Tuning in today is special guest — Lis Sarroca — the Barcelona-based DJ, producer, and label-head of Maai Records. Establishing her own label this past year, Maai Records is an open canvas that has allowed for Lis and those alike to experiment with an intimate and colorful palette. On Maai Record’s imprint lies her latest EP: Driven. She tells us about the two-tracker filled with dancey breaks and beats and expands on want-to knows. Although she is non-genre conforming, Lis carries high energy for an output that is a bit of sugar, spice, and everything nice. Current affairs aside, Lis shares the progression of her ten-year career, the aesthetics of her dream studio, and how she balances the demand of travel-heavy career.
Torture the Artist: Hi Lis! We are excited to speak with you today and thank you for joining us! Where are you right now?
Lis Sarroca: Hi Bella, it’s really nice to be back with Torture the Artist, at this moment I am at my house in Tarragona, Spain.
Torture the Artist: Since you released an art-cast for us last summer, you have been quite busy between pushing content, Maai Records, and DJ sets. What projects and aspects of your career have accelerated the most since then?
Lis Sarroca: I think shows have been taking a good run now, fortunately. This is what I like to do the most, to travel with music and learn with new experiences. And also the label Maai has been doing well! I am very close to signing off the next EP on Maai, there will be news on this soon, I really love the tracks so far and cannot wait to share them.
From here I was able to talk and send music to labels I really liked.
Torture the Artist: We will get to your latest release in a moment, but first I’d like to take inventory of your other accomplishments. Can you tell us about the highlights from the last years?
Lis Sarroca: I believe the starting or breaking point came with the Mobilee and Hot Haus Recs releases, from here I was able to talk and send music to labels I really liked. Probably my sound has evolved in a way that now is well recognized by fellow artists.
Torture the Artist: This should bring us to your present release, Driven EP. Can you tell us what you visualized for the EP, and how the tracks (Driven and 3000) became a dyad?
Lis Sarroca: After the Christmas break from last year, I came back to the studio with a lot of energy and new ideas, after having a good season of DJing. The vision of this release was simple, to represent the music I liked at that moment. The tracks came together well, both Breaks but with different vibe, just like an A side and B side.
I am loving to play Breaks and House lately.
Torture the Artist: Both tracks on the EP are sample-driven, can you tell us more about your influences and what atmosphere they elicit for you?
Lis Sarroca: I am loving to play Breaks and House lately, and now that we are back in clubs I thought to combine this energy into this EP. I usually like to experiment with different techniques and this time sampling was the chosen one.
Torture the Artist: Your track titles are named quite intuitively with the piece, are the names on a release ever intentionally connected?
Lis Sarroca: It is usually hard to put a name to a track, I honestly feel I need to practice more. Sometimes I read something and it comes and I name it. Other times I am very undecided so I change the name many times until I feel it fits right.
Torture the Artist: Do you have any other hobbies or interests that you would like to share with us?
Lis Sarroca: I like to watch tennis tournaments and go swimming in different pools and the sea!
Torture the Artist: Your relatively newer label – Maai – has been mentioned a few times already, let’s discuss how it has been having full control of a label?
Lis Sarroca: Yes, this label is around one year old now, launched in June 2021. It has been a great and interesting experience. It’s like having a baby and educating it and choosing what I want him to wear.
Torture the Artist: How has Maai influenced you as a producer and even DJ?
Lis Sarroca: As a producer it has given me the freedom to put out things at the moment I want to and also now I have a platform for other producers as well, to build a sound I learned also from their productions and interests.
Torture the Artist: Since Maai became official, have any real or metaphorical doors opened for you?
Lis Sarroca: Yes, I interact with more producers and DJs now. It also gives me a chance to produce events under the Maai label, talk to labels and think differently!
Torture the Artist: What has been your best friend as a label manager?
Lis Sarroca: Zac from Eureka Artists has been key and very important for the label, a PR gives a great push and helps to define the purpose of it. It also helped me to learn about the response with the feedback and industry demands.
The mission was to create a new community of artists going forward with the sound
Torture the Artist: What mission did you have in mind when creating the label? What has come to fruition and is still yet to be discovered and or achieved?
Lis Sarroca: The mission was to create a new community of artists going forward with the sound, to let them have a platform of creativity with me as manager, to play around and have fun, it’s been like that so far, and I love it!
It was something I had in mind for maybe a couple of years before. Over time and after working with some labels, talking about it with friends, and learning about the industry, I felt ready to start my own project. I thought it was the right moment to start a new adventure with having full control of it, which makes it easier to release my music and to build a sound around other artists.
Torture the Artist: Can you describe what your dream studio looks like?
Lis Sarroca: I used to paint my studios in grey, but now I feel more a white color and just sweet colors around. Location could be in the woods, and size 15 mts2 sounds nice! All the gear that can fit there.
Torture the Artist: What is the ride-or-die set of equipment or software for you at the moment?
Lis Sarroca: I enjoy playing with softwares like Arturia, Roland Cloud, Soundtoys, Korg to name a few.
Torture the Artist: Let’s back up a little and discuss the start of your career. How would you sum up what you learned during the beginning years?
Lis Sarroca: I think the most important thing to learn is to be patient and open to new things. Change is always there and things come after a while, being constant is key.
Torture the Artist: You have been in tune with electronic music for ten plus years now, how have you developed and matured with your music as a DJ, and eventually a producer?
Lis Sarroca: I have liked to put out different styles since the start of my career. As a DJ, I love to play different moods and styles; therefore, my goal as a producer follows the same approach and vision. Although the DJ part went to another level after learning production, it was more fun and I became more confident with playing my own music.
Torture the Artist: Where do you feel you have made the most strides during 2022?
Lis Sarroca: Maybe connecting more with the audience as DJ and producer.
I feel that lately, I am playing music in places I really like and that for me is the most special moment.
It took me the full night to get there.
Torture the Artist: In the start of April, you played at Pudel Club’s opening in Hamburg and then the following night at Paloma Bar in Berlin. How does your mood or mindset differ when coming into a different musical space and place?
Lis Sarroca: Yes, I really enjoyed that weekend. There were different moments and environments for sure. Also set times and duration, which makes the difference. For Pudel I played more records, and I felt a really unique vibe from the city, everyone was very nice and caught up with many smiles. At Paloma, it went crazy at 6am. After playing for 3 hours the last hour was special, I remember I ended up playing a lot of Piano House and Deep House, it took me the full night to get there.
Torture the Artist: Do you do anything to balance yourself with back-to-back bookings, especially when travel is involved?
Lis Sarroca: Yes, definitely. I have the luck to live outside the city and by myself, that gives me kind of the perfect balance to disconnect and focus on the other side of traveling and being everywhere.bb
Torture the Artist: To finish, can you give us a record store experience you will never forget?
Lis Sarroca: Yes, I still remember how happy I was when I visited Mole Music in Osaka, Japan. I found so much good House music there, and they were super nice. That was five years ago, I was just starting my record shop adventures, everyone knows the feeling that you get addicted to, for the first time!
Words by Isabella Gadinis
Pictures by Katja Ruge