Entresol at The Vagabond
As it turns out, this was only his second interview ever, and the first one never even got published. That makes this the first official interview with Entresol, so read on and catch your first reverent glimpse into the mind of a local legend in the making.
Is there any meaning behind the name Entresol?
It came from the word “mezzanine.” Back when I used to be in a progressive rock band, called New Grenades, I used to have a little solo project on the side. I was actually going through the Massive Attack album Mezzanine on Wikipedia, and it turned out that a mezzanine is a balcony or a room inside a room and the synonym of the word mezzanine is entresol. I felt like my solo project was like a room within a room of the band I was in, New Grenades, so that’s how I picked Entresol.
It was cool for the folk music, but I debated changing it for the electronic stuff I started doing. It also sounded kinda cheesy in Spanish, but at the same time I thought it was a cool sounding name. In the end it’s what you make out of it, whatever name you have. People listen to the music, and the music makes the name.
Entresol started as your solo project, but now you’re performing as a three-piece. What sparked that change?
The other band I was talking about, New Grenades, had me on guitar, Camilo Verez on bass, Sergio Madriz on guitar, and Daniel Obregon as drummer. Daniel actually got me more in depth in Electronic music, Electro/Pop acts coming out at the moment like Cut Copy, Hot Chip, Hercules and Love Affair and The Rapture. He left to Colombia and I started branching myself out more because I wanted to do something different.
That’s when I decided to make electronic music. I got some machines, made songs with them and got to play some shows thanks to Laura and Pat from Nightdrive. Entresol started getting noticed in Miami. It was super cool to do it with machines, but it was lacking in the live aspect. Eventually I needed more musicians so my best friends, that I have played with for so long, were the perfect choice. We understand each other so well, I’m happy it’s them.
Camilo Verez / Sergio Madriz
Has the addition of two new members affected your music?
I think its a big difference. Now the creative aspect is different. We can do so much more now with three people, especially since they are amazing jazz musicians and multi-instrumentalists. So even though it’s cool to do the songs that I wrote from before, they were written by just me and the machines, so it’s kind of hard to adapt them to a three piece. It’s weird. Some of those songs don’t have guitar or need extra layers of synths, so we have to figure out what to do live, etc. We only play like 3 or 4 of the songs from the upcoming release; the rest of what we play live is even newer music that we haven’t recorded yet.
The new stuff comes out of our jams; I’ll start a loop on a drum machine and then someone comes in with a synthesizer or a bassline or a riff, we all collaborate. I definitely like it, but I just don’t want to lose the essence of electronic music, I want to keep the live electronics, use machines that you could have used in the 80s, etc. We’ve worked on music together for so long and this collaboration brings a lot from each of us.
Entresol at Fountain Art Fair
What is your background as a musician?
I went to Broward Community College for jazz studies; that’s actually where Camilo and Sergio go to school. I left after a year, but I learned a shitload there: my keyboard skills, scales, arpeggios, etc. It helped me a lot, but really it just wasn’t my thing. I needed to do something else. That’s where the sound design and production aspect came in. Eventually, though, all these skills build on one another.
Do you think that kind of formal training stifles creativity?
Yes, I think it did for me in a way. If you study jazz or classical or whatever, you have to give it a lot of dedication. You have to get yourself dead on it. Practice piano every day for two hours, practice your instrument, guitar or whatever, for two hours, sight singing and theory of course. Then you have to listen to the music to understand it. Listen to the songs, practice them, play them. It’s just so much stuff. Eventually it’s all you do, and you kind of lose everything else. They tell you “Do it like this, then do it like that,” but at the end, you have to do what feels best. You have to respect everyone’s creative art.
Although, it does help to study composition and be a professional in your instrument. I know a lot of musicians that went through all of that, but at the same time they know what they’re doing. Depends on the person, you know. You can lock yourself in that, or you can take the things that you’ve learned here and there and use it.
What defines your live performance?
In the beginning, it was very important to present electronic music live properly, without the need to use a computer but instead midi routed machines. So I went with hardware, and it took me a long time to figure out what machines I needed. Each time you get a machine, you gotta figure out how it works. It takes you weeks until you learn how to use it properly. I love analog equipment, but it’s complicated sometimes since they break often, but you know that’s the risk you take. Another thing is that you can only find them on ebay or Craigslist, if you’re lucky, they will be in one functional piece.
Eddie Rivadeneira and his machines.
Has the availability of analog hardware affected the evolution of your sound?
Maybe, but it’s been organic, in a way. The first drum machine I bought was a Korg DDD-1; an underrated 12-bit, crunchy 80’s drum machine. It’s cheesy but I love the sound. Once you put a compressor on it, it has this super thick kick, crispy hats and snare. I have added sound-cards to add more drum kits to it. The Sound-cards are hard to find, but I found one that is an 808 kit, it didn’t sound like an 808 but it was different so I used it together with the original sounds. Then I got an Electribe EA-1, which was perfect for live use to lay down the bass. Then some guy offered me an old analog synthesizer in a trade; it was an Oberheim Matrix 1000. After trying it out, I fell in love with the sound. It’s a rack-mount module, so I have to control it through a MIDI keyboard. It’s my favorite synthesizer because it’s been there since the beginning. It sounds super thick, dark, analog and warm. The only problem is the voices break since it is a vintage piece of equipment. Then I got a Juno 106, which has that old school classic sound.
Let’s talk about your latest release, Formal Matter: The Remixes. There’s some seriously credible names on there. How were the remix artists chosen?
Well that was pretty much done by Nightdrive; you know, the record, the production, they do that stuff. I don’t know that many DJs or people do remixes or whatever, so it was pretty much up to them. The funny thing is it ended up being people either that I know or that I know through someone else. Air Zaïre came up in the conversation, and actually, Adam used to practice in the warehouse next to mine; I was good friends with him. I was really excited for his remix, and it turned out pretty good. I didn’t know Danny Daze before this; Laura [of Miami] from Nightdrive set it up. But still, my friend Mark, who works at the place where we’re recording our CD right now, he went to school with Danny Daze. They went to recording school together.
Is Miami a good place to be an up and coming electronic artist?
Yes. It’s pretty small in regards to how much talent seems to be out here. We’re in a little corner of the country, so it’s not like big names come out. Maybe people don’t expect big things to come out of Miami, but the scene here is growing a lot. There’s always new venues and more people going to the shows. I think it’s a pretty good scene to grow. You meet a lot of people, you have shows, and if people like you, it’s gonna be good.
So I’m proud to say Entresol is from Miami; I don’t want to move to another city and say “oh now I’m from here.” And now, with the Internet, it doesn’t matter where you come from. There’s people making music somewhere in some room and they just blow up. Next thing you see they’re on tour with someone, they’re playing festivals, and that’s it, they made it. It’s so simple.
Big thanks to Eddie Rivandeneira for speaking with us and to Daniel de las Casas (Miami Mayhem) for the pics (even though I had to buy the battery for his flash).