Ulises is a multi-instrumentalist, DJ, and producer originally from Argentina and currently based in Berlin. After performing in a number of bands as an instrumentalist, Ulises then developed a passion for incorporating recordings of native South American instruments into electronic soundscapes alongside synthesizers, drum machines, samplers, and an arsenal of digital tools. Ulises' unique sound is an amalgamation of myriad cultural influences, his own emotional introspections, and always a dash of the unexpected.
What do you feel when you listen to "good" music?
I would like to differentiate two kind of technicalities. The first is from the perspective of the instrumentalist or producer. The second is from the composer. It is very common for me to appreciate the technical part of the playing or the producing in music, but that is definitely a side pleasure. When the composer evokes in me some substance — or absence — I would call this a total experience with music.
This total experience is related to what I call “good music”. It is not perceived only by the brain, but with the totality of the being. It depends on the capacity of the composer to know not only the technical part of the instruments and production tools available, but the technical part of composition related to emotions and sentiments, that are triggered from the different configurations of notes and chords. Imagine that you visit a house, and you take a little tour of it: you see how the light and the darkness are distributed along the way as you enter, how the space is managed, how the furniture is placed — all these different configurations will give you different feelings. And the architect is very much aware of what you can evoke when you manage space, void, light, and darkness. In the case of music, we use time, space, sound, and silence.
I am cerebral in appreciation of the technical part of producing or the one of the instrumentalist only when I cannot find any substance in the music itself, which is quite common nowadays (you can still appreciate a finishing detail, a performance, purely aesthetic matters, and learn something from it). When music reaches my core, it is a full being experience and it is comparable sometimes to love, or to nothingness. Sometimes to freedom or to friendship.
When you listen to music, do you try to listen intently or do you have it playing in the background as you do something else?
I do both. I like to play music that I don't know while I am doing something else, because I am not judging in any way, and it just goes through me. But when there is something good or interesting, it seems that it pulls some special string within me, which lights up a “Pay Attention” sign.
Have you ever been musically inspired by a taste, smell, or feeling?
Yes, many things can evoke music in me. Especially the smell of Berlin in June.
With technology, consumer habits are changing, with users consuming an artist’s work in a more and more fragmented way than with previous media (like CD albums or vinyl). Do you feel parts of the story are lost in this process or each track has its own trajectory, individually from your EP?
I think each track works by itself and also in relation to each other. Consumer habits have changed but if the music has intention and substance, it will find its way.
Do you think we no longer associate a particular album or artist with the period of our lives in which we discover them, due to the accessibility and digital streaming of music? Do you think this changes the way we remember in general?
Not in my experience. I still listen to full albums because I don´t stream while I’m on the go. I choose albums or playlists and download them before I leave home. But I know that this “zapping” kind of experience of the digital medium brings a lot of memory holes and a weaker attention span. It certainly changes the way we remember. In a way, perhaps we forget more easily as we are drowned in information and digital stimuli.
Do you think that music has the ability to play with our emotions? If emotions are influenced by our biochemistry (and our biochemical makeup is influenced by food, drink, sex, hormones, exercise, stress, etc.) then music has the ability to change us in a physical, scientifically-observable way. Do you have any thoughts on this?
Yes. Music enhances life and by triggering certain emotions releases powerful energy. It is very easy to observe. Just look at people dancing at a festival, how they lose themselves. Unless everybody is faking it, some kind of magic is happening within their bodies. Technically and medically speaking, I am sure it is quite a complex system, with a lot of relationships that we have not yet discovered.
Sound waves are simply vibrations. In the human body, all the fluids in our cells, the tissues in our muscles, every molecule in our organs, vibrate continuously. Energy is a naturally vibrating substance, therefore, what holds our bodies together could be seen as purely sound. Do you understand the power you have over your listener and do you think there's a responsibility to use that power for a certain cause?
There is a book by Tarkovsky about cinema called Sculpting in Time. I could dare to transpose this metaphor, and say that music is “Sculpting in Air”. Not a permanent and rigid sculpture, but a dynamic and ephemeral one. The very nature of sound — whether it is music or noise — drowns the listener into its movement. This quality has tremendous effect on beings, and I believe that to understand this is very central for the creator, the composer of any kind of music. So yes, I do understand the power of music, and I feel responsible in what I convey to an audience.