Originally published on Pulse.
As usual, Henry Saiz is on an elaborate creative mission. This is the innovative thinker who combined vinyl, cassette and reel-to-reel formats to turn personal field recordings from his youth into one of the most exalted Balance mixes of all time, and the producer who gathered the eclectic recorded samples of hundreds of fans to inspire and construct his debut LP. He called it, ‘Reality Is For Those Who Are Not Strong Enough To Confront Their Dreams’ and has intrepidly lived by this mantra - at least in his creative exploits - every day. Though he’s DJ’d solo all over the world, the performance method Saiz prefers best is to play live with his small band comprising a vocalist and percussionist - and in this guise recorded a powerful Boiler Room up there with the best.
His is no ordinary techno CV and, true to form, Saiz’ next endeavour is no ordinary electronic release. For his next album, he will record and produce in a far flung array of the most iconic locations in the world, creating an accompanying video which will be a visual interpretation of the journey. “Recording synthesizers inside the Great Pyramid in Egypt, traveling to Tokyo to create a track with a virtual singer, composing a theme during a psychotropic trip in the desert of Joshua Tree, playing drums inside the volcanic caves of Lanzarote island, collaborating with a Maasai tribe on a jam techno session, sampling the ice cracking sounds of the Perito Moreno glacier in Argentina to make powerful beats…”
For most of us they are the sort of high ideas that get a lot of traction in late night conversations and not a lot of real life actualising, but its clearly that very air of impossibility which has spurred Saiz to action. A detailed and exciting video by way of ‘pitch’ and a solid Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign later, and the dream is hurtling toward reality. Saiz casts his net so very wide with this project that he’ll have his work cut out for him collating his ideas into the united front of an album - and how he’ll actually interpret this myriad of influences into music in his own style is anyone’s guess; judging by previous projects, we can count on subtlety.
A big picture thinker with an insatiably inquisitive mind (and a thick Spanish beard full of secrets, we like to imagine), who knows what Saiz’ active internal cogs will produce - especially when powered by the visual and sonic textures of the most inspiring locations in the world. When we spoke to Saiz, his Kickstarter campaign was almost at a close and already past its minimum goal. It’s just one of the ways to gauge the degree of faith his fans, friends and associates have in his work - once he’s on the road, more will soon follow.
The ideas you’ve shared already for locations - and the ways you might record them - are varied in style and specific in nature. How were these ideas born?
“When I chose the ten places to include in this project I didn’t have to think too much about it, they came to my mind almost instantly. During my career as a DJ I have visited almost every corner of the world, so I had my personal list of favourite places. In fact in some of them, like Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, I composed some tracks on my last album "Reality is for those ... " inspired by the environment. Luckily, my band mates have the same taste so we share these favourite places. For example, when we visited Joshua Tree our first thought was: 'someday we have to make a track here'. It also was clear from the beginning that places like Tokyo or Australia had to appear on the album; They are places that always inspire me to create new music.” Do you think this project would be possible without a set up like Kickstarter, and how do you anticipate having so many investors will affect how you work?
“The Kickstarter platform has been essential in carrying out this project. It is an ambitious and complex project so I needed to explain it to my fans in depth. The Kickstarter platform allowed us to upload an explanatory video and all the finer details, so it’s the perfect format to showcase the project. Having so many investors can only have a positive effect; it’s great to feel accompanied in this creative process and it encourages me to do something that meets the expectations of all the people who are helping us to fund the project.” What are the biggest challenges you foresee with such a grand scale plan?
“The biggest challenge is mostly how to organize all the work and combine it with my tours. This is a project that I could only make having a team by my side and luckily there are some very talented people involved. I know there will be challenges, such as my plan to record a track in the Great Pyramid or playing along with a Masaii tribe, but believe me, they’re not impossible… An advantage of having toured the world is that I have many friends willing to help me and they are passionate about this project.”
Do you ever find the complexity of your projects overwhelming?
“That´s actually a great question! I always think big, just because it feels right to me, it´s in my nature. Then when I’m aware of where I put myself and my team I go through different stages, including panic (laughs) but yeah I need challenges. Also I think my fans appreciate it. Life´s too short, you gotta give all you have like there´s no tomorrow.”
One of your goals is to make music whilst on a quintessential Joshua tree psychedelic trip. Why do you think psychedelics have such a positive influence on art?
“They are definitely a tool like no other to reach self-knowledge and develop creative concepts. Mankind has been using it since the dawn of time and I truly believe it can take you to some interesting places while using it creating any kind of art. Of course you have to be familiar with psychedelics in order to be able to use them properly and not get lost in an overwhelming state of mind. I guess I am used to them so that experience in Joshua Tree is gonna be amazing.” You’re clearly a lover of all art forms - if you hadn’t chosen music, do you think you would have pursued another?
“Yeah I’d definitely be doing something related to the creative world. Although I always wanted to study psychology. I also love painting, it’s my second favourite art.” How influential is modern technology to your relationship with music?
“It´s pretty influential but not decisive; even though I use a lot of the latest technology, at the end of the day my approach to music making has a lot to do with the way this music was done decades ago, lot of analog synths, mixers, tape recorders, analog drum machines… But it’s good to have the best of both worlds.” More broadly speaking; how do feel about modern dance music’s development in this respect? Has technology encouraged exploration, or homogenisation in music? “Good question, I think it has created both effects. Artists who want to explore and go further have more tools to do it and people who just follow trends and formulas can do it faster and cheaper. It´s the same old story, some people try to make a difference some others don’t want or just can’t.”
Playing with a small band as you do really lifts the energy of the experience for the audience - is it the same from your end? How do you bandmates enhance your experience?
“Of course, playing with my band is a very different experience compared to DJing. First of all, my bandmates are my best friends and there's a lot of chemistry between us because we’ve know each other for many years. This makes the tours so funny and the energy on stage is contagious to the public. I’ve always considered myself a musician as well as a DJ and producer, so the live shows allow me to show that side. In addition, I have exciting plans with my live band; this new project will be the sound of the band so I want to take the show a step further for the album tour, counting on additional musicians and offering an unforgettable show.”
Saiz takes his band, his crew and his grand ideas to the world later this year. There are still two days left to contribute any amount great or small, and be part of a process which is sure to break new ground in contemporary electronic music.