We recently enjoyed a brief back-and-forth with Carlos Andujar, the fellow behind one of our favorite retro electronic music acts, Navigateur. United via Twitter and a shared interest in all things retro-futuristic, Carlos has engaged with us quite a bit here and there, always obliging us with answers to our questions and valuable input regarding his work and that of his colleagues. After hearing last year’s full-length Surface, we’ve been hard pressed to find much of anything that has topped the sheer quality and originality of Navigateur's work, and our hearts all skip a beat or two anytime we see that he has a new single or EP out. We're incredibly excited and honored to have been able to make Carlos' acquaintance, and we hope that you'll enjoy our short conversation with him as well. Be sure to grab a copy of one of our favorite releases of 2013, Navigateur's Surface, here, and feel free to peruse his merch and back catalog as well. On to the interview!
1. What is the story behind the moniker “Navigateur”?
It’s kind of silly, but it’s a combination of being a reference to one of my childhood favorite films, Flight of the Navigator, and being an homage to a lot of the French 80s-influenced dance music I was getting into at the time (i.e. the Valerie collective, College, Anoraak, etc). The stupid part is that I’m pretty sure I pronounce it incorrectly (“na-vi-ga-ter”, vs, “na-vi-ga-ture”), so to all my French friends, my sincerest apologies.
2. How would you describe your own music?
That’s kind of a tough one since it changes so much stylistically/aesthetically. I’m kind of influenced by every sort of genre on the planet so nailing my own stuff down to one is tough for me. I tend to simply describe it as 80s-influenced electronic music with a nod to hip hop and ambient drone.
3. What are your greatest influences (artists, experiences, weather, etc.)?
I’m glad you mentioned the weather, that’s a big one for me. I like to think of music in terms of environment or situations (i.e. what music would I want to hear in this situation or what music would I want to hear while driving through this city?) and I try to think of certain situations or places when making my own music. My last album S U R F A C E was written during the fall/winter so to me it has kind of a “colder” harsh sound as opposed to my past stuff.
Location and environment are also huge for me. I might love a particular song but I won’t want to hear it unless I’m somewhere specific. I love the idea of music being a soundtrack for wherever you happen to be at. There’s actually a great app that does this exact thing called Aurora, which is an app started by some people I know in Jacksonville, FL, where I’m originally from, and I’m fortunate enough to have been able to submit a track to them for the app. If you’re ever in Jacksonville, drive from Arlington to Riverside across the Matthews bridge and you should hear it.
Anyways, I think there’s so much power in crafting music specifically for a specific mood or experience, and that’s why all my releases kind of have these loose narratives. I think it’s easier to grow an attachment to music that way, in my opinion.
4. Being the guy behind Formalogic Records, what is your opinion on the ever-changing structure of independent music?
I actually didn’t start FORMALOGIC_Records, that’s the work of my good friend Ian Latchmansingh who writes music as Datadiamond. He’s the guy you’ll see at my shows from time to time doing live visuals for me as well. He started the label maybe a year ago? Maybe a little more than that, but anyways, we kind of toss ideas around back and forth about the label, how to structure it, who to sign on in the future, and that kind of thing. I’m more of a helper I guess is what I’m trying to say, but ultimately it’s Ian’s vision and baby.
In terms of independent music’s structure, I’m probably not the best person to ask, but it’s interesting to see how much it’s changed over the last decade or so. The internet definitely changed things quite a bit, I think. I mean, it’s better and worse in a lot of ways. You hear people saying how great it is that anybody can upload their song, film, or whatever to the Internet and have it be accessible to the entire world, but in a way it kind of hurts music when you get people doing it who have no real interest in it as an artform rather as a scheme to make money, get popular, or… whatever.
I also feel like there’s this kind of pervasive sense of entitlement that new musicians have nowadays, like it’s okay to skip going through the ropes and paying your dues because you have a song on the internet and “this other producer or band uploaded their song online and now they’re on Pitchfork” or something. I don’t know, I just remember in high school when you wanted to get your name out you played shows, went on tour, etc. I think these days, we kind of forget that that’s a crucial component to getting your music heard. You can’t live in a bubble and go on thinking you’re hot because you have a lot of SoundCloud followers or you have a huge Twitter base. I don’t know, it’s weird. It’s really weird getting your stuff out and trying to get people to take a chance on you.
5. Does making music pay the bills? Is it more of a dedicated hobby?
At this point, it doesn’t, which sucks, because honestly I’d rather be doing this full-time. I’m working on it, though.
6. What do you do for a living, and do you like it?
Right now I work full-time as a web/graphic designer and that pays the bills. I love design, I design all my releases, and it will always be a part of me, but in a cheesy way, I feel like I’m “approaching a new chapter in my life” where I kind of feel like I need to take the plunge and figure something out or at the very least start taking more risks associated with my music career. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m still trying to figure out how to do this full-time.
7. What are some other things you enjoy about life besides art?
I’m pretty introverted and kind of hermetic, but when I muster up the courage and allow myself to surrender a little I love interacting with new people. I love hearing how people perceive the world and existence in general. I feel like I get a broader view of things myself. I love traveling which is maybe another reason why touring is so appealing to me. I really appreciate seeing how other people live and what things they might take for granted.
I’m also an avid beer enthusiast. Have you seen that Chillwave IPA?? Whuuut?
8. As a known music fan, what are some of best musical experiences you have had with other people’s music?
I guess there’s a few experiences that come to mind, but I think ultimately it boils down to the times where I leave feeling like I had some sort of connection or visceral experience. You always have those critical moments when you hear a band that kind of changes your musical outlook on life. Slowdive and Sunny Day Real Estate were those bands for me in like, middle school.
I also remember seeing Capn’ Jazz a few years ago in Chicago, and I seriously felt like I was back in high school again. It was so raw and so full of energy and I left drenched in sweat.
Man, Moogfest 2011 in Asheville was another amazing experience for me. I had just started Navigateur the year before and had gotten into all these various producers and suddenly they were all going to be there live in front of my face in one place! It great seeing/meeting Oneohtrix Point Never, Ford & Lopatin, Amon Tobin, Brian Eno, Gold Panda… Very surreal to see all these amazing people in this town surrounded by mountains. One for the books.
9. Also, what are some of the most memorable moments for you in your own musical journey?
I think the mere fact that there are people out there who appreciate it and drop these, like, heavy comments of admiration towards me is pretty momentous and huge for me on a lot of different levels. There’s something about knowing that this thing you’ve created made someone else experience an emotion or moved them in some way. That is so trippy to me.
I also always love seeing people getting into my music and dancing at shows. My stuff may not necessarily be the most danceable but I love that people don’t put too much stock in that and get free anyways. I definitely encourage that. More dancing. Get loose.
10. Ever have anything particularly weird happen while touring or playing shows (if applicable)?
I mean, nothing like, head-exploding weird, but, there have definitely been some moments like where I’ve been like, “what is happening right now??”. Little things like, the next band after me sound checking their instruments while I’m in the middle of playing my set to random drunk people kind of hovering directly next to me while in the middle of a set. Little weird things like that.
I’m still pretty early in my career and haven’t done a proper tour with Navigateur yet, so give it time, I’m sure they’re coming.