ART:CAST #58 & INTERVIEW Ricardo Tobar

It’s the authenticity and the reflected way to express himself as well as he perceives himself as a person, an artist and also how he observes his surrounding that make you want to find out more about Ricardo Tobar. Currently living in Argentina but certainly not the last country to visit or to live at, the Chilean musician shares his musical approaches, opinion on gender-issues and, due to his upcoming release on Musar, some background information on the ‘Nadivi’-release. The three-tracker, including two original cuts, ‘Nadivi’ and ‘The Structures Of Summer Are Within Us’, and a Legowelt remix smoothly fits into the artist’s release rooster, which has seen him putting out music on labels such as ESP Institute or Correspondant. Above his anticipated EP on Musar Ricardo Tobar explains what music and literature have in common and provides us with his latest reading tip. With his contribution to the art:cast series, the artist gives some further insights into his artistic being.

Torture the Artist: Hello Ricardo, tell us something about your day.

Ricardo Tobar: Hello, it is still early here, so I‘m just eating some fruit for breakfast and answering these questions. I had a nice weekend with the family and people around me!

Torture the Artist: You released an EP and album on ESP Institute a couple of weeks ago, and your EP ‘Nadivi’ will be out shortly on Musar – it’s your second EP on the label already. Altogether you’ve released more music in 2019 than in the previous two years. Why was 2018 such a productive year in terms of music for you?

Ricardo Tobar: Actually, 2018 wasn’t an exceptionally productive year, so it may seem a little crazy to release that much. The thing is, releases tend to get delayed, and I thought that some of this music was going to be out earlier. But it’s all good; I am so happy all of this massive amount of work is finally out there. I wish 2019 could a very productive year but I’m currently sitting on hundreds of unfinished songs and it seems that I’m not finishing any time soon.

Torture the Artist: Did you change any of your (studio) routines last year, and if so, which ones?

Ricardo Tobar: In terms of studio material, it didn’t change that much. However, I moved back to South America, so if you take that into account, I totally changed the studio and the scenery. I would like to make some modifications, to get more minimal but with better tools. It feels great to work just with the essential and to go from there. I don’t think I can get to the point of only using a computer like before, but who knows.

My whole work is a big contradiction of ideas, but in any case I often find contradiction and incoherence productive in an artistic way.

Torture the Artist: How do you maintain a clear head when things do not work out the way you wanted them to, and how do you deal with it personally as well as at a technical level?

Ricardo Tobar: Nothing really works the way we wanted, or is it just me? I guess I tend to adapt to situations and try to see the bright side of things even if they look ugly. At the same time I am totally pessimistic – which contradicts the last phrase! You could say that my whole work is a big contradiction of ideas, but in any case I often find contradiction and incoherence productive in an artistic way. I don’t think I can maintain a clear head, but the notion of capturing an idea I have somewhere in me and just going from there feels like the most honest thing you can do while working on music, or anything that matters.

My main aspiration has always been the turntables in the living room.

Torture the Artist: Let’s speak a little about your upcoming release ‘Nadivi’, which consists of two originals and a Legowelt remix of the title track. Does ‘Nadivi’ refer to the the small Indian village, or did you come up with the name elsewhere with another corresponding story?

Ricardo Tobar: No – in fact I didn’t know there was a town/village called like that at all. I liked the sound of the word that came from changing the order of a Spanish word. Let’s see if someone gets it! The song is part of a series I was working on when thinking about clubs or DJing. Even though my songs seem like dance music I never worked with an aim of making people dance in a club; my main aspiration has always been the turntables in the living room.

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Torture the Artist: The second original track of the EP is called ‘The Structures Of Summer Are Within Us’. Does this title draw reference from a certain human behaviour – e.g. that everyone carries an interpersonal warmth within and just has to find it or let it out – or does the track title hint at climatical issues?

Ricardo Tobar: Well, I am happy that the title can evoke these matters – both intimate and political. I think that’s the beauty of playing with the relations between sounds and words. As a matter of fact, while working on those songs I was immersed in The Waves of Virginia Woolf, and I guess I took some of her atmospheres and ideas for the title.

Torture the Artist: In your opinion, what’s an author whose words can create a stronger atmosphere or feelings than music?

Ricardo Tobar: I don’t know that much about literature and I don’t know a whole load about authors but I really admire the world of Julio Cortazar. He’s quite surreal so he can really take you to different times and places. Many of his short stories get to a point where some kind of threshold appears and different worlds or times connect in a profound and enigmatic way. I can’t compare him to music but it can complement it. There’s the idea in music of going elsewhere, grasping another kind of experience and that can be related to Cortazar’s world.

Torture the Artist: What’s a book you can recommend, and why?

Ricardo Tobar: I can recommend ‘2666’ by Roberto Bolaño which I read not so long ago and I found it quite up-to-date regarding the topics he touches there. Also his way of writing is amazing; he gets deeper and deeper at a great pace. In some ways, I feel the atmosphere he creates with repetitions and small variations can relate to some structures in electronic music.

Torture the Artist: Do you have a preference when it comes to certain topics, issues or genres that you enjoy reading about?

Ricardo Tobar: Not quite, I’m a versatile and open-minded reader. I just choose something that looks interesting in the moment, so basically I can move from fiction over to biographies to philosophy very quickly and at any time. For instance, right now I got: Piotr Kropotkin.

It is a great opportunity for us, men, to re-evaluate our position in society.

Torture the Artist: Speaking of current issues in general, what societal themes and issues have you engaged with lately and perhaps developed a different or stronger position towards?

Ricardo Tobar: Such a vast question. It’s difficult not to be engaged with topics at this point because – excuse my choice of phrasing – there’s so much sh*t going on that it’s almost intolerable. Everything needs a stronger position towards it – especially freedom for all. I guess I will start with the feminist movements around the world, but specifically here in Argentina because this is where I am and because my partner is actively involved with it. I think it is a great opportunity for us, men, to re-evaluate our position in society. For instance, in earlier relationships I have made mistakes or said things I shouldn’t have and, when I reflect on that and on all the things – big matters or small details- that lead to chauvinist attitudes, I feel so ashamed of not realizing about it before, or of just standing behind it and silently supporting it. For these reasons I feel it is the time to make an effort to erase and change all the things sexist that we are carrying with us since the beginnings of time. I don’t understand how every single man can’t put themselves in the situation of women and just support gender equality (Vakula WTF!). And talking about equality, richer people keep getting richer; but not only that, they are getting I-want-to-puke-richer – you know what I mean? While most of the population is struggling. With all this you have a certain part of the DJ community with their tweets so vain and you are like: is this for real? I never thought we could arrive to a state like this. I used to admire way more artists but social media has ruined it for me. Of course, I can’t generalize and there are always amazing beings in the community, but basically I had to delete Twitter. I’m like Elaine from Seinfeld: ‘I had to take a sick day I’m so sick of these people’. Then of course there’s climate change, global warming and how we are destroying Earth that makes me so so sad I can’t even begin to talk about it. You can see how pessimistic I am.

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Hélène Peruzzaro

Torture the Artist: Coming back to your EP,‘Nadivi’ was remixed by Legowelt and delivered a musical piece that depicts a different approach to the track. What’s an artist you’d also love to remix a track of yours, and why?

Ricardo Tobar: There’s loads of incredible musicians, but I never thought on other people remixing what I do, I just admire them as artists. Artists and people involved with PAN Records, Modern Love, Whities, ESP Institute, Berceuse Heroique, LIES, Incienso, Domino, Studio Barnhaus… the list is endless!

Traveling does something to your way of thinking.

Torture the Artist: What role does your upbringing play in your music and the way you perceive and produce music?

Ricardo Tobar: I grew up in Chile and all my formative years were there. I started to travel because of music in my twenties and it happened to be that I spent a lot of time in Paris, but I lived in a lot of other places too. Traveling does something to your way of thinking of course, especially being away from your country for such long periods of time. I value much more my roots now than I did before and I try to include those influences in what I do. I’m especially interested in Latin and African rhythms, old ways of recording (and how time materialises in them), quechua, selk’nam and aymara vocalisations, which are out of this world.

Torture the Artist: What’s an artist that you would like to work with in the studio, and why?

Ricardo Tobar: I couldn’t choose an artist, but I guess I would really appreciate a good engineer because it would be an awesome way to learn how to mix. If I were to dream big, I loved the sound of the last Radiohead record, so I would start from there.

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Torture the Artist: Imagine that making music is a long-term relationship. Describe your first date and the moment the two of you clicked.

Ricardo Tobar: I don’t have memories of the beginning, as my family was always listening to music and it was such a natural step for me to start exploring it. I’m not sure if the people surrounding me felt the same way, because using computers and electronic devices used to not be associated with music, but it was pretty natural for me. I guess we clicked since I was very young with the first electronic or experimental records I heard whilst growing up.

When I was younger maybe I was more on the surface of things.

Torture the Artist: How much does the music you produce and what you are currently into differ from the music you enjoyed during your teenage years?

Ricardo Tobar: They don’t differ that much. When I was younger maybe I was more on the surface of things and now I like to go deeper with the music I listen to at home. I think my own songs have a slight delay with what I’m into as I really have to extinguish one idea in order to pass to the next one, if you know what I mean.

Torture the Artist: What type of track have you always wanted to produce, but does not fit your current releases?

Ricardo Tobar: Uhmm… I don’t work like that, I just walk a path and go from there and never think about releases, or at least I try not to. I only release what I feel right in the moment, but I produce much more music that doesn’t see the light because it’s all part of a big picture. I have made mistakes and released some stuff I don’t feel comfortable with now, but it’s something you learn from, and at the same time it is normal to change and not coincide completely with your earlier self. For me it’s much better to work freely on an idea no matter what the outcome will be.

I try to keep my work honest with myself, my beliefs and what surrounds me.

Torture the Artist: What would you say is the essence of your being and how is it represented or implemented in your music and your art:cast?

Ricardo Tobar: That’s too difficult to answer. I don’t know about essence, but I try to keep my work honest with myself, my beliefs and what surrounds me.

Torture the Artist:What do you fight for?

Ricardo Tobar: Mainly, food. Just kidding.

Interview by Holger Breuer