Historically, Argentina has been at the forefront of high-brow music culture. It's the birthplace of tango and a major Latin American hotbed for classical, opera, and jazz.
It's no surprise then that Argentina would also spawn the virtuosic genius of Gabriel Gutiérrez (AKA Guti), an electronic dance music producer firmly rooted in the Latin jazz tradition.
Distinguishing himself as a master pianist at a young age, Guti ended up performing in various local instrumental ensembles before getting bitten by the house music bug and taking off to Europe.
His unique fusion of salsa-flavored piano riffs and hypnotic techy grooves catapulted him to the top of the international ranks in the late 2000s, with a string of releases on top labels, including Crosstown Rebels, Cadenza, and Desolat. The latter recently put out Guti's new long-player Patio de Juegos, a work demonstrating his sonically rich brand of dance music.
We caught up with Guti ahead of his Friday night performance with PL0T at the Electric Pickle.
Crossfade: You have a background in jazz and rock. How did you transition into electronic music production?
Guti: It always has been just one thing for me -- same curiosity that took me from jazz to rock ended up with me doing house/techno or whatever you want to call it. Transition was crazy, as those days were. I was playing in a big rock band and then one day I was a Desolat artist and decided to quit everything just to start again. Looking back, looks a bit risky, but at that point was the right step. In electronic music I found a nice place, where I can be creative and I am growing as a musician all the time.
What was the electronic music scene like in Argentina when you were living there and how did it shape you professionally?
Only the strong ones survive down there. For me it was an amazing experience, with the band playing from the most dangerous hole you can imagine to huge stadiums with seas of people. There is a lot of passion, and really good music. As an electronic artist, I didn't play so much down there. I've done almost my whole career based in Europe. I came back to play Creamfields last year and it was a crazy experience 'cause it was my first time in my country for a huge festival on a different thing.
How did you go about getting your first EDM releases out?
I didn't know much, and things went amazing from the begging. Was a bit crazy for me, big DJs playing my records all over the place. I'm happy with what I've done, my music has been spreading around for a while. I still remember when Loco Dice signed me in 2009, he told me to write down a list of dreams/goals I would want to achieve, labels I would love to release on, etc. And in two years, I've done things that even I could not imagine. Now it's a normal thing to release on Desolat, Crosstown Rebels, Cadenza or Defected, and also I've also done sweet things like Wolf + Lamb, Supplement Facts or Raum Musik. I'm still the same kid trying to make a good song.
As a classically trained musician, how do you think traditional songwriting differs from producing a dance track?
For me it's the same thing -- you have a story to tell, you show a bit, you play around and then finally you say it.
What can you tell us about your new album Patio de Juegos?
I'm really happy with it, did all I wanted to do. It's a heartfelt honest album, full of music, that tells a lot of me: my story my moods, my ideas and my feelings. It's super intimate for me and was a bit surprising that some songs went big, 'cause for me it was really intimate. Starts and ends with piano solo songs, super emotional, and goes through a lot of states. I don't know, check it out!
What was the impetus to release a long-player in this era of digital downloads and short attention spans? Do you think the LP format still holds a special quality?
I'm coming from an other world where albums last forever, and also are a statement of the artist. More so now that music goes so fast, it's something forever. Label gave me all the freedom to do whatever I wanted to do, so i did.
What prompted you to work with Grammy-nominated tango singer Daniel Melingo on the album, and what can you tell us about the collaboration?
He is one of my heroes, and life put us together at some point. Today I can say he is a really good friend, and I enjoy a lot making music with him. Amazing experience for me.
Do you see yourself staying in the EDM game much longer? Where do you see yourself musically in ten years?
I don't know, I still get the same feeling every time I sit on the piano to write music. I found an interesting place here and I'm not going anywhere, but also have a lot of projects on my mind -- a band, writing music for movies. Don't know. Hope to be alive in ten years to be honest.
What is your live M.O. these days and what can Miami expect during your performance at the Electric Pickle?
Miami can expect an honest artist doing his best as I do every night, trying to play new music, interesting for me. Of course, a lot of songs from my album, but also new songs and old songs revisited. I play keyboards live. It's not the main part of my set but gives me the live feeling every night. I'm feeling great at the moment and I guess people can feel it -- fun.
Guti and PL0T residents. Friday, July 8. Electric
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Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Doors open at 11 p.m. Ages 21 and up.
Call 305-456-5613 or visit electricpicklemiami.com.