INTERVIEW: Personal Insights from Lambmother

Lambmother is the moniker of Juan Antonio Cantos, a Spanish electronic/experimental producer. Sometimes also known as Pathkey, Cantos creates an often genre-defying blend of eclectic echoes, delays and reverbs, a soundscape that he crafts with the utmost care and creativity.

We chatted with the man behind the moniker for some insight into his creative process…

To those not familiar with you, how would you describe your sound?
Basically, I would define it as experimental. There are many other possible classifications or names, of course, such as Intelligent Techno or IDM (Intelligent Dance Music), but, OK, I think that I don’t want to fall into asphyxiating, ambiguous or too limiting categories. I have to say that every time someone asks me this question, I really don’t know what to say! One day I do one thing and another I do something completely different. Everything depends on the day and the mood I’m in. Sometimes my beats and melodies are very abstract, and the sound goes from atonal or pure noise, purposely forgetting any sense of melody or harmony, while at other times I prefer less broken sounds and beautiful sounds. Sometimes I start producing a music track, and I let the ideas come out alone. Other times, I have a concept, script or sketch in my mind. Anyway, when I find something that I like or that I find inspiring, I work it in more detail, and then a subject can come out.
Set the tone for us. Why the arts?
Because I love it. What else?
What are the 5 albums that have influenced you the most?
No doubt: they are Autechre – “Incunabula,” Aphex Twin- “Selected Ambient Works,” “Boards of Canada – “Music Has the Right to Children,” Orbital – “In Sides,” and Biosphere – “Substrata.”
But I think that this list is too short, because I should add other amazing albums of other awesome, inspiring artists, such as Pan Sonic, LFO, Merzbow, Ryoji Ikeda, Carsten Nicolai, Plastikman, Esplendor Geométrico or The Orb…
What techniques do you experiment with to form your sound?
I like to play with samples of rhythm or loops (sometimes I create them from the beginning, using keyboards or grooveboxes, but other times I simply take a loop or sound already pre-made from another source, and then I work it thoroughly to change it, turning it into something totally new and unidentifiable) , and then I cut them, break them, cut them…  I liked to add many effects in each track, like beat repeats, echoes, delays, reverbs, but my experience has shown me that it’s often not necessary to dirt each track or pattern with effects. Two or three good effects may be enough to get something good, without messing up more. With the melodies is different: I use to add not less of 4-5 synthesizers for the melodies and arrangements.
Finally, I must say that usually the concept of my tracks is the evolution, from the bottom to the top, like a ‘crescendo’, but this evolution could mean the total loss of the original concept of the beginning. That evolution has to be slow, progressive, but it has to entail at some point a break, sometimes abrupt, or unexpected, brusque, to create an element of surprise and change of intensity, making the track stronger or more powerful, giving it personality.
Are there any key pieces of equipment that you can’t live without?
No. Seriously, not at all. Of course, I love some tools, like my DAW (Ableton Live 9) and obviously my computers (I have three), as well as my Roland MC-505 Groovebox, my Arturia Minilab (small and cheap, but unexpectedly powerful) or a Roland TR -8 … But I think the machines and technologies come and go. I am always buying new things, sometimes I try them out, I play with them for a while, but I get bored right away, and then I replace them without any guilt.
What are some of your key influences in your music? Whether it be the sound created by others, imagery, films or any kind of art form.
I think I have already answered this question before… IDM music in general, artists such as Autechre, Aphex Twin, Ryoji Ikeda, Merzbow, Mika Vainio/Pan Sonic, Esplendor Geométrico. Labels such as Warp, Rephlex, Raster, Noton, Mego, Blast First, Mute, Mille Plateaux.
Talking about other influences, Science-fiction and Cyberpunk (‘Blade Runner’, ‘Alien’, ‘2001, A Space Odyssey,’ and ‘Interstellar’ are my favorites films) as well as horror movies and books (H.P. Lovecraft is my favorite horror writer), or documentaries where images are the real protagonists, such as ‘Baraka’, or ‘Koyaanisqatsi’ . Contemporary artists such as Picasso, Pollock, José Guerrero, Dalí or the Dadaists and Futurists are very important as well, I feel them as influences too. But I never forget the artists of Heyronimus Bosch or Brueghel.
Ah! And comics, I am passionate about comics in general, especially of comic authors such as Milo Manara, Moebius, Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Boucq, Esteban Maroto, Paco Roca,…
Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.
This is a difficult question to answer, since, honestly, I have not played live too many times. My other professional projects have not allowed me to organize or plan too many performances. The other day a friend told me that I reminded him of the Boards of Canada and Burial, great electronic musicians, but that, unfortunately, historically they have not lavished much on stage. Throughout their long career they have barely made a few concerts, which has increased their aura of mystery. But I do not expect to become them! I don’t want mysteries or secrets in my life, and I’m not interested in creating any aura of mystery around me! Hahahaha…
In the last year I played live twice, in a pub in Barcelona (Olivia’s Bar) on April 2017, and in an amazing experimental electronic music and noise festival, at MS Stubnitz (Hamburg, Germany), the Primal Uproar II Festival, curated by José Macabra and Dr. Nexus. For that occasion I also had the support of my friend and amazing video artist Eclips3, who was in charge of the incredible live images accompanying my live music performance. In both cases, the experience with the audience was very good, although the audience was undoubtedly more receptive at the festival in Hamburg, where my dark and glitchy sounds might fit better.
This year I have an invitation to play in a festival in Switzerland and in a club of Berlin, and I’m talking with a Croatian label to schedule a new live act, so… I can tell I feel honored and happy!
These are good news, indeed! I will give new news later about these events
What has been a memorable highlight in your career so far?
Receiving numerous invitations from other experimental music artists (that I admire) to collaborate with them, or to publish my music in their own record labels. I feel honored, grateful and glad! And of course, my last performance at the Primal Uproar II Festival. That was simply incredible and unforgettable, an unique experience.
If you could work with, or perform alongside any artist of your choice, who would it be?
Ouufff… OK, probably Autechre or Aphex Twin. Also Ralp, an awesome Barcelonese artist. But, to be being fair, I think the person I would always take with me would be my colleague, the video artist Eclips3!
Gary Numan is quoted as saying: “I have always been far more interested in sound than technique, and how sounds work together, how they can be layered. I think electronic music, (in its infancy anyway) allowed us to create music in a way that hadn’t really been possible before. It created a new kind of musician.” What are your thoughts on this statement?
I fully agree. Electronics is, sometimes, more than a tool, a new way of doing things. An open field for research and philosophical reflection, and an awesome way to broaden the spectrum of sound possibilities, as never before in history. But today, electronic musicians are also at risk of falling victim to their own machines and tools. When the machine imposes itself on the musician, the artistic and creative element is lost.
What can we expect from you in the near future? Any upcoming projects or gigs in the pipeline that you would like to tell us about?
As I said before, this year I hope to play live in Switzerland and Germany. Surely it will be in spring and Summer. But I prefer not to assure anything, since everything is still in the air. I will be giving news about my progress and upcoming events and albums through my social networks.

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