Current Project: Absolut x Tomorrowland's "United We Dance"
Recommendations: Amarelo by Emicida / Touki Bouki by Djibril Diop Mabéty
If you enjoyed this interview with Carola, the best place to keep up to date is Instagram.
When did you start DJing - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I began playing in 2012, but my passion was born way before that. In 2007, I was introduced to electronic music, at a rave I went to with a cousin of mine. It was a surreal and incredible experience and from that moment on, I began to learn about the whole electronic music scene and all its facets. The first artists I began listening to were psytrance and trance artists, I really enjoyed Sesto Sento and Michele Adamson, then later I discovered Tiesto, Armin Vann Buren, and as each day went by, I just kept on researching new artists to listen to. What really drew my attention to this universe was the welcoming environment. Of all the parties I had gone to in my life, being at these specific type of parties, exchanging energy with the people there, really made me feel part of something for the first time in my life.
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?
A few years ago, I was focused on creating a unique identity, which could put “me” into music and guarantee that the public could recognize a track of mine without having to read the name of the track. Today I believe that art and identity are way more connected to the artistic ensemble rather than limited to one or another characteristic of the project. Maybe I will never get past this learning phase, because I feel the need to keep on learning every day of my life, and yet, my identity becomes more and more cemented, and I transmit my message through my music and image.
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?
I am more aware of my identity with every accomplishment, failure and lesson! Knowing who I am makes me certain of what I want to attain, the messages I want to push forward, and results in everything I make being more assertive.
What were your main creative challenges when starting out as a DJ and how have they changed over time?
My main difficulty was financial and not creative, but this is something that today is funny to talk about. Today I am certain that not having means made me into a creative person, because without money I had to learn and create opportunities from scratch. Today I live a reality that is much different from my beginning 10 years ago, and it is really amazing being able to test every new idea that I have with my team, which is made up of incredible professionals.
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?
My first “home studio” was an HP computer with 4GB RAM and a BRL 100 headphone (approx. USD 20) and it was with that amazing setup that I learned to produce. Since the computer was not very good, I could not install any vst, so I had to learn how to make music using only the vsts from FL Studio. Today I have a very good setup, with audio tech headphones and a 3rd generation Scarlett interface. I make all my music using this setup, including the headphones, because I live in an apartment and cannot make too much noise because of the neighbours. I still want to have a pro home studio, but for the time being, this setup is working just fine.
Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you perform?
The evolution of Pioneer turntables is also something that has contributed a lot to live performances nowadays, the ease in performing with 4 turntables with a link and using just a pendrive is something incredible. When I first started, I had to bring a bunch of CDs everywhere with me. In the studio, with each new version of FL Studio, the workflow becomes even more intuitive.
DJing is a unique discipline at the border between presenting great music and creating something new with it, between composition and improvisation. How would you describe your approach to it? What do you start with, how do you develop a set, how does a form gradually manifest itself, what are good transitions between different tracks etc …
When I am performing, I like to connect 100% with the dancefloor, with each mix, I get feedback from the crowd and that guides me on to my next track. The influence that we have by being on stage is incredible and I always try to showcase my personal identity through music, bringing influences of other musical styles, sharing with this important moment with the crowd. Now when it comes to the more technical part of the performance, despite feeling the flow of the dancefloor, I always pay attention to the harmony of every track so that there is no real conflict with the next mix.
How would you describe the relationship between your choices and goals as a DJ and the expectations, desires and feedback of the audience? Is there a sense of collaboration between you and the dancers?
I care a lot about my fans' opinion, but I also understand that as an artist, it is my job to express myself and showcase what I know is my art. So, although I do care about the listeners’ opinion, I have always produced tracks that I believe in and like, and the same goes for my live presentations. I think that in this universe, it is important to acknowledge feedback, but it is also important to express yourself truly and without too much external influence.