Diego Souto is our featured SSR Interview this time around.Diego hails from Buenos Aires and is a former chemist.One listen to the uncanny blend of grace and violence in his music and you will quickly realize the connection between his musical visions and his alchemist sensibilities.But don't let these terms pigeon-hole his art; Diego's musical journeys invite us all to explore the wonder and beauty of life and truth.And ,like Diego's music,they are often filled with unsuspected surprises...
SSR: What made you pick up the Stick in the first place?
DS: Music made me do it, I believe... She makes a requests and sees which one of us is ready to respond.More than one musician playing together in perfect communion becomes possible within one single body... The ying and the yang united by a purpose.... That is the reason for The Stick to exist and that is the reason I picked up this particular instrument.
SSR: Have you studied music theory?
DS: Yes, I've studied lots of music theory, only to let it go afterwards... but I didn't get my instruction thru the usual academic channels. My basic need since I was a child was to overcome my own ignorance, but for some reason music academies were never able to provide me the answers I was looking for. Afterwards, I realized that I was not asking about music, but using music for asking about life itself. I am an authentic seeker of the truth!
SSR: Your music is a mixture of everything and anything imaginable.It is at once haunting and beautiful,violent and peaceful. What influences your art and where do you see it going?
DS: Tools I work with influenced me more than anything. Even using a different Stick, or a different recording system, influences the result of my work. For example: During the 90s I bought an old sampler module to use it with the first GK2A controller I had put on my Stick. If you listen to those recordings I made before buying such device, you will find that I used to use technology in a more standard way: drum machines, sinths, and so on... but once I discovered that sampled sounds not only change their pitch but also their speed when transposed (a simple fact that everybody knows now)...the shock was immediate, and my style, when I am using electronics, was becoming increasingly ...fractal... I would say.
SSR: On your release "Stick'nSouto", you fuse the beautiful melodies of Argentinean Folk music with modern and abstract Electronica. Where did the idea for this project come from?
DS: Retro-futuristic, as a newspaper said about one of the projects I was working on....
More than just an "idea" for a certain release, this is a quality I always carried with me, even during my extremely electronic periods, like for example Ojos amnióticos -Amniotic Eyes-.
I am a post -internet guy, so I can get my "spiritual food" from anywhere in the world, but the voice of my land is omnipresent. Tradition is in the air of every culture, you can sense its scent it if you pay enough attention. I am sure this is the same in Alabama, Buenos Aires or Rio de Janeiro: folk music is the voice of your culture, it tells who you are in so many ways.
It is a mistake to think that traditional music is something fixed, rigid something that does not evolve, or cannot be improved. What is rigid and unable to evolve is many people who plays this music.... of course they would die before considering me one their own :-).... For me, it is just another beautiful color in the palette I chosen to hold.
Curiously, a newest wave, "New tango" (a mix of tango and European techno) is becoming a huge success in Argentina. I am looking forward to see how it reflects in young generation's clothes.
SSR: Tell us about a typical day in the studio with Diego.
DS: It depends of which project is taking place. First of all, I do not have a specific place for making music. Of course there are places in my residence where the "concentration of toys" increases... but since I am a big fan of practice, you can find me practicing in the kitchen, while I am watching TV, in the patio...
If Ars Cottolengo -a bandoneon, drums and Stick trio - is recording, I become the "orchestra-man", for I am the only one who knows how all these machines work.
If it's me working alone, oh it's so good. I love even when everything goes wrong, this simple act of voluntary effort is something I am so fond of. Spending all night recording a simple track....
I hate professional recoding studios. For an independent artist like me, it is like taking a cab: you cannot avoid looking at the clock and calculating beforehand how long your money will take you this time...
SSR: Samples are a big part of your sound. How easy (or difficult) is it to re-produce your music live?
DS: I do not even care about it. Studio work and Performance are totally different situations, where I can use different resources and where I aim different results. I do not see performance as the place where I show what I have done at studio. I see performance as the moment I become the nexus in that magical connection between people and music. During this particular mass called performance, the musician is the monk, the music is God, and the stage is a pulpit. But this does not mean that I take my role too solemnly at all, it only means that I am aware of my responsibilities.
Studio work is playful fun, especially for someone like me who like to spend hours and hours working alone or with friends at a little studio of my own. A great opportunity to get in touch with our real essence, which is waiting to appear under our personality's mask.
SSR: You get an incredibly deep and fat bass growl out of your Stick,especially on your tune "Deceptive Revelations". What gear do you use?
DS: Everything that comes to my hands. At home I have a considerable amount of both -very- old and new equipment at my disposition, so that I can choose which of them I will use at a certain moment.
I am kind of collector of any trash that sounds... A really old Dynachord echo lies at the same room with a PC computer, waiting for its opportunity. Recently I was using a speaker I made with an old phone to use it as a microphone in order to record some voices.
Performance is a different thing, I prefer equipment which is light, small, and quick for real-time controlling. During the recent shows of Ars Cottolengo in Capital Federal I used various multi-fxs chained, like a Lexicon processor, an old Alesis Quadraverb GT, a Lexicon morphing processor, and even a small Zoom 505II pedal, which I like a lot because it provides me loads of very low-fi effects. If performance requires samples, I still have an old portable Yamaha sampler module chained to midi.
Regarding amplification, I am not a fan of guitar and bass amplifiers, for they use to have strong personalities, I prefer a good mixer/PA/Speakers combo. But if the situation demands it, I prefer the Peavey Mark III for the bass, and a Marshall Stereo Chorus for the melody.
SSR: It seems that groups like King Crimson and the Residents enjoy a great level of popularity and success in South American countries. Do you find that your style of music is largely accepted in your country?
DS: Argentineans are quite fond of contemporary tonalities; just listen to tango and you will see what I mean. .
And Brazilian middle class loves industrial and noise music, just check Brazilian labels like Nemo Hipocampo, Noage, Umbigo Group...etc.
I don't know about the rest of South America. Entirely different and distant countries...
SSR: What's next for you and are you planning on coming to the states?
DS: The next step is to tour with Ars Cottolengo and see where music take us, and to record a solo album with compositions and arrangements for a particular tuning I am using since 1998. Iam deeply involved with what I use to call NSST: new standard Stick tuning, it is an adaptation to Stick from guitar's new standard tuning. So I am writing etudes and also arranging compositions for this particular tuning. And the results of this work are being recorded in order to release new material. This is barely related to technology, as you can see. But simplicity is something that any musician should not forget. If you cannot turn off the machines and be happy just playing an acoustic guitar, or plugging your Stick directly to a small amplifier... you missed something. Of course technology will reappear in my life soon, as I can stand too much time without playing with my toys...
And I plan to go to USA as soon as a manager-representative makes me a decent offer...
SSR: OK Diego,here's that 1 question in the SSR Interview that is just plain silly but may reveal something to all of our readers...
Which one of the following cartoon/comic book characters would make a better Stickist and why?
A. The Incredible Hulk
D. The Pink Panther
DS: Well, I had to do some mind research on this one, my friend, for these characters do not belong to my culture.
Pink Panther would be the best, because his music would be as mind-blowing & psychedelic as his episodes... this would be a marvelous thing to listen to.
Thor would be the worst, this guy seems to hide his lack of sexual organs behind muscles.... so as a musician he would be an useless, virtuouso Stickist...
The Increible Hulk would be an excellent customer of Stick enterprises, having to buy a new Stick episode after episode, for he would destroy them every time he becomes big and green. SE would love him.
Snoopy would not play Stick, only thinking of playing it.