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Diving into the depths of sentience: A conversation with El Mundo & Zazou

El Mundo & Zazou is a melodic house duo known for their inspiring music on record labels such as Kindisch, Do Not Sit, and Get Physical.

Photo credit: El Mundo & Zazou – Facebook

Not only are they talented producers with music featured on respected record labels, but they are also captivating live performers. They recreate their tracks in front of dance floors worldwide, using various instruments and hardware music equipment.

Most recently, they released their exhilarating single ‘Sentience’ through Quetame, a record label they co-run with Niki Sadeki.

We have invited them for this chat to learn more about their new release and their live performances that take them to headline gigs around the world.

EG: Hi, guys! Welcome to EG. It’s a pleasure to have you here with us. How have you been? Where are you right now?

El Mundo & Zazou: Hello, thanks for the invite. We’re writing to you from Mexico – just played at the Xibala Festival. Next up is the Dominican Republic.

EG: Sounds great. Congratulations on the release of your brand new single, ‘Sentience’! You must be excited to finally share this one. What has the initial reception been like so far? Do you remember the first time you played this one for a live audience?

El Mundo: ‘Sentience’ means a lot to us because it marks a new step in our artistic development: we have our roots in the organic house scene, but over the past two years, we have embraced “the rave” more and more, and ‘Sentience’ is a testament to that. It’s a fresh part of our live set, which means that we still get chills every time the beat drops after the break – even more so when we see the dancers go wild.

EG: So, what’s ‘Sentience’ all about? It feels like a rather loaded title. What can your fans expect to find on this one? Is there an emotional trigger driving “Sentience”?

Zazou: To be honest, I’ve recently gone down the rabbit hole and read tons of articles about artificial intelligence, which led me to the same question many people wonder about these days: At what point can you consider an artificial intelligence ‘sentient’? I’m also pretty certain that AI-based music will hit the charts rather sooner than later – which is kind of scary. Our choice of the song title, however, alludes to moments in our studios when a sketch turns into a song, and the music becomes alive – almost like it receives a soul.

EG: ‘Sentience’ is available via your own Quetame imprint. How’s Quetame coming along? What new developments can we expect for the coming year? Is there anything you can anticipate on that front?

El Mundo: Quetame is doing great actually. We have a 3-track EP coming out on Quetame soon – it’s going to be three monumental tracks that are dance floor-focused and energy-driven, but still have an emotive touch. Aside from that, we have an EP lined up with a beautiful remix from Yamil & Clemente. Also, we did a song with former Weval drummer, Nicky Hustinx. He contributed a groovy analog beat to a slow version of one of our upcoming songs. Beyond that, we have a lot of material piling up, which we plan to polish and release throughout winter. We aim to release a minimum of 1 track per month.

“At what point can you consider an artificial intelligence ‘sentient’?”

EG: You’ve been taking your live set on the road recently. How do you prepare for live shows? How much space for improvisation is there? Is that paramount, or is the storyline the most important thing?

Zazou: No live set we have ever performed in our careers was a repetition of a previous one. The song selection might be more or less identical, though we add new songs almost every month, but there’s a plethora of moving pieces: vocals will be performed differently, transitions change based on our mood, the same part may be performed “dry” at one gig, and made epic with tons of effects in another. Every guitar riff and solo will be unique per gig, same for what I do on the keys. Fun fact: I never played in a band before – ever. All I did as a youngster for like ten years straight was joining open-stage jam sessions, of which Berlin offers plenty. That’s basically how I evolved as a musician, and it’s the reason why I never run out of song ideas! Jam sessions thrive on musical motifs that the participants develop on the spot for hours on end. So naturally, this mindset has become a trademark of our performances.

EG: Any personal highlights from your recent run? Are there any spots on the bucket list that you can’t wait to tick off?

El Mundo: Some of our most memorable moments in 2023 include the Wildeburg Festival in the Netherlands, Molo in Tunisia, Backyard Sessions in Malmö, and Woomoon on Ibiza.

EG: Speaking about live events… What do you think about the current trend that has seen these larger-than-life visuals take center stage? Are they overwhelming the musical aspect instead of just “enhancing” the musical experience? Are they the future of electronic music?

Zazou: Not gonna lie: visually, I find some of them amazing, and if done well, they can make moments more epic, more impressive. That being said, it hurts to see half of an audience filming a moment that could otherwise be so much more magical if they simply enjoyed it with all their senses. So while there are incredible visuals to be experienced at raves, the whole thing is tainted by kids apparently caring more about social media likes than the acoustic and visual art itself.

“No live set we have ever performed in our careers was a repetition of a previous one”

EG: Finally, can you provide some insights into what’s next for El Mundo & Zazou? What’s in store for 2024? Where can your fans catch you next?

El Mundo: In December, we’ll play in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and ‘The Other Side’ Amsterdam, where we will perform on a Spatial Sound System for the first time. Next year, we’ll focus on North America with multiple small tours after obtaining our visa, but of course, we’ll gig in other countries too. We will probably touch down in India for the first time in February as well. Definitely looking forward to 2024!

EG: Thank you so much for your time, guys! We wish you all the best for the future. Take care!

El Mundo & Zazou: Our pleasure. See you soon!

El Mundo & Zazou ‘Sentience’ is out now via Quetame. Stream and download here.

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