We had an opportunity to talk to Israel Toledo and ask him a few questions about his work, techno, DJing and more. Check out the video below or read on for more!
Where do you see techno music in ten years? Do you see genres blending together more as time progresses?
I think techno music will not change much—maybe there will be a small change because of techno fusing with other genres, but, in the end, techno is a loop between generations. The new generation of technoheads are totally into acid techno and more driving and percussive techno as it was back in the day, you see? We will loop around again, and then techno will be slower and dark. It is safe to say that techno will change in a generational loop again and again.
What advice would you give for lesser-known, up-and-coming producers?
Everything is about hard work! Work, work, and work. If you want to have success: work. If you want to produce good tracks: work. You need to push yourself to the limit! Train, read, and learn about new styles, new producers, and new tools. Never fear to explore your equipment, explore your ideas, and work hard!
What do you think about the current techno scene?
The current techno scene is really competitive these days. So many artists, so many producers, but unfortunately there are a lot of lies in it. We live in an era where one’s appearance is more important than the art itself.
What DJs/producers have inspired you the most?
Many producers inspire me several times and several years ago, coming from the REAL underground techno scene around the world—people such as Joey Beltram, DJ Rush, Monohlink, RedHead, Maurizio, Hardfloor, etc.
How do you decide what to open with while playing a set?
Actually, I never prepare any playlist for my gigs. There are some DJs out there that simply download the Beatport Top 100 (laughs), but I don’t do that.
The main reason I play one track or other its determined by the mood of the people in the club, venue or festival. This is a feedback situation, and I need to feel the people to know which track would be the best to play in that moment—not a pre-downloaded top chart list.
In the past fifteen years or so that you’ve been producing, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a producer and DJ?
The most important and biggest challenge for me is… me! I’m always competing against myself to produce better. Every new EP I produce for a label in Germany, Italy, Spain, France, London, Australia, etc., I put in the studio the best of me with new ideas and techniques to explore new sounds.
What’s your favourite thing about Mexico?
My family, my friends, the food, and mountains and beaches—nothing can compare to having all this together!
What’s your favourite thing about touring?
Getting to know people and getting them to dance! I’m really interested to know and learn as much I can about new cultures, people, and ways of thinking from places I’ve never dreamt of playing at!
A lot of artists have come out about how difficult touring can be, and how lonely it can get. What helps you with being away from your family and friends and do you have any tips on staying sane during touring?
Well, the worst thing, in my opinion, about touring is not to spend proper time with family and friends. As I often say, “You have to control your career, otherwise your career will control you!”
In this career you decide how many gigs you want to do. A bit of time management can help you have good hours on set and still make time for the studio, as well as for the people in your life. When you do this for the fame, you push past your limits and you burn yourself out because that’s all you can see. You have to be mentally and physically prepared. You have to eat healthy and stay hydrated. Above all else, you need discipline.
How long were you making music before you took off?
As DJ, I’ve been playing since I was 11 years old—I’m 42 now, so, you do the math! As a producer I have 22 years, and it took several years before I even saw my first track signed with labels in Mexico and Europe.
Which has been the best city to play in? Who was the best and worst crowd?
It’s really hard to answer that as every single gig is exclusive and special, so I can’t really say which one was the best gig, but I can tell you 2 gigs that I will always treasure was when I played at Love Parade Mexico for more than 350,000 people in Mexico City and, of course, the first time I played in Tresor, Berlin. I think there is a before and after in my career after those gigs.
Who would you recommend checking out at the moment?
Well, there are a couple really great artists out there. Ocktawian from Spain is excellent—he produces really great techno; the kind of techno that I love, play, and dance to. He’s definitely an artist to keep an eye out for.
What would you recommend to starting artists regarding establishing connections and beginning their careers?
Well, there are no magic formulas. You have to balance your time with everything else and be ready to work hard. Always work hard and give the best you can. Help yourself by studying new techniques, new sounds, and work every day for it. Connections don’t matter when your music is worthless—people will hear it. People support good music, so you should strive for that.
What is the biggest piece of technical advice you would give to young techno producers?
There are no secret weapons to mix or produce. However, I will say that you need your music to reflect your own style. Never copy anyone—this planet has enough copies of everything. We need innovators, not copies.
Your ‘Macabre EP’ is chock-full of dark, industrial-sounding techno. Your previous EPs have shown some variation in sound. How do you go about deciding a sound for an EP?
It was the feeling that day when I started the project Macabre. I woke up with the title in my mind and that feeling to crush my normal sound and transform it in a macabre story. I never produce an EP without trying to tell a story.
How important is speed in your writing process? Do you work with pre-recorded plugin sounds?
I never work with pre-recorded, presets, or finished patterns—NEVER! It’s not inspiring and I think that pre-made sounds or patterns kill the creative process of an artist.
Are there any sounds that you love to use on most, if not all, your tracks?
Well, I always try to use “synthetic” sounds, and transform them to the frequency I have in my mind. There are a lot of plug-ins, VSTs, or hardware with great sounds, but I always do a process session to transform them completely. Most of the hats I use are recorded by myself in the studio. It’s exciting to records sounds and warp them in as many ways as possibleto create something new—I always have fun with this.
With what artist would your dream collaboration be?
I think Front 242, Depeche Mode or the legendary Kraftwerk. It would be really interesting for me to know the mood and the way they work together in the studio.
Who is an artist you would love to collaborate with, but could never see yourself doing it?
Definitely George Michael, I was (and still am!) a very big fan of him since Wham!.
His Macabre EP, true to its name, is chock-full of more industrial-sounding elements, darker techno with edgier vibes—a stark contrast to some of his earlier works. Do be sure to check out his works along with the consistently good stuff his label, Assassin Soldier Records, puts out!
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