Raido on Why Electronic Music Fans Should Forget About the Drop

Raido. Photo by Cuauhtémoc Suárez.

Giancarlo Renzi sent out a broadcast from the depths of the night, hoping to reach listeners paying attention for something different. With his guise Raido, he has been able to weave disparate sounds into a fabric that imitates no one in his quest to tell a story.

Listening to his Meant To Be EP, one hears hip-hop beats and bone-rattling bass, but then very few elements are repeated. Through each of the songs in this release he explores videogame timbres, trip-hop, and old-timey big band music as well as dark and seductive soundscapes. Without a doubt, this is one of Costa Rica’s brightest musicians with ambition for more.

We caught up with him via Skype to know Giancarlo better, on the eve of his appearance at the first Los Ticos Quieren Tacos showcase tomorrow in Mexico City. Enter for your chance to win a pair of tickets after the jump.


Last we checked with you, you had released your Meant To Be EP. What have you been up to lately?
Since the release of the EP, I have been working on music. I have been uploading some tracks to Soundcloud, I try to have new stuff uploaded there every now and then. I haven’t done a big release since, though. I had planned to work on an LP in November —obviously it hasn’t panned out how I wanted. I plan on it being a fairly big thing so I want to divide in two, some 11 tracks per side, but my computer got fucked up and I lost two weeks trying to replace it. I lost some music along the way.

Oh man, that sucks!
I ended up buying a new one. Once they told me I might play in Mexico, I had no other option but to get one.

What made you want to start doing music?
Eight or nine years ago I was a drummer in a death metal band…

Yeah! I still listen to a lot of that music, actually. So I started playing drums, we had a band in high school, but once everyone started college, nobody had time to rehearse. That upset me…I mean, I know each person has his own life, they get busy. I was already listening to a lot of electronic music, I especially liked drum & bass, so I tried doing some solo work. I learned how to mix and I liked it because it gave me instant gratification; doing music I liked and hearing it back was amazing. Then I really got into production and learned how to use certain software. At first I was overwhelmed by it, but I learned what tools worked better for me.

“I wanted to do so much more, not just [express myself through] energy or aggressiveness.”

What are some of your favorite death metal bands?
My favorites are progressive bands. I don’t like blastbeats for five minutes straight although I know some do, and that’s fine. I love Opeth, Gojira, and of course, Meshuggah, I love their use of polyrhythms and tempo changes.

Now that you mention it, there’s a connection between what you were doing when you started working in Renzi [his project before Raido] and the death metal bands you like.
That’s why I started doing work with dubstep and drum & bass, it had a similar feeling to metal in an electronic context. Of course, there are one-man metal bands but that’s too much for me. What made the connection easy for me was this whole strand called deathstep with artists like Sadhu– they allude to metal, and if you ask them, I’m sure they will all tell you they are metalheads. In the end, I did the same thing.

Raido. Photo by Cuauhtémoc Suárez.
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After working with this sound, I became aware that many people were just, like they say, “all about the drop.” The intro, the outro, and everything don’t matter, just the “drop,” how hard and heavy can it drop. I reflected and I didn’t want it to be my musical legacy, so to speak. I wanted to do so much more, not just [express myself through] energy or aggressiveness. I wanted to explore more and have a message with what I do. My motto became “if you can dance to it, that’s great but that’s not the main reason for making music”.

It’s not just music for music’s sake.
Right. My approach to music wasn’t different. Actually, I was known already in certain circles when I started with my own project, I was friends with many people in bands…I’m actually friends with more people in bands than DJs, but then I got into that world. I wanted to do a project where I made music that could span everything. I wanted and do original work not just do DJ sets. I wanted my own thing with my own sound.

“You should make music for yourself–not for the DJ who’s going to put it in his set.”

Meant To Be is very relaxed and introspective. Atmospheric and contemplative. It has a lot of layers and moments that stand out. What were you going for?
It all comes back to the progressive influences. It has been a huge influence for me even if I’m doing much more mellow music. I wouldn’t want to do a house track where it’s five minutes of the same thing because it’s exclusively for the dancefloor. I heard recently from someone that you should make music for yourself–not for the DJ who’s going to put it in his set. That is not my priority. Most of the songs on Meant To Be have an 8-bit part that I wanted to have there. “I Think You Broke It” has a percussion part that’s almost jazzy, “Sonder” is very atmospheric, and I don’t think it would fit in most DJ sets, it’s almost like a journey into sound. It’s almost like telling a story without words [laughs].

How did you hook up with NWLA?
My girlfriend went to Mexico for a modeling job and she met Cuauhtémoc Suárez. he snap some pics of her and I really liked them. Then I checked out their Pura Crema series, their videos featuring girls and music, and I really liked everything about them; so I wrote him about checking out my music so maybe they could feature a track in one of their videos, if he liked it. He then showed it to the people at NWLA, and we started talking about doing a joint release of what I was working on at the time, which became Meant To Be. Thanks to that I had the chance to play in Mexico as part of a NWLA showcase and that was great. [laughs]

How did the collaboration with Jesse Baez on “Meant To Be” happened? He’s from Guatemala and your EP came out on a Mexican netlabel. What do you think about the connections happening in Latin American music nowadays?
We used to do these tiny beats for a series we had with Top Cats, we used to do these weekly compilations with one minute beats. I made a few, and one of them was the beat that later became “Meant To Be” and then, Alejandro Pacheco, who is the singer from Alphabetics—he’s been a good friend for some time now—shared one of those beats and Jesse heard it. He contacted me and told me that we should do something right away.

“I’m not playing the music that you like, rather the music that you will like.”

We’re such small countries, so close to each other. We’re almost like states in the US. It’s not crazy for a guy from New York to work with another from LA. I don’t know why there wasn’t more collaborations between Latin American people, I’m not sure if there were historic quarreling or bizarre nationalism involved. It’s very inspiring what’s happening.

What can we expect from you live?
It’s going to be really different from my last set [in Mexico]. That one was more oriented to dance music because it was a DJ night, which was interesting, it was a DJ set with some parts that I do live; and for my DJ set I try to play stuff by smaller acts because I never find it fun to go somewhere and listen to the same music over and over again, I like discovering new stuff. I’m not playing the music that you like, rather the music that you will like. I’m playing with bands that day, I’ll do a live act, playing with instruments to recreate the songs live. I like telling a story with my music, I want it to have consistent energy.