North Atlantic and approximately 9 500 kilometres.
That’s the distance between Colombian Aleja Sanchez and Italian Dino Sabatini. Despite the vast distance, and never having met in real life, in September the two will release “El resplandor de los Ciervos“, a collaboration EP, on Aleja’s label Northallsen Records.
Monument had the chance to interview the artists about the release, as well as what Aleja and Dino (who will finally meet next year) learned from this long-distance artistic relationship that has quite an impressive result.
Hey, and thank you for taking time for this interview with Monument. How is it going?
Aleja: Thank you so much for this space. Everything is going well; I’m working hard before a small surgery next October.
This September you are releasing your collaboration EP “El resplandor de los Ciervos” on Aleja’s label Northallsen Records. Let’s first talk about how you have connected. How and when did you first got to know each other, and how did you started the collaboration?
Aleja: Music connects people. I have listened to Dino’s music for eight or ten years, he is a very special artist for me, with a special light inside his music. So, I decided to write and ask him about the idea to release a vinyl split in Northallsen, Side A for Dino and Side B for Aleja. That was the first idea.
It was surprising to find out he is not just a great artist, but also a very kind person who is very open to collaborate and available to create a work together. Then, the idea changed from doing a vinyl split to do a complete release together in collaboration. Now, with the release on its way, we hope to have a special meeting next February here in Colombia, as Dino and I will play together at Freedom Festival in Medellin.
The release’s four mystical and captivating tracks are inspired by deers. Could you tell us more about the inspiration and theme of the release?
Aleja: The vinyl concept is based on Miguel Angel Blanco‘s work, a Spanish artist, who did an exposition about deer in the Romanticism Museum of Madrid in 2015. Blanco’s work was focused on exploring the symbolic meaning of deer in different cultures through paintings, book boxes and horned pieces. I did the research about this piece of art, and alongside Dino, we found a mystical image of Nature through deer. We think these four tracks are a soundtrack dedicated to the Natural mystic, but also to the spiritual meaning of deer.
Aleja is based in Bogota, Colombia, and Dino is living between Rome and Berlin. How was the song-writing process – did you manage to meet many times, did you compose from distance – or something else?
Dino: Let’s say it has been a no-stress collaboration, no forcing on time and by the way also a positive experience. Obviously living in opposite poles of the globe we shared the parts via cloud. This method is not one of my favorites because I still prefer to share studio productions physically, but times pass and habits change along with working methods.
Aleja: Adding to that I can say that everything was very fluid and unforced. Personally, I think we got connected despite of being separated for an ocean. It has been a positive experience as Dino said, and we are very satisfied with the final result.
Making music being almost 10 000 kilometers apart sounds tricky. Could you describe more in detail how this kind of “long-distance relationship” can work? How did you communicate during the process?
Dino: Fortunately, global international communication is no longer a problem in the twenty-first century and simply our communication has been via e-mail focusing just on tracks to understand how to interact on these. Actually, working in this way, the most difficult thing is to understand when a track is done and make sure you are both satisfied with the final result.
Aleja: About that, as Dino said, we talk about every detail by email, but I think we got a good communication because both were available to hear each other. Actually, I think neither of us wanted to impose itself on the other, and we got a very special and quiet dialogue.
What are the pros and cons of this kind of music production?
Aleja: I think this way to work can be positive or not, it depends of your attitude, commitment and patience. Actually, I think this kind of production can be a very enriching experience because you can learn about the ways your coworkers work.
Dino: As I said earlier work in this way is not one of my favorites but it’s obviously much more comfortable talking in terms of time management and also a positive note is that working on steams made by other people is always constructive.
In my opinion Aleja’s and Dino’s signature soundscapes are combined in this release in a really nice way. Did you have certain “areas of responsibility”, like tools or sounds, when writing the tracks?
Aleja: I think the interesting thing in this kind of collaborations is to get a sound with the spirit and perspective of the artists involved in, and I think we got it. As I said before, this work was totally unforced and it flowed itself. We worked in some individual stuff and then we did the combining.
What kind of tools were you using when making these tracks?
Dino: Many and many and those that I can’t remember at the moment, I’d say in the last time I get an overdose of tools also because there are new ones every day more and more cool, it seem strange but I’m living between indecision on which to use, anyway some samples I used like Shakers or parts completely acoustic are played and recorded by me in my studio and then processed.
Aleja: I mainly worked with recorded signals by myself with some components of the Native Instruments Komplete pack and Roland cloud stuff.
In his previous interview with Monument, Dino said he enjoys making collaborations because they are great learning experiences. What did making this collaboration teach you, Aleja?
Aleja: I think my personal learning about this collaboration is to take the risk to ask. Many times we are afraid of approaching others. Fear can’t be an option. We might lose amazing experiences and wonderful friendships by fear.
This EP is Northallsen’s second vinyl release after Aleja’s own EP “Signums de Caelo”. On digital format you have released music from artists such as Svarog, Dorian Gray and Infinity. How do you decide what goes out on digital format, and what goes out on vinyl?
Right now, the Northallsen vinyl series is focused on my music and the music of some artists that I want to have inside the label due to their artistic proposals are very interesting for me. Actually, I would like to release the complete Northallsen catalogue in vinyl, but now I’m working in an independent way and everything turns slowly, complicated and expensive too. Developing a vinyl catalogue from South America will never be an easy task due to that our economic and industry dynamics are very different to the European or North American ones.
Where does your label’s name come from?
I created the name thinking about what would be my main goal as an artist, my main point on the horizon, my North: Northallsen.
Is there something more you would like to share with us, regarding Northallsen Records, this collaboration with Dino – or anything else?
I hope you enjoy the release; it will be available at the end of September.
Also I would like to thank to Dino for being my accomplice and also to my friend Mari Mattham for his continued support.
Northallsen is preparing some of special works but it will be revealed at the right time.
Thank you for this interview, and best of luck for the future!
Thank you so much Paula!