Navigateur Interview

Carlos Andujar aka Navigateur has just released his second EP Slurrr via Synconation Records last month. His creative use of soundscapes captivates your ear and sends you on the chill wave wagon. From beginning to end it's a smooth and layered progression of atmospheric sound. I was lucky enough to have had the pleasure of talking with Navigateur and watching him perform last Friday at the Tycho show in Ybor City.  Here is what he had to say:

TLC: Tell me a little bit about your new EP Slurrr. What was your inspiration behind this EP?

Nav: I have to be honest and tell you that there was no real “theme” or “concept” behind this EP at the outset. To be even more honest, this EP was really put together simply to have something to offer at upcoming shows, in particular the last show I played opening for Tycho!

That being said, as I was compiling a list of songs that seemed to make the most sense together, I  felt that there actually was some sort of common thread among the tracks in terms of the circumstances in which they were written.

I generally stay up until the very early AM hours to finish up tracks, and these were no different. In some cases I would work on a song, not go to bed at all, and just pick away at until it was time to go to work in the morning. The result, aside from the music, was me in a weird, groggy, near-euphoric state the following day. You ever try to wake someone up from a deep sleep and try to understand the words coming from their mouth? There’s your album title.

TCL: How many albums have you released so far and how have they progressed in your mind?

Nav: As far as Navigateur is concerned, Slurrr is my 2nd official release. I have a bunch of songs including a few remixes, that can be found online, but yeah, Slurrr is the 2nd official release.

Steady Drift was very much an experiment in that I was still learning how to write this kind of music and figuring out all the little nuances that go into making, what I consider to be, a good song, so there’s a much more raw, adolescent component to that release.

Slurrr feels a little bit more polished, although there’s a track or two that was written when I was first getting started with this kind of thing. But overall it feels a little more polished, and I feel like I know what I need to do in order to get the desired effect. The new EP also features a few more live instruments versus VST instruments. For example, “Ghost of Xi Xi”, which is the first single off the new EP, has some live drum work that I recorded open air for that kind of “far away” and gritty effect.

This new EP also has a lot less reliance on sampling versus Steady Drift. This wasn’t my first choice, but in light of the state of copyright law in this country, it’s kind of a necessary one if you want to release an album for sale and not get sued, unfortunately. And believe me, I’m fully aware of how lame that sounds.

TCL: What kind of equipment are you currently using and if you had to choose, which one is your favorite?

Nav: So far, Ableton has been the main brain behind all my songs. I do all my writing, recording, playing live shows, and some pre-mastering in Ableton.

I’ve been trying to go in more of a hardware direction versus software, collecting more hardware synths, outboard recording gear and effects, things like that, but every now and then if it calls for it, I’ll grab a good VST instrument for some quick and dirty sequencing and the like.

I’ve only recently started my synth collection, but so far I’ve scored a Yamaha DX7, a Roland Super JX-10, and most recently an Ensoniq SQ-80 synth. I also use an Alesis Micron for some leads, bass lines, and some occasional pads.

The SQ-80 has been REALLY awesome so far because of how versatile it is. I also love the fact that I can load a ton of patches via 3.5mm floppy disk but still have the great sound of analog filters.

Some day, though, I’d really love to own some good analog gear. My dream synths include the Roland Juno-60, Moog Minimoog, and ARP Odyssey just to name a few...

TCL: Where do you get your inspiration from when making your music?

Nav: It’s kind of hard to narrow it down to just one source. So many things influence how I create things. Little daily interactions with people can spawn entire songs for me, or just being around certain parts of the country can put me in a certain mood and make me want to write. 

Cinema also plays a huge part in how I create. Something about the graininess of films from the late 70s and early to mid-80s put me in such a weird state, in a good way. There’s like a weird loneliness/emptiness that just kind of permeates those films and the old methods of movie production give them this archaic and imperfect feel, and I just really feel like a lot of those films resonate with me. The film scores from that era are also huge for me. Listen to the synth work in The Warriors, or the enormous guitar riffs in Toto’s score for Dune. I love BIG sounds like that.

Aside from those things, I’m also a very visual person, and I feel like music and art have an important relationship with each other, as is evidenced by the fact that more and more bands these days are incorporating visual elements as vital components to their live performances. I’ve been a web/graphic designer for about a decade now, and it’s funny to think about how my visual skillsets morph along side my musical skillsets. That being said, I usually turn to blogs like ffffound, Dribbble, and ISO50 for design inspiration which translates into ideas for music.

TCL: Who are some of your favorite artist right now?

Nav: I’m kind of all over the place with this and there’s so many to list, but last year I was spinning Ford & Lopatin’s Channel Pressure non-stop along with Onra’s Long Distance. There’s some truly innovative beat-making on those releases. I’m REALLY looking forward to hearing the new Ice Choir record when it’s finished. Their music is heavenly.

TCL: Who is the designer behind your album art?

Nav: I did the layout and type for Steady Drift, although I’m not sure who took the photo! For Slurrr, Ian Latchmansingh, who co-owns Synconation Records and helps me with promotion/management stuff, did the layout. Don’t be surprised if you see a different cover for Slurrr because we can’t seem to find who did the original illustration!

TCL: Who would you really like to collaborate with on a song if you could?

Nav: I haven’t really thought about that too much, but it’s an interesting question.

I would love to work with a good R&B vocalist like Mary J Blige so I could sample from them (legally). Working with Brian Eno would probably the pinnacle of my career, since he’s my hero!

TCL: What’s next for Navigateur?

Nav: Hopefully a full-length record! I’ll be hitting my bedroom studio to write more songs and in between that I’ll be playing a show or two around Jacksonville. I’d love to eventually do some touring to support the full-length once it’s finished. I love the idea of taking Navigateur across the country and seeing how people react, so we’ll see. I’ve got a lot planned, and I’m excited to see how it all turns out!

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