Atmospheric & emotional techno from Spain
Architectural’s original foundations were anonymous, recognising no need to reveal who was behind the alias. But the same man who took DJ booths and festivals by storm as Reeko needed a new alter ego to channel his effervescent spells of creativity. It is a route that has taken the Catalonian-based Asturian creator on a very different artistic path to the one initially mapped out. Juan Rico uses a variety of aliases to release the diverse artistic sensations which flow through him. Producing and performing under different names allows him to concentrate fully on an idea or style to which he is totally faithful, putting aside for a moment sounds and influences that don’t belong in the particular character which he is mutating into at the time.
Architectural’s project was created out of a need to express emotions through sounds that were somewhat removed from the musical trajectory under the name Reeko. You could say that a part of my personality was asking to be expressed and I simply looked for a way to materialise it. Both projects clearly represent aspects of my personality and for some reason I felt the need to separate them.
02. You hail from Oviedo, a place famous for its old architecture and many historic sights. How was it making music there in the early days?
Well Asturias has never been a paradise of opportunities, but in the 90’s the techno and house scene was very strong as there were several important clubs with very strong programming. in the club “La Real” we had the privilege to see great artists of that time grow, techno music was in fashion at that time, so on that side it was motivating. they were very strong years in general, the economy was strong and this also helped this scene to grow. In my case this was what really made me discover and feel this music in its purest state.
03. Tell us something about your musical roots: what musicians and bands have a big influence on you throughout your life? When did you start listening to electronic music and, of course, to compose it?
When I bought my first turntables in 1994, I only knew the Trance music of that time, I liked it and I still like it but I noticed that it wasn’t what I was looking for. As I said in the previous question, techno was very fashionable in the 90’s in Spain in general but in a very strong way in my city. Thanks to that scene and being only 16 years old I could listen to artists for the first time to be able to have clear which musical path was the right one to express myself. Talking about my beginnings, I remember listening to Joey Beltram’s “Energy flash” when I was 15 years old and saying: Wow!! this is amazing! I also remember, at the same age, seeing for the first time artists like Surgeon, playing in my city. This opened up a great interest in the British sound which was very present in my discography for the next ten years at least. These are some of the most notable examples, but there have really been many artists from that era that have helped me forge my sound.
04. Your work is heavily influenced by art forms outside of the musical realm, specially by the “Surrealism” art movement. Artists like Dalí and the Belgian painter René Magritte created hyper-realistic, dreamlike visions that are windows into a strange world beyond waking life. If music can be considered a language, what you would like to communicate with your sound?
That’s why, in many albums as Architectural, I’ve been inspired by the dreamlike world of Magritte or Dali among others. I tried to represent those open spaces but also playing with the depth and spacing of the elements. no doubt this helped to forge a different sound for this project. The disproportionate play with the reverb makes it possible to represent these spaces.
05. “Architectural” has been in existence for about twelve years now and your sound has become more organic and refined over the years. How has the project changed in comparison to its roots and initial creative intention?
In these twelve years I have gone through several musical stages. The initial sound started with the idea of a fusion between jazz, funky, soul, of course techno but giving a great prominence to retro-futurism, this inspiration both musically and aesthetically came out specifically from films like “Palytime” or “Mon Oncle” by French director Jacques Tati, he used a lot the retro-futuristic atmosphere in his films and this influenced me strongly. then came the surrealist part that we talked about before, the sound mutated towards very different sound spaces, with more organic sounds. And I would say that nowadays it’s a fusion between both, I keep the initial essence but I’m exploring terrains in a more american sound I think.
06. You are also the man behind the prolific record label ‘Mental Disorder’. What was the main motivation behind starting your own imprint and what plans & aspirations do you have for the label in the near future?
The motivation is always the same. To be able to free my own music without restrictions. In this case Mental disorder is my way to even dirtier and angrier techno.
07. Walk us through the usual process of when you are in studio creating new tracks from the analogue outboard, midi, samples and machines you use and why. What is the key in the whole production process?
I don’t think there is a specific key, I think it is important to flow depending on your mood each day. there is no structured way of working, at least in my case. Some days I experiment with the sound, I process it again and again in different ways until I find something that I really like and motivates me. Other times I have a concrete idea and I go into the studio with a clear objective, it can be a melody, a structure for the album etc… other times, maybe this in most of the cases, I have a clear concept and then I look for the way to express it and materialize it.
08. Your discography shows a lot of co-operation 12’’s, for example with: Exium, Jonas Kopp or Psyk. What can you say about the musical interaction with friends while working on music together?
I think they are interesting and ideal experiences to get out of your comfort zone. working with another person makes the work smoother and faster and you always get a different result than usual, just for that alone I think it is always worth collaborating with other people and merge ideas to get some new ones.
09. Listening to your tracks, there’s a level of emotional sincerity and thoughtfulness. It’s refreshing during this time in music when many artists/producers default to hiding behind a wall of sound. How have you defined and refined these aspect of your work?
I am very happy that my music is perceived like this, I think it is one of the best feedback that any artist can hear, but I can’t really give a clear answer, because I think this is something that is done without realizing it. I simply look for the way that each piece of music has soul, obviously I am not the only one who wants this for his music, there are many more, but as you say, there are also many artists that their music sounds perfect, all mixed flawlessly but really is music without soul and this saddens the music market, I think it is a matter of making music with concept, try to represent with it emotions, situations that happen to you, all this can make the music sound with its own life.
10. Our 6th anniversary is really a great achievement for us. What kind of mix have you prepared for Sounds From NoWhere this time, did you have a certain focus in mind before making it?
I´m very happy for you, congratulations for these six years and many more. About the mix, yes I thought a little bit before what I wanted to do, lately I’ve done several podcasts as Architectural in a more experimental mood exploring some terrains far away from the common dance floor. But in this case I wanted to go straight to the dancefloor during the 60 minutes, a sound a little less deep than usual and more funky to say the least.
11. Last but not least, could you tell us a bit more about your future projects?
Lately i’m working in a way that i think very little about the future. i just go with what happens in my life. so i don’t have a concrete project, but i have some ideas that i want to do this year. if i can advance that soon, a new ep will be released on R&S label. this time it’s not a techno ep, i’m trying rhythms closer to Drum&Bass.
12. Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us, we greatly appreciate your courtesy.
Lately i’m working in a way that i think very little about the future. i just go with what happens in my It has been a pleasure and again congratulations for these 6 years.