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The Evolution Of Electromagnetico's Experimental Synthpop Sound

<p>Chris Petersen explains his music project&#8217;s origins and objectives.</p>

by Erica Gonsales
Jul 1 2011, 4:34pm

When we first heard Electromagnetico, their sound reminded us of Kraftwerk. This connection makes sense, as Chris Petersen, one of the heads of this multimedia project, explained that they grew up listening to synthpop bands from the 80s and 90s, like Depeche Mode, Human League, and OMD, and like producers like Giorgio Moroder, Vince Clark, Stuart Price, and Afrika Bambaataa. Peterson confirms that the duo’s efforts are unique though: “We ourselves make the videos, the music, the editing, post production, everything. Experimentation is our motto.”

Chis and Ale Avila are both art directors at the design office Petersen.Avila. They began uniting art, music, and technology under the Electromagnetico project in 2008, which became a refreshing divergence from the demands of the office, where they do graphic design, internet projects, motion graphics, and photography. On their first EP Listen the duo created sounds made entirely on synthesizers, with disco, electro, house, charm, and funk (or freestyle) influences. Recently, they performed at Lab Club, a new venue in the club circuit on Sao Paulo’s Augusta Street.

Chris told us more about Electromagnetico’s creative process, the tools they use, and the ways that technology facilitates their artistic production.

Our project was born in 2008 with a different name: Two Boffins. In English [slang], it means “two individuals participating in a scientific or technological experiment.” Mad scientists, practically. We used that name until recently, because there is the Portuguese word “bofe,” which sounds the same and has a sexual connotation. People confused things, and we decided to change the name to “Electromagnetico,” which is more neutral, reflects our concept of technology, and doesn’t get anyone confused anymore. Under the name of Two Boffins, we have made some presentations at private parties, with projections and some sound tests to see if people liked it live. We also used LED bars for lighting, and all our musical equipment (a Rolland sample, two Apple laptops, a Korg keyboard, a Korg KP3, an iPad, and drum machines.) The videos that are on our website are from two projection backgrounds (“Bitch No More” and “Night Cravin’”) and the other two are official music videos.

We have been working for over 15 years in advertising agencies and design offices. As we wanted to develop pilot projects in the light of day as well (it’s pretty hard to work 12 hours in an office and then go home to make music), we decided to assemble our own design office. The cool thing is that the experimental work brings new things to the more commercial side, and vice versa. All this technology makes possible things that once required a huge structure. Now, only time is our greatest enemy, because the barriers between creating and showing your stuff no longer exist.

We are struggling for more live shows, but we want to do them in a place with nice sound (we have a bad sound system trauma) and at the same time want it to look like a nightclub. Maybe if we spread the word about our duo more, we’ll have more chances to get cooler places to play.