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Ricardo Villalobos Comes Clean in Rare Interview With RBMA

Get inside the minimal maestro's head in techno's version of a TED talk

“Music is a language. I prefer a clear, understandable, calm voice,” says Ricardo Villalobos, sounding particularly clear, understandable, and calm himself. It’s a side of the visionary Chilean-German musician that few fans ever get to see, which makes his “Fireside Chat” with Red Bull Music Academy Radio particularly fascinating.

In the course of the hour-long interview, fleshed out with lengthy passages of Villalobos’ most significant tracks, the cryptic producer and infamously indefatigable party-starter sounds uncommonly down-to-earth. He talks about his youth as a new wave fan and subsequent discovery of club music, his preference for certain frequencies, and the importance of collaboration — revealing, for instance, that his wife came up with the iconic bass line of “Easy Lee,” his biggest hit. And, for a producer who often prefers to let his music speak for itself, he gives us a rare glimpse of his creative mindset: “The consciousness is like a little old friend who is always criticizing, telling you not very elaborated thoughts, not very intelligent thoughts. I really believe and trust much more my subconscious….My spontaneous, conscious decisions are not always very reliable, I have to say. With this approach to music, to me it’s like a game, it’s like not a job. It’s the same approach I had as a child, and it doesn’t have anything to do with money or something like that. It’s a situation of joy.”

Fans looking for the inside dirt on Berlin’s most subterranean after-after-after-parties may be disappointed by the lack of salacious details; from the beginning, he frames his answers as he might explain his job to a grandmother sitting next to him on the plane. And once he gets talking about how his family keeps him grounded, you suspect that even Baba might be swayed by his childlike sincerity: “When someone is reminding you, ‘You’re taking too much drugs, you’re not sleeping,’ but I’m having the best time of my life! It’s no problem! It’s the motivation of a little kid playing the sand for hours and hours, or playing soccer for hours and hours. You say, ‘From where is this person taking the energy?’ It’s because of the emotional motivation.”

Dive down Villalobos’ rabbit hole with the full interview below. New Yorkers can get up close and personal with RBMA at four events in October: Brainfeeder Session NYC (the Gaslamp Killer, Martyn, Dorian Concept, et al.), SBTRKT live, Four Tet B2B with Jamie xx, and Grace Jones. See the RBMA website for dates and more information.