Our Barcelona based writer Paranoid did this interview with Fernando Corona, better known as Murcof, about a year ago for another magazine that then stopped running. He kept it in his vaults, but given he’s a big favourite here on Cyclic Defrost, and his recent work with Vanessa Wagner was chosen as one of 2016’s best by our Reviews Editor, he kindly offered it to us. Fernando Corona is a Mexican electronic artist now based in Barcelona who has consistently produced some of the most technically skilled and affecting electronic music around.
Paranoid: Your second performance as Murcof was at Mutek 2002, right?
Fernando Corona: Yeah, they’re my godfathers. Alain Mongeau, the director of Mutek International would be something like the godfather of Murcof.
Paranoid: What can you remember of the performance?
Fernando Corona That I was, like we say in Mexico: ‘shitting in my pants’. It was in Montreal, and even though I had done already some international performances with Nortec Collective, including Sónar in 2001, on 2002 it was the debut as Murcof, and it was very nutritious for me as an artist.
Paranoid: How was your setup back then? What were you playing?
Fernando Corona: Mainly the Martes album, the first one, and it was on Fruity Loops if I remember properly, w/ some other little things added.
Paranoid: Last year you moved to a smaller location away from the city.
Fernando Corona: Yeah, I was looking for a more quiet life. In Barcelona that’s harder to find. Girona is also a bit cheaper. We’ve been checking other options with my family, even outside of Spain, but we’d rather be on a small countryhouse on a little town close to Girona, so we won’t be in the rush of the city anymore. Basically we did it because of time and space.
Paranoid: You think you’ll find yourself more comfortable to make music?
Fernando Corona: The thing is that you can get those moments of inspiration even on the train. It depends on a lot of factors. Everything is life itself, even though it’s true that some places make inspiration come easier, but on a general view there’s nowhere in particular where I feel better to work on music. Most important thing would be the silence.
Paranoid: Are you too sensitive to external noise?
Fernando Corona: Yes, because it affects sound, you can’t get into details. Silence is vital. In Barcelona I was living with my headphones on all day.
Paranoid: Talking about silence, you’ve sampled Arvo Pärt several times. Haven’t you thought of reversing some of his works?
Fernando Corona: We’ve been doing some reinterpretations of some of his works, and some other composers too, with a French pianist, Vanessa Wagner. What we do is gather and see what we can make to reverse this compositions, we try to generate a dialogue between the electronic part and the piano. I’ve only just sampled classical music before I started working with Vanessa.
Paranoid: Is it true that you’ve worked on a hospital with terminally ill patients?
Fernando Corona: Before I was working on music. Made a basic course of nourse assistant, and on this case yeah, I was working with terminally ill patients, with serious problems. It was 5 or 6 years overall I think, on a nurse agency in San Diego until I started making some money as a musician, and then I left that. It was at the end of the 90’s.
Paranoid: Don’t you think that fusion between electronic music and accoustic instruments is growing?
Fernando Corona: Yeah, definitely. It’s something you can’t escape from. Even to work with accoustic music, when it comes to recording, you need to deal with electronic devices. And electronic music is more and more present on recording studios.
Paranoid: Do you reach something more complete with this fusion?
Fernando Corona: That depends on what the artist is looking for. Some more purist musicians for example pretend to explore all the possibilities of accoustic instruments, or organic things only, and that is also very valid. But you can also expand the spectrum to the infinite adding electronic and digital tools.
Paranoid: Have you thought of an accoustic piece as something incomplete?
Fernando Corona: No, because I think that acoustically pure music is also very valid. You are communicating things same as you do it with electronic devices. Everything lays on the quality of the work that’s done, the composer, whatever it is that they are doing. All the rest is related to taste and culture.
Paranoid: You once said that it’s important to make an intellectual and emotional connection regarding music, and that it can happen simultaneously. Do you remember any experience like this?
Fernando Corona: I’d have to look for that answer. Everything on the same package? Hmm, perhaps some experiences as a teenager, like Jean-Michel Jarre with his albums Oxygène or Équinoxe, that was one of my first influences on electronic music, what that sound would evoke. At that time I was also very into Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. To evoke the greatness of the universe with merely electronic tools seems to be something unique for me.
Paranoid: What was the hardest thing you had to deal with to become an artist?
Fernando Corona: To believe in my own capacity of being creative. Of being constant. To trust in my own capacities. It was hard to quit my job, but I had to take the risk, to feel able to do it. Since then it’s been a struggle that would become harder sometimes. Today I feel like I’ve already been through a lot of stages, but throughout a few years I had problems with my self confidence. In Latin America there are not as many role models as there are here in Europe, and the artistic community is not so much accepted in the society, it’s perceived more like a hobby.
Paranoid: What about the inspiration?
Fernando Corona: Inspiration depends on how you stand before life. If you are open to listen and observe your enviroment, inspiration comes. It has a lot to do with the profession one has as well, in my case it’s all about transforming my own experiences into sound. You need to be quite open to life, and to whatever it might bring. Once we were at the airport in Sevilla with Erik Truffaz, waiting for our bags, and the baggage carousel was making a weird sound, something quite strange, it would grind with some very pretty armonic sounds. What I’m trying to say is that you need to stay alert, it can come from the most absurd situation and also from the obvious ones, like on my case going to a concert or listening to an album.
Paranoid: Which are your most memorable experiences performing live?
Fernando Corona: At Prague with Erik Truffaz, it was one of my best shows. Also another one with Truffaz and a guitar player from Tijuana who is a colleague of mine, Edgar Amor. It was at the St. Denis Church in France, and we projected some works and recordings by Edgar on different locations in Mexico, with traditional chants from the wixárikas communities. The idea was to recreate the spirit of these ancestral ceremonies. It was a magical concert, called Wixarika Project.
Paranoid: I’ve always perceived certain narrative on your music. Is there an intentional syntaxis?
Fernando Corona: I think it happens naturally. For example, my first album was more related to the birth of my son, he was born on March 6th 2002, the album came out in February that year. Utopía was me getting closer to a lot of musicians I really admire, and Remembranza is related to the passing away of my mother, a lot of nostalgia, it’s quite a loaded album, quite heavy, and afterwards there was Cosmos, which is trying to think big, to look up and beyond the horizon, beyond what we can immediately see.
Paranoid: Aspiring to a metaphysical aspect?
Fernando Corona: In every aspect, to trasend the immediate, the obvious.
Paranoid: Martes, Ulises, Remembranza, Cosmos.. Océano?
Fernando Corona: Haha, it happened that I got so much into collaborative projects that I left my side project a bit alone. There are a lot of sketches and vignettes, now after moving I’d like to focus on this project a bit more.
Paranoid: And then the F.
Fernando Corona: Exactly.