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Picture this: The air is warm and heavy, creating dew on your skin. The sky is pink and orange as the sun is setting and the air smells like cinnamon and rum. Your toes are sifting through the soft sand while your body sways back and forth. You didn’t even realize that you were dancing, but all of a sudden you notice and pleasantly embrace the soothing beats and groovy melodies swirling around your head. That is Pachyman.
Pachyman just wants to dance. He works his melodic magic using faders, knobs, and switches while dabbling on keys and synths. Heavily inspired by early ‘70s Jamaican and Puerto Rican records, the sound he creates feels vintage and yet revolutionary.
His new album Switched-On, an ode to the birth of experimentalism in the music industry, comes out on ATO, September 23rd. Levitation is more than excited to be part of the release with an exclusive vinyl pressing you can pre-order here.
Elena Childers (EC): Love the new music video and the soon-to-be-released album. I get a kind of sludgy synth bachata vibe, but I've read you described it as reggae. What would you say is your main influence with your sound?
Pachyman (PM): A lot of it comes from early ‘70s Jamaican records, but I think everything I listen to on a daily has some influence on my music—especially on this record. I do listen to a lot of Salsa and early
Puerto Rican records of Jibaro music like Ramito, but I also listen to a lot of early ‘70s German electronic experimental music like Cluster and Harmonia too—so it all kind of shapes my brain and tunes my ear. I tried to apply all my influences in a way that makes sense for this record and since it all started directly inspired by early Jamaican dub records, I wanted that to be the main sauce.
EC: Isn’t Coqueto that DELICIOUS coconut cocktail from Puerto Rico? I know you wanted to pay tribute to your Puerto Rican roots with that song, but tell me a little about the new music video for it—are there any more specific tributes you added in there or any sort of influences that were important to you to have in the video? I love the '70s vibe.
PM: I think you're thinking of Coquito. Totally different cocktail, but VERY delicious. Trago Coqueto was a drink that we serve at a bar I work at and one of our friends named it after an old quote by a Mexican actor from way back in the day. Everything else about the song just worked its way out naturally. For the video I wanted to go for a classic-looking sound-stage performance vibe from back in the day; kinda like Top of The Pops or even more of a variety show performance feel. But I also wanted it to feel like it was PBS. Big shout out to the Giraffe sisters Nicola and Juliana from Giraffe Studios; they got my vision and nailed it perfectly.
EC: Tell me about this upcoming album Switched-On, why did you decide to call it that? What was something you did with this album that might have been new for you?
PC: There were way more synths and keyboards on this record and I wanted to pay homage to the whole switched-on movement from back in the day when people started adding more keys and synths to record productions and started getting more experimental. I wanted to push myself to a different ground but still maintain a little bit of what brought me here.
EC: What song in the new album is most special to you?
PM: All of them are special in their own way for me. I feel like I achieved something unique on each song that I had not yet figured out how to do. Like “Sale el So”' and “You Looked at Me” I figured out how to sing minimally using my voice as a texture rather than a lead instrument. I wanted to add to the natural minimalism of my music instead of my voice taking a lead role on those songs. I also love “Mi Sala” because it's completely different from anything I've done.
EC: If you were describing your live performance to someone with blindness, how would you describe it?
PM: I would say that I'm moving a lot of faders and knobs and playing some keyboards and small synths. I'm also probably dancing.
EC: Speaking of live performances, are you excited to perform at Levitation 2024? Have you ever been to a levitation event before?
PM: I LOVE LEVITATION. I opened for Oh Sees once during Levitation with my other band Prettiest Eyes and it was one of the hottest and funnest shows I've ever played. Never a dull moment during Levitation!
EC: Do you find having your music released on both digital and vinyl is important?
PM: Yes. I think digital is great because it gives more people an opportunity to listen to something without having to commit to it. I also think the physical existence of, not only records, but books, paintings, and any other forms of art is more important than its digital existence because it shows you how much intention, vision, and work was put into creating it. Expression exists in the full spectrum of non-physical and physical objects. Convenience is great, but convenience sometimes also leads to taking things for granted.
EC: Why did you decide to call yourself and your music project Pachyman?
PM: Because my nickname has been Pachy for many many years and I think it was a perfectly fitting name for the project based on how it sounded when I first started it. It just felt too right.
EC: Last Question, if Pachyman had a unique one-liner slogan or life motto, what would that be?
PM: "I just wanna dance."
See Pachyman live at LEVITATION 2024 and get "Switched On" on a Creamsicle Split-Color Vinyl
Available for purchase HERE.