Get to Know Your Electric Zoo 2023 Artists: Iglesias

UK talent Iglesias has built a stellar reputation on the back of a catalog of spicy percussive tech house heaters, floor-filling DJ sets from Ibiza to London to New York, and being the go-to studio engineer for artists like Cloonee and Detlef. Currently ranked among the top tech house artists in the world, his sharp sense of rhythm has landed him releases with Toolroom, elrow, and Repopulate Mars. 

Yet just as much as he’s an impressive talent on stage and in the studio, he’s also helping shape the future of house music as a mentor and the owner of Woodlands Studio. Beyond the standard mixing and mastering services, he’s helped guide hundreds of young producers toward their goals with one-on-one sessions and masterclasses. 

Ahead of his performance at Electric Zoo Hyperspace, we caught up with him to find out how he injects the spirit of punk rock into house music, how production became the center of his world, and why the groove is central to his sound.

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Your first love in music was punk. How did you move from that into house music?

My initial passion for punk music laid a strong foundation for my musical journey. I remember sitting by my minidisc player, waiting for the CDs to rip onto it (haha). I thought I was edgy and cool by having a minidisc as opposed to the chunky CD players (haha). As I explored different genres, the transition to house music felt like a natural progression from punk. I have always been obsessed with drum grooves in punk, and I think punk’s energy, emotion, and rebellious spirit resonated with me as well. I’m not sure the exact moment it happened, but I found that those qualities could be channeled into the vibrant world of house, creating a fusion that reflects my evolving tastes. 

How do you keep that punk rock aesthetic alive in your music now?

Infusing the punk rock aesthetic into my music is essential to me. As I said above, I have always been obsessed with drum grooves and raw drums, so it naturally found its way into my music. I achieve this by integrating elements that embody the same rawness and attitude that characterized punk. The rhythm and groove of house provide a perfect canvas to weave in those edgy components, resulting in tracks that resonate with both the rebellious spirit of punk and the energy of tech house. 

It’s intriguing how you picked up production later in your career and eventually made it your main focus. What made you fall in love with the in-studio part of the process?

Learning production at a later stage in my career was a transformative experience. I remember my days of DJing, often being the warm-up act. While I truly enjoyed it, I never scored those prime-time or end-of-night slots. I realized that those DJs who got those slots were often known for their music. I didn’t quite connect the dots then and started making music just to secure better time slots. Money wasn’t the motivation; it was all about sharing my music with a larger dance floor crowd!

When I eventually delved into production, the process completely captured my imagination. It allowed me to shape my artistic vision from the very beginning to the end. Crafting every aspect of a track, experimenting with sounds, infusing my punk vibe, and meticulously refining it until it matched my vision became an enthralling pursuit. Even to this day, I relish my time in the studio, though I would say it’s now more balanced with my love for DJing.

Your parents may not have influenced you musically, but they contributed more tangibly to your career. Can you tell us how they helped bring Woodland Studio to life?

While my parents might not have directly shaped my musical journey, their steadfast support played a pivotal role in bringing Woodland Studio to fruition. The studio was actually constructed on their property and remains there ‘to this day. Nestled amidst Woodlands, as the name suggests, the location is idyllic, isolated from neighbors, enabling me to operate it around the clock. Although I now commute back to my family home daily, I cherish spending time with my parents and occasionally enjoy a free lunch.

They patiently endured the blaring music as I lived there, allowing me to work into the early hours (not on headphones, lol). We still remember the time Latmun visited my parents’ home, and we were producing music loudly on speakers until 4 AM, with my girlfriend asleep beside us and my parents in the adjacent room. Although they didn’t inundate me with vinyl records to listen to or suggest specific artists, their unwavering backing fueled my ambition to pursue a full-time career in music production and DJing.

You’re a pretty accomplished studio engineer and have helped tutor over 1K producers. Working on other people’s music and ensuring they have the tools to succeed puts you on the other side of the booth. Why is this so important?

I am incredibly passionate about everything related to music, a passion that may stem from my ADHD and Asperger’s. Once I delve into something, I find it challenging to stop, often staying up late into the night. My constant pursuit involves researching new techniques, discovering fresh plugins, and stumbling upon technology that enhances my creative process. While I enjoy the thrill of these pursuits, the real excitement comes when I share my findings with my friends. Witnessing their amazement and enthusiasm is truly gratifying. During lockdown, I organized the Woodlands Studio Masterclass series, through which I had the opportunity to teach over 100 individuals simultaneously. I imparted the very tips and tricks I use in my own productions. It’s ironic how roles can shift over time. Despite struggling in school and disliking my teachers, I find myself now embracing a teaching role.

Transitioning into the role of guiding others is crucial to me, as I strongly believe in fostering the upcoming generation of talent. Equipping fellow artists with the tools and knowledge to thrive fortifies the community and generates a growth cycle that benefits everyone involved. Interestingly, the more I share with my friends and fellow producers, the more I find myself seeking new ideas and techniques to enrich my work.

You’ve taken this one step further by having a genre-fluid approach to your record label Woodland Records. When most artists use their labels to promote themselves, why did you make yours so different?

Woodland Records has always been about embracing diversity and pushing boundaries. Instead of using the label solely for self-promotion, I wanted to create a platform that celebrates music in all its forms. A genre-fluid approach allows us to showcase a wide range of artistic expressions regardless of their social status and how many followers they may have. WR is all about the music, and as it was an extension of the studio, it felt right that I continue to support other artists and give a platform for them to showcase their incredible music. 

Speaking on your own music, you’ve said that the groove is the most crucial piece of the puzzle. Where did your percussive rhythmic style originate from, and how do you inject that into everything you do so well?

Starting to play the drums at a very young age and being obsessed with Travis Barker and his style is definitely the reason my music sounds the way it does today. It’s a fusion of my early punk influences, my fascination with house music, and my interpretation of how they merge. Naturally, infusing this rhythmic style into my work happens effortlessly, as it’s an integral part of my musical DNA. 

You’ve spent quite a bit of time in New York. What about the city’s spirit is so compelling?

It’s interesting because I’m not particularly fond of busy cities. I don’t spend much time in London; when I do, I prefer to get in and out quickly (haha). But it’s strange because I absolutely love the bustling and vibrant atmosphere of New York.

I lived in Illinois during my younger years for about five years, so returning to the US, in general, feels like home to me. The spirit of New York is truly electric and undeniably captivating. There’s a certain energy there that propels you to strive for your best and continuously evolve as an artist. I also love the accent, the food, and the people .

What excites you about the future of dance music?

The future of dance music gets me really pumped up. As AI tech keeps growing and new creative paths open up, the possibilities become endless. Of course, there are parts that I’m not so hyped about, like the whole social media cry for attention to sell music or those gimmicky videos to push sales – not my thing. But, overall, if it stays true to the music, we’re in for a super exciting journey. What really gets me going is how genres are blending more and more, and all these fresh influences are seeping in. This kind of ever-changing evolution keeps the scene alive, pushes artists to come up with cool new stuff, and molds the sound of dance music’s future.