Daniel Maloso has the kind of improbably cool and geographically sprawling backstory that seems possible only in the world of 21st century DJs and electronic artists. He was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, where he cut his teeth in punk bands before stumbling into a global dance circuit that sent him around Mexico and Europe. He settled on the coast of Spain, where he made music until returning to Monterrey just one year ago. Trading e-mails with Maloso, he casually colors stories with tidbits like how he once shacked up in a small fishing town notorious for hedonistic late nights, or that time he partied in German urban park, as if these were the sort of memories that populate all of our minds. Appropriately, he found a home on a label that seeks to bridge Latin America’s budding electronic scene with the Western European establishment: Cómeme, Chilean Matias Aguayo’s imprint for Cologne’s Kompakt Records.
In late October, Cómeme released Maloso’s In and Out, an expansive cut of sinister disco and analog funk, the kind of music that would fit in DFA’s stable alongside acts past (Pixeltan, early Juan MacLean) and present (Shit Robot). That this LP, created by a Mexican artist, was instead put out on a Kompakt imprint speaks to how wide a net the iconic German label has cast in recent years. We asked Maloso about the evolution of Kompakt, as well what kind of dance scene has taken root in his native country, the progression of musical interests, and why he’s not really “a genre kind of guy.” This Friday, Maloso visits the slightly less exotic terrain of Brooklyn for a set at Cameo Gallery.
Mexico’s homegrown electronic scene isn’t one that a lot of Americans are used to reading about it. How would you describe it, in Monterrey and across the country?
Since I came back to Mexico from Barcelona about a year ago, I noticed lots of things had changed around here, especially in Monterrey. With these shitty drug wars sprouting out around the north of the country and particularly in Monterrey, the attitude around the city had definitely changed. Going out at night (or day) around the city with a feeling of total freedom and recklessness is something every day becoming more rare. But luckily we still have some brave guys and cool dance clubs doing awesome parties and supporting good dance music that makes the nights out much more special!
I’ve been having such a blast going to play and hang around Mexico City. The city feels electric!! And when the sun goes down, you can tell there’s this feeling of owning the city in young peoples’ hearts. A lot of cool young Mexican producers and promoters are sprouting [up] and definitely adding a lot to the local dance scene. All in all, I think right now it’s a good time to be Mexican and making dance music! Hahaha.
What sort of music did you grow up listening to?
I listened to heavy metal and played in punk bands when I was around 14. I got really into funk and electro funk when I was 18, and years later into disco. But in the end, when it comes down to listening to music, I’m not really a genre kind of guy. (Haha – whatever that is.) I’m more into good music, and you can find good music in (almost) every genre!
When did you begin seriously engaging with and making dance music?
When I was 16, I bought my first drum machine and synthesizer and got completely hooked into electronic sounds. In some weird way, that took me to the belief that dancing is the most primal purpose for music. That’s why we should never stop making dance music and we should never stop dancing! But it was around 2008-2009 that I got introduced to the Cómeme crew and that’s when I began to have some sort of real output making dance music.
How was it that you ended up on Cómeme Records?
There were some months in my life around 2005 when I lived in Playa del Carmen down in the Mexican Caribbean. That’s where I met my good friend Rebolledo. We shared our love for music and became great friends. Rebolledo was resident DJ at the most prolific club there, La Santanera. That was the club that all the international DJs came down to play when they visited the Mexican Caribbean, so Rebolledo shared decks with all of them. One of them was Matias Aguayo and they became good friends. At the time, Matias was cooking up the idea of a label driven by Latin artists and they connected right away, beginning with Cómeme’s debut EP Pitaya Frenesi/Bo Jack. And then not much time passed before Rebo came to visit me in Barcelona for a couple of weeks and we spent most of our time making music. That resulted in “Venganza y Seduccion” and “Marchante” from the Guerrero EP. From there on, I began to be actively involved in Cómeme!
Do you feel a bond with the other artists on Cómeme, or, more broadly, other electronic artists from Latin America?
Of course! I feel a very close bond to my Cómeme friends. We definitely have a blast together and enjoy pretty much the same simple and beautiful things in life! Like ice cream and dancing, riding bicycles and waiting for sunrise!
I also feel a close bond to other Latin artists and, recently, to a lot of fellow Mexicans. I guess we just share the same excitement of being part of something that is so young and new in our country. I mean, Mexican dance music hasn’t been really in the global dance scene’s agenda. Very few artists have taken their sounds out of Mexico in the last decade and today, somehow, more and more young producers are getting out there
For its first five or so years, Kompakt had a very distinct style and sound tied to Colonge and microhouse, but that’s obviously changed over the last eight years as the label has broadened its roster. As an artist and DJ, what kind of music do you expect from the label?
I think Kompakt realized at some point what everyone else with a good sense and mind realized: sticking to only one specific genre is kind of boring. And what I what I really expect from Kompakt and what I believe they have been continuously dishing out is quality dance music. Period.
What’s your relationship with Matias Aguayo like?
We’re definitely good buddies. We’ve shared some cool and memorable moments throughout out the past four years and were always looking forward to meeting and spending time together somewhere around the world.
You cover a broad range of styles on In and Out. Do you think there are any overarching elements – sonically or thematically – that tie the songs together?
I don’t really care or even try to make my music fall into a particular genre. In the end, the album is just a mix of everything I love and think is great about dance music
Your live shows have a reputation for being particularly high energy. What’s the wildest show you’ve played?
Wow, there are so many wild shows I can remember. I specially enjoy Cómeme label parties in Cologne. We had an illegal party at Rheinpark in the summer of 2009 or 2010 – I’m not really sure when exactly – but that party was particularly wild and special!
As we begin to wrap up the year, what are your favorite records from 2012?
To be honest, I didn’t really listen to a lot of new music this year. I’ve been more into digging for old records, looking for inspiration in sound and attitudes towards making music from other eras, because living through this era and experiencing what’s around me today is influential enough. Ive been listening a lot to Gino Soccio this year, along with War, random stuff from Emergency Records, and funky disco singles from West End. Definitely stuff from Phillip Gorbachev and Ana Helders soon to be released EP.