Diggers Directory: Trujillo

Photo Credit: Nico Lanfranchi

Having received his first record from his father at the age of four, it’s no surprise Venezuelan-born DJ and producer Trujillo found his calling in music and record collecting. But although this formative years surrounded by sound have had their influence, Trujillo has definitely forged his own musical pathway; one that reflects exactly who he is.

Motivated by that very notion, his search for records is never steered by hyped rarities or inflated Discogs prices, it’s the unassuming and the lucky dips that yield the greatest surprises for him. On top of his DJing pursuits, Trujillo has taken his own productions to Barcelona’s Apersonal, Los Grandes and Midnight Riot Records and is now venturing into label management himself with friend Claas Brieler. The pair are working towards the launch of a new label True Class, which will begin life with a reissue of Venezuelan synth-pop producer Vinicio Adames’ Al Comienzo Del Camino.

Alongside a vinyl-only mix of Spanish Balearic, synth-pop, boogie and house in homage to his roots, he chats to us about the importance of taking a gamble, the lessons he’s learnt along the way and how record collecting is in his genes…

DJs and producers often mention their musical education came through their family’s record collection. Was this the case for you? Can you pick out any pivotal records from your upbringing that informed your musical journey?

Yes, I was born in a family of music and art enthusiasts. There was a deep connection with music long before I was aware of it. When I was born my father and and grandfather already had a large music collection, my grandfather focusing on Classical Music and my father into 70s Rock. My father gifted me my first record Kiss – Creatures Of The Night by that time, at four years old, I was totally amazed not only by their music, but also by the look of their painted faces and the leather customs. I got obsessed with the band and collected all their records. Slowly I started my own musical journey coming from rock to electronic music. Two very important records for me were Radiohead – OK Computer, as an iconic piece of transition between these two genres, and then Daft Punk – Homework, as the definite break through to electronic music.

People buy records for a multiple of reasons. What first drew you to collecting records and what motivates you to continue digging after all these years?

I think collecting records is in my genes as my family were already into it. I can say they passed the torch down. Music has been the centre of my life ever since I can remember and so for me it is a natural thing. Making my own path into my own music collection motivates my digging desire; to create a collection which reflects who I am.

Where do you store your records and how do you file them?

I have most of my records at home and another part of my collection at my parents place in Venezuela. I need to have them close by as I’m constantly using them, sorting a selection for a gig, recording a mix, or just listening while I’m cooking. I sort them by genres and then by countries inside the genres, then I have a couple of special sections that I like to name not as genres but as feelings like  “Native Dance” and “New Directions In Sound” where all those cross-genre, weird styles or simply my favourite records go.

What are your favourite spots to go digging and why?

When I play in another country, I try to get an extra day off in the city so I can go digging either to local record shops or Sunday markets, but I have to say that most of my best records I’ve found on the internet. Digging online takes a lot of time, and even with the info available at everyone’s disposal you can still discover rare or hard to find records for fair prices… If you get lucky. I always like to blind buy records which look interesting, I don’t know what they sound like and cannot listen online… No better feeling when you receive a record you bought as a gamble and BOOM, the magic is there.

Digging isn’t just about the records you find, but the people who help you find them. Who are some of the colourful characters you’ve met on your travels in record stores round the world? Any unsung heroes you’d like to shout out?

Indeed, every city has their own colorful characters, and I’ve met some really special ones. I remember a few years ago at A-1 record shop in NYC and that beautiful, hypnotic Linda Perhacs – Parallelogram started to sound. I didn’t know her at the time so I just went straight to the counter and asked the guy behind what it was. We quickly started a conversation about US folk music from the 70s and he recommended some amazing albums. This guy knew a lot about the genre, a great dude with a super chill personality and a big musical knowledge, Shef. I’ll never forget what he said to me after our conversation, “proceed with caution and trust your inner ear”. Since then this phrase has become a digging mantra for me.

Another great character I met recently is Ted Gilles at his record shop Galette in Marseille. Spending two complete days at his shop going through a whole batch of Caribbean records he just received, we had lots of fun drinking beer while sharing his musical madness. I learned a lot during those days from his musical intuitive sense. Again, a music lover following his inner ear and avoiding the “let’s check on Discogs” tick. The world needs more record owners like him, connecting with their customers instead of high pricing the records. Certainly a real unsung hero.

Is there a record (or records), that has continued to be illusive over the years?

There’s always that record that you missed out on when it was cheap or you had the chance to get it once in a record shop or online and you didn’t. That feeling that you know you didn’t take the right decision in that moment will keep remaining in your head, but certain things I’ve learned in this game is 1) never regret a bad decision, just move on because 2) you always will have a second opportunity. Eventually, you will have the chance to come across that one record again, and this time you won’t let it pass you by!

Do you prefer record shopping as a solitary process or with friends to nerd out with and search or strange sounds together? If the latter, who do you like to go digging with?

I like both. I like to go digging with friends because they can show you records you didn’t know, also you can have a second opinion on songs you are listening to. But on the other hand, I think the digging experience gets deeper when you are by yourself and can submerge yourself in a record shop for hours, taking the time to explore with more focus.

Walking into a record shop can be quite a daunting experience. Do you have a digging process that helps you hone in on what you’re after?

One thing my friend and mentor Claas Brieler taught me, is that you always need to try and connect with the record store owners first. Start a simple conversation, get curious about their record shop and it’s history, or just simply some random theme that makes you interact with them. Then they will click with you and they will give you a special treatment – show you some special records, give you tips or even some nice discounts. Of course this rule doesn’t always apply, there’s some really grumpy dudes out there. When walking into a record shop, I always first take a look at the wall, then go to the World music section, then to the €1-5 cheap bins on the floor (here’s where the nectar usually is). Then I check the rest, if I have the time.

How big a role does album artwork play in your digging?

Well, this is something tricky, not all cool covers have good music and vice-versa. What I really use to guide me is looking at the back cover, the instruments played on the record and the label, this will give me a more specific idea of how it could sound.

Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve done for us?

At first I thought of doing a Venezuelan music mix but this is something I’ve already done before, so I decided to go for Spain. Spain is my family background and also I’ve been digging a lot of this kind of music lately for a project I’m working on. So it’s a Spanish-inspired mix crossing from Balearic, Synth-Pop, Boogie and House.

Any standouts in the mix you’d like to mention?

There’s a track which, for me, stands out from the rest: Scan Man – ‘Arabian’. It’s a composition with a hard 80s drum groove, a funky af bassline, an Arabian kinda sitar lead key and that magic pad going all over! The way I discovered this track makes it even more special, as I was recording a live guest mix together with my friend Norm from Bayete at Abu Sou’s Canela En Surco studio in Barcelona and he showed this record to us. Norm and I went totally mental when we listened to it, we each had to buy a copy right then. At that moment there were like 10 copies for sale of this record on Discogs for about €5 to €10 each, we could never imagine it could go that high. Urban tales says that John Talabot was the first one to unearth this gem!

Casting the net wider now, who are some of the record collectors you most admire and why?

There’s so many great collectors out there. Some collectors focus on a specific genre and some just create collections with a bit of every genre, I’m more like this. I like collectors than can surprise you either with a super rare record or with a super cheap record. A good digger for me, must have the sensibility and the ability to find and connect rare grails with cheap magic, that’s the perfect formula. Jazzanova’s Claas Brieler, Cesare Barbetta aka Boxes Of Toys, Sanshiro, Ullar Siir, San Soda, Frane Zivkovic aka Boogie Cabaret and Tostoni are some of the craziest and most serious collectors I know – most of them don’t recognize their full potential.

Are there any young collectors emerging who we should keep a close eye on?

There’s a lot of great young collectors right now, and many of them are so underrated and not given the exposure they deserve. These guys have the time, the taste and dedication to go through all the still overlooked records. I would recommend to check Bayete, Iggy P, Lorem Ipsum, Mike Who, Henry Smiling C, Daniel Terndrup, Good Block, No Frills, Customs, Cruce Grammatico, Isabella DiBlassio, Modern Art, Yoav Sa’Ar, Maybe Tonight, Barbara Boeing, Daniel Lupica, Abu Sou, Purito Y Su Combo. Sorry the list is long but I cannot miss the opportunity to name them all!

Anything on the horizon you’re excited about?

I’m working on a new compilation of early Balearic music. Also I’m creating a new label called True Class together with my friend Claas Brieler. The label will focus on reissuing some legendary records from Venezuela, starting with the Synth-Pop master piece by Vinicio Adames – Al Comienzo Del Camino. I’m also making some original music which I’m planning to release later this year. And of course, always looking forward to travelling for the music!

Photo credit: Nico Lanfranchi

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