The epic memories that have been seared into our minds by Ricardo Villalobos let loose in our Farringdon dance maze are so special, we just had to make the events in his tenth year with us a celebration of the incredible history we share with the Chilean born artist. For those of you who were lucky enough to be there at the beginning of this momentous decade and bore witness to his early Farringdon run ins with Playhouse man Heiko MSO and Perlon instigator Zip you need only refer to this history for reference of our curatorial policy for 10 Years of Ricardo Villalobos at fabric.
It’s about influence and inspiration. Heiko and Zip are both long standing compatriots of Villalobos, who over their celebrated careers have supported the emphatic selector on his musical path. It’s through the invitation of Sonja Moonear to share the Room One booth with him on the 27th April that we are setting him up with another creative peer, but this time perhaps the influence runs in the other direction. Sonja first met and played back to back in with Villalobos back in 2002 at Berlin institution Panorama Bar at one of the many lauded Get Perlonized events, where they shared a 24 journey Moonear would never forget; today she still cites Villalobos’s own sets both independently and beside Zip and Margaret Dygas as 'concrete experiences' of her musicality, laying foundations of her own artistic direction.
Read on to find out more about the illustrious life of Sonja Moonear and how she manages her time between being a highly successful DJ, sound designer and mother. She's also cut out an edit of her set recorded last summer at Warehouse 702 in Tokyo to give a taste of some of the ideas of the magical moods and rhythms she'll be broadcasting over the Martin Audio rig in the Room One booth very, very soon.
Hey Sonja. Can you remember how you first got into electronic music? What parties did you first go to? Who did you share these experiences with and do you ever have a nostalgic longing of these times in your life?
I was a kid. My parents were super strict with me and I had no chance to go out at night. I would wait till everyone was asleep in the house to jump out the window and search for some action. This is how I ended up in my first party and I eventually kept doing this every night for many years, until the time I came back home as it was too late.
We had a very good squat scene in Geneva in the beginning of the 90's, the Mental Groove crew was very active and Weetamix was starting its own nights. I traveled to places like the Omen in Frankfurt or The End in London to pursue this magic feeling of dancing all night with hundreds of people I would not know, but I would feel good with. I would do all these experiences on my own, but that feeling was shared with and by all the other attendants. Being nostalgic would mean this time has passed. Of course things have changed and followed their evolution, which is positive and necessary but I still go out, travel around in the search of good long dance meetings and sharing!
What was the decision to start your Ruta5 label? What is the ethos behind it? What’s coming up that we should look out for?
Ruta5 started by the Schopf kids (Chica Paula and Dandy Jack) back in 99 as a musical platform for foreign individuals out of the classic techno map. Shortly after the manufacture of the first release the Austral compilation which includes some very first tracks from artists like Pier Bucci, Luciano or even Ricardo the distribution company goes bankrupt and 80% of the production stays locked in their basement for ever.
The label was dead before its birth. When I met Dandy Jack, I started to revive Ruta5 on the same original concept of collecting music and linking individuals that are (were) out of the formatted path. First as a platform for events I was organizing in Geneva and the rest of Switzerland, then as an artist collective. The label itself came back to life 4 years ago and showcases music produced by the members of the collective.
How would you describe your journeyed DJ sets? How experimental do you like to go and for how long?
Describing music is not my thing. A DJ plays music to an audience, at the end it's an exchange. The good journey is when a story is told and the audience keeps listening to it and enjoying it. So musically it can go 360 degrees depending on everyone's energy at this moment. Longer is better.
You have played next to Ricardo Villalobos on previous occasions. What have these unique sonic experiences brought to you?
The first time we ever played on the same night was at the old Panoramabar for a Get Perlonized in 2002. I was so impressed because I didn't know any of these guys personally apart from Zip. I remember Dan Bell and Dandy Jack were on the dancefloor aswell as Tobi Neumann. And that night, Zip was very sick and he could not come, so I was left alone. And the club was packed. When my set was supposed to be finished and Ricardo was supposed to start, he stayed there for a long time with me before starting and then proposed me to stay and share the decks with him.
After a while Sammy joined as well and we kept playing for hours and hours until the end. Then we eventually all went with Gregor to what was slowly becoming the Club der Visionaere. At this time it was just the central bar and the DJ booth, and it was Winter time. I remember those 24 hours as if it was yesterday. There are not many people that have this ability to share their passion so honestly like he does. To play with Zip or Margaret Dygas is another concrete experience. Ricardo listens so carefully, selects, builds, gives space, tells the story with anyone he would share the decks.
How do you feel about playing Room One on 27th April next to Craig Richards, Vincent Lemieux and Ricardo Vilalobos who is celebrating ten years of playing at Farringdon?
Probably the same as in 2002 before the Panorama Bar experience but yes - I'm very happy!
Tell us about your profession as a sound engineer? How are you balancing your time between this career and time in the studio/ DJing?
I've been working for the Swiss TV channel RTS for 7 years. As it's a small production company our country is not big. I can be doing many different jobs: dialog editing for a fiction movie, music production for a short movie, multichannel sound design for a documentary, a television credits composition or even jingles for advertisements. I love this job because it keeps me down to earth and it brings me the satisfaction to achieve a piece many people have been working on with motivation. It's like shared work. And sound for the image. It's a part time job, we plan post-production time in advance with the management and I can pretty easily combine both activities between weeks and weekends. The bad thing here is that I never have a regular weekly or monthly timetable along the year. Every week is different. So forget about taking lessons, regular sports and even sometimes holidays.
How did your remix project with San Proper come about just recently on Cosmo Records?
It is Adil Hiani's project which has been remixed by both San and me, but different tracks, and different remixes. I virtually met Adil and Laurent from Cosmo Records through various friends. They are responsible for a very interesting merging of traditional Moroccan music and electronic patterns, and are, as far as I know, the only electronic dance label active in this country. Adil came to Switzerland to play a couple of gigs with me last year and it was amazing to have him there.
What’s your relationship like with the Perlon crew? We saw you released for them back in 2010. How has the label extraordinaire been an influence on you as an artist?
I met Zip around 2001. He was playing regularly at Weetamix, which was our home club in Geneva. I was resident there and Dimitri the promoter was always having me doing the warm up. I was totally into this sound, a first fan of Zip's set and it hasn't change today. Perlon was not new into my flight case, but I had no clue he was the half-boss of it. Once, he came to me and said: I like the music you play, maybe you would like to play at my party in Berlin? I will also never forget this moment.
What is your life like in Geneva? How much time do you get to spend there and what sort of things do you do to relax?
I basically live here with my daughter and she goes to school next door so I spend most of my time in Geneva. We live right between the city and the countryside which allows us to be in one second biking in the fields and the other one going to the fresh market down town. Remember Geneva has 180'000 habitats only, and a very human size. Honestly next to my family life, the gigs/studio time and my TV job, there is not much left for proper relaxing, but i would not live differently!
Can you describe a little bit about the mix you’ve put together for us?
It might be better you give it a quick listen than reading more descriptions as I'm very dull writing about music! It's quiet. It's music with bass, so you might need some good monitors to square it. This mix has been recorded last summer at the Funktaxi party organized by Pi-Ge at the Warehouse 702 in Tokyo. It's just a short edit of a long night, but I thought better to give a proper mix which has been done in a club with an audience than put out something together alone at home! Hope you enjoy.
On Saturday 27th April, Sonja Moonear joins Ricardo Villalobos, Vincent Lemieux and Craig Richards in Room One. For more info and tickets visit our event listings.