Friday 22nd September 2017,

THE HUMAN MACHINES that are IGOR: Half electronic, Half acoustic percussion, ALL SOUL, ALL GROOVE!

Man will ALWAYS triumph over machine. In modern life, we rely so much on technology, that it may seem like we’re at a point where we’re officially PROGRAMMED, yet machines do all the work we once did. Machines have become our consciousness: we know where our friends are at all times (Foursquare), we know what they like and don’t like (Facebook), but one place where machine will never infiltrate is the SOUL of the musician (WALK THE PLANK MAGAZINE). In this generation, (aka Generation TECH) we’ve become so obsessed with gadgetry and tech lifestyle that sometimes we forget the humanism that existed before the machines took precedence. Creating a perfect symmetry between creature and circuits are the two beasts behind the machine that is IGOR.

IGOR (ironically, an clever acronym for “I, Good Old Robot”), is a modern electronic dance music duo, comprised of Victor De La Garza on acoustic drums, and Mauricio Hernandez on vocals and synth keyboards to implement bass and additional melodies. They bring their sound to you from Mexico City, meeting in New York City, designating NYC as their point of origin.

Both musicians have a cultured musical background, which they’re quite reserved and modest about. Combining a Jazz music technique, with a sincere appreciation for modern technology’s resources, they’ve built a respectful equilibrium, which has been pivotal in shaping their approach to not only song structure, but live performance as well. Each have equal input in song composition, but for live show performances De La Garza takes on duties of acoustic percussion, with Hernandez on vocals, a Moog synthesizer, and a good ol’ Apple laptop, equipped with Ableton Live.

Their music is clearly current electronic dance, but it has that pop possibility just as records like Blur’s “Boys and Girls” did (which is not a bad thing at all). This stands out most on the track titled FEEL, from their new album which launched today: 12/12/12. As they are indeed a duo, their music falls more within the musical umbrella of acts like Miike Snow, Empire of the Sun, or MGMT, but with a much better vocal section I believe. Actually, that’s not fair, because Miike Snow is arguably paralleled with IGOR in caliber, overall. Mauricio’s voice however, has more of a powerful, masculine quality than most singers of the electronic dance genre, and the music has more of a soulful rhythm rather than a computerized groove.

The conflict I find with acts grouped together and placed under the label of “electronic dance” today, is that many people associate bands in that category as “hipster music,” or “hipster bands,” and immediately discredit electronic dance, due to either the limited vocal ability in the singers, or the overall “novelty” and lack of sincerity in the music itself. It’s sometimes dismissed as trendy “throwaway music,” even by fans in it’s own scene. This fails to establish true artists with distinct identity, and longevity, I feel. The most notable distinction that sets IGOR apart from these stereotypes is that IGOR’s vocalist can actually sing, POWERFULLY with dynamic range, and the drummer is a machine that runs on his own electricity. De La Garza’s beating is coming entirely from the heart. Their music is the embodiment of the groove, as opposed to the calculation of it; the music is MATERIALIZED, not simply played.

Mauricio Hernandez has a quality in his voice that just resonates pure masculine energy. You can feel the vibrations in your skin. I’m sure he’s not even breaking a sweat doing so. It sounds under total control, sincere, and very comfortable. It’s the same masculine charm that Chris Martin had on “God Put A Smile Upon Your Face.” You can hear it in the track called “Thunder.” There’s maturity in Hernandez’s voice. It sounds more dominant than related artists, in that respect. There isn’t that typical childish, whiny presence there; you hear pure masculinity. There is more of a classic characteristic in his vocal texture. This was observed in artists like Prince, or Bono, where you knew they were young (Prince was known as “The Kid” after all), but their voices spoke pure, full-blown grown up man. There was no little boy in Prince’s voice when he did Darling Nikki. I’ve been DYING for a two-man group to come out and do this sound so correctly, or so polished I should say.

I feel I have to compare their sound with classic pop artists, because IGOR is at that skill level. Pop artists in the past were generally less contrived than today, with strong identities. The music of IGOR has that sort of quality; it’s not a “throwaway” sound like some of their contemporaries. You get so many acts coming out, trying to do electronic music, and they just can’t cement a definitive sound. They all just sound like 5 versions of the same DFA or Ed Banger rip-off, etc. Mauricio has a voice that creates a mood of serene comfort conveyed so care-free, that it almost presents itself as grandiose through confident simplicity. His voice is soulful, it’s sexy and it’s rock; cool and nonchalant. This is complimented with the warm texture of the beats behind his vocals. The musical tone is loud, powerful, and intelligent, but in a way that isn’t abrasive or confusing. It has soul rhythm; it’s fire, but it’s a celebratory bonfire, not an eruptive backdraft.

The strength of IGOR’s music then lies in the promise of their sound to deliver a trademark artist identity which may soon indicate them as the standard of their genre. To the sophisticated ear, the sound of IGOR is truly unlike any that precedes them. If it should seem reminiscent to anything, chances are, you’ll find them slightly better than what has come before them. The sound engulfs you with groove. Their music is insta-cool, while still musically credible, as opposed to hip, party novelty. Plus, you don’t have to wait for the cooler “Electro Dance” remixes, IGOR gives you that version as the ORIGINAL. In today’s music, its a treasure to find originality, and true soul in music, when its so easy and convenient to pick up some tech gear and rip off the latest trendy “artist” in a “hip” scene.

You can tell this is a project De La Garza and Hernandez are having fun developing. They’re enjoying themselves on the job. From the photo above, it’s evident that they draw crowds who feel the music. They have the power and potential to take it as far as they wish, and to further legitimize their musical diversity, on one track they feature a Hip-Hop M.C. (which unless you’re a true fan of Hip-Hop music, you probably wouldn’t recognize)- he is Kinetic 9 of Hip-Hop group Killarmy (pronounced “Killa Army,” of the Wu Tang family tree), and he definitely rips it on the track he’s on.



I can’t wait to hear more from IGOR. If you dig the mood of Foster The People, Friendly Fires, Cut Copy, and that sort of groove, you’ll absolutely LOVE IGOR, and wanna cop their album, at a BERZERK limited time price of just under 2 bucks. I don’t think you’ll ever find anything worth this much for 2 bucks- except a winning powerball ticket . . . then again, music has value that you just can’t put a price on. I caught up with the drummer Victor De La Garza just before their new album dropped, to get his personal feel on the project and the overall approach. Get to know one half of IGOR from the casual chat below as we geek out on gear, drum techniques and discuss his brief, random NYC couch-surfing business:

Lex:
OK, so we’re gonna get some tech / “machine” questions out of the way, and then get into the music, history and fun stuff. So what sort of GEAR do u use?

Victor:
OK . . .
Apple computer with Ableton Live, Moog and Akai synths, Gretsch drums, drum triggers and also multiple vintage and new drum machines.
Well definitely the Moog synth which is used live by Mauricio as a bass instrument. Moog has the fattest low end, and it’s analog . . . it needs to be warm before it’s used, that’s real enough.

Lex:
And this is during recording? or LIVE? Which is for which?

Victor:
This is only for live.

Lex:
Dope. Dope…
OK, so what about for recording?

Victor:
During the recording we use real Hammond keys, Fender Rhodes keyboard, real guitars and real percussion that we sample.

Lex:
Yeah I get the real percussion . . . obviously. (laughs) I really just meant the machines.
Do you personally in your opinion see a different sort of flexibility somewhat, in electronic music and or programming (sampling), as opposed to acoustic or live?? I mean, I will ALWAYS prefer live and acoustic, but I appreciate the technology. I just don’t ABUSE it (laughs) to the point where I become “lazy” and dependent on the “studio magic” for talent, over the actual creativity application of it.

Victor:
I think it’s the direction where music is going . . . using all the technology sources available without losing the sense of musicianship or, what I call “old school writing.”

Lex:
BEAUTIFUL answer man…
So the way it’s played live… is it also RECORDED that way (with respect to the drums)?

Victor:
Yes.
Real drums, analog drum machines and real percussion. I collect African and Cuban percussion.

Lex:
So there’s really no difference in show performance and recording performance, besides, like editing and engineering?

Victor:
Live is completely different… even though we use the same samples on the record for shows and we play to a click, there’s a lot of room for improvisation. We extend sections, and play whatever groove variation we’re feeling that night. That’s what keeps it fun and interesting. It’s a jazz approach to electronic music . . . but yeah that’s what I think. By “old school writing,” I mean we actually work on a Jazz form approach.

Lex:
So I gave readers my own personal interpretation of IGOR but how would you explain IGOR? You know, I was in Piano’s, in the Lower East Side, and there was this DJ…..



he was playin’ some SICK house music . . . 


Growing up in NY you’re exposed to all sorts of different music, but all legit, because back then (80’s 90’s) you couldn’t do anything soft or weak, or you’d get clowned. I come from a house music familiarity from where I grew up in particular. So one of your tracks came on, and I had asked the DJ who you were, and I was trippin’ out over your name . . .



 the DJ told me “IGOR” and I was like “IGOR!??!!? Huh!??! Is this some sort of a Russian punk band?!?!” (laughing) Afterwards I saw on the website “I, Good Old Robot”… Then I thought: Ahhhhhhh that’s fresh!!!!!

Victor:
Russian punk band!



 I like that.
So, IGOR is just me and another guy that lives in Florida! We both produce and write everything. He lives in Florida right now, ’cause of his girl. I’m in NY but we aren’t like local there [in Florida] or anywhere. We’re trying to treat IGOR as a national act and tour.

Lex:
Then it might be a good idea to live close by to each other, no? (laughing)

Victor:
Not really. We do it for some periods of time, but the best way to keep it fresh is to be in different cities. (laughs) I know it sounds crazy but it makes sense for us. This month we’re gonna tour all of Mexico, actually. We don’t see each other for a couple months, then live in the studio for 2 months, then go on tour . . . & loop.

Lex:
How did you guys form out here in NY- like where, and how exactly?

Victor:
East 7 street and First Ave. That’s where it all started. (laughs)

Lex:
How exactly? What was on East 7th street and First Ave at that time? I can’t remember.

Victor:
I used to live there, I was running a couch surfer hostel at that time there.

Lex:
In ’08? (laughing hysterically) Yo! That’s so sick!

Victor:
So, Mauricio and I had heard of each other from Mexico City, but we didn’t know much about the other one.

Lex:
Wait- so you guys are BOTH from Mexico City?

Victor:
Yes both born and raised in Mexico City!
. . . So he [Mauricio] came down [to New York] while in Boston one weekend just to chill, and since that day we haven’t stop writing music together.

Lex:
So you came here for music school then? . . . Like, “I was born, I wanted to make music, and I moved to New York.”

Victor:
(laughing) Pretty much! We were both dealing with all the music college shit at that time, and just wanted to do something fresh that had nothing to do with what our teachers made us play.

Lex:
OK. Another annoying question (although I like to talk about this): Who do you guys listen to and respect in music overall?

Victor:
We’re both obsessed with simplicity: groove and pocket. That’s why we work together, ’cause we’ve both played in many other bands, but never had that common background, know what I mean?
We’re not big fans of guitar hero solos . . . we’re all about making people dance, that’s why we got into the digital sound . . . the technology is just awesome. Prince is one that I can think about that both of us listen to a lot, but we both have different influences.

Lex:
Yeah, Prince is probably a requirement for anyone with two ears that work. (laughing)
Groove is probably the most important thing actually, to me at least . . . that, or message; one of the two.
I used to have a THEORY… if you cant dance to it, or have sex to it (to a certain degree), what is it good for? (laughs) Or another way to put that, is, if it doesn’t move you, it has no life . . . no SOUL!

Victor:
Well said man. 



(laughs)

Lex:
But then everything has its purpose I guess… but shit’s gotta have groove at some point. (laughs)

Victor:
We’re always on the search of new grooves and the effect that they cause in people at different tempos and different instrumentations. We’ve also spent too many hours just trippin’ on rhythm subdivision in different cultures… like the straightness in Latin, the Swing and Shuffle eras, and the African clave.

Lex:
Yeah, some of what you just mentioned is in House music.



 I love House music.

Victor:
Personally, House is my favorite style in Electronic music.

Lex:
Me too.
I like Dubstep too though, and a lot of dark Techno . . . like deep, dark stuff. I remixed a sick Dubstep track last month…

Victor:
There are some guys that are making Dubstep remixes of our songs, you will probably dig it. There are 3 remixes in the full album that will be included on the 12/12/12 release.
Mauricio is getting a lot into Dubstep vocals and Techno so we have an interesting fusion going on. 


I guess that’s another one of the reasons why we are only 2 guys in IGOR… I like to say that too many cooks spoil the soup.

Lex:
Ooooh, (laughing) nice philosophy!
Where have you been on tour so far?
Have you played any events that I might have missed? 
I JUST heard of you guys and I’m kinda mad I’ve been missing out.

Victor:
We toured mainly the East Coast.

Lex:
For the Hip-Hop enthusiasts, Kinetic 9, of Killa Army [Wu Tang family tree] is featured on your newest album. How did you hook up with him?

Victor:
He heard the demo version of Deep Space, it was called ‘Inorbit’ and asked us if he could rap on it. He took a flight to our studio [in Miami] and killed it.

Lex:
You guys have a tight project. Your singer is untouchable man.

Victor:
He has a strong voice



. He graduated Berklee college of music, bro.

Lex:
Fuck yeah! What about you?

Victor:
I studied at the Collective School of Music and City College of New York, graduated in Jazz performance. We don’t mention that though!

Lex:
How come? You’re legit musicians!

Victor:
We’d rather mention the shit we’ve done as a band. (laughs)

Lex:
Jazz is the best for drums I feel. There’s this Jazz drummer . . . a guy I know who used to be a drummer in a few bands I knew put me on to . . . this one drummer bro… (searching on Youtube)

Victor:
Word. I’m totally into Jazz drumming. Nice. If you’re into that, there are a few Jazz drummers I can recommend, one in particular called Chris Dave. They call him Chris Daddy Dave. He drums for Robert Glasper, and they have tracks featuring Mos Def, and Erikah Badu, good stuff.

Lex:
Yeah but chill for a sec . . . let me see if I can find… You’ll love this . . . GHOST NOTES! 



I don’t remember which exact video it was, but yeah the drummer was Bernard Purdie, he BLACKS OUT on drums!

Victor:
Oh man! BERNARD IS BOSS! 



He’s like SCHOOL for me.

Lex:
I don’t think I know Chris Dave.

Victor:
He’s the father of shuffle beats. 



Chris Dave is new school though. His sound is more street, you will dig.

Lex:
I gotta peep him.

Victor:
But yeah, Bernard . . . good taste.

Lex:
Yeah man he goes IN! 
Alright so wait, (laughs) back on track… I asked before but went into drumming, what festivals have you played, or where have you been on the East Coast?

Victor:
OK, some of of our main shows so far



 have been, the Ringling Museum of Art, the Dali Museum of Art, and Art Basel Festival in Miami



. We also played “the fest” in Gainesville, that goes on every year. We opened for Hot Water Music [at Gainesville].

Lex:
Cool, that’s tight, ’cause we have “parties” like that every now and then at the Brooklyn Museum.

Victor:
. . . And well in New York, we’ve played Sullivan Hall, and pretty much all the Lower East Side
also a bunch of the Brooklyn warehouse scene… We’re tight with the Electrique music label and MNMLKTCHN.

Lex:
YO! Sullivan hall was my SHIT! They used to have the dope House music parties there!

Victor:
Yeah man we dig that. 



We collaborate a lot with House music and Techno producers.

Lex:
I already had that in mind, I heard your tracks, and I was immediately picturing Dubstep remixes.

Victor:
You HAVE to see it LIVE though.
At first we tried adding more people to IGOR and we went through the same groove issues that you told me before [of your own music, off record]. It just became annoying to try to negotiate all the time something that’s meant to be fun. I hear a lot of my drummer friends talking about drum solos and drum chops and I’m like, talking about dance music and cool songs when we get together. (laughs)

Lex:
Yeah, that’s how its supposed to be. You can tell you guys are professionals, but you can tell that you’re having fun. If you’re not having fun, you gotta ask yourself “What IS it that I’m doing then??” You won’t feel it in your soul if you’re not having fun with it.

Get more into IGOR and check out their full catalogue on:
www.goodoldrobots.com
and
www.goodoldrobots.bandcamp.com

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