Meet Noktiluc! We Talk Surrealism, Buenos Aires, and Edgar Allan Poe

Noktiluc stares down, alert, focused and totally immersed as he slowly adds layers to a tranquil quilt of sound. This is the mark of an artist.

Noktiluc stands alone in an empty warehouse in Buenos Aires. In front of him are a stool, laptop, drum pads, and a few mics. A guitar hangs from his neck. The walls have peeled, shattered. Dust coats the floor. Wires droop, exposed, veins of civilization left askew and dangerous.


But it’s in this chaotic environment, chairs tipped over and forgotten, machinery jutting out, bolts undone in the rotting remains of absence, that something organic and beautiful happens.

He strums down lightly on his red, electric, Gibson. It reverberates in a mellow shock like eyes opening after a nap. He claps into the mic. The beat rolls in.

Suddenly the room is flushed with an overwhelming sense of movement. There is pulsing and breath. Noktiluc stares down, alert, focused and totally immersed as he slowly adds layers to a tranquil quilt of sound. This is the mark of an artist. He channels passion and evokes emotion. He executes with surgical finesse and earth-like warmth, bringing the intangible into the organic.  

Noktiluc is the Boston based, performance and production project of Joaquin Perez. Hailing from Buenos Aires, Perez moved to the US in 2012. A Berklee graduate and talented producer, he plunged headfirst into Boston nightlife, surrounding himself with some of his “biggest influences” such as Loco Dice, Matthew Dear, Nicolas Jaar, and Richard Devine. Now he is making a techno soaked debut as Noktiluc with an EP Los Caminos.  We were so happy to get to talk with him about surrealism, parties in Boston, and growing up in Argentina!

From what I hear, Boston has some pretty harsh club regulations. These conditions have created a pulsing and thriving underground music scene. What was the nightlife like attending Berklee? Where are the best places to catch a set?

Boston has extremely harsh regulations, I am from Buenos Aires where I was going to clubs since I was 15, I was frustrated when I moved here, I tried to find parties and it was very hard to find something good and even if I found something everything ends at 2 am here, which is super early compared to Buenos Aires, so it was kind of disappointing when I moved here in 2012.

After I turned 21 I started meeting people at clubs and I was able to find good house parties and after parties. The club scene is not too big so if you know the right people you get to hang out with many of the artists that come here. I’ll never forget one night after seeing Guti, who is one of my favorite artists , he invited me to an afterparty with him and he stayed with me the whole night talking about music, so you just have to go out a lot and meet people that share your passion for techno and electronic music and eventually you’ll have enough contacts to find parties.


What was music like growing up in Buenos Aires? Who were some of the people that provoked you to pursue music?

People in Argentina are extremely passionate about two things: music and soccer, fans there are literally crazy, so I was raised with a very natural and strong passion towards music, also my family is not religious, so artists and soccer players were like my religious figures growing up, my parents took me to many theatre plays and music shows since I was 1 year old and there was always music playing at my house, my mom would play latin american songwriters and my dad would play classic rock and blues artists, my parents were a huge influence although they didn’t directly provoke me to pursue music.


You have a whole rainy day to kickback and listen to music. Who are you jamming out to?

I try to listen to different styles of music every day otherwise I get bored, so I would probably listen to a couple different artists not just one. I’ve been really into Leafar Legov lately, maybe a little bit of Manu Chao when I get tired of electronic music and I have  been listening to some artists from Argentina too because I miss Buenos Aires, my favorite band from there is called Babasonicos (if you’ve never heard of them, listen to their song Los Calientes).


How was your experience at Berklee? What were you studying? How did it impact your involvement in music?

Berklee had a huge impact on my life, I studied Electronic Production and Sound Design but I think the most valuable experiences were not in classrooms but hanging out with friends and being constantly surrounded by artists that come from different countries and cultural backgrounds, it makes you define yourself as an artist and understand how you are different from others and how valuable your uniqueness can be if you accept it and develop it.


At Berklee I also had the opportunity to meet and talk to some of my biggest influences like Loco Dice, Matthew Dear, Nicolas Jaar, Richard Devine and many others, I realized that although they are extremely talented they always work with a team behind them that helps them in the areas they are not experts or areas they don’t find interesting, that was a big lesson for me. Another huge lesson I learned from them is work hard but do what you want to do, don’t let the industry push you to do things you don’t like, sometimes it feels like Berklee teaches you the opposite, that’s why I think it’s a great school to develop your musicianship but not your artistry.


How does the scene in Buenos Aires compared to New York and Boston?

I think the scene in Buenos Aires is very similar to New York, they are both big multicultural cities, there’s always something fun to do and there are many talented artists from there and also international artists playing there all the time. I think the crowd in Argentina is more intense than crowds here, although New York has a very special vibe that I love. The Boston scene is smaller but at the same time it’s more intimate, that’s the good thing about it.


You have traveled and played a vast array of places. Where do you hope to play in the future? Are there any clubs or festivals that you’ve always dreamed of headlining?

This is a hard question because I am still not sure if my music is club music, although club music (particularly techno) is one of my biggest influences right now. I saw Justice live in 2012 and it was amazing because it was like a rock show and a techno show at the same time and the visuals were amazing, I don’t think I have a club or festival I dream of headlining but I definitely dream of having a show like that one or something like the show Eric Prydz does at Madison Square Garden.


I saw you posted a picture of a book on surrealism on top of your TR-8. What role has surrealism played in your music? What other mediums influence you?

Surrealism definitely has a huge influence on the way I think about my music, I love the way artists like Magritte were able to use the language of dreams to portray images that are very mysterious but familiar and common at the same time, that’s what I want people to feel when they listen to my music.

Short story writers like Julio Cortazar, Edgar Allan Poe or Jorge Luis Borges influence me in a very similar way.


Is there any work or book that has deeply affected you and your music?

Probably “Free Play” by Stephen Nachmanovitch, it made me realize how important it is to take music and life as a game. One thing I love about the English language is that the word “play” is used for both playing instruments and playing games, in Spanish it’s different we say “tocar” for instruments and “jugar” for games and I think that’s a huge difference that impacts the way we think.


Is there any particular movement or period in art that has had a strong influence on you?

I think dadaism has a huge influence on modern art in general not just on me, particularly on modern production and DJing. Many of the techniques developed in that period, like collage, cut-up technique and assemblages are the precursors of modern sampling and DJing, the idea of making art using pieces of pre-existing material is very strong in electronic music and hip-hop. For my EP I literally sampled movies, interviews and songs that inspire me and I recorded ambient noise from places I like.


The cover art for your album is awesome! How did that come about? Who designed it?

It came as part of the whole creative process, not as something separate from the music, I wanted the EP to be made of things I love and things that inspire me and there was a picture of a famous woman that really inspired me because of the expression of her face, there was something about it that I really liked. I didn’t want to use the picture so I asked a very talented designer and friend called Tomas Pomeranec to draw something similar keeping the expression but changing some of the details. It’s a similar concept to the one I had with the music, I was looking for something that looked familiar but mysterious at the same time.

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