Dinamarca’s digital dreamscapes are sent from outer space
The producer and DJ speaks to woo following the release of his oneiric new album Soñao
words Megan Wallace
A pixelated moment of natural beauty where the dusk sky is painted in shades of violet, lavender and charcoal, eagerly captured on what we can only presume is a phone camera. Via a flash - or maybe just a sliver of moonlight? - we can see the shadowy lines of a room reflected back on a window pane.
While that might describe any number of photos on your camera roll, this particular image is the lo-fi cover for Soñao, the latest album from Chilean-Swedish producer and DJ Dinamarca (real name Cristian Dinamarca). It’s a fitting frame for the woozy ten-tracker which inhabits a liminal space sometime between the afterparty and the part of the night where you’re lighting a rollie at the wrong end.
Syrupy trance melodies, smatterings of keys, distorted dembow rhythms and hypnotic vocals from Hermosillo’s Meth Math and Spanish artists Amore and Ralphie Choo all combine for a disarming, dreamlike record which sees several dancefloor-ready genres spliced up and seen anew, albeit through a glass, darkly. Pushing you to move your hips, while pulling you towards contemplative, far-off thoughts, Soñao is pensive, strange and infectious - and reminds us of the club’s power to take us away from the everyday and replace it with moments of pure, absurd escapism.
But what else would we expect from Dinamarca? The musician has never been interested in colouring within the lines: instead, taking listeners and party-goers through meandering, circuitous journeys across reggaeton, euro dance, dembow and baile funk and collab-ing with the likes of flamenco experimentalist La Favi to create the haunting Is It Real mixtape.
To mark the release of Soñao, woo caught up with Dinamarca to discuss his perfect madrileño afternoon, the club moment he'll never forget and taking DIY steam rooms in downtime from a hectic touring schedule.
Congrats on the new album! Let's get into it: what are the vibes, what are the influences and why did you start making it?
I just felt like I hadn't ever actually released an album, just EPs. The only longer projects have been this series I do called Fantasilandia. So I wanted to do an album for a while but I just didn't know how to approach it, I wanted to showcase all my sides. And the process... I don't know, I feel like the process was really weird. I made a lot of music over a long period, other projects with different vocalists, some instrumental stuff. I put it all together and found a lot of material for this album, then added some stuff.
How would you describe this project to an alien?
To an alien? I've actually always imagined my music being played in another planet. I'd describe it as music to help you travel in your mind to other planets. But dancing while you do it - with your hips.
What are the sonic influences on this project? And where would you place it in terms of genre?
It's sort of psychedelic; something to get you high, without getting high. But it's still danceable, it's not for sitting down. With genre, reggaeton is always there for me. Lots of electronic music like trance and just overall club music, but also some ambient stuff. I don't know, I just like to close my eyes and listen to music.
I hear you've just moved to Madrid. What's the club scene like there?
In Madrid? Well... they don't have the best club scene. In Spain, probably Barcelona is the best: there's better clubs, sounds and programming. But I lived in Stockholm before so I'm used to not having good clubs. In Madrid, though, there's really nice people and bars. It's nightlife in another way, I guess. It's not really about DJs, it's more about meeting nice people wherever you go. That's kind of what I need, I always travel anyways and play really good clubs. I want my hometown to be another vibe to my work.
Okay, so if the nighttime is a write-off then what's your ideal day in Madrid like?
I live in this area where every Sunday there's a huge flea market. It starts really early, so I'd get up and just walk around and maybe buy some stuff for my house; antiques, furniture, plants. My perfect day would start there, I'd probably be hungover and then get bored because there's so many people and it's really sunny and you're sweating. So I'd then go to a plaza with some friends and just order some food and drinks and chill there the whole afternoon.
You mentioned that you tour a lot. How do you look after your physical and emotional health as a gigging DJ?
Lately I haven't been partying that much. I just turn up to my gig, do my gig, maybe have a drink or two and then I go home. Then I feel really good the next day. I would rather party in my private time with my friends. In terms of physical health, I've been really bad at that lately. I'm going to apply for a gym when I come back from my next tour in the US. Exercise is important, otherwise my back starts to hurt.
What's the best DJ set you've ever seen?
I don't remember the year, but it must have been like 10 or 15 years ago or even more. It was a set by DJ Mehdi, who's now dead, who was part of the French scene and Ed Banger Records with artists like Justice. He was playing at this weird club in Stockholm and he was using loops. I feel like everyone does this now but it was a long time ago. He was looping songs and mixing, adding some effects for each song that came on. To this day, I feel like he was the best I've ever seen do that.
How do you think people are going to react when you play out this new album?
I actually played a little already. People liked it! It fits really well with what I usually play. People were dancing and vibing just the way I want them to be.
What's on your rider?
There's obviously my technical rider but I'm guessing you're wondering what's on my hospitality rider? You need some healthy snacks on there so I have cashew nuts and dried mango. There's a lot of bad dried mango out there, so every time I play a new gig, I check out the dried mango brand and try to remember if it's a good one. I think I also have a rum bottle and water... there's also a towel, which is really important because I sweat a lot when I'm DJing.
You're on a mental health walk: what are you listening to?
I have this playlist on Spotify where I just add things I like but I guess that's not telling you a lot. I actually do listen to a lot of my own stuff. When you only listen to your stuff in the studio you can get stuck so I listen to it outside to get new ideas.
As a final question: what do you do to unwind? And it can't be related to music...
I always smoke weed or take a long shower. I wish I had a swimming pool. In Sweden, the best thing was that in the summer I could take a swim if I wanted. Now I'm in Madrid, I just take a long shower. I love my shower, it's like a little box, it's really small and there's a lot of vapour.
Like a DIY steam room?
Exactly. I need a spa.
Dinamarca's latest album Soñao is out now via Staycore.
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