On the 18th of April 2019, Kvarteret in Stockholm opened its doors for the first time after season # 1, for a special night with a very special guest: Oscar Mulero . With more than 30 years in the music industry, Oscar Mulero is one of the most appreciated and recognized names in the techno scene nowadays. Some of his projects include club concepts such as New World and THE OMEN, as well as About Discipline and Education – a CD that became one of the best selling electronic records in the Spanish electronic music history. Besides touring around the world, Mulero accounts for Warm Up and PoleGroup record label continuing his everlasting influence in the techno scene.
We managed to have a chat with him before his anticipated gig at the Kvarteret.
Hello Oscar! Thank you for having a chat with us. First, we would like to kick this off by asking you what is your impression of the Swedish Techno scene? I know that you have been here before and as you can know the scene here is expanding rapidly.
Hello! Yes, that’s right! I played in Stockholm for the first time three years ago – it was a small venue and there was such a good vibe. I enjoyed quite a lot that night, this quick response and feedback with the people on the dancefloor. I know some artists from Sweden from the late 90s – but yeah, it took me long time to get back to Stockholm for playing myself – so as far as I know all these Swedish DJs have been playing around the years in so many countries but I remember one of them saying: ‘Oscar we play abroad but we don’t even play that often in our own country.’ So there is this kind of contrast between well-known techno artists and well-known producers who know a big circuit that plays for them so I guess for people from other countries are getting more difficult.
Any memorable experience at an underground club and how has the scene changed over the years?
When I started going out in my hometown in Madrid, there was this underground feeling, it was just a few people going to techno parties and everything has changed so much since then. Everything is getting bigger and bigger and being a DJ is more useful these days but at that time it was just playing everywhere in every single country with my record but these days it’s like a common thing. So everything is getting more professional, is getting bigger in terms of artists, more places more clubs. Somehow this is good because it is easier for new talent to get into the scene but at the same time, there is an overdose of releases, tracks and DJs everywhere. In some way right now it feels like it is more about the amount of tracks being released instead of focusing more on the quality of those tracks. In the past it was tougher in terms of getting the right equipment, it was so expensive buying the first machines, samplers, mixers and stuff – which is something that has changed over the years. Of course, expansion is good but we need to keep the good quality of music within this expansion.
What kind of synths and hardware do you usually use?
My studio is a mix of software and hardware. I am using synthesizers and really old and classic things for composing. I have no method – I do not use a specific synthesizer to start a track, sometimes it is just trying new things all the time or just going back to the basic material but I would say I got a regular techno reading composer 909 and several different synthesizers but I don’t have a favorite one.
What makes you feel comfortable at a party or venue?
Haha, I don’t go to parties that are often right! – But obviously these days there are amazing clubs and venues with an amazing sound system. Something that is really important when I am djing is the vibe of the night. Sometimes you can find this vibe in a small club, somewhere, let’s say for example in South America because of the connection with the people. For me the most important thing, if I go to a party or list to somebody else that I am interested in, would be the vibe of the venue and of course the sound system. These are the two most important things for me in that situation.
Impact of AI on music production?
Well, I think this is an option for each producer. My method and other people’s method is still the same, sequencing, synthesizers and reading composers and then recording those sequences and then working with them in the studio. In the future, there could be different options because of the new tools available and new ways of doing things but it will still be just an option for everyone. Even though so much has changed now, I am not using
that different method from people producing music in the 90s – whatever brings you good results in the studio with your music is fair enough.
What’s the idea behind PoleGroup and Warm Up?
Pole Group is a small platform – there are several artists that record and are part of PoleGroup label. Also, PoleGroup is a platform that hosts labels and takes care of our own artists. If we compare this to Warm Up, the laughter is just label music. For the past two years, I am using Warm Up to release music for new producers and new talent. On PoleGroup we are only releasing music that fits with the label’s sound and idea while Warm Up is somehow more open-minded.
Difference between mainstream and UG venue?
It’s all about the vibe. The difference is mostly the type of music the DJs are playing and the way that people on the dancefloor are receiving and behaving with the music – it really depends on what they are looking for when they are going to a party. There is a big difference when you go to play at a big venue as there is a lot bigger of people, at least in my case I was born in clubs as a DJ in 1989 so I would say that my music fits much better in clubs – the way that people have a club of 500 people is different than the way they operate in a big festival for about 8000 – 10 000 people.
Difference between long and short sets?
If I am playing a long set, for 4-5 hours, some hours can be with more deep sounds, other hours can be more physical, more intense. Playing longer sets is something that over the years I like to do more because you can afford to explore different types of sounds.
Any aspirations for the future?
My main aim is to keep having fun and keeping up the motivation. These days my motivation comes from being involved in different projects in a musical way, while doing these audiovisual projects, releasing music more for listening and experimental. So for me, after almost 30 years of Djing I need to maintain my motivation from different projects.
What are your other interests?
Apart from music which takes most of the time from my life, I have my hobbies. I really like photography for example and going out with my camera is also way to disconnect from music – a way of getting away from the beats and the studio for a while. I also used to do cycling a lot.
Every single type of music I have been listening to since I was a kid, and since I was growing up and also from my parents has influenced me as a DJ. There are several artists I have been influenced by such as Jeff Mills and the late 90s Birmingham sound. I love rock music too, and I collect records almost every single week.
Do you think it is positive that the UG culture is expanding so fast?
Some people think that a club, track or artist will not be considered ‘underground’ anymore because more people are knowing the tracks and the DJs but for me, the most important thing is to spread my work as much as I can. I don’t think that the identity of something will change because more people know about it. The same can be said about clubs. A club that takes care of its artists and the vibe can still maintain its ‘underground’ identity despite having more people know about it. As far as you keep it the way you want to keep it then it doesn’t matter how many people know the music, the tracks or the club.
Any advice towards the ‘new’ techno crowd and new upcoming DJs?
Well for me, it’s important to know where techno is coming from, and of course, being respectful towards the music and the crowd. Believing in what you do and the music you like to play, despite the trend and what is popular, always follow your sound. There will be ups and downs but you have to trust yourself and have fun in what you do because that will be reflected on the dance floor and people that come to see you play.
Does creativity of hard work make productions great?
It should be a mixture of both, I consider myself somebody as someone who has been constant and hard-working for the past 30 years. I don’t consider myself with a lot of talent
but I think discipline, believing in what you do, is important. Creativity is also important but it needs to be hard work behind creativity to drive it forward.
By Maria Pelagia for Kvarteret, Stockholm