to the 'Lagrimas Negras' remix, which is completely different from 'Dark Matters', I've also started production on some new EPs, closer to the album in terms of style. But, for some reason, it seems that now the tracks branch off in very different directions as soon as I start tweaking them very little. I guess with an improved technique comes more choices, and I think I'm just going to freestyle it on those different versions! But the main thing brewing in the studio right now is, of course, the new Roland TD-30KV which I would like to have in all productions from now on. I'm trying to see if analogue drums will work with underground tracks, and so far it seems they do. They add a nice classic rock feel to them. But you have to pick the right sounds because the drum module comes with dozens of different traditional drum sets, and they all sound quite different.

Any production tips & tricks you'd like to share?

One thing I've learned in making the album is that, if you want to go for an album mix, make sure the tracks are harmonically compatible before you master them. I found myself going back and tweaking certain tracks for the mix, but some of the issues could not be resolved unless you remastered the track (and even still there are unresolved issues left in the final mix, unfortunately). So be aware of this as you make the album and test the tracks within the tracklist as you make them. Lately I've also been paying close attention to the technical tips in the Computer/Future Music tutorials. There are so many valuable ideas in there every month, that you could practically do a production course just with those magazines. So I definitely recommend reading them if you're getting started (like me!). Another source is, of course, YouTube. It never ceases to amaze me how many people have taken the time to make a video about any issue you can think of, and do it for free! You'll never again have to read those 500 pages that you get with a simple digital recorder, or the Airbus 380 manual that comes with a new synth.

Where can we find you on the web?

Kramnik / SoundCloud / Facebook / Twitter /