Olivier Mateu’s wide-ranging inspirations and interests find their ultimate outlet as Rodriguez Jr., positioning him as Mobilee’s new master of eclecticism.
Electronic Groove: Hi Oliver and thanks for taking the time to chat with us. We would love to know about your musical background and how you got involved with dance music?
Rodriguez Jr.: Hello guys! Everything began at the age of 6, when I started piano lessons. I eventually got interested in synthesizers and electronic sounds in the late 80’s thanks to Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode, Jean Michel Jarre and all that stuff you could hear on the radio.
Being able to invent sounds no one had heard before was totally fascinating. So my parents ended up offering me my first synthesizer and I slowly got into music productions, adding more equipment to my rig every year. Studio machines were expensive these days, so it’s been a slow process: an Atari, a basic sampler, guitar pedals…
In the late 90’s, I created a duo called The Youngsters and we eventually released two albums on Laurent Garnier’s label F-Communications. He kind of catapulted us on the international dance music scene. I’ve never stopped producing and touring since then.
Electronic Groove: Where does the name Rodriguez Jr. come from?
Rodriguez Jr.: My father being Spanish, I have always felt very close to this culture. But there’s actually no other particular reason. Sometimes you just look for a name. Martinez, Gonzalez and Ramirez were already used, so I basically went for Rodriguez!
Electronic Groove: Electronic Groove: You just released your new LP ‘Baobab’ on Mobilee. What can you tell us about the album?
Rodriguez Jr.: ‘Baobab’ is about my roots. I basically wanted to connect back with the energy I felt when I started producing. There are many connections with the music I used to listen to as a kid for instance.
Though, there is no kind of nostalgia involved. Nostalgia is a dangerous poison for any creative process. My challenge was actually to create something fresh and forward-thinking with these ingredients. Looking back over my shoulder helped me to understand who I am and where I want to go.
Electronic Groove: Liset Alea, singer at Nouvelle Vague collaborates in one of the tracks. We are curious to know how you got in contact with her?
Rodriguez Jr.: She is actually a longtime friend. We met almost 15 years ago. She was singing for with my mate Alexkid who also was on Garnier’s imprint, F-Communications. We’ve been on a couple of projects together since then.
Liset Alea is an incredible artist and has a tremendous talent for writing melodies and lyrics. Would never have enough words to tell how she’s inspiring. Her voice is an important part of this album, as it kinds of create a sense of unity between different phases.
Electronic Groove: Is there any tour connected to the album release?
Rodriguez Jr.: Sure, my crew is still working on it and it’s getting wider everyday. We are going to focus on Europe for the next couple of months and eventually South and North America, Australia and Asia. I am really looking forward to sharing my new material with these different audiences. This is the moment when a track really comes to life ?
“Nostalgia is a dangerous poison for any creative process”
Electronic Groove: Also, you have many timeless productions. Personally, which track stands the most?
Rodriguez Jr.: ‘Lila’ which I wrote for my daughter in 2007, ‘Soledad’ or ‘Kid Of Hula’ are still standing. But it’s difficult for me to judge my own material. I need time to forget about the production process and being able to properly feeling it.
Electronic Groove: Do you have any routine or process that helps you keep inspired to make music?
Rodriguez Jr.: I am trying hard to be myself. It’s actually not so easy as it sounds like these days, because the music industry tends to be extremely formatted. Basically, I just avoid spending too much time listening to promos or browsing digital stores and re-serve my time for experimenting in the studio. It’s all about having fun with my toys. I also used to record and collect loads of ideas while travelling – lyrics, sounds, melodies, fields recording – which I can eventually use in the studio as raw material.
Electronic Groove: Where do you prefer to play? At festivals, big clubs, or inti-mate venues?
Rodriguez Jr.: There’s no way to compare these experiences. I like the energy of festival and the intimacy of clubs. Different experiences. The most important is the connection you create with the crowd. It tends to be easier in a small club because you’re basically closer to the people. But every configuration creates a different frame for the music, which is interesting to explore.
Electronic Groove: And how about your favorite cities to visit and perform? Any particular crowd that you feel more connected too?
Rodriguez Jr.: There are lots of places where I feel like home. Watergate in Berlin, D-Edge in Sao Paulo, Rex Club in Paris… that list gets longer every year. I am feeling a big momentum in South America or in the United States at the moment. People just go for it. But my responsibility as a live performer is to make every night something special and unique for the people, wherever it is.
“I like the energy of festival and the intimacy of clubs. Different experiences. The most important is the connection you create with the crowd”
Electronic Groove: What do you like to listen when you’re chilling out and unwinding?
Rodriguez Jr.: It depends on the mood. I am quite a lot into jazz, world music, pop or classical when I am at home. I also love to listen to old soundtracks while travelling – it kind of relaxes me: François de Roubaix, Francis Lai, Ennio Morricone, Vangelis … Trying to keep my ears open, and to extend the spectrum of my influences everyday. That’s only to keep on developing new things and to avoid getting stuck in some kind of ‘dance music ghetto’!
Electronic Groove: A few artists have mentioned that one of the perks of touring is having the possibility to experience worldwide gastronomy. Where and what would be your last supper?
Rodriguez Jr.: That’s absolutely right! Gastronomy is often the only link you can get with local culture and people, besides performing in a club or walking in an airport. That’s usually the first thing you share with your hosts. Portugal and Lebanon are my all-time favorites. I’m also into Mediterranean food: grilled fish, olive oil, spicy wines, always sound good to me.
Rodriguez Jr.’s ‘Baobab’ is already available, grab your copy here.
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