Uruguayan born Federico Lijtmaer has a colourful history behind him. Since he was just 10 years old, he was already exposed to dance music, thanks to his mother who transformed his childhood house, El Milagro, into a club: the first venue of its kind in his hometown of Punta del Este. The iconic venue was cherished as a meeting point for those who preferred open-mindness and creativity over restrictions and regulations. Federico has since moved from his childhood home, gaining a well-earned reputation as a DJ, playing at some of South America’s best underground clubs, and eventually making his way across the globe to settle down in Berlin.
Never losing sight of that special place he called home, Fede opened the doors of his El Milagro home to the global community via his label of the same name, where he released a very personal EP, titled “Resina”. Although he did start producing at the age of 15 with Fruity Loops, it was when he moved to Berlin that he had the chance to buy hardware and release music on EPs such as Luc Ringeisen’s 10 Years of Vinyl Club, and his own “Impermanencia” EP on OSLO Records. This summer he released an EP with elusive 46 and Slow Life producer S. Moreira on SoundCrossing Records. After playing for Amsterdam’s forward thinking LowMoneyMusicLove, Fede takes his contributions to the next level with an upcomng release on the label. Keep your eyes peeled for new music!
Here at MEOKO, we are pleased to have had the chance to speak with Fede, who was kind enough to share some of his memories, photos and thoughts about the Universe…
Let’s start from the beginning… So you grew up in Montevideo in Uruguay, in a house attached to the El Milagro club, the first underground venue of its kind, of which your very own mother established. You must have had a very colourful childhood. How was it like growing up in this environment?
Well, first of all, thanks very much for the opportunity to express myself here.
About this first question, it was not so… I grew up in many different places. Punta del Este is where I lived the first years of my life and it’s where our house was. The house itself was called El Milagro. Don’t ask me why but instead of assigning numbers to houses and buildings, they name them.
During my childhood the place was full of life. This was before the house was turned into a club. The place was very alive, and the friends and family always liked to be there. The environment was of freedom and open mindedness, where we used to talk about everything without taboos. After that, my parents divorced, and we moved to Buenos Aires first, and then we went to live on an island in Bahia, Brazil, called Morro de Sao Paulo. It was an amazing place where I lived… A very different but enriching experience. And it was after that year in Brazil when we went back to Uruguay. I was around 10 years old and that was when I saw my childhood house being turned into a club where friends and family participated in the process guided by my mom who had a very creative mind and she knew sculpture techniques. So the club opened in 96’, but there were other clubs before, and an underground scene in Uruguay since the beginning of the 90s…But not in Punta del Este. Anyway, besides if it was the first or not, the place itself was super special, surrounded by art and love. And growing up there was super nice. I love when I still meet people who used to go to the club and remember how special it was.
This is the construction of the bar from downstairs, it had bark inside the resin and a little frog who jumped inside … and my mom
Some vital skills and lessons you’d like to share that you learned from your mother?
I think the main thing she told me is to think by myself, not believe all that you hear. It does not matter if it’s a teacher or a doctor. And also respect life and to give love.
El Milagro has evolved from a club to a label. Opening the label was your own project…. How do you feel about continuing the El Milagro legacy?
El Milagro for me is more than the club or the label. For the moment the label is a bit slow these days, but I don’t have any hurry. I think it’s something that will continue inside of me and maybe in the future it will turn into something else. Who knows what life brings you. The important thing, I think, is to be open to what the Universe offers to you, it doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad, it’s just important to understand what is the message and the lesson.
Last year we saw your first self-released EP on El Milagro. Can you translate the titles you gave to this EP? What do these tracks mean to you?
Well, the name of the EP is Resina which is a polyester resin that was the main material my mom used for her sculptures and she used it a lot in the club. For example, the bars and the tables and seats were made of that, with different things inside.
The tracks names are : “Misterios” not much meaning just I found it mysterious,
“Yo es Nosotros” (I is we) refers to a philosophy used in many old traditions, the so called primitives, which I think they are more advanced than our society today, where they did not used the word “I” but instead “We”, taking somehow the ego and the selfishness in the decisions they made. In other words could be, if it’s not good for one person it’s not good for all.
And “Este e o Tempo” is because that track has samples from Caetano Veloso, which I love. The original track is called “Tempo de Estio”
Can you explain the creative process behind your EP, both musically and artistically?
Not really, it think, as other people as well, that when you create, it’s not yourself doing it but instead some kind of connection with a higher force.
So you personally hand painted the covers. Do you like painting in your spare time?
Not really, I’m awful at painting, but I like things made with love and I thought doing that would be special. The covers were made with a very old technique using ink and water.
You also enjoy listening to a variety of genres. Who are your biggest musical influences?
Of course, I think if you listen only to one genre you are depriving yourself of too many beautiful things. It’s like reading only one literary genre, or eating rice every day.
Well I love many artists and styles. I think all that I like can influence me, but just to name a few that I listen since I have memory; Queen, Caetano Veloso,Paul Simon, Michael Jackson.
But I can recommend some other stuff also…Ramiro Musotto, Mort Garson (with some A.K.A’s), Chico Buarque, and
Hiromi Uehara –
, and the whole album called Alive
Medeski Martin and Woods –
Hermeto Pascoal –
And some book for those who like to read…
Can you educate us about some of your favourite South American talents, both old and new?
I think I can’t educate anybody but myself, what I like may dislike others…But I can tell you that in Uruguay these days there are special things happening. The level of the artists is outstanding, and they have a concept.
After Uruguay you moved to Brazil and then made your way to Europe to settle down in Berlin. How has your journey been so far? Where do you usually play in Berlin?
Well, I lived in Brazil when I was young, from 9 to 10 years, and from 13 to 16. Then I moved to South Argentina for 2 years then back to Uruguay for 8 years and then to Berlin, and so far it has been a rich experience. I’ve been learning a lot about life, specially the last months, seeking new horizons, and realizing that, even if I love so much the music, my life is not attached to that. I think we have a much higher meaning in this life, but everyone will have his own moment of realizing that.
I usually don’t play often here but I played at CDV, Tresor, About Blank, among others.
The new year is just around the corner… What would you say has been the most pivotal moments in 2014?
Mid May I had some profound changes in my life, which I’m grateful, that made me realize other purposes in my life, and made me get back to a path that I started time ago. As I said before, sometimes the Universe puts us in situations that may be painful, but they are there for a greater purpose if we are awake enough to listen and to learn from them. Pain is one of the greatest teachers of this life, and it has a meaning. It is especially good for elevating our consciousness. It’s in our hands to keep the same patterns and continue to suffer or to learn to surrender and change while the world changes around with you.
We are pleased to see Federico making his way to London for Undersound’s upcoming event, Friday the 12th of December, where he will share the decks with resident Harry McCanna and fellow guest, Gwenan. Event here, tickets here.
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