Name: Alexander Molero
Nationality: Spanish / Venezuelan
Occupation: Composer, producer, sound artist.
Current release: Alexander Molero's Ficciones del Trópico is still available from Holuzam.
Mike Ratledge - Riddles of the sphinx
Yoshi Wada – Lament For The Rise And Fall Of The Elephantine Crocodile
Béla Tarr – Sátántangó
Andrei Tarkovsky - Nostalghia
Hermann Hesse – Steppenwolf
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
John Martin - The Country of the Iguanodon
Christian Vinck – Pintura Carive
If you enjoyed this interview with Alexander Molero, visit his Instagram account for more information, music and thoughts.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences?
I remember that as a child I had my brother watching video clips recorded on MTV Betamax tapes. I also remember a film that I saw called "Pump up the volume" that was about a pirate radio, I still remember the soundtrack. Then I got some punk tapes in Spanish and a ska vinyl.
What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
When I was 12 years old, I accidentally went to a club in Maracaibo in Venezuela, for a concert by a band called Sentimiento Muerto. Although I felt a bit out of place, I think I realized then and there that I wanted to be involved with all that.
Then I told my father that I wanted an electric bass and one day my older brother brought it with an amplifier. It was at that moment that I formed my first band at school. From there the process started.
For most artists, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?
I never studied music academically. Everything I did at first was intuitively what I thought sounded good. Later, I decided to study harmony on my own, because I also liked getting together with other musicians to jam. Studying harmony helped me to arrive faster at compositions musically. It was more interesting for me to learn harmony when I had a concrete need. This way, I felt free to create pieces at first without harmony rules and I liked how they sounded half disjointed.
I remember that in Venezuela there was a culture of starting the conservatory when you were 6 years old. If you didn't do it this way, you had to dedicate yourself to something else; an unmotivating idea. I never liked the idea of playing songs from other bands. I was in a generation that wanted to make their own music, since local bands usually did covers and it was something that I did not like at all.
What interested me about making music was being able to combine the genres that I liked, and being able to get closer to the music that I wanted to listen to. For this project I did not have a direct reference - but usually there is something that inspires you.
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?
For me, identity is given by what you are looking for and where you are come from, finding the balance between what you are and what you want to do, regardless of the aesthetic form or the structure you use. When composing, certain perhaps folkloric impressions always come to my mind. However, there are nuances that come to mind and at the moment of expressing them, they will take on a form of their own. They do not resemble the truly traditional - it is a personal impression.
What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
At first the compositions were developed jointly with the people I worked with, even if you came with a preconceived idea, they were usually developed in a group, since the structures came from improvisations. When I started playing I liked the interaction and understanding that is created when composing with other people.
Deciding to work alone was perhaps a big step, as it allowed me to develop ideas that I could take wherever I wanted. In addition it allowed me to acquire technical knowledge to carry them out. It was at that moment when I obtained the creative independence to do my productions.
As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, be it instruments, software tools or recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you, starting from your first studio/first instrument? What motivated some of the choices you made in terms of instruments/tools/equipment over the years?
By the time I decided to build my DAW about 15 years ago, it allowed me to experiment with a variety of media to produce sounds. It was there that I decided to work with the synthesizer that I had, and see the wide range of resources that it provided me.
At the frequency level, I saw that I could design many sounds, in an orchestral way. This was when I decided to leave behind the electric bass. This triggered a number of endless requirements needed to carry out the idea I had in mind. For example creating my own library of sounds that I could then combine in any way I wanted, and thinking about all the elements that should make up a piece. This means that I had to acquire controllers that would make it easier for me to play these sounds more quickly when composing.
Now I have more equipment which creatively has allowed me to expand the possibilities and the way of composing. By midifying the cs-60 I was able to focus on using oscillators, which helped me define sounds more analytically. The technology and the media that I use have given me the possibility of drawing a landscape and its sensations through the sounds that I design, and I improvise on them; in this way I develop ideas. It is an internal dialogue between the sounds that I am creating.
Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
I don't have a single rule how to do it. All shapes are interesting and valid - even all at once. It is true that since most musicians these days have their own resources in the studio, this makes the idea of sharing files easier, for reasons of time. I have ideas about the way I have done things so far and the result is interesting.
Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
A breakthrough moment occurred when I decided to carry out the Molero project about 4 years ago, specifically the Ficciones del Trópico album, developing its sound and gathering the references that inspired me. It is an important idea for me, because it allowed me to give shape to those stories and myths through soundscapes that are in my imagination.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
My studio is currently in an isolated place, where I have contact with nature. I go for a run in the morning and I usually practice meditation. I also think of creative development as a muscle that you must constantly exercise. In this way I can get closer to the sensations that I want to convey.
In general, I don't think about reaching the end of an idea because it can be frustrating, it is a chain of microsteps that bring me closer to a state or vision of something. In this way I get closer to it. All these factors somehow influence me when I work.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
Music and sounds can help you focus, strengthen your spiritual side. Music is capable of transmitting or taking you to any state or condition, be it mental, spiritual or physical. Obviously you can heal or transmit pain. Personally I have lived all the experiences and they are all valid in the context and needs within which they are exposed, according to the sensitivity or emotion that you are experiencing.
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
I believe that cultural trends are there for those who identify with them, from there an artist can develop an identity. If there is an audience that connects with them that is completely valid. We have the freedom to discern and connect with what we consider to be something truly authentic, whether we like it or not, especially in an increasingly globalized world.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?
Auditory frequencies are capable of making you perceive physical stimuli or melodies to connect you to certain memories. At the time of creating, I don't think about it, they just happen. And how I feel in a given moment determines what I want to listen to.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
Being an artist is something that I never considered myself, my engagement was directly with music. On the one hand, I had already cultivated the ability of playing an instrument and later I started to obsessively discover new music profoundly. Over time, these two sources of knowledge found each other, until I had the need to transmit new ways that could be channelled through me. The feedback rather came from the desire to do and know, one obsession led me to the other.
Through this methodology, over time I realized that I could transmit more by doing than by preconceiving, and this understanding excited me more and more, and thanks to this I have been able to get to know myself. Over time this need to know expanded and I was able to nourish myself from other areas of art as well as from my own experiences, sensations and memories that could connect with each other to inspire me when creating.
It is there that I firmly believe that art fulfils a purpose in itself and intrinsically addresses all the areas that we touch as individuals. It has the power to connect you with the spiritual and to better understand your environment.