*Download the mix here.
BeGun is Gunsal H. Moreno, a young producer from Barcelona who, after several years of rocking the city's nightlife, decided to start from scratch. Moving away from the dance floor and focusing on emotion, his productions mix elements of chill-wave with the eternally bubbling British bass scene, to both melancholic and bright results. A sound reflecting the influence of producers like Sepalcure, Shlohmo, Mount Kimbie and Com Truise, within which introspection goes hand in hand with an openly poppy soul. Our man's about to make his debut with an EP on Spanish label Subterfuge, featuring “San Francisco”, a track he officially premieres in the mix he made for our podcast series. The set, a detailed puzzle of effervescent melodies, cut-up vocals, and revitalising moods, is a good example of his ambitious set-up. We took the opportunity to sound him out about this new adventure.
How would you present yourself to our readers? What have you done before BeGun?
It sounds like a commonplace, and it is, but BeGun is the result of many years of work and few hours of sleep. I'm likely the victim of bad judgement at a key point in my life, and I spent the past ten years recovering the time lost, in order to go right back to the start. I've been involved with the music world for as long as I can remember; spent 15 years with a conservatory, 15 years playing both the violin and piano, I've been in several bands with no talent but eager to conquer the world, and five years ago I roamed the Spanish indie-electronic scene with a live project, in collaboration with my best mate.
After all, BeGun is just another step forward, a more mature and personal choice for a kind of production that lies much closer to my musical preferences, and with which I feel comfortable both creating and performing.
Your new compositions sound like a cross between chill-wave and certain dynamics from British electronica. Do you agree? Which are your influences?
While my productions boast elements from many different genres, I think there is a common factor. I find it hard to tag them as one particular style; I still don't know if that's good or bad. Yes, it's true, there is some chill-wave in it, but there's also UK or future garage, rhythms from the horribly tagged post-dubstep, lazy bass lines that sound more like pads, and rhythms with 90s house vocals. I wouldn't like it if they all sounded alike and I wouldn't be happy if they were miles apart, either. I like the idea that each song has its own personality within a certain coherent sound.
I think we're living in a time when, musically speaking, one's own imagination and creativity are the only limits, whether you're making electronic music or not. These days, there's so much incredibly good music, some have more personality, others less, and all of them are influenced by countless different sounds. It's exactly that mix of styles and references that reinforces creativity, in addition to every producer or musician's own grain of salt, of course. In my case, I'm influenced by many different artists: Gold Panda, Massive Attack, Sepalcure, Delorean, Shlohmo, Rustie, Caribou, Nosaj Thing and Com Truise, among others. They all use elements and creative resources that have been an influence on BeGun's music.
You're about to release an EP on Subterfuge. What can you tell us about it?
Well, I hope that there will be more EPs after this one. I've got loads of tracks on the shelves, and it hasn't been easy to choose one for this EP, but these days it's essential to pick the right moment for everything, as we musicians have few opportunities to show what we've got and connect with the audience. There's an overdose of music on offer, and sometimes, “new” prevails over “good”.
The fact that Subterfuge has put its cards on BeGun isn't only hugely satisfying, but also a great responsibility. On this first EP, we're releasing a track called “San Francisco”, and I've used part of it on this mixtape. It'll come with three remixes, each with its own personality, taking the original in a different direction, yet there is coherence between the three of them. I can't tell you any names, but I can say the remixes are great.
Could you explain to us how you work in the studio? How do you make a BeGun track?
I try not to make the process too long, because I feel that if the idea is good, you should be able to elaborate on it and build its structure in one or two days tops. After that, you tend to get 'tired' of the initial idea, because you've heard it so many times while working on it. It's hard, and it's a challenge to put yourself in the skin of the first-time listener if you've heard it 200 times already. On the other hand, I have to keep reminding myself that 'less is more'. The songs won't sound better because they have more elements; sometimes, the difference between a good and a bad track lies in the simplicity of the mix of components, which can be more or less basic. A clear example is Mount Kimbie, whose songs are harmonically and structurally simple, but are immensely powerful as a whole.
So how's your studio set up? Do you use only software, or hardware as well?
I use both and I always work with Ableton Live. I try not to use too many plugins, or synthesisers at the same time, in order to avoid the textures collapsing when mixing. Every synth uses its own algorithm, and often their commutative properties fail, so the final result does depend on the “order” of the elements. It's essential to have a good sound card, several versatile MIDI controllers, one or two analogue synths to give the song a less digital feel, high quality libraries, and a lot of imagination.
You made an intense mix for us, mixing over forty tracks in less than an hour. What's the idea or concept behind it?
It's the concept of BeGun live, the legacy of the projects I've been working with in the past. Working with Ableton Live makes the whole thing much more dynamic, both live and in the studio. In a club, a track playing for more than three or four minutes is too much, in my opinion. What I really value in a DJ set or an electronic live set is the explosivity, the surprise effect, the originality of the elements in play, and the swiftness to include or exclude them from the set without it disturbing the whole.
I prepare my sets thoroughly, and part of that time goes to editing the tracks I'm going to play, to take them to my field, it's a way of remixing the song live, yet always leaving enough room for improvisation. I've had some bad experiences with pre-programmed sets for 'special occasions', I think one should always be able to control what is and what's going to be playing, to be able to look up and see if something is working or not, and to correct it when necessary.
Your mix is more like a collage than a traditional set. Are you one of those who want to take maximum advantage of the technical possibilities in the DJ booth? Do you focus your club sets the same way?
I'm a defender of the 2.0 DJ set, and I've had more than one heated discussion with my colleagues. If technology has evolved in such a way that we can completely personalise our own setup, why not take advantage of that? I'm not talking about synchronising songs with one click, but about going further than simply mixing tracks that, in theory, are impossible to fit together, modifying the songs according to your needs (cut them, refine them, restructure them, etc.), adding effects that a regular mixing deck couldn't possibly add, and controlling the settings in real time. In short, offering the audience a set that is more focused on on-the-spot creativity than on mixing songs. That said, I take my hat off to DJs mixing three or four records at the same time, or doing magic stuff on a couple of CDJs. There's a certain analogy with photography: those working with a vintage Leica are as admirable as those using the latest generation Canon. If the final product is good, it's just a matter of taste.
Coming from Barcelona, what's your opinion of the electronica scene? Do you think there is a scene at all, or is it more about small collective of people doing things on their own?
I think that for many years we've been importing more than exporting; assuming that just because an artist is German, British, or French, they're automatically good. And it's just not true sometimes. But it looks like things are changing somewhat, and there are several projects which have been able to export a style and a way of working that work outside our borders. It even seems as though something from electronic genres is valued more in Spain after it's been successful abroad... And I think there are several examples of this from recent times.
On the other hand, club culture as such has become blurry since we entered the digital age. You no longer have to be from Cologne to sound like Kompakt, like you don't have to be from Brick Lane to make UK garage. It seems like blogger culture has taken over from club culture. Of course, a “Berlin” sound, or a “French house” sound will still exist, and hopefully in a few years we'll be talking about a “Barcelona sound”.
What are your future plans after the EP? Are you going to do an album?
I suffer from a disease I believe many musicians suffer from: “when you reach A, you want B, and when you've got B, you want C”. I'm never fully satisfied with my tracks or my live shows, even when I really should be. That's good and bad at the same time, because I suppose you should learn to enjoy it when things go well, but at the same time you shouldn't stop working to make things even better. That's how I see my first EP: I won't be satisfied until I see the second one coming, and when that time comes, it won't matter, because I'll be thinking about the third. Time will tell if I'll ever do an album; right now I just have to work and work.
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