Q&A: Damian Schwartz Announces New Album
'The Dancing Behavior' is scheduled for April 25 release.
Spanish DJ and producer Damian Schwartz is to release a new album in Spring 2016.
Entitled The Dancing Behavior, the nine-track affair is the natural next step after three essential 12”s on his own A Harmless Deed label since 2012.
Though inspired by house and techno greats from the usual American hotbeds, he also puts to use his own formal background in jazz, composition and bass whenever producing electronic music. In fact, composition is vital to him, and he admits, “I always start with a melody that later defines the track’s progression, even if the melody itself is not exactly present to start with.”
The Dancing Behavior won’t be his first album—that came back in 2008—but it is one that distills all of his influences, from Atkins to Konders, Drexciya to Gemini, into his own singular and abstracted sound. As a DJ with more than a decade’s worth of gigs at places like Output, Berghain and Robert Johnson under his belt, Schwarz knows how to move the floor but, across this album, manages to create a real sense of emotion and adventure that also works at home.
Ahead of the album’s April 25 release on A Harmless Deed—the imprint Damian runs together with José Cabrera (a.k.a J.C. known from Tresor, Soul People Music and Deeply Rooted)—XLR8R spoke briefly with the artist, with a video teaser available below.
Your debut full-length, Party Lovers, was released about eight years ago. Why did such a long time pass between the two albums?
Lot’s of things happened over this years. My first album came out in a time of change. Net28, the platform I was part of, was coming to an end, and I started focusing on other projects and things. I went back to music school, I concentrated on DJing more than playing live, and I began producing a lot for other labels. I basically concentrated on making a lot of music, studying, trying new things in the studio. It was a period of time were I planted the seeds for all the projects and stuff that’s are coming out now, including this album.
The album will be coming out on A Harmless Deed which you run together with Jose Cabrera. In 2012 when you started the label, you were both already established artists through other imprints.Why did you feel the need to start your own?
I was doing all this music I really wanted to put out, I was sending it to friends and labels, but it wasn’t getting signed. Also, there were friends here in Madrid doing amazing stuff, which we really wanted to put out too. So we decided to start the label to release all this music that we loved. That was basically how my new project Epiphany came along, as well as DJ F’s records or the J.C. one, and all the ones that are yet to come out.
It seems like there’s a very hands-on approach in your music, partly in terms of working with hardware rather than software, but also in relation to having found inspiration in jazz next to the more obvious sources, like house and techno. What approaches and influences have fed into the album?
Well, hardware—most importantly hardware sequencers such as the MPC —is a key element to my approach to making music, but it’s not really a “computers vs. hardware”—thing nor a purist thing. I don’t like extremes like that. It is really a matter of immediacy: Hardware gives me more immediacy, and that’s something very important for me in music, I like things to happen naturally while I play around in the studio. I rehearse and play with machines, and try to capture the special moments that emerge from that.
House is of course my biggest influence. I feel much more indebted to house rather than other styles, even if it sounds as if I’m a bit far from it. I listen to a lot of music, and I’m influenced by lots of different styles of music. Jazz is another big influence of course, but more in regards to how I approach composition. During all these years I was back in school, picked up my bass and went to class, and that became a really important aspect of my life and it has influenced heavily my way to approach production. I started to think about production in a different way, paying attention to things I hadn’t before.
I would really say there’s a lot of house influence in here, from the Burrell Brothers to Gemini or Larry Heard, but there’s also a lot of early Detroit techno and electro, Atkins, Stinson and the likes. I was listening to a lot of avant-garde composers and experimental music too, such as Terry Riley, Paul Bley, modern stuff as well. It’s just an infusion of all that, of all the music that matters to me.