Based in Colombia’s capital Bogotá, Felipe Gordon is a renaissance man. The producer, multi-instrumentalist, DJ and label head from Bogotá, Colombia is nothing short of a phenomenon, effortlessly fusing complex sound combinations from jazz motifs to flowing piano and acid basslines into hugely exciting and unique house records. He has released onShall Not Fade, Toy Tonics, Clone Royal Oak, Razor-N-Tape, Local Talk, Heist and Nómada Records. His new full-length journey comes to us on Wide Awake – Felipe’s new label. Here we sit down with the rising star for a Little Talk.
WWD: Thanks for talking to us Felipe. Where are you this moment and what are you doing today?
Hey guys, thanks for having me, I love WWD! At the moment, I’m at my house in Bogotá, Colombia and today I climbed some mountains on my bike and wrote a new track in my home studio, El Dorado.
WWD: We know you are from Colombia but where exactly were you born. Paint us a picture of where you grew up?
Yes, I’m a proud Colombian musician, I was born and raised in Bogotá, a beautiful and big city on top of the Andes. I grew up on big house with my family on the ‘Bogotanian’ suburbs, lots of sun and sports. It was a pretty happy childhood to be honest.
WWD: Where are you based these days?
Still Bogotá, I don’t think I’m moving anywhere else soon.
WWD: What makes you stay there until today? What do you love about where you live?
Well, it’s a combination of factors, first of all, I grew up here and I’ve seen the evolution of the city. There’s a ton of things happening these days and it feels like Bogotá is one of the artistic capitals in south America right now. Being part of that it’s pretty exciting.
Then you have the quality of the food, the freshness of the fruits and vegetables, combined with amazing weather and some amazing and diverse natural landscapes. I’ve been travelling for 6 years now and I just don’t feel like I would fit and feel this way anywhere else to be honest.
WWD: How is the music scene where you are?
Well, I feel the more folk and organic scene will always be strong and rich, we have a ton of musicians working on new ways of creating “Latin” music, the electronic scene, at least on the deep house and house side it’s a bit difficult. And there’s a million of DJs. I’ve always defended that creating and writing music is what really helps the evolution of a local scene, so we are growing on that side too, but mainly there’s a big party scene.
WWD: Do you play out much on your local scene?
To be honest I haven’t played in a club here in 3 years.
WWD: When did you first start to dabble with music Felipe?
I started playing drums when I was 16 and I played in a punk band until I was 19. I studied music and changed my main instrument to singing back in university and that was the beginning of the journey.
WWD: Were you a DJ first?
To be honest I never planned to learn how to DJ. I was playing drums and singing and playing guitar since I was 16 and then because of the merge of electronic music and rock I discovered Cassius and basically, because of their Trabendo live session, I got more into electronic music. Also because of my obsessive interest for synths back in the day, I started composing and writing those first house tracks on my own.
WWD: What kind of stuff did you play?
Back when I started DJing I was playing more indie electronic bass driven music, not really deep-rooted house music.
WWD: When did you make the move over to production?
That was way before starting to DJ. I made like 4 EPs before the DJ thing started to happen. I never really considered myself a DJ, I was totally more involved on composing and playing stuff.
WWD: What was your first release?
My first release was sort of a remix of Mos Def’s ‘Mathletic’ we released on our own label ‘Nómada Records’ back in 2014.
WWD: What do you feel has been your most notable release to date do you think?
I would say both of my albums are my most notable releases, they have a story, they are conceptual, they can be listened on a non-club context which for me it’s what totally differentiates a functional house music track from an actual song that can last throughout the years.
WWD: Which one of your releases do you think slipped under the radar and do wish had gotten more love?
To be honest, I feel I’ve received amazing support on every single one of my releases, I feel super grateful about that.
WWD: Who are the artists from the past who inspire the music that you make?
There’s a lot of people who don’t come from the electronic world that influenced the way I want to communicate what I do and how I would love people to receive my music. People like: Bob Dylan, Alice Coltrane, Caribou, Toro y Moi, Bill Evans, Chet Baker, Weval, D’angelo, Bombay Bicycle Club, Darondo, Tim Maia, The Brian Johnstown Massacre, LCD Soundsystem, J Dilla, Madlib, Miles Davis, Kiefer, Meridian Brothers…
WWD: Who do you think is making great stuff right now?
On the Deep House scene: Frits Wentink and Moodymann would be my main choices.
WWD: What kind of stuff might we hope to hear in a Felipe set today?
Deep and Organic Raw music with a ton of instrumental parts and solos, something on which you can feel the human touch and not just functional sequencers making “dance music”.
WWD: You have released on some pretty cool labels. Do you feel that has been an essential part of the journey?
I feel that because of me living in Colombia and not being an actual actor on the European or North American scenes, for me was pretty crucial to get my music on lots of those amazing outlets that I always followed as a fan, right now as I feel my name is a bit more familiar to the scene. I just started my own label and I want to see how that goes. I feel I will always work with labels like Shall Not Fade and Clone’s Royal Oak, both Kieran and Serge are super cool guys with a clear view of the scene, and they always try to push the music out of the box. I just respect that so much and I want to be a part of it.
WWD: What are some of the challenges you have faced putting out music over the last few years?
Basically, not being European and privileged and not having a super extrovert personality. I feel I speak through my music and the people who connect with that has helped me a lot on the way.
WWD: Tell us about Wide Awake Records. Your vision and plans and why you felt the need to start your own platform.
Well, Wide Awake is the name of an Parquet Courts Album, a punk band that I really admire and love. I just wanted to bring this more punk attitude to this clubby environment. Sometimes I feel people on the scene just need to relax and make things a bit more rebel and natural. Throughout my career I’ve released a lot of EP’s on different labels. Right now I want to bet on myself and the fan base I’ve gathered during these few years. I feel that having that freedom of choice and bringing something a bit more conceptual and “artistic” is my main goal and sometimes not all the labels are going to understand that bet.
WWD: How long has Errare Humanum Est been in the making?
One month between getting everything together, written, arranged, produced and mixed.
WWD: How much of yourself have you put into producing this album.
I always try to be completely honest on what I’m feeling the day if I’m writing a track. I’ve always tried to keep the “1 track per day” policy because you never feel the same two days in a row, so that brings a super interesting mix of emotions to the writing table. I just want to be remembered as someone that can also make you feel sad with his music, not just a party DJ, that is completely boring and overrated.
WWD: Have you collaborated with others on the tracks?
On this album I only worked with ‘Bob The Egoist’, a super-talented young musician, singer and producer. He sang and co-produced 2 tracks. I consider him my friend and that makes everything so much easier and organic. We always have a great time in the studio and if we’re making some food!
WWD: Is that your vocal I can hear?
My voice can be heard on ‘Treat me Gently’. Both ‘Authentic Feeling’ and ‘I Don’t Know’ are sung by Bob the Egoist AKA Daniel Pardo.
WWD: What did you set out to achieve with this album?
Accepting my own mistakes and realising there’s no need to be perfect or try to picture yourself as a flawless musician. I feel that people who connect with my work, also connect with my mistakes and the emotions that comes within them. And there’s something amazing about music you can relate to because of this universal language we have managed to discover and develop.
WWD: The title of the album provokes a lot of thought.
Last year wasn’t easy, I felt like shit because of touring and I made some bad choices for myself and people around me. At the end I felt like I was a ball of mistakes and bad decisions. At the end of the day if you are not kind with yourself, no one is going to take care of that, so I just started accepting that side of me. I wanted to create something from all my past musical “mistakes” and I found myself revisiting a lot of material I thought wasn’t good enough and realising there was some pretty solid work there. I tried to complete this big body of work with all these models in this sort of auto cleansing process. It felt great and I feel there’s a lovely album that will always remind me to accept myself and take care of my art even if I’m feeling down.
WWD; What’s happening for the next few months gigs for you?
I just came back from my usual summer European tour. I’ve a mini two weekend US tour, and then off to Asia and Australia in October and November, so hope to see u guys there!
WWD: What other projects are you working on that you can share?
I wrote a hip-hop beats album that’s coming out on December thru the French label “Hip Dozer”, and I’m also working on my Live Band album. We recorded 10 tracks before one of our festivals and I would love to release that on vinyl for everyone to enjoy!
WWD: What are your next ambitions as an artist?
Try some more new musical challenges, creating every day and most importantly to be honest with the music I’m delivering.
WWD: We have enjoyed watching you rise Felipe. Best of luck with this wonderful project x
Thank you guys. I love WWD so much!