Dorian Chávez is one of our MOAI PROs, the Chilean representative on this roster, a DJ and producer with a long career in clubs around the world. We were particularly looking forward to this interview, and even more so after listening to the magnificent podcast he sent us to celebrate MOAI’s 300th podcast.
– Hi Dorian, first of all, thank you very much for your time. As always, we like to tell our readers something about your origins, your first influences, your first contacts with music in general and electronic music in particular. Tell us something about those first years of your life in Valparaíso…
Thanks to you for the invitation to participate in the celebration of the 300 podcast, that was the first time I did a session only with my own tracks and collaborations, and this time with all the passion for music!
I was born in Valparaiso and raised in Santiago, but I discovered electronic music and a dj in its fullness on stage, the first time I lived in Europe was around the year 92 in the city of Trondheim in Norway, at that time this hitting all that classic House of the nineties.
When I came back to Chile, I had all the desire to get in touch with people who liked the same thing and we created a collective in Valparaiso and Viña del Mar with djs like Alejandro Vivanco, Ronnie Flores, Luife, Marco Vilches among others and we started to make our own parties to spread electronic music in the region and then all over the country.
– We have read that your first experiences as a DJ in public date back to the mid-nineties. How do you remember that first stage? What kind of music did you play?
I started in the mid-nineties after having been dancing a lot to DJs like Luciano, Ricardo Villalobos, Dani Casarano, Rigo Riveros, Sidarttha, Zikuta to name a few.
My first steps were in parties produced by collectives and bars in Valparaiso like Café Journal and in Santiago like Etniko, then I started to play in clubs like Casa Club and Blondie.
– Later, your figure as a DJ was consolidated with a twelve-year residency at the prestigious Santiago club La Feria. When did that residency begin? What did it mean for your career?
That residency began at the beginning of the 2000s and it was the consolidation of my first stage as a DJ at a national level, wonderful memories where the music curation made by the owners of the time who were Carlos Cornejo, Cristian Poblete and Mario Sacaan was synonymous with having the best exponents in their booth, all playing in the original vinyl format and that positioned the club as a benchmark of the international clubbing scene. In addition to sharing the booth with great exponents of the international scene.
– Let’s continue talking about your wanderings in the booths of the whole world… We have been able to enjoy you in Spain on several occasions, including a long residency in Barcelona at the Macarena Club. What other places in the world where you have played do you remember especially? (for whatever reason…)
Of course another of my important residencies that have marked me was the emblematic Macarena Club in Barcelona, it was the moment that I took the decision to continue expanding my career internationally and I opted to settle in Spain for three years and this came partly thanks to my brother and great friend Israel Sunshine (Fur Coat) who recommended me to the owners Gustavo Ferrer and Ivan Domingo, and who liked very much my dancefloor management, my charisma in front of the public and the eclecticism of each session, great memories of that residency and of the whole Macarena Club team.
– Personally, I find the Chilean electronic scene exciting, and I think there is much more to it than what transcends its borders. It would be great if you could tell us how you see it nowadays (let’s skip the pandemic, although it’s almost impossible, we’ll talk about it later…), what names apart from the big monsters we all know (Luciano, Villalobos…) would you recommend us to discover or pay special attention to them. To name one, I’ve always liked Fantasna, who already has a long career behind him.
Chile is a top level hotbed of djs and producers and I could confirm that when I was travelling first in Latin America and then in Europe, there are many names that have transcended besides those already mentioned, there is Alexi Delano, Dinky Dandy Jack, Pier Bucci, Cesar Romero, Francisco Allendes, and many more, all of them already based outside Chile, and as for the djs and producers who are still here in Chile, I can’t forget to mention my other brother and great colleague Alejandro Vivanco, also Umho, Felipe Venegas, André Butano, Aldo Cádiz, Marco Latrach, Camilo Gil, Marcelo Rosselot, Gustavo Allendes, Aldo Foschino, Wask, Fat Pablo, Paula Wapsas, Cris Ocaña, Cris Celiz, Carlos A, Pablo Inzunza, and I’m sure I’ve left some names out and also highlight all the new generations that are coming with a lot of talent and where I personally see it every day, due to my academy Circular Studio.
– Let’s focus now on Dorian Chávez as a producer. We have read in some interviews that this facet of yours began around 2005. How was that first approach to the studio?
I think it is a natural step after some time of DJing in different booths around the world, the need to create your own sounds comes, with Francisco Allendes we created a project called Pacific Coast Project, I think that was the beginning of my facet as a producer that has also filled me with pride and much satisfaction, such as collaborations with great artists of the national and world scene, for releasing albums for labels from different parts of the world and very prominent as 8bit, Viva Music, Deeperfect, and soon for Yet records, Lomidhigh and soon launching my label Circular Studio by which I will release my next album, and also working with outstanding musicians in band projects as was Chilatin Beats with Ankatu Alquinta (Los Jaivas) and soon the launch of my new project called CEDE together with the outstanding guitarist and vocalist of the rock band Lucybell.
– In your production there is a wide range of styles, from the most colourful House to the most hypnotic Minimal. Where do you feel most comfortable?
I’ve never liked to pigeonhole myself either as a DJ or as a producer, I’ve always believed that the most interesting aspect of the versatility of electronic music lies in its variety and fusions.
– It’s always very difficult to choose a track from your own production… but let’s ask you, which track do you have a special affection for, which track meant an important turning point in your career?
Very difficult question, I would have to mention at least three:
Araucaria, which came out on my brother SIS’s label, Pour Vous, and was released during the time I was living in Barcelona.
Santiago de Chile, released on vinyl by the legendary Fafa Monteco’s label Limonada Records, this record opened the doors for me in France.
Rainforest, in collaboration with my friends from Costa Rica, Mobius Strum, released by Nick Curly and Gorge’s label 8bit, and has been one of the most played and chatted tracks, the guys from Apolonia couldn’t stop playing it in their sets, they even commented on it in a review of club amnesia in Ibiza in 2015.
Here is the link:
– In mid-2012 you formed together with Ankatu Alquinta (guitarist of Los Jaivas) the project CHILATIN BEATS, a band that fuses folk music, rock, pop, Latin rhythms and electronic music and you have been announcing news about a project called CEDE with the outstanding guitarist and vocalist of the rock band Lucybell, Claudio Valenzuela. At what point is that project? What flavours will this new collaboration have?
We are putting the finishing touches to the album, which will be 11 or 12 songs, 10 originals and 1 or 2 covers, which we will release in 2 volumes or parts.
The idea is to release the first single called Believe in Lies which is already ready including artwork and video clip, the date is not yet clear, it will depend on when we can be more free from the pandemic so we can make a good promotion with media agenda, Claudio lives in the United States and as soon as he can travel we will start everything for the release of CEDE.
The sound of CEDE is quite varied combining electronic sounds with the guitars and vocals of Claudio who this time will be singing all in English, it is a combination of our wide range of musical tastes and development as producers of both, fusion of 80’s and 90’s guitars and drums with arpeggiated sounds and hypnotic electronic sequences.
– Inevitably, we have to talk about this tremendous circumstance that has plagued us on a global scale since March last year. Where have you spent the worst months, have you been confined as we have been here in Spain? How has it affected you?
I always try to take the good side of everything, even situations like this pandemic, which have been the worst. I focused on developing and promoting various projects that I hadn’t had time for due to the maelstrom that I always have with a large number of presentations and tours.
I have focused on taking up production again and there is a lot of new music coming out soon, both as a soloist and in collaborations, I also boosted my academy and Circular Studio, which as I already mentioned will also become a record label, and I am already developing some showcases and planning everything that will be the promotional tours for my new album and also the launch of CEDE.
– In your social media we have seen that you have had some activity as a DJ lately. How is all this being experienced in the sector there in Chile? Are the attendees aware of the situation and contribute with their responsibility? What measures are taken as a general rule for this type of events?
That’s the way it is, luckily little by little we have been returning to the presentations, in a format not very used in Chile until now, that of the terraces, it has worked quite well and obviously with all the security measures to comply with all the requirements demanded by the health organisms here in Chile. The experiences have been very good and have pleased the public a lot, I have managed to get several new residencies such as Mirage, Terraza Moon, Terraza Lagarrigue and recently About, and this makes me very happy and motivates me to continue working at full capacity, the positive side of all this is that it is a format that is here to stay and that opens a new niche and working hours for all musicians and artists.
We asked you all this because the news coming from Chile regarding the pandemic was somewhat contradictory, with high percentages of the population vaccinated but tremendous numbers of new infections. We would like to have references on how things are developing in Chile. Here in Spain the electronic music sector is really affected, the help from the government has been insufficient or in many cases non-existent. What has happened in this respect in Chile? (We have also seen you active in networks with a campaign against the curfew in your country).
Here the handling of the pandemic has been just as bad, and above all the aid to the cultural and gastronomic sectors. There are many measures, including the curfew, that are totally unnecessary and unjustified and have damaged the music industry too much. We hope that this will stop as soon as possible and that we can return to our longed-for normality.
– To put an end to all this, how do you see the near future in Chile with regard to events? We recently published an article on the situation in Europe entitled “The light at the end of the tunnel”. Is that light also visible in Chile?
Faith and hope never disappear and we are all confident that sooner rather than later this will stop and the whole circuit of clubs and events can be gradually reactivated.
– Personally, I can’t close the interview without asking you about one of your hobbies, and I can’t do it because it is another of my great passions in life… What is the dish that best suits the Dorian Chávez cook?
You hit the nail on the head, my other passion is cooking, I am a sybarite, a lover of good food and good drink, all thanks to music for taking me to travel around much of the world and try different culinary cultures. And together with my great friend also Dj and chef Rodban who has his enterprise Samor Cocineria, we are always doing cooking labs trying out new signature recipes. But undoubtedly one of my star dishes is the Ceviche that I prepare in a thousand different ways and I have cooked it for friends from all over the world, in fact, as an anecdote once my great friend Burak Sar a.k.a SIS wanted us to open a cevicheria in Barcelona, surely someday we will achieve that goal somewhere in the world.
It only remains for us to thank you for your time, and wish to see you again soon, in some club in our country or in Europe, something that will indicate that this terrible nightmare has already passed or will be about to do so.
Thank you very much to you once again for this invitation, it has been a pleasure for me to answer this conversation and it has been very entertaining. And I’m sure we’ll see you soon on tour!