READ IN: Español
Perhaps the magnetism that Cora Novoa emanates is best explained by her background. Her more than ten years in the music industry have given her an in-depth knowledge of various fields, from the technical aspects to the creative imaginary. And it shows: the artist boasts a polished and mature concept that is evident in each of her works. Founder of the label SEEKING THE VELVET, the producer and DJ Cora Novoa brings that fresh vision of electronic music that puts the focus on taking care of the clubbing culture, on reviving its sense and meaning, on generating a concept that goes beyond simple beats.
With releases on labels such as Herny Saiz‘s Natura and John Talabot‘s Hivern Discs, Cora has three albums and ten EPs into her career. Now she has just signed with Citizen, a label owned by Vitalic, with an EP that includes the themes The Hive and Hey and that will be released on April 24th. We talk with her.
Highxtar (H) – How have your Galician origins shaped your style and career?
Cora Novoa (CN) – My origins have been and are very important in my life. I have been able to travel, live in many countries, get to know cities, but Galicia is always there. The Galician homesickness is real, I need to see my family every 3 months. Besides, all the Galician folklore, legends and mythology formed me and have shaped what I am today as an artist. It is a land of meigas, so all our culture, traditions, gastronomy or landscapes shape who I am today as a creative.
H – Out of music, which are your references? What influences and inspires you?
CN – I love fashion, design, books, mythology, extreme sports, the occult, good food, studying, red wine, being with my family… and a thousand other things.
My artistic references are very different, as creative directors, I like very much the whole career of Sergio Caballero, Tom Galle’s digital language or for example Maxime Buchi’s versatility in so many fields: tattoo, fashion, business, drawing… we could say he is a Renaissance man. As for visual artists, I really like what Kenneth Vanoverbeke, Travis Kane, R4zorade or Andrei Warren do. In clothing brands right now I’m very hooked on what Cottweiler, Sankuanz, All in or United Standard do. On a musical level Merca Bae, Tzusing or Cardopusher. As a collective, I love what SORT, Nuxxe of Sega Bodega or SVBKVLT from Shanghai do. And about tattoos Russell Winter, Indomit or what the Future studio in Berlin do.
H – You have worked in different areas within the music industry. How has it influenced your conception of electronic music and music production?
CN – Everything I’ve learned from the music industry has been very “do it yourself”; I guess it’s because I’m so restless and I’m hooked on learning new things. It’s clear that all this has made me change my perception as an artist a lot, now I think about the whole process, not only the creation, but the format, the press strategy, the aesthetic language I want to create, the approach to the project, the language with which we will deal with everything… this is given by experience, and although I still have a lot to learn, I think that all the experience I’ve gained over the years has been key (learning how to make a business plan, how to work with the press, managing databases, newsletters, key partners, collaborations, working with brands, image rights… ) to get to the point where I am right now.
H – How did the idea of creating a record label come about? What does Seeking the Velvet offer us?
CN –Above all, it comes from wanting to do things my way, with my vision and being able to use a much more extensive color palette than when you are working under another umbrella that is not your own. This means more investment of time and money, more sacrifice and work, but the result is much more rewarding and honest. Despite the mistakes and successes I’ve had with SEEKING THE VELVET, it’s the most beautiful and enriching project I’ve created to date, so I’m very proud of it.
SKTVT is a creative project and record label, where through art, music and design, we make room for different artistic projects having music as our backbone. We have designed clothes, made video-art pieces, product design, special record editions, sound identity for brands… in the end it all comes down to squeezing the maximum out of the tools we have with the final premise of doing something carefully and with a lot of love.
H – What is the identity of Seeking the Velvet? What do the artists who publish on the label have in common?
CN – The best way to get an idea of the identity of the project is to check our Instagram. We like fetishes, hermeticism, engravings, bizarre, real. On a musical level we have brought out from electronics, techno, pop-experimental, ambient… but we are open to any kind of genre. I would love to bring out some nusoul, dance funk, hardcore… the truth is that we listen to everything, the only premise is that the music is good.
H – Lately I have read that the massive cancellation of festivals can help “oxygenate” the world of electronic music. Do you think it needs it? Why?
CN – I think that from now on the music industry will pull much more local talent, projects with a lot of personality (more of a niche market) and with a very loyal audience, and this I extrapolate to all musical styles. Now that world tours will not be possible (because of COVID-19) it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to close international artists in these next 12 months.
Therefore, both festivals and clubs will have to rely more on national/local talent. This is very good on the one hand, but on the other hand not so good. Here in Spain I would love us to learn from this, as we work our asses off for foreign talent when we have artists here who are pure gold in all genres. We also focus on the number of followers that the artists have, and there are many festivals that have learned a lesson when it comes to selling tickets, thinking that by hiring an artist with 150,000 followers they would sell tickets, and many times you are surprised that they don’t, that their audience is younger, not as loyal, not as used to buying tickets, and they are faced with reality.
For all this, I am very curious to see if the national scene learns from it, and local/national artists will continue to be supported by festivals and clubs after COVID-19, or we will simply be the potion for a quick solution. If we learn we can have a renewed and fresh scene, like the clubbing scene in the Eastern countries, where in festivals like Unsound those who make the close of the festivals are local artists, where they take care of the collectives giving a relevant presence in the lineups and set times. Because in the end, these scenes understand that national talent is part of their identity, which is something they are exporting and they respect their artists and the culture they are represented by, basically they are feeding their own infrastructure, identity and culture to grow and be sustained, and this is key.
The Canadians do this very well, they rock in this. They export their artistic product and monetize it, but because they believe in it and give it infrastructure. It’s a way of thinking more than anything else. In Canada they do have government support (see what happened with “Cirque Du Soleil” or festivals like Mutek), but there are many countries in the East where they have the opposite, where they are constantly sabotaged by the government and where politicians feel a total detachment from avant-garde culture (see Tbilisi), and yet the scene in those countries has the same focus as Canadians, supporting national culture, because it represents them and is part of them. For all these reasons I think that if we get our act together in Spain, which is no man’s land, we can be everyone’s land and give our music the framework and value it deserves.
I’m very curious to see what’s next. These are my bets.
H – Looking ahead to 2021… what would be your ideal festival, one that you especially dream about?
CN – I’ve been thinking about it for a while and actually what I’d love is to perform at the Unsound Festival, CTM Festival and of course at some of the new Sonar Festival locations (Istanbul, Mexico, Athens).
H – You’re going to publish on Citizen Records (of Vitalic), a French label. Tell us a bit about it. How does publishing on an international label come about?
CN – This all came about thanks to my agent Peggy Szkudlarek. She put Elise, the label manager of Citizen Records, and me in touch, and that was the seed for my signing with them. The truth is that I feel that Citizen is my home, that everything is to be done and that with work and a lot of love things will turn out well.
H – How do you see the electronics scene in Spain compared to other countries?
CN – The national talent is incredible, there is a great variety of styles, from Regal’s acid to Cardopusher’s electro, to the perfect musical selection of Alienata. There is talent, and you can tell, the problem is always the lack of infrastructure that we have here, the lack of support from the little scene that remains and that change of thinking that I spoke of before, that we value more what is outside than what is ours.
In Madrid, for example, there is a lack of clubs, while in Barcelona we have a diversity of groups, styles, spaces… I remember a post that ALVVA posted a few months ago where they mentioned that on the same Friday there were about 5 different parties of groups such as Maricas, Voodoo, Diverso, Club Gordo… in Madrid all this is clearly absent. On the other hand, if we fight to have a figure like a major night everything would be much easier. This average figure among night businessmen, neighbours and institutions, is key to the success of night culture. It is clear that right now the last thing we think about is this, but in the future, when in a few years we are stabilized with the whole COVID-19 issue, it is something we will have to fight for.
H – How do you see Seeking the Velvet within the national scene? How about the international scene?
CN – It’s funny because SEEKING THE VELVET has had much more impact internationally than nationally. From the beginning I was very shocked to have support from artists or clients from countries as different as Switzerland, Canada or Mexico, both with the clothing collections and the music releases, I couldn’t know exactly why, but I think it’s the magic with which we play today’s creative projects thanks to the Internet. You can have a very powerful fan base that is also spread all over the world.
H – Any clubs/countries that you particularly enjoyed playing? And any sessions that you particularly remember?
CN – I loved the set I did for Mutek Argentina at Palacio Alsina (Buenos Aires) this season, I felt at home and people enjoyed it from the beginning to the end, it’s one of the best sets I remember from this season, the Argentine vibe is unique.
About special sessions I will mention the Live set I did at the closing of Sonar Barcelona 2010, it was a real madness, one of those moments I will never forget, thousands of people dancing and enjoying while the sun came out, it makes my hair stand on end just thinking about it.
H – Producer, label owner, DJ… what’s your day-to-day?
CN –I am very organized in my day to day, I love to have a routine and squeeze every second to the maximum. I try to leave Saturdays and Sundays free to disconnect (as long as I don’t travel, although right now it’s something that will have to wait), the rest of the week I try to balance the office work, with the work in the recording studio, meetings and of course the trainings in the Crossfit box. I need to have these elements in my life, apart from that I also take care of the food and lately I’m introducing a meditation routine of 15 min every day.
There are days that I have to juggle, especially if I have business meetings, photo sessions, trips, actions with brands and of course all the daily chores of every human being (supermarket, having your bike/car broken down…), but well, it’s one of the tolls you have to pay if you like being “multitasked”.
H – What plans are you making in this quarantine?
CN – It seems strange, but I’m so busy, my days fly by. On one hand I’m working a lot in the studio to close some releases, we are also with all the promo of the release of Vitalic, starting to work some projects with brands, studying new techniques of mixing/production and developing productions of a secret project that will not be linked to Cora Novoa, so with a lot of fuss.