We invite Vander, an artist who comes from Dominican Republic, to the Techno Mood interview series. He’s an artist who’s been bubbling up over the past few months and has recently unveiled his tribal and riveting ‘Aspiras’ EP, a release that nods to his spiritual home – a real masterpiece that’s out now on The Gardens of Babylon Records.

Generally, how have you navigated the infamous year of 2020?
Let’s put it in perspective. This year has been crazy for all of us but I feel very grateful for all the lessons that came with it. At the beginning it taught me to be ready for anything and to adapt to changes quickly. In the middle, it taught me to know when to let go and pivot, because we can’t control everything. In fact, we shouldn’t even want to control anything.Today, it is teaching me to live in the moment, because it’s literally the only thing that matters. As clear as it was now, things can change from one day to another. It took away what I was going after the most, which was performing and travelling. This made me realise that there is so much more in life such as family and friends who will always be there for you no matter what. I will be eternally grateful for this lesson.

Tell us about your musical journey to date – where did you get started in a career of music?
I’ve been a musician from a very young age. I started learning instruments very young, just to find myself ditching music theory class to go and jam with my friends (horrible mistake). In my early teenage years I was playing in Hardcore/Rock/Metal bands, that’s when I got comfortable with the bass guitar. I found a passion for DJing from my uncle who has been a professional DJ for the last 40 years. He taught me basically everything I know. When I was like 12 or 13 I started hosting my own parties with a group of classmates. We were DJing under the name of Dj Papi. After our 5th party we got expelled from the school for disobeying the rules of selling tickets and being underage. After that school incident my parents grounded me and I had to take a break from music. Then I went to a different school and in no time I started a Pop Rock band with the Dominican star Covi Quintana, we were called Ellos y Yo and we were rocking it. Sadly, the group separated as Covi decided to go with her solo career. After I graduated from high school, I went to Mexico to pursue a Civil Engineering career. During those years I took a break of music. It wasn’t until I attented my first rave that I got hooked again with music. I fell in love with the rave culture, which I didn’t know existed. After that I started to learn how to produce music and the rest is history. That was 6 years ago.

Share more details around the ‘Aspiras’ EP, out now on Gardens of Babylon Records – it’s a love letter to your spiritual home, right?
Yes, this is my first Solo-ep which means it is the first EP that I’ve done that doesn’t involve other producers. It represents some aspects of my music and it’s a love letter because I’ve put all my heart to it. This EP is a very big thing for me, and it’s not a surprise that I will release this project in my musical home, The Gardens Of Babylon. I’ve been super close to them since the early beginnings; there is no better place for this EP. Having this EP released there made me put even more effort and love to make sure it’s an adequate vibe. I decided to take this project even further by dedicating it to a Dominican non-profit organization called Aspiras Foundation. We’ve been working very closely for years now and all my support has been going to them since we ever crossed paths. They are educating kids in my country through football. They are teaching youth the values that will make them leaders tomorrow such as teamwork, perseverance, responsibility, etc. Combining these two organisations on this project gave me a lot of purpose and things to transmit.

If you could perform the new music anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
The Monastery Festival of course.

What was the most challenging aspect of putting together this new EP?
The most challenging aspect was selecting the tracks for the EP. We had other options but at the end I think we made the right choice.

Who are the main inspirations behind your music?
I find a lot of inspiration in the Caribbean percussion grooves music from Juan Luis Guerra, DLG, Marc Anthony and Anthony Santos, just to name a few. Those are my teachers when it comes to groove and rhythm.

Has the lockdown and being at home changed the style of music you make? Many find inspiration from travelling, so interested to hear this.
Yes, totally. As you can hear in my EP the opening track (which is one of my latest productions) is totally different from what I’ve done before. It’s a breakbeat track that fuses some organic elements. I think the main reason for me to start to experiment with this style is due to the lack of parties and traveling. I am most of the time at home now. Here I don’t like to blast techno or house music that much, I tend to listen to more experimental and electronic stuff like the last album of Floating Points, classical music when I am practicing on the piano, or trap and Hip Hop whenever I need a confident boost. I’ve been also experimenting with Lo-Fi Hip Hop and I am releasing a track every two weeks on Spotify under the name of Om Sandhi. Check it out 🙂

In 2021, what projects do you hope to work on and what are your early plans for next year?
In 2021 I will be focusing on launching my new online educational platform for music production called CuriousArtists.Club. The project is aiming to become an online music school that is affordable and available to any musician. Besides that I will be working on my first album which will be a reconnection with my Latin roots. It will be a blend of live instruments representing the latin culture (mostly music such as Bachata, Merengue and Salsa which are the ones that represent mostly my home country Dominican Republic) and electronic music. I am actually travelling there now to record the musicians there and really grasp the culture and the vibe. And, if the parties are back I will continue with my own Corals parties in Amsterdam (HOPEFULLY).

In an ideal world, what would be the perfect Christmas present for you to receive?
Haha that’s an easy one, I will be happy with a full on modular rack haha. I am also down to a music store full sponsorship, lol.