A lot of producers who also DJ say that the studio is their true passion, while spinning records is a necessary evil, a way to pay the bills. Spain’s Henry Saiz used to feel this way, but in recent times, he has started to appreciate the creative possibilities of stepping behind a set of decks. “I think they are very different experiences, but nowadays, I couldn’t live without both of them,” he says. “The studio work is more like a deep need – it’s where I can really express myself. The live shows are the place where I can test that work and check of people react to that so it’s almost as important. I’m really enjoying being a DJ these days,” he continues. “Some of the most intense experiences I’ve have had in my career happened on the stage, the feedback with the audience is so important.”
By necessity, DJs spend a lot of time on the road. Henry Saiz is certainly no stranger to this phenomenon, regularly bouncing between airport lounges and hotels in-between shows on all corners of the globe. For him, this is the only drawback of the job, and the only time he feels like he’s actually working. “I don’t have a good time travelling, to be honest,” he tells me. “Very long flights, airport security, weeks alone…” he pauses. “Hotel life sounds very glamorous, but when you are doing this for years it starts to get deeply annoying.” Then again, he admits, it is all apart of the job. “When you think about it, it’s totally worth it,” he says. “You get to see the world, meet people everywhere and so on. You have to remind yourself that you are actually a very lucky person.”
Turning from the road to the studio, I ask Saiz how his latest project is going. It’s an ambitious undertaking to say the least. At present, Saiz is working on an album called Reality Is for Those Who Are Not Strong Enough to Confront Their Dreams, and he’s making it with the help of his fans. Several months back, Saiz took to the internet and put out a call for contributions. He told fans that he was seeking recordings of their voices – singing, whispering, breathing, whatever really – clips of found sounds from their daily lives, or even clips of them playing original compositions on instruments. He’s in the process of putting the songs together, layering the various contributions together, and it’s taking an awful lot of work.
“It’s definitely a big project for me as it’s my first album,” he says. “It’s already 25 tracks, so still lot of work to do.” I ask Saiz what kinds of submissions he’s been getting from fans to use in the project, and whether it’s provided a unique insight into the inner workings of their minds. “That was the goal I wanted to achieve with this,” he says. “I wanted the opportunity to add unique and personal sounds from my listeners to the album, so they could be part of it. I got many different kinds of stuff – some very weird and funny, others quite special and unique.” As for how the pieces fit together, Saiz tells me that he has considered every sample, and given many a place in the overall collage. “Some of them are just sounds in the background,” he says, “layers and details, but the most inspiring ones became the main ideas to start the songs.”
Henry Saiz has spoken before about his love of David Foster Wallace, the American writer who, in his short life, produced epic and surreal works like the novel Infinite Jest. I’m curious to ask what exactly he finds inspiring about Wallace, and indeed, whether Wallace’s writing had any influence on Saiz’s own upcoming project. “Well, I just found his ideas and way of process reality completely amazing,” Saiz says, “and I feel so close to his point of view about almost everything. I’ve learnt so many things by reading his books. The first time I read them, I was totally shocked – he was a completely genius,” he continues. “When you are so into someone’s art, it becomes part of you and it affects the way you see the world and relate to people. Eventually, it’s bound to influence your own art.”
BY ALASDAIR DUNCAN