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Infidel Interview #104: Cyborgdrive

First off, just want to thank you for participating in this edition of Infidel Interviews. Could you start off by giving a little information about you to the audience? Whatever you feel comfortable with, but name, age, and where you live would be pretty standard?

My name is Paco Butrón, 41 years old, from Chiclana de la Frontera, Cádiz, Spain. Cyborgdrive is the name of the solo project I created 18 years ago. I have done 10 albums plus 2 EPs of Electronic Music, more than 90 remixes for bands like Celluloide, In good Faith, Machinista, Metroland, Siva Six, Soulimage, etc, to name a few, and I produced and mastered some albums from Spanish synthpop bands like Insight, Furtiva or Destino Plutón. How do you enjoy where you live? Is there a vibrant music community where you are? Would you say you find that your local scene influences your attitude and/or creativity?

Musically, I don´t enjoy where I live. There isn´t Electronic music culture in my city. So, my influences come from bands and culture of other countries. What do you feel separates your music from the rest of the music in the Industrial music scene?

My music is hard to describe, because I don´t make a single style of Electronic music. Sometimes is instrumental New Age Electronica like Jean Michel Jarre, or Synthpop style like Depeche Mode or VNV Nation, or Nu Disco like Lindstrom. My music is easy to listen, it´s very melodic but with many details that you don´t catch the first listen. What would you say are your favorite themes and topics that inspire you to compose? What draws you to those themes?

My favorite themes are Space, Future, Sci-Fi. These are topics that are closely related to electronic music and help me to start a sequence or melody. Industrial and Attitude seem to go hand in hand. With global war, civil unrest, injustice, and political revolution being primary musical themes that dominate your music, how do you feel nowadays about the current state of world affairs?

We live in a world full of economic interests ruled by useless people. That causes unnecessary wars and conflicts. Sadly it happens in all countries. In our hands is to respect and live happily and in peace. As they say, music tames the beasts. Let's do more music!.

What do you see in the near, and far, future for your creative output?

I wouldn´t know how to answer you accurately, but my creative growth is based on continuing to learn and discovering new sounds. I try not to stay stuck in a same style and go evolving and mixing styles.

Interview continues after this video and all further streaming content...

When you first started making music, was there a particular sound or artistic/musical influence that you would say was your biggest inspiration to start pursuing the creative path yourself?

Yes, my first and big influence was Jean Michel Jarre. When I was 15 I wanted to do that music! and I think that today the influence of the French artist is noticeable in some songs. When it comes to your musical self and your real-world self, would you say that there is a separation? Do you find yourself getting into a character or mindset when you create, or do you find your music is a representation of your day to day self?

The truth is that I don´t find a separation between Paco Butrón and Cyborgdrive. Although that is my artistic name, the one who makes the music is me, Paco, I do not put myself in the role of any character. Are you musically self-taught? Or have you had mentors along the way to help you develop?

Basically what I know I learned on my own, although some things I learned together with my friend and music partner José Miguel Abollado (Complexystems). When it comes to composing music, do you approach things with a clear vision in mind, or do you prefer to let songs feel themselves out? Do you have any particular techniques or tricks you use to keep yourself creative and consistent?

When I start a new song I don´t have a clear concept of how it will be. I usually start with a sequence, then I add a bass and then the rest. One trick I use is to to listen a lot of music. Just as a writer reads many books, a musician must listen many records, that inspires me. When it comes to making music it can be difficult to balance atmosphere, song progression, musicality, and excitement. Do you have any tricks, techniques, or methods that you commonly use to help your music sound coherent and engaging?

I think what makes my music attractive is the choice of sounds, the good equalization of each track and choruses that hook. One method I use to highlight the chorus is to add one more line of sequence and more percussion elements like cymbals, hi-hat loops or drum loops with bass frequencies trimmed with a high pass filter.

Do you spend a lot of time crafting your own sounds? Or do you value song crafting and effects tweaking more? Or do you find it's a balance between the two? What' your relationships with presets? When you make music are you primarily a hardware or software oriented musician? Or do you do a fusion of both? Are there any particular instruments, programs, or effects that you would say are vital to you making music?

Most of the time I spend it to look for sounds, then to the creation of the song and part of the time crafting some sounds. There are many very good presets, I'm not the one who makes the sounds starting from scratch, but I like to modify them a bit and apply effects. I'm more a software oriented musician when it comes to composing, there is very little hardware in my songs, but for live performing I prefer to play hardware synths. The main program I use, which is fundamental for my music, is Ableton Live, and I don´t have a single favorite softsynth, I like Spectrasonics Omnisphere, Xfer Serum, Arturia V-Collection, Sylenth, some Native Instruments Kontakt libraries, U-he Zebra or UVI synths collection, and Waves and Izotope Ozone for the Mastering. Do you ever find it difficult to balance the creative and technical aspects of musical creation? How do you strike the balance for the need to craft and tweak your effects and sounds, in contrast to actually just getting the song itself created with structure and melody? What sort of element of creation do you prefer, the sonic shaping or the song creation?

It´s always a challenge to find that balance between creativity and technique, it´s not easy. It depends on each song, there are some that need more effects and sound details than others. If the melody and chords hook the first one will not need so many effects. I like to create songs more than sonic formation.

Do you find that when you are working on projects where you ended up learning new techniques during the process?

Learning new techniques is one of the things that interest me most. I always try to learn and apply new techniques in each composition, merging them with those already learned. Playing live shows, recording new tracks, attempting to go live the life that gives you the experiences that inspires it all... it can be difficult to balance the time. Do you have any particular methods that you use to keep yourself focused or balanced in your direction?

There is no concrete method to balance the time, just try to take advantage of every time the job and my girlfriend leave me, hehe. And it really is very little free time! For fans who have not seen you yet, when it comes to your live show, how would you describe yourself thematically and visually? Are you an energy and audience driven band in the live atmosphere? Or would you consider yourself to be more thematic or presentation oriented?

For my live shows I do a video montage synchronized with the music that projects behind me. There is no specific theme, but project videos that are visually appealing. In my shows I try to link the songs, without pause, like a session, trying to capture the attention of the audience through the videos and the music I play live.

When it comes to performing, what are your favorite sort of venues to play in, and what are your favorite areas to tour? If you could tour with any other band in the world who would it be and why? What are some of your favorite memories of touring?

When I play live I prefer to do it in not very big places, small clubs but with good acoustics and good audio equipment. I would love to play with Jean Michel Jarre!, although I know that's impossible. It has been my main musical reference and it would be great to share the stage with him. My favorite memories are the times I played together with my partner José Miguel when we formed Vision Liquida or Complexdrive. If you could play any anywhere, with anyone, in the world, dead or alive, who and where would it be?

Well, as I said before, with Jarre would be very good, but not to repeat, another artist that I would like to play is with Schiller anywhere in Germany.

Have you had any particular moment(s) that you would like to share, that you would consider to be a crowning achievement in your musical career so far, or moments that you would say truly continue to inspire you to pursue your artistic path?

Yes, last year my song Cell feat. Robert Eberl (from Soulimage) won the first place on the Year-end list of the Israeli radioshow Synthesizeme with Oren Amram, being the most important synthpop song of 2016. Another important moment was when I won in 2013 the third prize in the national contest Encuentro Creativo Korg 4.0 organized by the website Sonicspace. That sort of thing makes me keep making music with excitement. What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in your musical career?

One of the greatest achievements is self-learning, without a guide telling you what is right or wrong.

Outside of Industrial music, what other genres could you see yourself composing music in? Or should I say, do you see yourself inspired by? Do you have any other musical projects that you are involved with, or do you have any other musicians or artists that you collaborate with in some capacity?

Other styles of Electronica that I move or inspire are the New Age Electronica, Nu-Disco, Synthwave, IDM, Ambient, etc. I collaborate as producer, arranger or Mastering with some Spanish groups like Insight, Furtiva, Destino Plutón, Troika or the Peruvian group Resistencia. As well as I do many remixes for national and foreign groups. If you could collaborate with any musician or artist, dead or alive, who would it be? And what in particular draws you to want to collaborate with them? What sort of new bands have come out in recent years that have caught your attention? Is there any bands out there you see yourself, or would like to, remix or collaborate with in the future?

Apart from Jarre and Schiller it would be a pleasure to collaborate with Depeche Mode or Madonna. They are groups that I like a lot since always and it would be a dream come true to collaborate with them as a producer or with some remix. Some bands that have caught my attention in recent years are Celldweller, Foretaste, IAMX, Mesh, Metronomy, Kolsch, David August, Kiasmos and many more. In the future I would love to remix Foretaste and And One and collaborate with Celldweller or Schiller. Promotion can be one of the most difficult things in the music industry. Do you have an agent that helps book shows and manage your online presence, or have you decided to trek it out without and mantle the reigns of the social media apparatus yourself? Is it difficult engaging the online world consistently and originally, or do you find it easy?

For the promotion of my music is carried out Amuza Producciones, an independent label from Málaga (Spain) that last year published Majestic Land, my last album. It is not easy to keep fans hooked through social networks, so I, in addition to Amuza, regularly publish content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud, etc. With your band becoming increasingly popular have you had any insider attention regarding label support? What's your thoughts regarding being independent music scene versus being part of a record label?

So far no major label has been interested in me, but it's not something that worries me, I'm fine with Amuza Producciones. Being part of an independent label helps you to start getting people to know you, in addition to having a more familiar deal. The big record labels don´t catch my eye. Normally they impose rules that I would not be comfortable with, and I would take my music to areas that I may not like.

In an industry that is driven by sales, and consumerism, what are your thoughts on digital downloads (legal and illegal)? Do you feel that streaming and digital download stores aid the accessibility of music? How bout music piracy? It obviously hurts sales in some regards, but it also boosts the access and distribution of the release which could lead to potential fans who do come to shows, buy physical copies of music, and get merchandise? Do you feel there would be enough turn around in that sort of system or are you firmly against file sharing?

If someone downloads my album, even if it is illegal, that means that he is interested in my music. So even if it affects sales, I do not dislike the illegal download at all. As you say, it is useful for many to know the album, and if he likes it, possibly later he will buy it in CD.

Outside of music, what are some of your favorite past times and emotional engagements?

My favorite past moments were in my childhood stage in the 80's. I only thought about playing, with no responsibilities or worries. Thank you so much for participating in this episode of Infidel Interview. Any parting words for your fans, or my audience?

Thank you for caring about my music. And for the whole audience, enjoy life with music and not worry about the past or the future, live the present. Greetings.

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