When it comes to Ricardo Villalobos, it’s not difficult to get swept away by the legend – the web is packed with candid shots of the Chilean native in various states of inebriation, not to mention a barrage of sesh-related anecdotes (that time that he trolled – either inadvertently or on purpose – Cocoon in the Park being one of the stand-outs).
But for those that care more about the music, Villalobos, who celebrates his 49th birthday today (6th August), is one of the most interesting techno producers of the past 20 years, with a catalogue of groundbreaking, stripped back tracks under his belt (2003’s Easy Lee is arguably THE definitive minimal techno opus) and microbial reworkings of artists such as The Orb and Depeche Mode.
As he told The Guardian in 2017, he’s also a strong advocate for the abolition of VIP culture in clubland, saying that dance music is something that should “belong to anyone in the whole world”; not just those with a gold credit card.
“For 120 years in Europe, we have had a wide middle class, to the point where no one really knows what the classes are,” Villalobos told journalist Ben Beaumont-Thomas. “And then we go to Ibiza, and we have to pay €80 entry to a club and €20 for a water, and upstairs, on the gallery, you see the rich people who are paying €1,000 for a bottle of vodka. You think: shit, this doesn’t belong together!
“Suddenly you have a society with different classes, in the club. It’s a development that’s happening in wider society, too: we have private insurance, and your teeth are only good if you have money. If you’re wealthy when you’re old, you’ll stay alive – if not, perhaps not.”
And as someone whose family was forced to flee Chile in the early 1970s due to the US-supported military coup against socialist President Salvador Allende, he believes the genesis of this VIP mindset originated Stateside.
“My whole life was completely controlled by foreign US politics,” he told the paper, “and the US now has the third world in terms of what they pay people. They give people shit to eat, and shit medicine, so they work 60 years and then they die. This wave is coming to Europe, and it’s something we have to worry about.”
Thankfully, the dancefloor remains somewhere where all people are considered equal, “as long as [it] is bigger than the VIP area.
“In a soccer game, you have the same. You have the president sitting in the place for wealthy and important people, and you have all the other people watching. But then suddenly everyone is behaving the same way. [..] This happens in parties, too.”
This could also, in turn, explain Villalobos’ choice of musical journey; few denizens of the red rope could sit through one of his 30-minute-plus experimental tracks, let alone the 45-minute Bionic Sad, unveiled in 2016 – reportedly his longest tune to date.
And for this, Ricardo, we salute you! Happy birthday! 🙂