To speak about Marc Martínez Nadal is to speak about AFFKT, without a doubt one of the best-known names of the international electronic music scene. It has been said that he is one of the most active regenerators of contemporary house music. His influences come from almost every style, from jazz to soul, including Latin music and, as he mentions in this interview, film scores. Released through his own label Sincopat, each of his albums has received great acclaim and marked new paths for exploration.
AFFKT, together with pianist Víctor Lucas, will be in charge of the music during the opening gala of Cinema Jove which will be held, as has become usual, at the Teatro Principal of Valencia. An experience which will be unforgettable.
How does this idea of presenting a film festival gala come to happen?
I got the proposal from Carlos [Madrid]. Carlos and I have known each other for years; we met through a common friend, Josua, D_Journalist, who will also participate in the Beats and Frames cycle, presenting a film and offering a DJ set. They both worked together years ago in a magazine that was called La milk, and I followed [Carlos’] career in the Festival La Cabina. Knowing that I was one of the most relevant figures of electronic music in the Valencian Community, he proposed the project and I expressed my interest. I accepted, although it ended up being a lot more work that what I had originally anticipated. In any case, I consider it a challenge, something different and interesting, because I am growing by working with people I normally don’t collaborate with: set designers, actors… even though it is sometimes difficult to put everything in order, it is interesting to see how their brains work and how they manage their creative sides, which are amazing.
As a musician, what have you learned by sharing a project with this type of team?
In relation to the entire process, I commented I could add my experience as a musician and as a DJ. MªJosé [Soler], the director of the gala, understood that I could add several elements, but she considered that another person would be needed to be in charge of the set design and to work with stage music. I then met up with Víctor, the pianist, with whom I share the stage. Let’s say that working together has been something like a fusion. He is from a more classical, theatrical world and, over all, makes music for a stage. This has come together with a more electronic and, let’s say, ‘avantgarde’ sound and we’ve created a group. To the ideas that I have, that might not work stage-wise, Victor adds a staging perspective that I lack.
How do these two universes (electronic music and a classical instrument like the piano), apparently so different, come together?
I think they complement each other very well. There is still some work to do, that is, all the music is almost ready, but then we have to make everything come alive on stage. Then, we will be completely at the service of the stage setting, I mean, we are like two additional actors. I could answer this question better once the event has finished, because I haven’t gone on stage yet. I’ve been on many stages, but none like this one. Which is also a challenge that, personally, scares the shit out of me (laughs). But it is also all about coming out of my comfort zone because, if you always do the same thing, you get bored.
When considering what art is, electronic music seems to have not yet achieved this status. In the gala, your music is introduced into a space like the Teatro Principal. It has an architecture, history and special aura that link it with the Fine Arts. How do you feel about your music entering a space like this?
I think most people don’t have a accurate idea about what electronic music is. They think about electronic music and they think about dance music, with the pros and the cons dance music has. Electronic music has many types of sounds, as valid and as interesting as the acoustic sounds that already exist and that have existed for longer. I am sure that, with the passing of time, there will hardly be any distinction between the electronic and the purely acoustic. It will be very natural to find hybrid orchestras. In the end, Spain is not as evolved culture-wise as other places, like Holland or England, which have a more developed tradition of dance and avant-garde music. And, well, they are two worlds that can come together very well, which I think is great. Added to that, as I commented, I think it is a personal challenge to play in a place which is very different from where I normally do.
As far as the selection that you’ve made, is it conditioned by the rehearsals, the gala content or are you going to have freedom to choose the tracks that we will be hearing?
Well, the nature of a gala is that everything has to be hyper-organized because there are many things to be done in one hour and we have to facilitate this. It is one of the things I have learned and which differs from the way I work in other fields, where I have much more freedom. Yes, there will be the freedom of having a lot of tracks being played live, with the result of them sounding uniquely. It is the freedom a pianist has when playing a concert. The pianist knows he or she is playing a piece by Mozart, for example, but the expression can vary. Nonetheless, it is Mozart that is going to be played.
How is the relationship going to be between your music and the piano? Will you be adding a base and the pianist will be in charge of the melody or are you trying other options?
Each song will be different. For example, the opening and closing songs are longer, so we have more time to play and they will offer a fusion of both parts. Then there are parts where he has the spotlight and I don’t, or moments in which there are bumpers where we really don’t have time to do much. That is, it’s a hybrid. I think we are both adding to the project equally and I like that it is like that. We also have personalities that complement each other well; Víctor is a more relaxed person, he takes things calmly, while I am an action person. I come up with something and I do it. I think it is good. Maybe if it had been two people like me we would’ve had more conflicts, but as we are very different, it is interesting.
This year Cinema Jove organizes a cycle dedicated to cinema and electronic music. In your live sets and in your music, what is your relationship to image?
Most of my gigs are DJ sets and the visuals are somewhat defined by the club or the festival you are visiting. Normally the intention is to find an image, I guess we could call it a corporate image, exclusive for a club, a scene or a festival. I am very related personally with the visual side of things, as I studied audiovisual engineering. I moved to Germany, because in Valencia I couldn’t do what I wanted, which was film scoring. There, they allowed me to produce an alterative score for Un Chien Andalou. Since then, I’ve kept both fields related. In fact, our business, Pobla, intends to offer sound solutions, it includes the label Sincopat and, under the name Truffle, a company that makes music for advertisements and films. My music is also very influenced by filmmaking. In fact, we are currently preparing a live act with a band (and some of what will be sounding in the opening gala is part of this project), and I would like to incorporate a visual concept connected to the music. However, mostly due to technical issues, it is difficult to include everything. But, yes, the idea is to make this live show evolve and then, incorporate someone that can add all the visual concept.
You have commented on several occasions that film scores have influenced the way you approach your work. Tell us more about this.
Well, it ends up being the music that I like. All my life I’ve listened to many types of music but, in my sound, I have been very influenced by music producers that work on film scores. Not only because of the emotions they transmit, but also because of the sound they achieve and the hybrid concepts which they use. For example, Cliff Martínez [among other work, the composer of the last three films by Nicholas Winding Refn] uses very many types of interesting percussion, and I would consider my music to be influenced by his sound. But I don’t condense. I am open to all types of music, film music is very important, but I try to be open to many things.
This year Cinema Jove presents a new cycle, dedicated to electronic music. Together with other DJs, you will be presenting some of the films, which will be followed by a DJ set. How are you preparing for this?
There are several films. I have decided to comment and present one with which I feel very identified. There will be two other films screened that same day with a very different perspective, which I think will be very interesting.