[INTERVIEW] MARINO CANAL
Undeniable talent, passion and hard work have all played a role in the recent success of Marino Canal’s powerful debut album, Over Under, out on MOOD Records. In this 2-part interview - the first preceding the album’s launch, and the second after its release - we cover this Spanish producer's beginnings, production process, defining moments, creating a conceptual album, being authentic and much more. Canal received strong support from Nicole Moudaber early on, releasing two of his most well-received EPs through her label, MOOD. Now, his latest album has garnered support from the likes of Josh Wink, Adam Beyer, Joris Voorn and more. His sound is hypnotic, poised, melodic, deep and constantly evolving. We talk about staying true to one’s own sense of self and what feels right, a perspective that’s engraved on the album, and one which has contributed to his own personal transformation through the process. I hope you enjoy this foray into the mind of this incredibly gifted, rising artist, Marino Canal.
Thanks so much for taking the time to talk today.
My pleasure! Thank you for inviting me.
How’s this summer been?
It’s been great. I’ve not been touring too much, just working on my music. I started producing different music. At one point, I felt like everyone was playing bangers and tech house with vocals and to me, even though it’s underground music, it started sounding very commercial and lifeless, monotonous in general. I’ve been locked into my studio trying to figure myself out and where I want to go with my music.
How did this start for you?
When I was a kid, my dad used to throw parties in the countryside, full on raves, basically. I was always hanging around. One day I found myself behind two decks, it must have been in the morning, nobody wanted to play or were too fucked up to play and I started messing with the mixer and I got hooked in that moment. I hate that I don’t remember exactly when it happened, that it clicked for me, that like, Okay I love this, I’ve found something that I really like, which became my hobby and now my career. But, yeah, it was there at raves with my dad that I found my passion. (Laughter)
He had decks and you just started to practice and play?
Yeah, they were not even CDJs, they were just CD players with a pitch controller, not Pioneer, I don’t know what they were, but I just started mixing records. I was quite bad obviously. My dad then bought some Pioneer CDJ 100s, which was the first version of the CDJs - he said he bought them for himself, but I think he bought them for me, because he wanted me to become a musician - so I started playing at home. Then in my teen years, I discovered computers and stopped practicing my mixing and took that path for awhile. I came back to playing again a few years later, rediscovering what I truly loved, which was playing music on CDJs.
When did production come in?
When I got into to computers. My father bought me a computer because I told him that I wanted to produce music. That was a real, legitimate reason, but at the end I didn’t produce music for awhile. But I had this computer, and I had some obscure software. I don’t even know what the name was, it came with a soundcard. That’s the way it starts though, it’s like you get some software and you don’t even know what you’re doing and you start experimenting. I think I truly started to think of production as a way of work in high school, when I was 17. My parents sent me to Vermont to study. I had a lot of free time, it was very boring, very cold and you couldn’t go out too much so I downloaded Ableton and started to take it more seriously. Nine years later I’m making some music that I’m proud of now.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your tracks? What’s your creative process?
You know, it’s strange, I was watching this tutorial video yesterday. It’s this guy, he makes hip hop and he really knows Ableton inside out. And the way he was making music, he was thinking about it the whole time. Like, So now I’m gonna pitch this oscillator down by two octaves and put an envelope on it so it sounds like etc… The way I do music, I think it’s more experimental in a way. I will open up Ableton and maybe I will pull a sample that maybe I heard in a movie or a documentary. I have sampled it with software I have on my computer and I start building an idea out of that. I put some effect on it. Or maybe I start a track with drums, making a beat that sounds okay to me. I don’t have any given way of making music or inspiring myself. I wish I knew I had the formula but I don’t know the formula (laughing). When I made that track, Can’t Feel, which maybe was my biggest track, it was the B-side of that record.
I made that track in one afternoon. I remember just following what felt right. I wasn’t thinking, like, do that, or I’ll put this.. I just did it and that was that track. It wasn’t some very well-thought out elaborate production, you know?
And this new album..
To me the album overall sounds like what I want to sound like now. So, that feel from that track, but now.. More refined.
How was the process of producing the album, it’s dropping August 19th?
Yes. It took me almost a year. Can’t Feel, going back to that, was more tech house-y and I really got bored of that genre or sub-genre or whatever. So I think I literally made two albums, I kept changing it. Like, the tracks sound updated now. I would work on tracks from the album and new tracks aside from the album, and in the end it changed the whole album. Literally a whole new 10 tracks on it. So now I’m happy.
It was a very strange process because I guess albums have to have a concept or a story. I didn’t start thinking about that until December when I was like, Okay, I actually have an album now, but it’s not telling anything, it’s just a bunch of tracks. That’s when I decided I’m going to do a different album with a concept. I like to think I called the album Over Under because I am over the concept of underground music, or over my old self. I’m over that now, that’s what came to me.
So there’s an actual concept behind it, it’s not just a random..
Now there is (laughing), not back then. You know, my dad is a music head, he’s been buying music his whole life on vinyl. He was like, Dude you need a concept! And yeah, he was right. So at the end, the concept presented itself, I didn’t have to think about it.
Cool how you can evolve in the process..
Like, Nicole told me, okay next release is going to be an album. And I wasn’t even sure, I was like, Are you sure? Who wants to do an album nowadays, it doesn’t make sense, people don’t listen to albums… But, she was right. This album served me well to move to a new self. To evolve to a new self. Nicole’s platform is really good and she’s working hard on it - she’s got that EP from Pan Pot released recently. She’s putting quite some effort on the label.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
Don’t try to be anybody else. It sounds so cliché but there’s only one Marco Carola, there’s only one Richie, there’s only one Nicole, you know? If you’re trying to copy somebody’s formula it’s not like math, it’s not guaranteed to work. In art you have to be an individual to represent something that feeds you. You’re not going to fool anybody, if you pretend to be somebody you’re not through your music or your art, people are going to notice that, so you have to be authentic and experiment. Just be yourself.
What producers do you like?
I love Kiasmos, I mean they’re huge now but.. I liked James Blake when he was not that big, that’s such a hipster thing to say (laughing). I love Samu.l, he’s from the UK, he makes cool stuff. Martin Buttrich is a big supporter of him, and for good reason, he’s a very talented guy. There is this guy he plays house, stuff I don’t even play now but he’s so good, Liam Geddes. I think he deserves to be a really big artist - he’s such a good producer, he’s amazing. Shaf Huse. Now he’s doing very well. It’s strange - I find all these artists that have like, 200 likes on Facebook or something. Most of them they end up doing really well and I’m happy for that, because they don’t know it. These two artists, I reached out to them I was like, Hey guys, can you please send me music? I’m going to play on Nicole’s podcast or in New York or whatever..
It’s going to be cool to see your album come out..
I’ve just recently started believing in my music, I don’t think I’ve ever played one of my records in one of my DJ sets. And that’s being honest with you, I’ve never played Can’t Feel. (Laughter)
Part Two - Post-Release
How’s it going with the release of Over Under?
It’s great! You know, it’s top 20 in the general releases chart today, top 7 in techno releases as well, so.. It’s a strange feeling, I was not expecting it. It got really good feedback, like people are really enjoying it. It’s never happened before with any release like, people messaging me, who I don’t know, out of the blue saying, It’s so good. It’s been so long since I’ve made it, and I’ve heard it so much as well, but I guess it is good (laughing). What do you know - you never know when something’s going to sell.
When Lee Van Dowski posted a comment on his Facebook page, like, the album is the ‘best thing I’ve been listening to in awhile’. That had never happened before, and I’m not friends with him or anything. He did it because he really felt that way. And when I got the feedback from the promo as well, that was quite exciting. I got really good comments from Josh Wink, Joris Voorn as well, he posted a really nice comment. And some other people.. A lot of feedback. Usually, they’ll be more like ‘Thanks for the promo’ but they took time.. Adam Beyer as well, he left a really nice comment. And I don’t know any of those guys, and they don’t owe anything to Nicole too, like they did it out of heart and belief that it was really good music. They’re not doing a favour to anybody. So I’m excited for that.
It’s touching to hear about the comments. Super real. People beyond the friend circle who are reaching out to give you great words..
Yeah, you know I was feeling a bit down the other week [prior to release] because I’ve spent a lot of time with the album and I still have very few gigs and no agent or any of that, and to have the album be so successful and to have people who I really admire being so open about it, like, Guys this is really good music. That really lightened me up.
It’s cool. I wasn’t expecting anything as well. So if it wouldn’t have been on any chart I’d still be okay with it, but now.. Now, I actually have to become an artist (laughing).
That’s my favourite quote ever, Now I actually have to do something about it. (Laughter)
And now I have to take it seriously. I’ve thought about quitting before. Many people who do music or any kind of art, they all have doubts I think. Everybody says, you have to believe in yourself. For me at least, it’s not so obvious. But now I do, because I see the response. Every body has doubts, and I do as well. But now I’m clear (laughter).
So powerful. In so many artist’s lives there’s a turning point, or many, where the artist receives support, like this. And that’s what makes them keep going..
I think so. It’s a defining moment, at least for me. I can see how that would be the case. You have to make a real decision at some point. Be real about your career. Maybe I’m not making ends meet still, like I don’t have a decent income every month, but now at least I know that the music is good enough to take me there. So you know, I’m going to keep pushing now towards that direction.
I’ve got some really exciting music coming, It’s not signed yet, but you know, it’s music that I’m really proud of. I became really inspired after going to Sonar this year, I don’t know why. For a week nonstop.
I’ve been hearing some feedback about your album, they keep using the term ‘inspired’..
For me it’s hard to step outside myself and analyze my music, but it is music made with heart. It is really what I feel and what I like. It’s not trying to be anybody else, just trying to be myself and have an identity in music. Maybe that’s why it’s such a personal album. People can tell like it’s not just, whatever, he’s put four loops together from a sample library and that’s it. It’s not that, so..
Did Nicole give you the freedom to do what you wanted to do?
Oh yeah, she did. Totally. It was her idea to begin with, like I told you last week. For me it didn’t make sense to make an album. But she’s been in the game for so long, so she knew. She knew I had to do it, and it’s thanks to her that we are here now.
What’s so cool about this is you were 100% authentic, and you got success..
For sure. And that’s what I will take out of this whole thing. It was truly myself and it worked out. Now I really know that.. I’ve changed a lot. And now I know that this is the direction I’m taking.
I just worked really hard on the album for a long time, and I didn’t think about anything else. But I’ve got a lot of really good music still, one of my new tracks is on the mix I did for Nicole’s radio show recently. It’s the very last track, which, I think it’s a really cool track, so yeah, check that out.
Anything else you want to say?
Yeah, thanks to everybody who supports me and my music, I might have stopped making music at one point if I hadn’t gotten this response.. soon. So, it came sooner rather than later. So thank you. Really excited to see what comes after this. People say that charts don’t matter, but in the end they kind of do. You can say whatever you want, but if you’re charting, the people do notice that and promoters and label managers do as well. Really excited for my future. And really excited to play live as well. I love DJing, and it’s going to be really challenging for me to play live but I’m up for that challenge.
I could see people responding really well to it given your production capability..
(Laughing) We’ll see. If you’re DJing and something isn’t working in that moment you’ve got so many tracks to choose from, but as a live act, of course depending how you’re playing, but usually there’s not much material to choose from so we will find out eventually (laughter).
I’m stoked for you!
Yeah, I’m quite happy!