Alexis Cabrera moved from Argentina to Europe when he was 32 years old and catapulted himself behind the decks of best dancefloors around the world. His musical trajectory took off at the age of 7, when he turned 15 he began studying at the Buenos Aires Conservatory for 7 years. Especially when it comes to live acts, Alexis brings to light an extraordinary adroitness throughout the last years. His expertise on modular synthesis shows off on the dancefloor, managing to intoxicate the audience with a medley of spot-on electronic dance music, aiming to prioritize groove overall, balancing drums and basslines. By adding harmonic elements as well as his own (live) vocals he makes the crowd reminisce about the music even days afterwards.
The multi-instrumental musician has joined Berlin’s based booking agency Belisa Booking, regularly performing at Clubs like Hoppetosse or Club der Visionäre. Recently Alexis has decided to move to Málaga, where he now gives online tutorial production classes. We are curious to find out more.
When did you start making music? What were your most important influences and what music excites you at the moment? Do you have family members who are musicians?
I am actually the first musician in my family, just by chance and totally randomly one day my dad bought a guitar for my mom’s birthday (she didn’t even play guitar once in her life) when I was 2 years old, since then I couldn’t let it go ever again. And I make music since as long as I can remember, using an Ibanez Electric Guitar, Casio Tonebank and a PC Intel 486 DX4 with FASTTRACK DOS program *nerds can do the maths about what year that was*, for everybody else this is mid 90’s. Huge late 80’s early 90’s Depeche Mode fan, I would play all their songs both on guitar and keyboard programming patterns on the PC. From there I went through loads of music styles. Thanks to my 7 years of conservatory studies I got to learn about harmony and Classical music which keeps inspiring me everyday. I played a lot of Latin Music, Tango, Jazz, Blues, you name it. But always mixing it with electronic sounds.
You do all your work essentially by yourself; writing, producing, arranging, mixing and performing. Have you always been so confident while doing your live set?
This is a good question because when I started playing live I was extremely confident. But it was more the excitement of doing something new, a sort of I-don’t-care-what-they-will-think-about-this attitude. Maybe it seems a little bit selfish but I didn’t really care if I was playing in front of 300 or 5 people, still, I was doing my thing and if someone didn’t like it, it meant it wasn’t the right place for her/him. After playing more often I started to open my eyes and then I started to get a sort of cold feet-feeling before jumping behind the booth, thinking to myself: ”I’m gonna play only my music, I don’t know if it’s good enough for this crowd”. I felt that pressure of having to entertain people only with my music, so I felt (and I keep feeling it actually) super exposed because I show all of my emotions, from joy to fear, sadness to happiness – all these feelings mixed and delivered through the speakers. Then I finally made peace with my ego, understanding that there will be always people who will not enjoy or like what I do and you know what? IT IS FINE! This is what I think – if there are people who don’t like The Beatles who were, are and will be the biggest band in music history, what can I expect of my music!
Thank you for sharing this with us! You recently moved to Málaga and started doing online tutorial production classes. Tell us more about it, what can we learn from you during the course?
I give a couple of options concerning online music production classes.
The first option is the 1-2-1 classes, where I focus 100% on the producer’s needs. Some producers struggle with the mixing stage, getting a proper balance between all the frequencies range. Others struggle with what I call “the eternal loop syndrome”, they have a great groove, a kick-ass bassline, a hooky melody/chords/pads BUT they don’t know where to go with it, the struggle of how to put these elements together. That’s why I give them several techniques to feel confident enough to move to the arrangement part. I also give a lot of techniques, tricks and tips related to creativity, as well as tools that they could use. I really like to analyse their backgrounds and music taste in order to put myself in their heads to help them translate their ideas to sounds.
The second option is online music production group classes where I choose a subject (Creativity, Mixing Engineering, Mastering, Effects, Arrangement, Sampling, Modular systems) and I stream via YouTube the class. It’s super nice because I give the same subject two times, one in English and one in Spanish, but the thing is that even though I prepare the contents, sometimes the classes turn out totally different (I gotta say that I get carried away so easily that sometimes I follow maybe the 50% of what I had prepared and the rest just goes with the flow… something similar like playing live actually!).
Apart from this I’m always doing things, like tutorials about machines/synths, and I’m also in the process of a new project where I choose a track that somehow changed something in the underground electronic music scene and I analyse it to the bones. I will analyse drum kits, basslines, harmonies, mixing, effects and everything that I hear to deconstruct it in order to understand “Why is this track a bomb?”.
Where do you get your ideas and energy from? Is there a place you can totally relax and free your mind? Do you find it easy to switch off whilst travelling/touring?
Actually not at all, I think I never switch myself off. I don’t see the point, this is my life, music is everything what I am. It’s like switching off my heart.
My place to relax is the studio. I literally free my mind so ‘badly’ that I sometimes find myself 12 hours non-stop making music. I get constant inspiration from my closest friends where the list is constantly evolving but I still have to name Nekes, Barem, Mariano Mateljan, Ernesto Ferreyra, Dahbar, Federico Molinari, Herdot, Jorge Savoretti, Franco Cinelli…uff there are many many more actually. As I told you before we are all different and we all have different perspectives of music, and somehow I get to absorb everything and process it to expand my own perspective.
What’s the downside of being a DJ in your opinion?
In my particular case the downside is to be so far away from my family. I am from Buenos Aires but to followed this crazy dream I moved out to Europe. Leaving my town, friends and family wasn’t easy and I miss them a lot. I go to Argentina 2 or 3 times a year to visit them and also to play. But still, it is hard.
What was the most memorable set / place/ location you have ever played at?
Well that’s super hard to say but at the moment I can’t get out of my mind the time I played at Guesthouse in Bucharest a year ago or so with „president Priku” <3. That place blew my mind! Sound system, location, crowd, organizers, everything was perfect!
Recorded 2019 at Atipic’s Label Night at Guesthouse
Is there any direction in particular you want to go in the future? Any artists you want to work with or projects on your mind?
During this year I developed my teaching skills, and I gotta say that I love it! It feels really good sharing knowledge and specially inspiring people, it’s a feeling that I never had before. So I probably will keep doing this, at least until we all come back to the clubbing scene.
I am working on a bunch of labels like Fun Records, also in his Sister Funkamp (Bandcamp only releases) of course I keep feeding my Cabri Music Bandcamp page and last but not least, on a label that I’m not supposed to say anything about it but a hint would be that WE ALL LOVE RAMEN.
My list of artists that I’d love to work with is huge! to name some: Priku, Dorian Paic, Arno, Herodot, Tom Ellis, Franco Conelli, oh well, a lot lot more…
Tell us more about your plans for Fun Records please!
YES! Release #13 will be out anytime soon, and it’s from our dear brother and Belisa family member Ernesto Ferreyra, and I can’t wait to see it out. 3 tracks that blew my mind as soon as I listened to them, even in the demo stage! Super trippy, groovy AF… oh well, it’s Ernesto!
How did 2020 affect you personally and your musical spirit? Would you say you produce less or more?
I know this year is being super tough to a lot of people but personally I found another side of myself that I didn’t know I had like teaching music production. By doing this it gave me so much inspiration, that even though I gotta say I have less physical time to make music I ended up making much more than I expected, there are days that I find myself finishing 2 or 3 tracks in one day for example. Plus I have a lot of collaborations with friends. So I would say that my musical spirit is shining more than ever.
Is there any specific advice you would like to give producers out there that don’t feel as creative as they used to before the pandemic and closure of the clubs?
I know that this is basic advice but listening to music is always the answer, BUT, I always advise them to listen to music with analytic ears, trying to identify every single element in the track. And as an exercise, trying to reproduce what you hear. I’m not saying that you are gonna release these tracks, but the way I see it, it is like when you learn how to play an instrument: you start playing somebody else’s songs, you get to learn how different composers made their songs. And when you don’t know how to do certain things then you put your ass on the chair and don’t get up until you learn how to do it! 🙂
What are you focusing on right now?
My online music production classes, Modular System using a program called VCV RACK, making music, all my labels and of course MY CATS!
FAST ROUND QUESTIONS
Your favourite track at the moment:
Willie Colon – Calle Luna Calle Sol
(it’s my secret weapon to get an extra boost when jogging in the morning)
Where was your first gig?
Levitar Buenos Aires October 2007
Sweet or Salty?
Salty first, then sweet, then salty, and so on
Where I’m living at now: Mijas Costa (Malaga)
Do androids dream about electric sheep
Day or night party?
What does music mean to you?