Like so many great ideas before it, Adriano K’s debut album started out with a chance encounter. While enjoying a meal in a Dubai restaurant, the house tango band, Trio De Cajón, played a song by his favourite artist; Adriano (pictured right) couldn’t help but say hello. He offered to produce one of the band’s original songs for free, but instead Trio De Cajón wanted to record a collection of classic South American folk songs, recalling his half-Uruguayan heritage. Adriano was hooked.
Producer and band hit it off, and it was only after recording an album’s worth of traditional tangos, milongas, chacareras, cueacas and bailecitos that Adriano (who is also half Greek but grew up in Switzerland) had his lightbulb moment. Why not take these Argentinian classics and bring them into the 21st century with remixes by contemporary DJs? First the band had to re-record the entire album, before Adriano began sending the finished tunes to DJs across the world.
He started small, calling in favours from friends, before moving on to approach major DJs. He was met by unanimous enthusiasm, recruiting big players including Mark Farina, Up Bustle & Out, The Orb, Mo’Horizons, Dan Brookes and Jon Kennedy. By the project’s close he had 14 DJs from as far afield as the USA, UK, Uruguay, Germany, Venezuela, Argentina, Spain and the UAE, all supplying remixes of the Trio De Cajón’s raw tracks, each offering a modern house interpretation in their unique style.
‘There was no brief,’ explains Adriano. ‘These were DJs whose stuff I’ve bought and I trusted them. They all came back with different styles, from deep house to trippy chilled remixes. I wanted to demonstrate that you can take something so complex and organic and create something new.’
Now Adriano had two albums of material. Taken together they make a fascinating study of old and new, the hazy romanticism of the trio’s original recordings contrasting with the wide spectrum of modern house, spanning everything from subtle lounge beats to mild clubby workouts. An ambitious double album, combining both a study in world music and the art of the interpretative remix, was born.
But 31-year-old Adriano didn’t stop there. Fascinated by the blend of styles, cultures and milieus he had already created, he turned towards his other fascination: art. He sent the finished tunes to artists from across the world, asking each to contribute a poster inspired by one songs’ recording, remix and lyric. ‘I really enjoy putting artists and musicians together,’ adds Adriano. ‘Art inspired by music, music inspired by art: it sounds cheesy, but the art that came back blew me away.’ Artists from Poland, the UK, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Switzerland, Uruguay, New Zealand and the UAE all contributed to the project, and the finished works will be on display at the album’s launch party, at Casa Latina on Thursday May 17. The series will also form a future standalone exhibition in DIFC this summer, and prints of each work will be included in vinyl editions of the album.
Now Adriano had two albums and an art exhibition, but he still lacked a name for the project. It came this February when Argentinian singer Luis Alberto Spinetta passed away – it was a song by Spinetta that the band was playing when he bumped into them in the restaurant that fateful night. The album became A L.A.S: ‘A’ for ‘to’ and ‘L.A.S.’ for Spinetta’s initials. The word ‘alas’, he explains, also means ‘wings’. ‘It’s like he’s flying away,’ adds Adriano.
Released locally on Adriano’s own Desmo Records, the finished product will be landing in Virgin Megastores up and down the Gulf this month.
But Adriano has also achieved international distribution, and the record will soon be available in shops across North America and the UK. It’s a huge achievement, especially for an accident that started out with a chance encounter in a restaurant. But then all the best ideas start that way.
The A L.A.S. launch party is on Thursday May 17 at Casa Latina, Ibis Al Barsha, from 9.30pm. Entry is free. The album will soon be available in Virgin Megastores; to hear Adriano’s music, see www.desmorecords.com.
Adriano K: the essentials
1 His full name is Adriano Konialidis, born in Geneva to parents from Uruguay and Greece. He left Switzerland aged 13 to return to Uruguay, then moved to London aged 18, where he lived for 10 years before settling in Dubai.
2 Adriano is a member of Dubai’s Deep Crates Collective: DJs who spin exclusively with vinyl. Catch them on Thursdays at Casa Latina from 9pm, or join their monthly boat parties (www.facebook.com/groups/deepcrates).
3 He was the keyboardist in a (white) reggae and afrobeat band for 10 years. Based in London, the Rough Edge Quartet played top UK festivals including the Secret Garden Party and Strawberry Fields.