Henry Saiz is a Madrid based producer/DJ who, after releasing music on labels from his home country for a couple of years, was noticed by heavyweight UK imprints. In 2008 the first of these, Renaissance Recordings (founded and named after the club) released the first of several EPs they would support from Henry.
Over the next 4 years Bedrock Records (co-run by John Digweed) would follow suit, issuing two plus the famed Henry Saiz remix of Guy J’s ‘Lamur’. 2008 would also see Henry founding his own label Natura Sonoris which has held a prolific release schedule since then, issuing both his music and that of many other artists. It won DJ Magazine’s ‘Best Label’ award in 2011.
His association with Bedrock and Renaissance catalysed a worldwide fan base and ensuing tours to several continents although he is a much more versatile DJ than his links to those labels may suggest, capable of pleasing crowds with disco, soul and deeper, more intimate house music (indeed he produces more disco orientated material under the name Hal Incandenza and is one half of a music duo with good friend Eloy Serrano that was previously known as Tyrane).
Henry’s influences range from those genres through the full range of electronic music and even to metal, indeed he used to play in a black metal band. He has curated and currently plays in a live band nowadays that is much better suited to disco dancing and tours with them when not recording or Djing.
Could you tell us how it all started for you? When did you first get interested in electronic music, and how did you realize that that’s what you wanted to do professionally?
Since I was a child I’ve always had a special relationship with music. Luckily, my parents have good taste in music so I discovered artist such Vangelis and Mike Oldfield when I was very young. My older brother has also always been passionate about music and he even worked several years as a DJ . When I was a teenager I started playing bass and I had several bands of different genres, but my most important project was black metal oriented. Later I began to study sound engineering and I became interested in the unlimited possibilities of technology. Something I loved about producing electronic music was the creative control that it allowed me. I’ve always knew that my ideal profession should be related to music and after many years of hard work my effort began to be recognized.
What kind of field recordings did you make when you were young? How did you become interested in doing that, what kind of equipment were you using and where did you get this equipment? It seems like an unusual hobby for a young man who grew up in the era of video games!
My first contact with music was with cassettes. I remember the car trips with my family, and there was always a cassette playing. What fascinates me about cassettes is the fact that they are manipulable, so of course I was always creating my own tapes. Not only music tapes but also recordings of family conversations or phone calls to strangers. Although the technical possibilities at that time were limited, I was lucky that my father also was fascinated by that world so I usually borrowed his recorders.
How do you think the music you produce has changed, if at all, since the time you started making electronic music, through your early releases to your most recent releases?
It is obvious that my music has been changing in the last years. I myself have evolved so it is logical that my music will too. The most obvious at first sight is the change in BPM, although that is something that has affected the electronic music scene in general.
Sometimes I listen to my old songs and I`m overwhelmed because of the speed haha. I think I have been trying to run away from any limitation; I have incorporated elements of styles that fascinate me, like pop. My album Reality Is For Those… was a step forward because I included a lot of vocals, analog sounds, real instruments. I guess over the years you lose the fear of experiencing and your music gets more honest and unprejudiced.
Performing all over the world alongside the underground scene legends, running a records label featuring uprising artist with their own ideas, playing unreleased tracks each week on your The Labyrinth radio show, having personal touch with your followers and braking the boundaries with your team – what keeps you moving, where do you find your inspiration and all the enthusiasm?
I know all that is too much to handle and sometimes is really hard. But I couldn’t keep that pace if I wasn’t passionate about my job. The satisfaction I feel when I compose a new track or those moments when I’m enjoying music with my audience always remember me that it worth all the effort.
One of your goals is to make music whilst on a quintessential Joshua tree psychedelic trip. Why do you think psychedelics have such a positive influence on art?
They are definitely a tool like no other to reach self-knowledge and develop creative concepts. Mankind has been using it since the dawn of time and I truly believe it can take you to some interesting places while using it creating any kind of art. Of course you have to be familiar with psychedelics in order to be able to use them properly and not get lost in an overwhelming state of mind. I guess I am used to them so that experience in Joshua Tree is gonna be amazing.
You’re clearly a lover of all art forms – if you hadn’t chosen music, do you think you would have pursued another?
Yeah I’d definitely be doing something related to the creative world. Although I always wanted to study psychology. I also love painting, it’s my second favourite art.
How influential is modern technology to your relationship with music?
It´s pretty influential but not decisive; even though I use a lot of the latest technology, at the end of the day my approach to music making has a lot to do with the way this music was done decades ago, lot of analog synths, mixers, tape recorders, analog drum machines… But it’s good to have the best of both worlds.
You are quoted on your Wikipedia page as saying, “I believe that electronic music can, and should, have a message.” What should that message be and what is the message in your electronic music?
Obviously, each artist must discover what his own message is. With this statement I do not mean necessarily the music has to talk about deep or philosophical issues. When I say “message” I mean I prefer music that expresses something: from the most sublime to the most banal.
I like when music has an intention and is not simply an empty shell. I don’t think I can put into words the message that my music is trying to convey. And it is not always the same message. Each track is the result of a particular moment, a mood. One of the most important intentions in my music is to arouse the curiosity of the listener; to force him or her to explore realities that you are not used to. If my songs manage to excite the imagination of the listener I already feel satisfied.
What elements of your work in sound design have you brought with you to your productions of electronic dance music? What edge does that experience give you over producers who haven’t done that?
In the world of music and sound there are thousands of ramifications that I find very interesting to explore. I think one of the ways to get to have an original style is to have experiences that go beyond producing the same music over and over again. Obviously, working as sound designer gives you technical skills that are very useful if you apply them creatively. It also helps you to value and appreciate the texture of sound, the physical effect it causes.
But what has helped me to improve as a producer is not just that. I’ve played in bands when I was a teenager, I have my own radio show, I’ve written songs of practically every style you can imagine, I made music for commercials, documentaries… All this has enriched my vision as a musician and producer.
What’s next for Henry Saiz?
This will be an extremely busy year. First, I will record my ambitious album that was funded through the Kickstarter platform. I will be traveling around the world with my band members, recording and filming material. The release is scheduled for late summer of 2017.
As I said earlier, Hal Incandenza album comes out in the next months and I would like to offer some live concerts with this project. Another project for this year is a new label that I´m going to start with my collaborators Eloy and Luis, so you will have some news soon. If you add my gigs as a DJ and with my Live Band you can tell that this year is going to be crazy.