Anthony Valadez Visits With Amoeba

Posted by Billy Gil, June 7, 2012 01:27pm | Post a Comment
Anyone who's listened to KCRW late on Monday nights, coming back from some ill-advised beginning-of-the-week booze sesh, has been treated to Anthony Valadez's innovative DJ skills, spinning smooth combinations of soul and electronic music — in their words, "Broken beats, soulful key chords with guitar fuzz, combined with yesterday's dusty drums with tomorrows samples and sounds." Now Valadez is taking his turn at creating some of the same style of beatwork he regularly spins on his debut album, Just Visiting. Tracks like "Under Water" (featuring Mar) are impossibly smooth, layering beats and melodic vocals over percolating synth organs. "Walking Away" pours acoustic guitar arpeggios and Damon Aaron's sweet vocals over a jazzy, skittering beat.

In honor of his upcoming June 10th appearance at Amoeba Hollywood, where he'll be spinning records and signing copies of Just Visiting, I caught up with Anthony to find out how he got from spinning records to making music.

PST: Can you talk a bit about the genesis for these beats? How long have you been working on Just Visiting?
Valadez: This process has been in place for over two to three years. Often I use samplers to sample sounds or field recordings. Loops are the base of everything. Loops create the groove and aesthetic. I then call over friends to layer live drums, guitars, bass lines and then we create changes in the composition. We remove the samples and it becomes this totally new composition. 
PST: Did you always want to make music too, or was your goal more to DJ?

Valadez: I always wanted to make music.  When I was young, I assumed I could make music 
on two turntables. Not really sure what I was thinking, but I began making beats on two cassette players trying to add more layers and layers. But I realized the more I added a layer, the more I added air noise — I would lose a generation of quality. Music and the creation has always been about exploring on my own. I'm afraid of technology and I'm afraid of change. So I stick with Pro Tools and I depend on 
musicians to manifest my ideas as a producer.   
PST: Were you exposed to lots of different kinds of music growing up, or was that something you had to seek out?
Anthony Valadez Just VisitingValadez: I must confess, every time I hear a person state they were exposed to all sorts of music via their parents, I become envious. My mother was into early Motown, and I heard a lot of that in the house at an early age, but when I became a teen, I began getting into music outside of the bounds of comfort, like The Smiths, Sleater-Kinney, Tricky and even the New York Dolls. Keep in mind my friends at that time were more into Jodeci, Keith Sweat and Ice Cube. I appreciated it all. And to this day I love me some Jodeci. But I'm still exploring for something new for the ears. 
PST: When it came time to find vocalists, did you have a wishlist, did you turn to friends or how did that turn out?
Valadez: Every vocalist on the album I am a fan of. I realize I have a show on the radio every week, but I approach everyone as a music fan first. Miles Bonny is an example of someone who I love. His voice and his music really puts me in a good place. I reached out to him expecting a no but got a yes! The same goes for every vocalist on this record. These vocalists are not just people I asked to be on this record just because. These people are talented, creative and each hustle hard to develop their brand and have something to contribute to material I sent them.  
PST: If the average person on the street asked what kind of music you spin, what would you say?
Valadez: I get this question a lot and its tough. I think my friend Mathieu Schreyer summed it up best once: "I'm a cultural selector." When I walk into a venue, club or gig, I never really prepare for a set. I try to read the crowd. I always engage with the crowd. It's really about their energy. I can take it to Cumbia and into Motown seamlessly. And Iove throwing in those curveballs of rare records I find and put into the mix.  

I spin to make people happy. I spin to make myself happy. We live in some shitty times due to the wars we are currently in and this economy. I try my best to help people forget that and just be positive and provide them with a musical escape.  

PST: What's the weirdest record you've ever heard? And what was the first that made you think you might want to spin records for a living?
Valadez: It's actually a 12" that Dublab put out with a side of music mixed by me and the other side by Kutmah. Dublab asked folks to submit obscure sounds, songs and speeches. Dublab then sent me the 45-plus songs and I mixed it all together. The 12" is out there floating around and I listen to Kutmah's 20 minute mix and mine and it's like a giant beautiful interesting tasting pasta!  
There was never a point where I decided I wanted to spin for a living. It some how took shape and form (similar to the recording process of the new record). Somehow the gigs just began coming in. I often wonder how amazing it must be to simply be home on a Friday or Saturday night and chill with the cat.  
PST: What are some albums or artists that you're playing a lot lately? Could you make us a list?
hiatus kaiyote
1. Hiatus Kaiyote - Tawk Tomohawk
Amazing soul group of out of Melbourne.  A great mix of heavy percussions fused with one of the most interesting vocalists I have ever heard! 

Jessie Ware
2. Jessie Ware - "Runnin'" (Single) 
I predict Jessie might be a force in the future of pop music. She is friendly with the U.K. DJ/producer scene. Disclosure did an amazing remix of her track "Runnin" that I love to play out every now and then! 

Los Miticos Del Ritmo
3. Los Miticos Del RitmoLos Miticos Del Ritmo
Quantic's band from Columbia get down on the Cumbia tip with some great MJ and Queen covers! 

Meshell Devil's Halo
4. Meshell Ndegeocello - Devil's Halo
This one gets lots of play in the car. "Oysters" is the perfect song after a shitty day! 

Curumin Arrocha
5.  Curumin - Arrocha!  
This Brazilian beat maker and vocalist gets down and dirty with this new full-length on 6 Degrees. He has a unique ability to keep things gritty yet on point like only he can.  

Relevant Tags

Meshell Ndegeocello (5), Anthony Valadez (9), In Store (2), Dj (37)