London producer Dario Rojo Guerra releases his debut album on Five Easy Pieces on March 23.
Natureboy is billed as a “bridge to a new musical identity”, with Flako drawing on jazz, Vangelis’ synth compositions and even ritual songs from Peru. Explaining the title, Guerra says: “I’m not religious. Nature is the only thing I really believe in. The sun and water are the two things that I find worth worshipping. There’s nothing without the sun, and there’s nothing without water.”
Stream the album below and read our Q&A with Guerra underneath.
Tell us how you ended up with the idea of “Natureboy” and how you’ve tried to convey that concept in your music?
I have generally become more interested in nature over the recent years, because I found my relationship with nature was and still is out of balance. Things like realizing I can’t even name and distinguish plants or birds, not even the basic ones in my garden, made me try to learn more about nature. I also feel we don’t need a lot of the artificial stuff we are made to believe helps us best, so I’m learning about the healing properties of plants and try to explore more of what is surrounding me.
Because I started growing herbs and enjoy working in the garden as often as time allows, I was labeled as “Natureboy”, but there has also been an incredible chain of chance around this name. I was introduced to Eden Ahbez by my friend Kutmah a few years ago and became fan of his album Eden’s Island. One day my dad asked me if I knew the name of this song he loved and remembered from his childhood. After a few hints I knew it was ‘Natureboy’, which was actually written by Eden Ahbez for Nat King Cole. There were quite a few things like that which made me feel there is something important about Natureboy.
You seem to draw on a really wide range of musical influences on the record, can you tell us about any particular inspirations?
This is really difficult! When I got asked, I tried to find references of musical inspirations and named a few artists I was currently listening to, but there is so much more that inspired me consciously and unconsciously I’m sure. Nevertheless people like Hermeto Pascoal, Vangelis, Eberhard Weber or Bo Hansson are very interesting musicians and I definitely drew inspiration from different aspects of their music too. ‘Som Da Aura’, for instance, is directly inspired by Hermeto Pascoal’s Aura Sound technique, where he portrays a person’s personal music (“aura sound”), present within their particular speech impressions, by “orchestrating” it. His way of hearing music in everything is very inspirational and made me try to hear and transform sounds and noises into music. So I recorded all kinds of noises, extracted melodies I could hear in them, and translated it into this little choir ‘Som Da Aura’.
How has your diverse heritage influenced your ideas and your musical approach, if at all?
I can’t really tell, but I definitely picked up the love for music from growing up in a musical household. There was and still is always music surrounding me at home. A lot of Latin American music was played at my parents’ house, but I found King Crimson records in their collection too, so there was quite a diverse musical world for me to discover. It is essential to our lives and so much more than just entertainment. My dad often played the guitar and sang, and since he escaped from the dictatorship in Chile in the 1970s, a lot of times it was songs that had political expression. Although I didn’t always understood the lyrics, their melancholic, angry and proud sound stuck with me. I believe music helped him and that music is powerful with the ability to heal too.
There’s quite a cinematic feel to some of the tracks – the strings on ‘Twelve O’Clock Shadow’, for instance. Do you have specific images or scenes in mind when you’re writing?
There is always something like a vague sound aesthetic, an image or an emotion in my head and heart, but I think most of the time it is actually the other way around. I write music, start recording and the music triggers images in my head. I guess it can be both ways and is always determined by how strong the inner or outer impulse is, but sometimes I feel the songs unfold their true full being only when listening back after. ‘Gelis’, for instance, was me trying to capture what was going on outside during spring time last year. The moment when you step outside your house and notice that day something is different, and for the first time in that year you feel like the world is waking up. Everything starts growing and getting green again and then settles in what we then take for granted until the day you feel the first winter day has arrived. I was looking outside and imagining what growth could sound like.
Do you have a live show planned for this record? And are there any other projects in the works now?
Yes, I try to perform the productions as much as I think it makes sense and I’ve started working with a small team to create a visual concept to accompany the music in the right balance. It’ll hopefully be ready to show soon! There are a couple of exciting upcoming projects I have been involved in, including new music for Seven Davis Jr’s album, really different and beautiful songs with Fatima and new Dirg Gerner.