Local and Global at the Same Time: An Interview with Metis’ Ian Lampel- 05 April, 2012
One of our favourite releases of last year was Sessions Vol.I Antropofagia by Uruguayan group Metis. The EP’s five tracks plotted a course between hip-hop, jazz and Uruguay’s own candombe that worked on every level, in the process creating a sound that was both familiar and completely original. We are sure that Metis are going on to big things and so wanted to take an opportunity to have a few words with Ian Lampel, one of the group’s original members.
With Metis you mix the candombe rhythm with modern influences such as hip-hop. Was this a conscious decision to mix something intrinsically Uruguayan with modern styles from other parts of the world?
Yes it was. I guess the whole idea of the album and the band is heavily linked to these concept, it is something that comes out naturally when I make music, and I feel that one should always strive to create something original and unique, and I would dare to say that that kind of music always sprouts from embracing our own identity.
What other bands are you in or have been in the past?
I have a solo project called La Orquesta del Beat Invisible. Under this alias I produce what I like to deem “forward thinking hip hop”, which is basically post-Dilla, post-Madlib influenced hip hop, but with a personal twist (I hope!). With this alias I also did a remix of Uruguayan songwriter Eduadro Mateo, which was released officially next to other remixes by Uruguayan label Sondor. I am also working on an unnamed project with a Uruguayan/Hawaian girl who sings and composes. I have releases planned for both projects soon. I played in many projects before, too many to mention, but before Metis I had a dub/electronic/reggae band called Maima, now dissolved. I also had a duo with Martin Teysera called Gezumo, these are two releases available on Ouzo. This music is like 7 years old, but back then we were already trying to fuse Uruguayan music with other modern genres. When we played live we switched to techno/house mode though.
So was your record label Ouzo Music started directly as a way of releasing music by the bands you were performing in?
Yes, it works as a label for releasing our music independently and it’s also a collective of like-minded artists, as such we have been promoting events and shows for some years now.
Where do you play in Uruguay? Mainly in Montevideo?
Yes, we play mainly in Montevideo, but we have played in the interior of the country, and we usually play at the coast during summer.
Are all the artists based in Montevideo?
Most of our artists are originally from Montevideo. Currently most of us reside in Montevideo, Martin Teysera and Guillermo Miranda (formerly of live tech/house duo Monoblock) live in Berlin and a couple of us are constantly on the move.
And what kind of venues do you play, bars, art spaces, theatres, etc.?
We play in all kinds of venues, night clubs, art spaces, theatres, bars, public spaces, we adapt the show to the enviroment and the mood of the crowd.
What would you say is the common link between all the artists on Ouzo?
I would have to bore you again with all the stuff about ones music being true and honest and unique,
… but I would also have to mention a tendency to look to the past and the future at the same time, to try to learn from what has been and from what is yet to be,
… an intention to be local and global at the same time, which I think is clearly exemplified with Metis,
… a shared interest in the mixture of electronic and organic music, both in forms/genres and timbres,
… and in the case of many Ouzo artists (such as ourselves) the look for identity starts in the ART of our own country, not only in the music, but in all the different manifestations of our own culture. That is what makes us unique.
I have been listening a lot to Remezclación, the Eduardo Mateo remix album [on which Ian appears with his project La Orquesta del Beat Invisible]. Why do you think Mateo continues to have an impact on musicians in Uruguay?
This answer is related to the first one. Eduardo Mateo’s music was light years ahead of his time, and I think this was because Mateo’s music was very unique, an incredible synthesis of his many tastes, it truly reflected his own unique personality. And of course… it is also beautiful music. As simple as that. It is not only beautiful on the level of subjective feeling, I would dare say it is also beautiful on an artistic and intellectual level. Seeing it from a more practical perspective, as someone who creates music, Mateo’s work is full of inspiring ideas and incredible (and unusual) turns.
Can you name one upcoming artist from Uruguay that you think should be getting a lot more attention that they’re getting at the moment?
I would have to say Mateo Dellepiane Michelini aka Ghetto Expressions. He is the author of one of the remixes on the Metis album, he has also produced beats for Argentinian rapper Mustafa Yoda (“Buscando A Las Maritas (Ghetto Expressions Remix” – check it out on Youtube). He is a friend and an incredibly talented musician and producer with a low profile, check his stuff out!!
And also, can you name one older artist that you consider one of Uruguay’s hidden treasures?
Gustavo “El Principe” Pena is an incredible musician and songwriter who has risen in popularity in the last years, sadly since his death, same as Mateo. Although he is more widely known right now in the Rio de La Plata, I think his work is yet to be discovered around the world.
What’s your next release on Ouzo, and what’s the next release that you are actually involved with as a musician?
The next release in Ouzo will be our 30th release and it will be a compilation, one new track per Ouzo artist plus some guests. We will release it both digitally and in full CD format. We also plan to launch a new website and release schedule right after the compilation. I personally will be releasing a solo record as producer and an EP with a female singer and songwriter. There is also plans for a new Metis release soon.
And also, what’s the plan with Metis?
We are currently preparing our live show, we will be playing our first date isoon, and our plan is to play a lot of shows and try to take our show abroad, we also plan Sessions Vol.2 for early 2012, thats for sure.
[Ian has also been working with Ghetto Expressions and four Cuban MC's called La Invaxion A Occidente for an upcoming experimental hip-hop album. You can check out the 'Making Of' video for this project below, which also features Ian giving a short interview]