IOMix014 // Kleine Pía

Get an authoritative insight into the sound of Chilean techno from a true advocate for the scene’s most creative artists new and old.

In the Northern hemisphere it’s all too easy to make gross generalisations or misconceptions about what’s good in South American club music. Colombia seems to be having a moment as crews like TraTraTrax score magazine covers and the like, while Brazil has its fair share of exposure and interaction with the wider world thanks to the energetic scenes in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and beyond. Chile however has always been a little less exposed, due in part to the simple geography as much as other more complex issues around global socio-political power dynamics. Without derailing hard into those topics, we’re here instead to celebrate the release of Place: Chile — a new compilation in the Air Texture label’s series focusing on a regional scene (the past entry for Tunisia is essential listening too), curated by a local artist with all tracks donated and the proceeds going to an environmental cause in the area of focus.

For the Chilean instalment of the series, Air Texture have turned to Kleine Pía to be their local guide, which seems to be a very wise shout indeed. Pía Sotomayor has been entrenched in the Chilean electronic music scene since the early 00s, championing local sounds while staying keyed into the continued development of techno at its most imaginative. She’s equally drawn to house, breakbeat and electro rhythms, so let’s consider techno as a broader umbrella term for inventive, meaningful dance music which she engages with as a DJ and producer alongside her primary professional roles as a journalist and historian. Sotomayor has been recognised across guest mixes and international gigs aplenty, but we’re in full support of her grounded outlook, which prioritises music as a creative venture rather than a careerist one. Real quality shines through, and that’s exactly what she’s reached for in assembling the compilation, which now gets faithfully represented in this razor-sharp mix alongside a broader sweep of relevant selections. It’s a great insight into the vibrant sounds coming out of Chile’s DIY scene at present, and a vital testament to Kleine Pía’s standing as one of the finest DJs in the country.

Hit play below and then scroll south for a Q&A and the tracklisting.

IOMix014 // Kleine Pia

Thanks for recording this mix for us — what was the plan you had for it?

Thanks for having me! The intention is pretty simple, just blending some local magic tracks that will be released on the Place compilation, with some other tracks I’ve found digging. I usually start my mixes with an experimental point of view and then drive it to the dancefloor. This mix goes ‘boom’ at the very beginning. 

How have things evolved in the Chilean scene since you were starting out at the turn of the millennium?

The local scene has been magically transformed since the turn of the millennium. I’m glad it happened, and glad as well to witness and be part of it. It went from being very male-dominated — the ‘tatitas’ crew — to be so much more open and integrative to other groups of people. In Chile, since there are almost no established clubs, it’s all happening in the DIY underground, and the artists have the chance to deploy all their creativity. 2016 was the year when many label managers and promoters and their crews just went on their own. It’s very segmented — some scenes don’t interact much with others, which makes it very diverse. The audience is trans-generational and explosive, and since I have some experience watching some other communities in the world, I would say the vibe here goes WILD. Now it’s a generational collective effort, where before it was the privilege of just a few. 

How strong is the electronic music scene in Chile at this point in time? 

The Air Texture compilation certainly serves to highlight local talent. It’s quite strange to hear some artists tagged as new, just because they are not known at all in the Northern Hemisphere. There are artists featured in Place who have 20-year careers, and there are some other young artists incredibly influential in defining a local sound. We are strong in creation, and we don’t look much at other scenes or communities because we like to build our own, on our terms, with poor structures, but with what we have, expecting nothing from the North. I’ve seen so many trying to reach electronic legacy media to get their production featured, getting no reply back, myself included. If there are any lines or slots reserved for Latin artists, they are mostly covered mainly with Colombian and Mexican producers. 

The local artists who have got international recognition are some who decided to move abroad, or because their talent got endorsements from well-known artists with Chilean roots but have lived in the EU or USA since they were kids. Since Chile is geographically so isolated, we’ve been trying to connect with South America, building bridges with Colombia, Argentina and Perú mainly. I wish we could connect more with Brasil but it’s a different world.

The Place compilation is a rare, amazing, and exceptional case of recognition that we don’t take for granted, so I’m just very thankful to James at the label for putting this together.    

How much do scenes and sounds vary between Santiago and other parts of the country?

Chile is very centralised, so most of the DJs and producers live in Santiago. I work in IME, a local union of independent electronic artists — we have more than 160 members, and I would say that 80% are located in the capital. However, there are equally amazing scenes from the south in cities such as Concepción, Temuco, Valdivia, Puerto Montt and Punta Arena where the industrial, drone, techno and house sounds hit strong. Same as black metal and doom — something you can associate with harsher weather latitudes.   

Is the current wave of Chilean electronic music particularly focused on regional identity or is it reaching for a more global, universal sound?

There are both. There is a group of people integrating local sounds like the ones coming from Andean folklore, but other people are just producing in a global language. There were many exiled people during the dictatorship that grew up in Germany, bringing back that heritage. For example, the first rave in South America was in Putre (a small village in the desert Andes, almost on the border with Perú and Bolivia) in 1994, for a total sun eclipse. Ricardo Villalobos was involved because he was living in Frankfurt and he played as well. This event was pivotal because it opened a new sound for many locals. Now, I would say there are two generations overflowing with talented artists, after mine. I was born under Pinochet’s dictatorship and the transition to full democracy took a while. Now it’s clearly manifested in artistic creation where everything comes together freer from those musical genre definitions.  

How much time are you devoting to developing as a producer at present, or is the focus for you more on DJing at the moment?

I’m a journalist and historian, and I’ve never really wanted to make my musical delivery as a DJ or producer my main income source, because  it’s something I care so much about and do with so much integrity. In Chile it’s almost impossible to make ends meet if you are 100% invested in music. 

Currently, I’m almost not playing DJ sets, and after releasing my first EP Multi Level Void, I feel I said pretty much everything I have to say at the moment. Producing takes me way too much time. I don’t consider myself talented at all in terms of technical skills and simply don’t engage with the ideas of releasing music just to be in the spotlight, so whenever I feel I have something to say again I’ll show up with new material. I don’t see my music as a career at all, just a very important and deep part of who I am. 

IOMix014 Tracklisting:

  1. Mucho Sueño – No Comply
  2. Unit – Dawning
  3. Kleine Pia – Sombra Andes
  4. Tomás Urquieta – Parte 3
  5. Batu – In Tongues
  6. KUSP – Oxytocin (Radio Slave Ghost Town Remix)
  7. JXXXO & HERS – Untitled 33.3
  8. X-COAST & DJ Gigola – Ich Bin Ready (X-COAST Version)
  9. buen clima – k memo
  10. Makita – Tools
  11. Undivulged – Bliep Bliep (Hyden Remix)
  12. Bobby Shann – Bad Girl
  13. Amaliah – Spooky Dub
  14. Assembler Code + Jensen Interceptor – Upper Function (Roza Terenzi Remix)
  15. Verraco – Escandaloo

Kleine Pía photo by Noli Provoste.