Following the fourth installment of his 'Electropical' series with Juan Laya, we catch up with Jorge Montiel.
Having released over 100 releases on their Imagenes label over the last decade, Juan Laya & Jorge Montiel’s impressive musical projects include collabs with UK soul icon, Omar, Andre Espeut's Quintet, as well as side projects including Boogie Magic and The Boogie Man. Building their reputation on classic cuts such as 'All Around The World', 'Everlasting Love' & 'Sunshine', Juan and Jorge’s A List supporters include Radio 1’s Pete Tong, BBC 6’s Gilles Peterson and Craig Charles’ as well as Jazz FM.
Their latin-infused grooves can be found on best-selling compilations including 2020’s 'Cafe Del Mar' edition, Defected Records, Expansions and Universal with esteemed producers John Morales, Dimitri From Paris, Jose Padilla and Opolopo delivering wonderful remixes.
Here we chat to founder member Jorge Montiel as he talks about his Venezuelan-inspired new 'Electropical Vol 4' EP whose feel good latin-infused rhythms and sounds are perfect for summer evenings and opening dance floors.
Hey Jorge, it’s a pleasure chatting to you today and tell us about your new 'Electropical Vol 4' EP on your Imagenes label. Did you produce this during lockdown and was it harder to work under those conditions?
The track 'Beyond Civilizations' was done during lockdown indeed. The roller coaster times we went through last year didn't always allow us to find the inspiration to work on the music but after a little while we managed to step out of the shade and decided to look for a brighter landscape, so during that search we found the inspiration and connection for this track which in a way is a kind of reflection / introspection from that moment in time.
'Amazonas Secret Kingdom' was originally produced around the year 2004 just a few years after Juan & I had arrived in London from Venezuela. We created the initial midi demo alongside a bunch of other tunes that were supposed to be for an album but that never got released.So 18 years later it gets re-recorded and fully produced for Volume 4 of the Electropical venture. 'Abstract Fragments of a Dream' and the Oyobi remix of 'Kalimba Vibrations' were both made in 2019.
It crosses jazz funk, latin, afro and house genres and what were you trying to create with the EP? There’s some great energy coming off it and do you have a personal favourite and what makes that cut so special?
Yeah I think Jazz-Funk-Afro-Latin-Electronica crossover is the best way to describe this EP, but it's also a natural property of our production philosophy. I think my favourite cut is 'Abstract Fragments of a Dream' due to its simplicity, & spontaneity, Andre's flow is just a dream! so real. Juan is leaning more towards 'Amazonas Secret Kingdom'.
Your label Imagenes is now a decade old and has celebrated over a 100 releases, what have been the highlights of the journey so far? Any best sellers and great people you've met along the way?
Indeed, 114 handcrafted releases since 2007! We’ve been very lucky to meet so many amazing people along the way who have helped us build what we have today. There have been so many great experiences throughout the years but most recently I think the remixes and reworks from 'The Reflex' and Seamus Haji remix of our Los Charlys Orchestra’s latest releases are really top notch.
Fom previous experiences I will always remember Jose Padilla (RIP) who brought Los Charlys over to play at his own party at Blue Marlin in Ibiza a few years ago. He also gave us so much exposure by including several of our tracks in his emblematic compilations.
John Morales, Dave Lee, Pete Herbert, Opolopo, Jorge Spiteri & Omar are also definitely key people in the development of our record label and music career. Ahhh, last but not least is our super agent & soul brother Mr Amar Kabouche, who’s opened up touring in Asia for us so many times and helped so much in our development as a label, band and as a DJ over there.
Following on from your EP, are there any upcoming releases we should be excited about?
Yeah! We have a remixed edition release of Spiteri's 1980's track 'Night Time Love Affair' coming up at the end of August, and also some more 'Electropical' remixes coming up in Autumn.
You've just returned to DJing Live as restrictions have lifted and how's it been to play gigs again to real people ? What's been your favourite event so far and why has it struck a chord?
It feels so good! It's like the soul is back in full force! The appreciation is even greater than what it used to be, for obvious reasons. It’s such a fulfilling feeling. Regarding recent events which have struck a chord, El Pastor in Soho is one of them as the place is so pleasant and the sound system downstairs is just perfect! Meraki Bar is also a sweet little spot for house music lovers, and also finding Puttshack in Bank was quite interesting due to the edgy eclecticity of the set there…very London like.
I understand you're about to join a radio station and can you tell us about that new development.
Yes, last year our Electropical version of 'Pasilda' got included in the 'Cafe Del Mar' compilation, and following that we've been invited to join their radio station with a monthly mix/show which we’ll possibly start from August. We’re really looking forward to this and hope to surprise with a few live elements now and then too.
Do you feel like in the past year you have been spending more or less time involved with music due to being in lockdown?
Well it’s all relative, as I mentioned earlier, times during the lockdown haven't always been very inspiring, so there were patches that weren't very productive in terms of music production, but then other times when we managed to get out the spiral were incredibly good for it.
Championed by the likes of Mi House, Harv Nagi, John Osborne (Jazz FM), Craig Charles (BBC6) between others and how special does it make you feel when you get that A List support across the board?
I love and respect them so much, so having their recognition feeds us with so much good energy to carry on.
Do you feel like anything in your creation process has changed in this time and did you manage to acquire any new skills?
Definitively, yes. There were times during lockdown when connecting with the studio and making music was the only way of disconnecting at least momentary from the outside craziness, and that connection got so strong sometimes that at some points you would just stop and think to yourself "Whaoo, I just arrived at a new sonic place where I had never been before..."
As an artist is there anyone particularly inspiring you out there right now and what makes their sound stand out?
Harvey Sutherland’s stuff is great and so well balanced, I think Kapote and his label Toytonics are definitely among my current favourites too. Juan really likes Khruangbin and I think all these artists have one thing in common which is what I call: "effective simplicity". It’s quite a complex thing to achieve sometimes. Martin Atjazz is also a super top notch guy and there’s such a beautiful space and air in all of his productions.
Considering many artists have been lacking inspiration due to what happened in the last year and a half, do you have any advice you would like to give to new thriving artists from the industry?
"When one door is close the other is open" - Bob Marley used to say, and I've always been a great believer of that. We can make positive experiences out of the negative ones, difficult situations make us reflect and many times help us see new perspectives that otherwise we wouldn't be able to see. It’s all about keeping moving forward and focusing on new life opportunities that will come and not the ones that are gone.
Lastly, is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Many many thanks to all the music heads out there that had been supporting the cause through the years and to the musicians involved, and big love to all! keep on dancing! Stay safe!
Part 4 of Juan Laya & Jorge Montiel’s 'Electropical' EP is out now via Imagenes Recordings - Buy/stream
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