Name: Victor Santana
Occupation: Producer, DJ
Nationality: Spanish
Current release: Victor Santana's Missions LP is out April 21st 2022 via Subsist.
Victor Santana's recommendations of albums dealing with space:

‘No time for caution’ – Hans Zimmer
‘Intergalactic’ – Beastie Boys
‘Space Oddity’ – Chris Hadfield & David Bowie
‘Echoes’ – Pink Floyd
‘Stratosfear’ – Tangerine Dream
‘Voyageer’ – Michael Gordon Oldfield
‘Moon the area of influence’ – Jeff Mills
‘The Rings of Saturn’ – X-102

[Read our Jeff Mills interview]
[Read our Tangerine Dream interview]
[Read our Steve Jolliffe of Tangerine Dream interview]
[Read our Paul Haslinger of Tangerine Dream interview]

If you enjoyed this interview with Victor Santana and would like to explore his work in more depth, visit his official website. He is also on Instagram, Facebook, and twitter.

Your incredible new album, ‘Missions’, is dedicated to human space exploration. When and how did your fascination with space start?

It all started as a child, I really liked cartoons and movies related to everything that had to do with space.

My grandmother when I was little - well and even when I was no longer that little - affectionately called me "Victor the fantastic" because I used to dream about this kind of thing and I imagined what space would be like and I believed that what I thought were real. It is the magic of dreams that sometimes seem - or come true.

Now as an adult, I think that the cinema has been one of the factors that has inspired me the most and encouraged me to know and learn more about everything that has to do with outer space.

Which specific artworks dealing with space met with your interest – and why?

Such a good question! Personally, I think that what motivates me the most is the visual part, especially cinema and documentaries.

I could tell you a lot of movies. We could highlight films like 'Apollo 11', 'AD astra', 'Solaris', 'First Man', 'Apollo 13' or one of my favorite documentaries on the subject 'Apollo 11'. But there are so many references in cinema, and there are so many artists who feed on their different artistic expressions on issues related to outer space, that this selection is too short for me, I could spend hours here writing...

There are many painters such as Robert T. McCall or the astronauts Alan Bean and Alexei Leonov who were able to paint works from outer space itself; something that very few or only they achieved.

I put myself in their shoes, and I think about having the possibility of making music from the same space and my hair stands on end. Can you imagine that?

In which way are you following current developments in astronomy and space exploration?

I consider myself a very creative and restless person. When I like something, I usually get excited about everything that has to do with it.

My sources and triggers for that creativity are mainly the cinema and then the Internet. I imagine that the same will happen to everyone. You discover something or think of an idea and investigate it by reading articles, watching interviews on the internet, or programs on specialized channels on YouTube. In Spain we even have some radio and television programs that, although they talk about topics more about the unknown, they also talk about space issues and scientific discoveries such as those directed by the journalist Iker Jimenez, a great fan of everything that has to do with space exploration.

Above all, I feed on NASA videos and the thousands of videos of characters who analyze the information that NASA generates from different perspectives.

Space, as fascinating as it may be, is not actually a particularly hospitable place for humans. It is deadly cold, mostly lifeless and extremely lonely. What does it symbolize for you and what can we as humans learn about ourselves by exploring it?

Indeed, space really is a dark and cold place. A place where it is proven that life - as we know it - is impossible, at least until now.

The human being knows it, and has no chance of being able to discover what is happening out there, or if there is possibly life somewhere, without the tutelage of the great world powers. Today it is NOTHING that rules. Paradoxically, not knowing what really exists in space, the realisation that we are not yet capable of knowing everything, gives me freedom.

I always think of the moment of the visualization of the planet earth from space. Not only our planet but the possibility of seeing more planets or even seeing space debris … Are we aware of how many things go around and inhabit space? I think that the anxiety of not knowing what could be beyond is something magical.

I am sure that they have deceived us thousands of times and they give us the information that the Governments want. But I am really convinced that there is something more. I really believe in the possibility of life existing beyond our planet.

What, to you, are the main goals of space exploration – finding other lifeforms? Finding other worlds for human to live on?

Obviously, the main concern is to find out if there is life or other forms of life different from the one we know as humans. But also to give answers to our own existence. But to me it is very clear: it does exist, but we are not yet ready to see it. As I mentioned, I am sure that governments cover up everything that has to do with the unknown or unusual ways of life.

We must bear in mind that what we refer to or what we imagine when we speak of 'extraterrestrial life' is an idea generated by our suggestion, the result of different influences and imaginaries. But the big question is: is there life parallel to planet earth? If there is already a "planet earth" ... why can't there be other "planets" like ours?

There is no sound in space, strictly speaking. Still, many musicians have been deeply interested in the cosmos as a topic for their work. What can we express about the universe with sound do you feel?

Many people claim that the cosmos has no sound, others say that it is the oldest sound in the world. Some even generate applications to create real or fictitious harmonies with mathematical codes derived from the sound of space. And others comment that space has no sound, no matter how hard we try to give sound to something that does not have it.

Although there are many who say no, I believe that it does. For me, everything has a sound. The movement of stars, space debris, electrical storms, or black holes ... I'm sure they generate sound. Without going any further, precisely on 'Missions' I have sampled sounds from space and from important moments in space history.

From my old AKAI MPC I used its legendary sampler to join those samplers with sequences to the modular synthesizers. That tension converted into audio is an incredible thing. The random algorithms that are generated by turning a sampler into tension are a real jam session. Knowing that this sonority will never sound the same again. I think that's the magic, capturing in a sampler, "the here and now" of a moment.

Tell me about the conceptual angle of the Missions LP, please. The titles seem to refer to very concrete events, so I'd be curious to find out more …

Yes, the main concept of this album was to do something different - within my musicality - with a very specific conceptual theme: to investigate at a sound level everything that has to do with space missions and space, but above all with technology with which the materials are manufactured to be able to carry out these space missions

There are many reasons that made me think about technology, without going any further you can have NASA, for example. NASA manufactures spacecraft and devices that have a durability of hundreds of years or perhaps more.

Why aren't tools made in our normal lives that can last a lifetime on planet earth? The system prefers to manufacture devices that die quickly, so that consumption multiplies. It's pure economic interest.

Think about it. When they build a ship to travel to space, they have clear factors from, for example, resistance to very cold or very high temperatures, to factors such as remote updating of computers as the years go by, and that ensure the success of a mission in space.

On this album I tried to musicalize very important moments - in my opinion - of all the space missions. There are many and I assure you that it was difficult to decide, but my passion for cinema specialized in everything that has to do with this, helped me to make the first screenings.

I will try to explain the reason for some of the names of the tracks:

For example, '1974' refers to a very important year for space exploration in which humanity launched 16 space missions, amongst which was 'Eros 2' (or Eros B), the satellite dedicated to the study of the upper atmosphere. (Stratosphere) which is part of the earth's atmosphere and outer space.

Another example would be that of 'Jupiter Odyssey', the largest planet in our solar system. A key planet in mythology and astrology; one of the brightest natural objects in the night sky. Many have been (and will be) the missions dedicated to studying this gas giant.

'Jupiter Odyssey' musically expresses that moment when you look at the sky, see its brightness and think: Jupiter. Infectious synthetic lines that are supported with very deep pad sequences and effects from my Lexicon Mx.

And finally, the track 'Magellanes' refers to the first planetary probe launched by a space shuttle. Its name is a tribute to the 16th century Portuguese explorer – Ferdinand Magellan, one of the most famous of mankind. The objective of this mission was the planet Venus, a planet that receives this name in honor of the Roman goddess of love (gr. Aphrodite). Also known as the sister planet with Earth.

Venus always fascinated me from a very young age. It is impossible for someone not to like love, or at least I think so.

How did you set out to translate these concepts into sound? Tell me about the production and composition process for Missions.

My goal was to put music to everything that had to do with missions and outer space.

Luckily, I have been dedicated to music since I was very young and I have a professional studio where I have the opportunity to create many different projects. Precisely creating other more musical tracks for another album, the inspiration for this 'Missions' LP arose.

In the studio I have many ways of working, but the vast majority of these tracks are created from the clock of my AKAI MPC, and from that synchrony I sent tension to my Doepfer sequencer. It was like a jam session between synths and my Roland TR 909, along with my little modular. It was a way of creating absolute improvisation all the time.

My favourite tools for the project were, without a doubt, my Roland TR 909, the Moog Voyager, the Yamaha Motif, Deepmind 12 and my two Waldorf Q and Waldorf Xt. That in both synthesizers and drum machine. But this album wouldn't make sense without my multi-effects, Lexicon, since depth is achieved with effect chains.

Many samplers on this LP were sampled from movies or documentaries for example from my AKAI MPC. I would take it to the couch with my laptop and when I heard samples that I think might be worth it I would capture them on the MPC. That allowed me to then transform them, edit them and create something completely different from how the original sample was captured. There are 3 tracks that are not on this album but will be on another album that are the reflection of the mix of organic instruments and my studio machines.

It is a very long story to tell. By the time they come to light, I'll come back and tell you.

The press release specifically mentions artificial intelligence. What roles did it play for Mission and in in your music in general?

I think that current artificial intelligence is very primitive considering everything that is to come, especially in the musical field and in the term 'musical algorithm' of synthesizers. Not long from now you will be able to see computers creating music just like a human with the same passion and the same romanticism. It pains me to say this, but it is so, you can already see robots playing 8 drumsticks on a drum set with 6 toms, or see a robot pianist with 8 arms that is capable of making impossible chords.

It is clear that the orders of that music come from a human behind programming that computer, but the day that a computer will use an algorithm to create happy, sad or effusive music it will be the same as seeing a human play. And that won't be long in coming.

Today, denying progress is living in the past. On this album I used some plugins based on artificial intelligence as mentioned in the press release. Technology is here to take one step further, and we must open our minds so that everything can move forward and we must not see it as something negative.

Humans will very soon embark on the first Mars missions. What are your own expectations for them?

I am sure of it; it is just a matter of time. Mars will be like an amusement park; I am convinced of it. It is very sad but human beings do not see the advances as something positive, thex see in these advances a business opportunity and how to get money from something which is actually incredible for humanity. I hope to be able to make music on Mars one day.

As we humans say, dreaming is free.