They say nothing worth having comes without hard work, and that's certainly true for Telescopic Thieves' Mario De Los Santos. Despite a ten-day (and counting) workday streak, he's forgoing sleep tonight to invade Slap & Tickle at Bardot and celebrate the release of his new four-song release, Quiet Hearts, on Space Tape Records.
It is one of those EPs that should make you proud of your city. That someone local is making something so soulful, deeply heartfelt, yet pleasantly danceable is something worth coming out to support. If De Los Santos can find time to write music this good during Heat game commercials, you can probably find the energy to attend his no-cover release party.
De Los Santos has been making music for the past decade, sometimes working with bands, sometimes making beats on his own. The experience shines through in the maturity of his music. It's not easy to write songs with this much depth.
"I feel like that's what I'm most proud of with the EP," he says. "My first and earliest music, as far as beats, was really introspective, I would say introverted kind of music. It was just me experimenting and stuff. I feel like with this EP, it's the first time I am at the point where it's a little bit experimental, deep and emotional, but it's still fun. People could easily consume it."
The lead single, "SLW," was released about a month ago as a teaser and definitely carries the strongest hook, but the EP's title track, "Quiet Hearts," and closing beat, "Andromeda," pack their own bouncy punches. They've all got that meditative, space-age lounge sound to them, at times reminiscent of everything from XXYYXX to the Knife to a turned-down Mike Oldfield. It's very much a fitting addition to the whole "future beats" movement.
Though it's four songs long, De Los Santos insists the experience was meticulous.
"I do a lot of drafts on songs," he says. "They'll start off one way and end up very different because I've been working on them forever."
He hit a creative streak this year after quitting his job of five years.
"I was done with it, just wasn't happy there anymore," he explains. "The people I worked with were cool, I just didn't want to do the job anymore. I told them, 'Hey, a month from now, I'm gone, so get ready.'"
From February through April, De Los Santos put out a song a month. At the end of April, he started a new gig, working full-time at an audiovisual tech support company. At the same time, he began assembling Quiet Hearts, finding time despite his busy schedule to tinker with tracks every day, even if only for a moment.
"What I find works for me is discipline," he said. "I get home, I worked a 12-hour shift, and I probably won't have the energy to work six or seven hours on music and get up the next day, but at least I'll get an hour or two, and I'll do that the next day. Even if it's just an hour or 45 minutes editing one little noise that I wanted to edit while I have the energy. Whenever I can squeeze in an hour or two, that's how I did it."
Listening to Quiet Hearts, you'd never guess it was put together in such tiny increments. De Los Santos has spent years teaching himself to get past those creative slumps and learning how to turn his music switch on and off.
"I worked to the final hour," he said. "The day I was going to turn in the EP, it was a Heat game. I'm watching the game at my friend's house with 30 people there, and every time it would go to commercial or halftime, I would go off into a corner with my earbuds and edit the last things on the last song."
If you're not feeling inspired enough yet to get off your lazy ass and make something, maybe a little live demonstration will do the trick. Tonight, De Los Santos will perform all four songs from the EP, from beginning to end, followed by a fun, funky DJ set to get people dancing. He'll be joined by his buddy Tyord, as well as Bardot regulars Will Buck and Legs Benedict.
His set is likely to begin sometime between midnight and 1 a.m., and he can't stay out too long. It's back to work for the umpteenth day in a row. For that hour, though, it's all about the music.
"I want people to just have fun," he said. "I'm happy they're out. I don't own them anymore, they're in the Universe."
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Slap & Tickle Special Telescopic Thieves release party with Will Buck, Legs Benedict, Tyord and Jport. Tuesday, July 1, at Bardot, 3456 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Ages 21 and up. The party starts at 10 p.m., and cover is free. Call 305-576-5570 or visit bardotmiami.com.