For over 24 years, producer/DJ Oscar Mulero has lived and breathed techno. He was at the forefront of the Spanish electronic scene during the '90s as a resident DJ in numerous clubs around the country, before taking his sound on the road midway through the decade and he hasn't really stopped since. Touring like a bluesman and producing prolifically, Mulero is a man of motion, which is probably why his sound is still fresh today.
Like any good journeyman, Mulero has learned to work on the road. Most of his new album, Muscle and Mind, was recorded in airports and train stations. Hidden away on a laptop in numerous departure lounges, dark and powerful music was being created amongst the frequent flyers and tourists. These spaces are such a huge part of the album that they even made it on to the recordings, such as on "Dualistic Concept," where you can hear a sample of an airport announcer bookend the track.
While airports may be good for inspiration, they're no place to craft a polished sound, which is why Mulero took all his travel-worn tracks to Madrid so he could do the final cuts on an analog studio mixer.
"I was really trying for a record that had less elements to the tracks but more texture and a much wider sound with more dynamics, and deep as I could possibly make it," Mulero tells Exclaim! "That's why this time I figured I should try and do what a rock or an indie band would do and take everything to a proper studio for that final mix."
Though time consuming, the gambit has paid off. Muscle and Mind is a techno record with an arena-rock feel. This album sees Mulero maturing past the status of mere DJ or producer. Muscle and Mind is a record built on the traits of an established live musician: written on the road, cut in the studio, and influenced by a long career in the field.
"I'm a techno producer, a techno DJ, and I play techno tracks, but working on an album like this makes me feel more like an electronic musician," says Mulero.
After a quarter-century inhabiting some of music's murkier corners, one would imagine a certain weariness festering beneath the surface, but Mulero maintains that he hasn't gotten bored at any point. The key, it seems, is to get involved with multiple projects that challenge your everyday talents. Aside from running two labels, Warm Up and PoleGroup, Mulero has recently has tackled live AV shows. After producing his Light and Dark AV Set in 2012, this year he will begin touring his Biolive project, which combines Mulero's more IDM-tinged recordings with visual art collective Fium. In addition to getting energy from various side projects, Mulero also praises veteran performers like Jeff Mills as a source of inspiration.
"After seeing him play at the beginning of last year, I was completely blown away. It was such a memorable experience. After all these years, he's found a way to keep it enjoyable. He still has fun with it and that energy gets delivered right to the dance floor. Obviously I'm not going to be DJing at 70, but to see guys like that out there, who are still believing in the scene after all these years, is really inspiring."
Strange as it may seem for a genre that's very much associated with youth culture, techno still has it's fair share of seasoned producers. The aforementioned Mills, Luke Slater, Juan Atkins, Surgeon, and Regis to name a few are still going strong, with no real sign of stopping soon. When asked about the life of a long-serving techno producer, Mulero replied with a tidbit that seems to have evaded anti-ageing companies for years.
"Techno makes you younger," claims Mulero, "Playing techno these days, makes me feel about ten years younger, at least!"