Published March 11, 2020
Voyage Recordings is at Culture Box to celebrate Huerta’s debut album “Junipero” with a monstrous lineup of international stars and local heroes on Saturday 14 March. Prior to the event we asked Huerta about inspirations, work processes and own listening habits.
In the album description from Voyage Recordings it says that your new album is drawing inspiration from the surrounding landscapes of your upbringing and is somewhat of an ode to the Juniper tree, hence the title. Care to elaborate?
I think any artist will always be influenced by the place they come from, whether or not they are conscious of it. I think with me that may be more apparent, and usually I’m conscious of it. I made the entire album in Berlin and I didn’t really mean for it to represent anything in particular at first. It was just what I felt like making at the time. After the fact I realized that the tracks almost work like story of a journey. Specifically it brought me back to the countless road trips up and down the coast of California I did growing up. The moods, colors, and landscapes of a place I hold dear. I think my style has these characteristics inherently, so you could say that the influence of where I come from was actually subconscious.
The idea of the Juniper tree came a bit later for a couple of reasons. Juniper trees exist everywhere around the world and have had significance in folklore in many cultures through history for healing effects, among other things. Also, Junipero Serra was the Spanish missionary who established many of the first CA settlements. Also, Junipers happen to make the most beautiful bonsai trees. So it’s a little all over the place, haha.
How do you in general seek out inspiration?
For me it usually comes from listening to other music. Could be any type of music, or maybe hearing music in films and how it works with imagery. I think its absolute bullshit when people say that they make their music from some pure, fully original place. For me originality comes from taking bits and pieces of inspiration from where you see fit, and making something new from that.
Did you start out with an idea or a concept that you wanted to pursue with your album before making it? Or did that sense of a rounded album happen later in the process?
To be honest, I made this album almost by accident. I had wanted to take a break from making club tunes, because it was driving me a little bit crazy. So I spent about two months making only beat-less music. It was just for me, just for fun, pure expression beyond the restraints of drum programming. I started showing some friends and they loved it, so it inspired me to take it more seriously. About a year later I sent Andy about 20 ambient tunes, and he selected his 11 favorites and that was the album!
Speaking of the process of making an album, how has it been for you? How do you work? Do you spent a lot of time by yourself? Do you seek out feedback before it’s done?
The process was entirely solitary, and I think it needed to be that way. Of course with all music I eventually release, I send it around to my close music buddies for feedback first. But I wouldn’t do that until I had finished many of these types of tracks, and could put them in a big set, or sometimes I would even make a rough mixed version, kind of the same way the vinyl version of the album plays. I think with ambient music, it makes more sense to listen to it in a long form, within the context of a collection, rather than single tracks.
Why Voyage Recordings? What’s your relation to Andy Hart’s label?
Andy and I have been friends for some time now. We met in Berlin several years ago, and have always had a similar taste in music. Doing this project with Voyage was a no-brainer, once I found out how much Andy liked the music. I think the timing was really just perfect. Voyage had been putting out more and more experimental music, there was a bit of an opening in the release schedule and my album was already finished, haha. The way its come together has been soo smooth and painless. Also I was more than happy to join the Voyage roster, which has some of my other best buddies on it.
We sometimes hear people mentioning that the traditionally album format is dead in today’s digital world. What’s your thoughts upon that?
I’m not sure if its dead, but the way people consume music is a lot less patient these days. But like I said before, I think with ambient music, the long format is the best way to do it. Listening to music in this way is all about patience. It’s about tuning out, turning your busy brain off for an hour. I don’t really know what qualifies as meditation, but for me, this is it.
What are your own listening habits on a daily/weekly basis? What do you listen to at the moment that is not your own stuff?
My listening habits fall in to two categories… 1. Digging high and low for the coolest and weirdest club tunes and 2. Listening to whatever relaxes me. This could come in any form: hip hop, ambient, psychedelic rock, dub, whatever! The former is kind of like work, because the music I’m listening to and finding is for a purpose (DJing), but of course I still enjoy it. The latter is listening for leisure.
How would you describe your own style of DJing?
Hah, tough one. I guess as of now, I like to play up-tempo house from the 90s to early 00s. Some breaky, jazzy elements are in there at times, plenty of organic percussion, deep melodic textures with plenty of drive forward. I like tracks that surprise you somehow. It could be in the drums or in the music. Surprises always work well on the dance floor.
You’ve been to Denmark on a couple of occasions and played at Culture Box once before. That was back in 2017. What’s your expectations for the forthcoming night?
Last time was great, but I think this time will be even better! Not only is it the launch party for my first album, but also I get to celebrate with some of my best pals. We’ll have Youandewan and Andy Hart of course, but I’m also super stoked to bring out our wizard behind the visuals, Dan Ellwood aka Danimation.
Come help us celebrate Huerta on Saturday 14 March.