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"When Love Hurts has been an escape route," Pional explains. The Spanish producer has been flying high making dance music, remixing some of our favorite tracks, and DJing around the world, but now he's putting his own vocals front and center.
It proves to be a good decision on When Love Hurts, his new EP, which is out on September 30 via Ninja Tune imprint Counter Records. Intricate webs of warm electronics are still the basis of Pional's music, but on "Casualty" he plays wistful pop singer as well as producer, and on "The Way That You Like," Empress Of delivers another impressive, impassioned performance.
Listen to the premiere of "The Way That You Like," described as "a song about a toxic relationship," and get into an interview with Pional below. Pre-order When Love Hurts here.
When did you first start using your own vocals in your music? What extra freedom do you feel it gives you as a creator?
I began using my voice as an extra instrument, it added that little bit extra to the songs. At first I tried to hide the vocals but over time I’ve become more confident. I imagine that’s a natural process. A lot of times I’m working and I see something is missing, so I try something with my voice and many times that solves the problem. Other times I start with a vocal idea I’ve had in mind. This EP is the first I use my voice as the main element in a song—it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while.
How does Madrid influence you as an artist and a person?
Madrid is my city, it’s where I was born and where my family and friends are. My closest friends don’t work in music and perhaps that’s better for me. When I go home it’s a way of disconnecting and working in the studio I have less distractions. Many times I’ve thought of leaving the city, trying somewhere else I might feel more identified with the music and where I could work with more friends who work in music, like in Barcelona or London. But I feel comfortable in my city. So as an influence Madrid doesn’t have much, but it’s where I choose to live and for now I wouldn’t change it.
Tell us about "The Way That You Like". How did it come together and what is the message behind the song?
I did a remix for Empress Of a few years ago and we really became friends. I love her voice and I'm so happy that she could be part of this. The song is about a toxic relationship where you can't say no, you always pick up and you always reply but it's not a two way street.
You describe this EP as your most personal work yet - can you explain that more? What experiences in the past year have inspired and fed into the EP.
For a long time I had been working from home, and it got to a point where I needed to leave the house, work in a place where I could focus and not have distractions. I took me a while to find a place but after a long search I found the ideal place. I’ve been now just over a year in this new studio and I’ve been working non-stop.
I’ve made an investment in hardware and for days I’m like a kid trying everything. This is how When Love Hurts happened. It was a totally organic and fun process. Recording drums, spending hours every week trying to find the right hi-hat or snare—it was like going to school but with no teacher telling you how to do it so you’re just learning by yourself and also solving problems as you go along. It’s an interesting way of doing your own recording masterclass and sound design.
I suppose with When Love Hurts I’ve developed as a musician. I’ve learnt lots, not only in the professional but also personal. I’ve never written anything so personal until I started with this. With regards to the sound it’s also something I’ve never tried. It took me around five months to finish the tracks which is very strange in me because I tend to work very quickly, but I spent a lot of time going over things specially the mix.
When Love Hurts has been an escape route, doing something different from what I DJ in my sets which is more dance orientated.