Over the last nine years, Spanish DJ and Producer Indira Paganotto has made the journey from creating deep tech-tinged house to full-on, psy-trance flavoured techno. For this month’s feature interview we talked with her about her sound, her new label and the grass that covers her studio floor.
Indira Paganotto’s music career is an interesting combination of early, instant success, followed by years of hard work, resulting in her current position as a rising star of techno. As a teenager she fell in love with DJ culture, moved to Madrid with 200 Euros in her pocket and within a week scored herself a residency at the respected Star Dust club. But that was nine years ago, and she hasn’t exactly had a meteoric rise to success since. Rather, she’s been toiling at the DJ coalface, working her warm-up sets, learning about production, building her own studio and progressing through various sonic versions of her sound.
Now in 2021, she’s launching her new vinyl/digital label – Phase Insane – with a collaboration EP with Unkle Fon, the Wolf Land EP, the vinyl of which dropped a couple of weeks ago. Attack spoke with the Spanish DJ/producer via Zoom, beginning as is the current habit, with a quick catch up about how her lockdown has been.
Attack Magazine: So thanks very much for your time today. How has your lockdown been so far?
Indira Paganotto: Well in the beginning it was very strange because I’m a very interactive girl! You know, I was used to travelling around the world playing like all the other DJs, so it was really stressful. I live with my husband who’s a painter and we have a big studio behind our house so every week we create a different background for my streaming. So my mind’s been super busy searching for visual ideas because art and music, when you combine them, it’s amazing. So it’s been a very different kind of life, but I love painting, so it’s been like a return to my other passion.
Attack Magazine: And you’ve just launched your new label right?
Yes, Phase Insane Records. It’s cool because i’ve been making music for around ten years more or less but I always wanted to have my own label. I come from psy-trance because my father was a psy-trance DJ in the 90s, so my first vinyl release was with Ian Pooley and I was like, investigating different sounds, psy-trance, house – I was super-eclectic. And in the last year I have been focused on techno because I needed it for making the perfect mix of all these genres – and this was the perfect year for finding my sound.
Attack Magazine: So why have you started a label?
So I jumped at the chance to have my own vinyl imprint. I run it with my best friend here in Madrid… we are simply artists, and we do this only for the love, because we have passion for the music, so having a label is very important for me. I haven’t sent any of my music to any label for years, to me my dream has always been to only make music for my own label – because I don’t feel like the sound of any label is even ten percent like my sound. Every label is focused on either techno, or dub techno etc. but my sound is a mix of psy-trance, house and techno and so for me it was always a dream to have my own label.
Attack Magazine: So will you only be releasing your own music on it or…
It will be just my music. So this first release was a collaboration [with Unkel Fon] but the next will be a double vinyl album of mine, then next one will be two originals of mine and then maybe an EP with two Unkle Fon originals – but yes, I’m going to use it to release all my music!
In the past I never sent my music to labels, but this year I started with a manager and a PR and they are pushing me in this direction. I have maybe 200 tracks, and they are like “You have to show these to people!” I’ve not released too much over the last ten years but they want me to release on other labels to show my work. But my dream is to eventually only release on my label.
Attack Magazine: Listening to your back catalogue, there’s a very clear progression from your early house productions to your current faster, more strident, aggressive sound. Tell us a bit about how your taste and sound have developed.
Listen to Indira Paganotto’s ‘Time Out Man’ EP from 2014 above and ‘Death Valley’ from Dec 2020 below.
Yes, it’s like, the older I get, the more aggressive I get! I grew up with psy-trance, which is not aggressive at all, for me it’s music that is peaceful, you can listen at 150 bpms but it’s still super peaceful, and house music can sometimes be the same. I think that I include psy-trance influences mixed up with all these genres to create organic and peaceful noises – as there is not too much of this in techno and house. You know, like hypnotic and trippy sounds but not like acid, more deep, emotional. It’s hard to explain exactly. You need to live it, to experience it, that feeing when you’re listening and dancing to psy-trance, it’s tribal, and this is amazing to show to the techno and house crowd. So that’s what I’m trying to do.
Attack Magazine: Do you think you’ll go back to making house at any point?
House music was good as a base, a base for these kinds of sounds but now I feel more comfortable with these more aggressive, more energetic sounds.
Attack Magazine: So how did you first get into dance music and DJ culture?
Well my father was a psy-trance DJ in India in Goa, so I grew up with all these things. Then later my first boyfriend was a DJ too. My father didn’t like me going to clubs, so my boyfriend and I left home one Saturday and he brought me to this club and I was what is this?! It wasn’t techno, this was 2006 or something so it was all minimal, I was like 15 and my feeling was I want to be the DJ, I want to manage the feelings of the people – “I WANT TO BE THERE”!, you know. So later, I went home and I practiced with my Dad’s vinyl but it was Goa trance and I was like – no way! So I bought my own vinyl and Traktor, started practising and after a year I started producing – and at 17 I released my first EP with Ian Pooley.
Attack Magazine: It all sounds quite sudden…
Yeh, it was all very quick – and then the next year, I was studying to be a lawyer but I left after a year because I wanted to be a musician, music was my passion. So I travelled to Madrid – my father said he wouldn’t help me if you go to Madrid! – but I was like, ok, I’ll go alone. I only had 200 euros, it was the adventure of a lifetime. One week later I was the resident of the Star Dust club, one of the best clubs in Madrid, so it was my path – people say follow your path, I followed it and all was amazing from that day.
Attack Magazine: What music were you playing then?
So I was resident for 3 years and in the beginning they booked me because I was super energetic and keen. I was always like, ‘Ah I love this club, I want to work here’. I was only 18, so young – but my sound wasn’t ‘of standard’ you know?! Anyway I learnt a lot in that club because they booked really good techno artists, and I was doing the warm-up. It was like practicing martial arts, it was a good way for me to get to know electronic music from inside a club, it was the perfect school
Attack Magazine: Which artists have been the most influential to your sound?
I really love artists from psy-trance like Ajja, Loud, Alex Tolstei or Captain Hook. And in techno I love upcoming artists like Robert Guerrero, Marcal, Yant, Viels, Marron or Rene Wise.
Attack Magazine: And what people have been the most important in your career?
The first one was Ian Pooley for sure, because I was no one you know, I had the passion for music but I wasn’t an artist, I was a skater girl that wanted to make music. He was a good person, he saw the artist that I could be and this is amazing, because he helped me a lot with my music, he brought me into his studio – which is in his house, he opened the doors to his home for me to show me all the fantastic machines in his studio – and I was like ‘This is heaven!’ And then now that I’m making techno we’re a bit more separate obviously but we are still good friends.
The first one who believed in me was my husband, he always said to me “I see who you will be in ten years” …he always pushed me, helped me, came with me on tours, he’s amazing. And now my manager is important too. My manager is an amazing guy, he works with me 24 hours a day, pushing me a lot, he created this thing that we have now and it’s amazing.
Attack Magazine: Tell us about your home studio.
I created my own studio here in our house and it’s very small so next I want to another, bigger studio. It’s 3 by 4 meters, but it’s cool for me. I have put fake grass on the floor because I like to work on the floor. I learnt this from my father, I’m always on the floor, often barefoot. In the beginning the vibe in the studio was so cold because it was all concrete and I was like no, I need to put grass on the floor. I don’t know, it’s a good feeling to have grass under your feet when working!
Attack Magazine: And do you have a go-to piece of studio kit?
Yes, it’s my Roland V-Synth GT. I got it years ago and it’s with me always, it’s like a monster machine, it’s amazing. It was every expensive for me and now it’s like the king of my studio, it sits in the studio wearing a hat, smoking a cigarette, its amazing! Sometimes I put it down in the grass with me, you can make everything with it. It’s a synth but with a sampler so you can put your own sounds in it or use a mic, it’s cool, really interesting. I use it because I’m not a musician, all these years i taught myself everything and even now i barely use 10 percent of my machines. But this is ok for me because I just go with the flow with the machines. I prefer to just make music and then go spend the day with animals! [Indira lives in the mountains of North West Madrid and has three dogs and a miniature horse]. 50% of the day making music and then 50% in nature!
Attack Magazine: So what plans have you got for 2021?
I’ve got two new remixes I’ve done for Dusty Kid and Axel Karakasis coming out in the next few months, and one or two releases I can’t mention yet! Aside from productions, I’m also releasing my own Phase Insane Records clothing line handmade in Madrid with Madrubb.
I’ll continue doing streams in which art and light sensitivity are the fundamental pieces for the viewer, including unique places but always under a cinematic aura.
And of course, this year I am preparing my first Album that will be released on double vinyl on my Phase Insane Records, choosing tracks from the last ten years as well as new productions – now at age 28 is the prefect time to make an album because now I’m like a woman – so I think its the right time to do!
The Wolf Land EP by Indira Paganotto and Unkle Fon is out on vinyl now and will be released digitally later this month.