Indira Paganotto has been making waves in the European techno scene with international support from some of the most revered techno DJs on the planet. Adam Beyer, Amelie Lens, Ben Klock and Nina Kraviz have all played out the Spanish techno maven’s hard-hitting tracks. Indira is now embarking on the next phase of her career with the launch of her label, Phase Insane Records, with her Wolf Land EP as the maiden voyage. As we near the release date of the EP, she invites us into her studio to explain why she prefers tinkering with synths on her grass-like studio floor.
Tell us a bit about the studio, Indira.
I created my current studio from nothing. I bought this house three years ago in the wonderful mountains of northwest Madrid. It’s wonderful to be surrounded by nature and animals. I have three dogs, a miniature horse and in January a sheep will join the Paganotto family. I built the studio in the most isolated area of the house, the garage. It’s 20 square meters, but I use less for acoustic reasons. Although, my project for next year is to make a new one much larger and to have a linear sound that’s as natural as possible, in a module prefabricated in the lower part of the garden. In the current studio, I have had two years full of machines that I have been buying in the last ten years, but last year I sold almost everything and I kept only what I used and needed for my tracks and my current language. Now I work much better.
How do you use your studio?
I make 90 per cent of my tracks in the studio with my machines and VSTs. Sometimes I go out for a walk with the animals in the fields and I take the Tascam to record sounds, or while I have lunch or do things at home, and then I use them as samples if any sound excites me.
Which DAW do you use?
For the first three years, I was using Logic Pro, until I tried Ableton Live and was truly captivated by its innocence and sheer versatility. Since then I have never tried another program again. I know there are better DAWs, but for me, it is much more important to feel comfortable and not have to think. I just let myself go.
What atmosphere do you try and create in the studio and how does the studio environment help you with your creativity?
Until recently it was a white studio, then I painted it all black, including the ceiling and walls. I wanted a new atmosphere for my mind. It might seem silly, but after so many months without being in a club, I needed to feel that dark and underground atmosphere. I am a very sensitive person to the external and internal agents of my daily life and that permeates in my productions, so it is essential for me to have a visual and energetic balance of the place where I make music.
We notice you have artificial grass and no chair in the studio – how does this add to the studio’s vibe and enhance your creativity?
Nature always surrounds me both outside and inside the house. I usually go barefoot so as you can see I put it in my study since I spend most of the day here. It’s a little isolated too, which is good for me to make music!
Regarding the chair, it depends on the day. Sometimes I take the machines off the table and put them on the lawn and start messing around all day. Making music in contact with the ground puts me in a very good mood, just like eating or chatting with friends. It is a position that is not normally used in Europe, but I grew up with my father who lived in India for 10 years. It is a different way of state, both mental and bodily in which other energies flow; energies that would not appear by sitting in a chair or standing.
Can you tell us about the device you’re tinkering with on the floor?
I have two masterpieces on the floor, one is the Roland V-Synth GT and the other is a handmade synth that my best friend built for me. It has an integrated amplifier as well as a normal microphone, combined with a handmade delay and contact microphones.
If you were left on a desert island, what one item would you take with you to make music with forever?
I think a sampler to fill it with sounds and to be able to add new ones from the island. I had the AKAI MPC 4000 a few years ago and I think it would be cool for the island. This machine includes a hard disk recorder, an arpeggiator and a sequencer. I need more! In fact thanks to this question you have aroused a longing for that sampler! I will buy a new one [laughs].
What is your favourite piece of gear?
My Roland V – Synth GT is my babe from the studio – it’s a beast! It’s a marvel of a machine, especially for designing new sounds full of life and movement. It has three different synthesis methods: analogue modelling, PCM waveforms with user sampling, and external audio input processing, all with polyphony of up to 24 voices. It’s great for its ease of editing and the palette of tools that you have at your fingertips on the same screen, plus a killer arpeggiator and a host of real-time controllers. In my humble opinion, I don’t think there is anything like it today –it’s almost the hardware synth of my dreams!
What would you save in a fire?
The 8-core tower that I made myself this year. I put one and a half terabytes of plug-ins and another terabyte aside in video programs as I use them a lot to edit my streams, as well as photo editing programs that I also like. I’m taking this computer to the grave!
What’s been the biggest investment in your studio?
Well, I built the studio brick by brick and soundproofed it. Aside from that, the biggest expense was the Roland V-Synth GT as an analogue machine. I bought some Focal monitors this year but I think I will make an investment and try some Neuman three-way monitors that friends of mine tell me are incomparable.
How did you go about getting the acoustics right in the studio?
Right now, even though I have soundproofed the studio, I don’t have perfect acoustics. When I built the studio I didn’t think much about it but rather that all my machines would fit. So right now when I finish a track, I prefer to send it to get properly mixed and mastered by professionals.
What is your dream piece of gear?
Moog Sub 37. I tried it out in Ian Pooley’s studio years ago and I added some arpeggios from this amazing machine to the tracks I was finishing for my EP that was going out for his label, and I fell in love with that synth.
What is your top piece of production advice?
Never follow what your heart does not want and what your being is not. Creation is something unique and incomparable, those of us who dedicate ourselves in soul and body to music or any form of artistic expression, we do it because it is our language. Experiment with genres and discover what is yours and make it your own, make it contemporary.
What is the one piece of advice you would give someone starting out building a studio?
Always, both in production and in the studio, in my opinion, less is more. Try all the machines, DAWs and plug-ins you want and choose the one that you feel most comfortable with. I have experimented for ten years and now is when I begin to see the light, so take your time!
Indira Paganotto’s Wolf Land EP is out on 1 December 2020 on Phase Insane Records.
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