Over the last couple of years, the Dominican producer Diego Raposo has been dreaming up brilliantly strange soundscapes, architecting a world all his own. He’s bent pop structures into uncanny, futuristic experiments both as a solo artist — his 2018 album Caribe Express continues to be a seminal indie favorite — and as a go-to collaborator for artists like Danny Ocean. But on his new album Yo No Era Así Pero de Ahora en Adelante, Sí, he reaches deeper into his creative depths, turning out completely voltaic, unpredictable new songs.
“We were trying to find something that had its own identity,” he tells Rolling Stone on a recent Zoom call from the Dominican Republic. “I loved the idea of making an album that’s electronic at its core, so the idea was to mix these many influences: Electronic sounds, but also the music I listened to as a kid, with early Daft Punk and Radiohead and My Chemical Romance.”
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Raposo also reaches into different pockets of the Latin indie scene, working with some of the most galaxy-brained rising artists out there. The album features “El Underground,” an intense, ultra-hectic electronic track with Raposo’s frequent collaborator Mediopicky, the Dominican producer and artist with a taste for chaos who proved his own genius on his self-titled album last year. Elsewhere, Raposo teams up with Ecuadorian avant-pop maverick Kablito, Chilean prodigy Akrilla, and Mexican American sad boi Blue Rojo. Rising producer Okeiflou and the riotous newcomer Yendruy Aquinx are also on the album, showing off the vibrancy of the Dominican Republic’s underground.
“The good thing about DR is that there’s so many projects in different genres. The underground IDM scene, for example, isn’t big, but it’s a really vibrant culture. Tech-house is kind of big as well, and there’s people like me who make more alternative music, and then a giant culture of dembow.”
All of these sounds factor into his eclectic new project. Raposo broke down five of the most exciting tracks on Yo No Era Así Pero de Ahora en Adelante, Sí , sharing the inspirations and collaborations that led to such a wide-ranging, unexpected collection of songs.
That song shaped the vibe on this project. The whole energy it brings — it sounds harsh. When we made that song, I told Picky, “We should do more of these.” He came to Santiago, and we made a bunch of songs, and this one came at like seven in the morning — we weren’t even partying or anything like that. We just woke up and first thing, we did this 300 BPM song. We were listening to a lot of European music at the time and getting inspiration sort of from the Nineties rave culture, and we wanted to take it there. The song came together super quickly, but then we spent about six months finishing it.
Picky is literally my friend; we talk all the time. He also produces, so it’s fun because it’s not like he just writes songs. He knows how to do the production as well, so we’re like two nerds doing stuff on the computer. We can come up with the ideas on the spot. It’s like basketball: I pass the ball to him, and he does crazy stuff and sends it back. You would never do a song like this in a normal session in Miami. There’s no way I could show this song to a major artist. With Mediopicky, you can have the weirdest stuff you can imagine and he’s going to be into it and he’s going to encourage you to go even farther down that route. That song’s not professionally mixed — we tried it, and it didn’t sound right. So, it was about letting the song be the way that it was.
We tried to make our version of a Kaytranada song — I don’t know if you can hear the influences in that song, but that’s how I approached it. It’s a little offbeat. We did it randomly in an Airbnb. That happened a lot throughout the entire project; we just got together and had fun. We did it in a night. is one of my closest friends, and he’s one of the most well-known producers here in the Dominican Republic. He used to work with Toksicha and a ton of people. We’ve worked on a lot of stuff together, and he has his own project as an artist.
We teamed up and I started playing with some chords, so he started with the melody and the lyrics. Before we knew it, the song was done. A fun fact is that the song that ended up on the album is actually the demo. I lost the whole project — my hard drive went bad. But it sounded so good, I was like, “Let’s leave it like it is. We don’t need to re-record it.”
“A & R”
What I thought was funny was that no one’s written a song about A&Rs, so I just said, “I’m going to make it my own.” Literally, I was just joking. The scream and all that, I wanted to have some fun. For a long time, it was the intro for the whole album, but it sounded almost too funny, so I moved it a couple tracks down. It came from personal experiences. The whole industry thig is funny to me. I don’t hate it but a lot of times I feel like there’s people who shouldn’t be in the industry or who complicate things more than they should. I freestyled the whole song — that’s me singing with a pitch effect.
This was actually like a full rock song. When I was working on the album, I kept showing it to people and I was wondering it was a little too left field. I was like, “I don’t know if people are going to get it,” but a lot of friends helped me understand that it was good. Because this was a rock song, it had the drums and the whole thing. And at the last minute, I decided to move all the percussion and guitars and add the organs that are on the whole track. I liked the lyrics Yendruy [Aquinx] wrote a lot. For me, it became one of those songs you listen to and you’re like, “I want to keep listening to what that person is saying,” so I worked the song that way. It wasn’t about the beat or the instrumentals.
Yendruy is part of this collective in DR called UNDR. They’re like 40 guys, literally. They just do crazy songs and release albums in like a week. He hit me up once by DM and I listened to this song that blew my mind. He’s brand new and people are getting to know him, but I definitely think he’s that guy. This song was a little unusual for him, too, because he does like Steve Lacy kind of trap songs, but he’s doing a ballad here. it’s very different.
“EN OTRO UNIVERSO PARALELO to2 está estático”
It was like a closing scene to end the project, like a movie. I had the first part, which was like the house-y kind of section, on my computer a long time and I liked it a lot. It struck me as super pretty, with that synthesizer that goes in the intro. But I couldn’t figure the rest out, so I started working on the other section. And it’s funny because the whole last part, the outro of the outro, was one take. I hit record and I began playing that stuff. On every project, this happens: You get things right on the first take. I wanted it to sound big. It sounds like the cover art, if you will. That’s probably one of my favorites on the album.
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