Music & Interview
Hioll, young talented man from Cuba & founder of the first techno label in Cuba
hi Hioll, welcome to our „Music & Interview“ feature which is also another part for our ABC series because you play only Abstraction tracks in your delivered mix. Let‘s start with the interview and your very beginning of being a music lover. So please tell us where you were born and when. What’s your profession? Or do you study? What kind of music did you enjoy at first and how did you become a techno fan?
Hello guys and thanks for the invitation. I was born on August 26 of 1990 in La Habana, Cuba. I studied Accounting and finances and I started enjoying music at the early age of seven, when my stepfather shows me artists like Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, The Beatles, Queen, Michael Jackson, Lionel Ritchie and also a lot of American songs from the 70’s, while my mother was more an 80’s kind of fan. So I grew up around all this fantastic music and when I was like eleven years old I became to interest in more contemporary pop, like Backstreet Boys, Aqua and stuff like that. By the time I began high school I was more involved with metal, becoming fan of bands like Korn, Limp Bizkit, Godsmack, Slipknot, Papa Roach, System of A Down, Rammstein, etc. But my first contact with electronic music was when my uncle showed me a video of Tiësto playing Trance on a big venue, I liked a lot. At the age of 16 i discovered clubbing and raving with my school friends and also house and techno music, i started going to different events like the infamous Rotilla Festival, sponsored by Exit Festival, the only house and techno Festival so far in Cuba (No longer exists).
(Hioll, live pic)
After listening to music you mentioned above … was there a special moment or situation why you started with own productions and djing? What influences you?
I have a friend who was deep into Rap/Hip-Hop and he was making his own beats and rapping, so, one day I went to his house and he was working on something new in this weird software called Fruity Loops and I found that very interesting, so i took it and that’s how i started making music. The Djing stuff came lately, I was attending regularly to every electronic music event in the city and watching a lot of local djs playing like Djoy de Cuba, Kike Wolf, DJ Dark, Diemen, Duff and i wanted to be part of this movement, so i started practicing with a really cheap Numark setup, NDX200 cd players and I can’t remember the mixer model. What really influences me when im producing techno is fresh music, every time i download a promo, search in Beatport or Bandcamp or just simply recieve music from friends and i found something that i really like, something that really moves me, then a lot of ideas come to my head.
(Hioll Promo Pic)
What equipment did you use for producing? How does a typical process look like when you make a new track? do you spin vinyls or do you use files for you dj gig? I can imagine that it is not easy to get the equipment for both in Cuba? In Europe there are sometimes heavy discussions if it is better to use vinyl or digital equipment. Are there similar „fights“ in Cuba?
I used to have a small studio setup, but i sold everything to make possible the launch party of Abstraction, so right now my studio resumes to a late 2011 MacBook Pro, a pair of Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro headphones and a Traktor Audio 6 interface/Sound Card. When i start a project I always go first with the kick and the sub bass, for me this is the soul of the track, then comes all the other, good sounds and sequences, good textures and nice hats.
I play with usb sticks, no vinyls. The equipment issue is very delicate in Cuba, we simply don’t have a place where you can go and buy some dj equipment, it doesn’t exist, so people buy it outside of Cuba and then bring it in; but is very hard to get a dj setup here.
We don’t have the vinyl versus digital equipment fight because, as I said before, we don’t have the possibility to choose one or another, so it’s mostly digital here.
(exclusive download “Substances ” by Hioll for NovaFuture Blog)
Apropros Cuba. Let‘s talk about the techno scene there. You are involved in running the label Abstraction (we will talk about it later). This first issue we would like to know is how the party scene looks like. At which places/clubs/cities do techno events take place?
Right now we don’t have a techno scene, is sad but is the true, there are some djs that defends techno music in their gigs, but I don’t think that’s something to say: -“Hey we have a small techno scene” -or anything like that. There are parties, but very diverse, very eclectic in terms of genre, some djs prefer house music, other ones techno or both or maybe more than two in the same dj set. Recently some friends of mine started a party called Rusty Nails Ravers (RNR) that truly defends techno music and they have some followers and also they are discovering very good locations, i hope it gets bigger and bigger with time.
(streaming of “Impedancia” by Hioll taken from his EP “HIOLL002”)
What about the Cubian DJ scene? Are some DJs who are popular in Cuba so people come esp. to the events to hear them (please name a few)? What about booking international DJs? Which international DJs are popular?
Right now people don’t come to the parties for the djs, they just came for the event and to see more people and socialize and also to enjoy music in some particular cases I think. We don’t book internationals because there’s no money to do that; I hope in the future we can. There have been some international djs that played here for free like Ellen Alien because they want to help the scene to grow up and we appreciate it a lot. People don’t know about the international names because our Internet access is very limited and expensive, but is getting better.
(Hioll Promo Pic)
Another vital part of the European techno scene are the labels and producers. Could you please tell us a little bit about the labels and producers? How are they organized (promotion, distribution etc)? Any stuff we should have an eye on?
Abstraction is the first electronic music label we have in Cuba, so there’s no much to talk about it haha. But we have a lot of talented producers waiting to be discovered by a great label, like Åre:gone, Different Age, Dvazz Brothers aka Srav Zerbothz, Dian aka Naid, Egrod Pher, Thellus, Kidsue, MNO, Oaled Sixela, Sun Over Me and many others.
(snippets of “Abstract Weapons Vol. 1”, the first release on Abstraction)
You are involved in running the label Abstraction. Please tell us something about the label in general – who founded it when, what kind of style is presented on it and who released there. And what’s your task there? Do you enjoy label work?
Abstraction was founded by Åre:gone, Dvazz Brothers, Egrod Pher, Sun Over Me and myself, a year ago. At the beginning the idea was to release the best techno stuff we had in our hands and make events to spread the word and build a small scene in the island. With time the family grows and more names like Røttar, Kidsue, Oyiyi, Naid or Chimachine came in. My task, right now, is to choose the music we release, and when, and also to search for remixers we like and ask them to collaborate with the project; so far we have worked with Earthscape and Eonan from Germany, Laurent JC from France, Juan Trujillo from Argentina, the Canadian artist Kloves and Vegim from Kosovo. And yes I do enjoy label work!
(stream of “Ars Goetia” by Sun Over Me, taken from “Conducto EP” on Abstraction)
Cuba is a popular tourist spot for European people. Many of them know the music of Buena Vista Social Club. Perhaps you can give us also a short overview about what kind of music is popular in Cuba especially among young people.
At the moment the most popular music here is Reggaeton, and also something called Trap; the youngsters are listening to this all day in the streets. There is a small group that enjoys electronic music as something exotic and mostly they listen to mainstream EDM artists.
(Flag of Cuba)
We already asked you about your favourite music in your youth. So what about nowadays? Could you please name 1Q0 records/tracks (of any genre) that are still important for you and you play again and again. Please also let us know why you love them.
Nowadays I must say I’m listening to a lot of techno and discovering new artists and labels everyday, but there is some tracks that i return always to, because they bring me good memories:
Queen – Bohemian rhapsody
A-Ha – Take on me
Rage Against The Machine – Killing in the name
Papa Roach – Last resort
Rammstein – Du hast
System of A Down – Aerials
Korn – Thoughtless
Godsmack – Awake
Incubus – Drive
Deftones – Change
(stream of “The Ancient Notes” by Hioll, taken from “Lights” on Abstraction)
A few days ago Inhalt Der Nacht returned from a visit of Cuba which included a gig you attended. We will have an interview with him later but would like to hear more about it from your point of view. Was you involved in organizing it? Could you please describe the venue? Who played there except Inhalt Der Nacht? Tell us how the event was for you. Did you talk with Christoph aka Inhalt Der Nacht (about?)? Any plans made with him?
Inhalt Der Nacht was here recently playing for my friends from RNR; they organized the whole event with the support of the German embassy and Danza Contemporánea de Cuba. The venue was an abandoned old bicycle factory in Vedado, one of the most popular neighbourhoods in Havana, Åre:gone and J-Lawton played alongside Inhalt Der Nacht that night. And in my opinion it was the best party, possibly, of the last 5-7 years. I never had the chance to talk with Christoph, mostly because my own fault, my friend J-Lawton called me several times to meet him, but i was not able to do it, but, I enjoyed his set a lot, and not just myself everybody there was really touched by the music he played and I’m pretty sure that it made a difference, and the most important thing is that it was a difference for the people who went there, and changed the way they see techno music. I hope that more parties like that keeps coming in the future and, of course, I also hope to meet Christoph in his next trip to Cuba and play with him too.
(Fracture announcement of signing Hioll)
Already coming to an end of this interview we would like to ask you about your future plans? What‘s coming next? New releases? Nice gigs?
Right now i’ve just signed with Fracture Agency, which I am very happy with, I’m also preparing the Abstraction’s forthcoming releases and looking for a nice location to throw our next party, celebrating one year of existence. As a producer I have several releases: an upcoming EP on H.Paul’s Induxtriall Records from Spain, more stuff on Vegim’s TMM Records from Kosovo, another EP on Dolma, a label from France, Something on Bipolar Disorder too (with amazing remixes), another EP on Trau-ma from Portugal, which is the label from Robert S, another one on Florian Meindl’s Flash Recordings, a remix for Dykkon on DkN Selections and new stuff on Abstraction too, so, yes, I’ve been quiet busy.
Hioll’s “Hioll 002” on his own imprint
Hioll’s “Paranormal Activity EP” on Knowledge Recordings
Hioll’s “Lights EP” on Abstraction
Sun Over Me’s “Conducto EP” on Abstraction
“Far From Noise EP” by Åre:gone & Røttar on Abstraction
Tracklist of Exclusive Mix:
01. Hioll – Second Intentions
02. Åre:gone & Røttar – Far From Noise
03. Sun Over Me – Ars Goetia
04. Sun Over Me – Conducto
05. Kidsue – Histeria
06. Åre:gone & Røttar – Init Board
07. Sun Over Me – Network Bruxism
08. Chimachine – Mente Ácida
09. Hioll – Elemento Neutro
10. Røttar – Dark Energy
11. Sun Over Me – Gravis
12. Åre:gone – Asgard
13. Åre:gone – Rå
14. Hioll – Lights
15. Hioll – Codename
16. Hioll – Impedancia
17. Hioll – Acelerador lineal
18. Hioll – Teorema
19. Hioll – The Man From Outer Space