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Dario Rojo Guerra is a London-based producer who has roots in Chile and was raised in Germany. His earliest releases as Flako could most easily be described as left-of-centre hip hop instrumentals, with nods to techier influences, but his more recent material has stepped away from that sample-based style of working. Instead, he’s been putting together longer, richly textured productions with a uniqueness that never feels strained or affected.
His 'Eclosure' EP on Five Easy Pieces in 2012 had a wealth of musical goodness sunken into its four tracks, while a self-titled EP released under his Dirg Gerner alias on Eglo Records last year saw his yearning vocals sit centre stage.
With whispers of more material to come soon, we spoke to Guerra over e-mail about his thoughts on the importance of listening to music properly, collaborations with Seven Davis Jr, and trying to inject his personality into everything he does. Read our interview below, and download a new fLako track, Illusions, below.
How have you been spending your time recently – has it mainly been split between the studio and playing live?
Flako: "Yes, pretty much, although I spend as much time as possible just listening to music too. It can be a good time to think, be inspired, discover, and reflect. As well as that, I find it important to give music the attention it deserves. All these great artists have spent so much time and personal effort on their recordings, and I find that too many people only listen to it superficially. Doing nothing but listening to music seems to have become rare."
After your ‘Eclosure’ EP on Five Easy Pieces and the ‘Dirg Gerner’ release on Eglo, is it an album under your Flako alias that you’re working towards now?
Flako: "I always experiment, write, and record music, but never really work on releases until I get approached. It’s a little weird, but most of the music I make remains unreleased and is just a part of an ongoing process of self-reflection and curiosity, looking for beauty in sound."
"Most of the music I make remains unreleased and is just a part of an ongoing process of self-reflection and curiosity, looking for beauty in sound." – Flako
The material on ‘The Mesektet’ seemed very much like a set of hip hop-indebted beats, compared to the material on ‘Eclosure’, which felt far more like traditional “songs” in terms of their structure. Do you feel like your approach to writing is different now?
Flako: "It’s very different, and it keeps shifting. Every day I discover something new that I either can, or want, to do. I have moved a long way from how I started when I was making music. I felt that I wanted my music to be 100% me, and so I started playing lots of instruments myself and also using my voice more as a part of the productions."
As well as the structure of the tracks, the ‘Eclosure’ EP felt very organic, as if there was an almost textural quality to the sounds on it. D’you think that’s something that chimes with your perception of the music and the way you thought about it when making it?
Flako: "I don’t think about what I do when I make music really, it just comes out the way it does. But I guess your impression has to do with me using a mix of live instrumentation, my voice, and synthetic sounds."
Is the divide between your material as fLako and as Dirg Gerner something that you take seriously? If so, could you talk about what separates the way you consider those different outputs?
Flako: "Whenever I feel I need to use words to express something it is Dirg Gerner. That’s it!"
You’ve mentioned working with Seven Davis Jr in the studio on Twitter. How did that come about and how was it working together?
Flako: "I first heard about Seven when my friend Kutmah played me his music some years back, while working on the release for his imprint called IZWID. We didn’t manage to properly hook up until a couple of months ago, but we clicked instantly and had a really dope session the first time we recorded."
Your previous releases haven’t featured any collabs (aside from with yourself of course, as Dirg Gerner) and it seems like your more recent material in particular has a unique strangeness with a particular kind of individuality to it. Did you find it weird collaborating?
Flako: "Not at all. I love to collaborate too and have done so with inspiring people such as Miguel Atwood Ferguson, Robin Hannibal, or Fatima, and am currently working with Dimlite. It’s beautiful, and can bring the best of two together. Most of it has not seen daylight yet, and may never do, but it’s something I want to do more of!"
I saw your recent set at Koko and noticed that a fair bit of your live set is done through various pieces of gear outside of your laptop. Do you try and give yourself quite a lot of freedom in the way you play your music live?
Flako: "I try to put as much of myself into the set as possible and am looking to expand the ways I can re-create moments from the recordings when I’m performing."
Finally, are there any other upcoming projects or recent musical discoveries (new or old) that you’re excited about?
Flako: "Go and listen to Gabriel Garzón-Montano’s Pour Maman. It’ll warm up your day."