Written by Kolade Olamide and published in Broadtube Music Channel on May 6, 2019

* See original publication here

Binary Drift is the solo project of songwriter Mauricio Yrivarren.

Music had been in the back-burner for a while (too long) as he had grown tired of “chasing” songs that did not have a real feel.

Originally from Lima – Peru, and after many years in the US, he moved to Madrid back in 2010.

In late 2017 Mauricio met Spanish producer Josemi Sánchez -who has worked as a session and live musician with the likes of Alejandro Sanz, Raphael, and Miguel Rios – and after a quick conversation they started working on the songs that would eventually become the album “Pocket Tunes.”

“It had been ages since I had picked up a guitar and tried to write something, until one day I sat on my bed and the songs started to appear, almost by magic. Meeting Josemi and working with him on this record sure was the extension of that.

Pocket Tunes explores different genres from brit-pop, bossa nova, disco, and rock.

It’s an honest effort and I hope people enjoy it. The joy that these songs can bring about is theirs to keep.”

Pocket Tunes features among its guests – renowned trumpet player Patxi Urchegui (Andrés Calamaro, Celia Cruz, Shakira, and Juanes et al.), actress Laurita Rex, and vocalist/producer Aldo Rodriguez (Los Outsaiders, Gonzalo García-Sayán, and Space Bee).

Tell us how you develop your sound and style to make it different from other musicians. 

I came of age in the late 90s and early 2000s and I was a big fan of the likes of Oasis, the Verve, Nirvana, and Smashing Pumpkins among many others. Say this because your influences will definitely show in your work.

The premise while writing and recording “Pocket Tunes” was to have fun.

At the risk of sounding pompous, the result has been an eclectic album that touches upon pop, indie, disco, and world music.

Binary Drift is a solo effort and can’t say it has a distinct sound. Say this because in the case of bands, when members come together there is a dynamic that stems out of their interaction and that becomes their ‘sound’. That ‘sound’ then gets assigned a label. That didn’t happen in this instance.

Tell us your opinion on the way new artists are coming up and the frequent release of songs.

Since the 60s the industry was dominated by the release of singles. In many cases, singles wouldn’t even make the album.

This was the case of Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane, which were released as a double A-side and were excluded from Sargent Peppers. Then came the 70s and the album became the norm until recently.

In a cyclical way, we are seeing the return of the single as a dominant force over the release of full albums.

Greta Van Fleet (who I will name later) attained recognition through the release of singles, long before releasing their debut album.

I see more artists gaining notoriety via releasing songs steadily versus albums, which is proving to work in their benefit and is a legitimate way to gradually climb up the ladder. I should have thought about that…ha!

State your experience as a musician.

I don’t think my story is any different from other people. In my teens, I really connected with music and took the next step which was to pick up a guitar.

I’d get together with friends with a similar taste in music and would try to play songs and eventually wrote our own.

At some point, I started to sing at rehearsals and became the band’s singer.

My approach to music or as a musician per se is born out of writing/crafting songs.

Tell us your opinion on streaming and digital download of songs.

They are a reflection of the times. Inevitable if you ask me. I conceptualize the release of music as an album pressed on vinyl. That is my personal opinion.

However, we can’t turn our backs on technology and how that is shaping formats, consumer trends and the access to music.

Streaming from a consumer perspective is indeed practical. You can have access to an endless catalog of songs from your smartphone without having to go the store and buy the physical format (CD) to then transfer it into an mp3…is it good for the artist? If you can turn aggregation into critical mass, then sure you can make a living on your streams that will allow you to put out more music.

Streaming is a rare disruptive animal as the regulation in place can’t really tame it.

In the same light of Airbnb, streaming is now a fixture that is changing the industry and is gradually setting standards and trends independently of what the classic players have in mind. Such is its drive that the music industry establishment has had to shake its hand as it sees itself not surviving without entering the streaming era.

Should streams pay more to the songwriter(s) as opposed to the copyright owners? Yes, without a doubt! It will happen with time, once the core of music out there has been released independently through aggregators as opposed to through a label who is in bed with streaming platforms.

Tell us your goals and plans.

‘Pocket tunes’ was released in late February this year and one of the goals was for each song to have an accompanying lyric video.

While downloading an MP3 or streaming gives you a listening experience, lyric videos have sound and images.

In a way, I feel that lyric videos are the equivalent to a CD’s booklet.

I work with Pedro Kyu Fontao who is a great graphic designer capable of translating all sorts of ideas and so far we’ve created lyric videos for “Power Inc.”, “Love U Blind” (and its Spanish version “Ordinario”), and for “A Song for Vampires.”

The goal is for each lyric video to be different from the other.

Tell us five current artists that are your favourite. 

Detroit’s Greta Van Fleet – I’ve been following for some time now. They’re young and are not afraid to dig into the past to make great music today. I’d say they are purists at what they do. Hadn’t heard a group with such energy since Guns n’ Roses.

The xx – The xx have been around for a decade and continue to impress me. If their songs were a physical object, they’d be Bauhaus structures. They may both appear as simple at a glimpse, yet their complexity lays precisely in that. Feel that the only thing missing in their album credits is a line saying: “produced by Mies van der Rohe.”

L’Impératrice – Recently I came across a French group called L’Impératrice. Not a French speaker myself, but the way the singer delivers the lyrics fits perfectly within the songs.

Every language has a distinct cadence, and my perception is that they’ve perhaps managed to translate the “rhythm” of French into their songs.

Austin Peralta – I discovered Austin Peralta last year. Sadly he passed away in 2012 at the young age of 22. He was a piano player whose performances were cathartic, unlike anything I had ever heard. I bring him up because his songs and the recordings of his live shows are as current as ever. I encourage everyone to check out his catalog. His piano playing reminded me of the guitar playing of Omar Rodriguez-López (At the Drive-In & the Mars Volta). At times calm and melodic, he would then go into a frenzy, almost like raging through the instrument – Both virtuosos in their own right, and in the case of Austin, immortal.

Neon Indian – I’ve followed Neon Indian for some time as well.

I truly enjoyed “Era Extraña”, yet to listen to their latest release. “Era Extraña” felt was refreshing as it used a lot of sounds from the 80s. The synths on the album reminded me of Yazoo and early Depeche Mode. Alan Palomo – the mastermind behind Neon Indian- manages to include samples from video games, something I find extremely clever.

Tell us your best song up to date and share the link.

Tough one! Speaking about songs is a bit like speaking about your own children. Don’t know if it is my best song so far, but I think that “A Song for Vampires” is a bit of a dark horse.

Although my recent release “Pocket Tunes” explores pop, indie, and disco, this track pushes the envelope as it is a bossa nova song featuring a flute.

The title itself is unorthodox nonetheless, but my understanding of songwriting dictates independence and subversion to some extent.

Fairground” by Simply Red may be his biggest hit, yet few people would acknowledge the song is built on top of a samba beat.

In the case of “A Song for Vampires”, I remember I had the chords and the idea for the words, yet it all came together when I started plucking the strings in a bossa fashion. The words then wrote themselves on the spot.

Tell us your dream and hope for the future.

I’m a member of the church of “in the now”. Can’t say where I’d be or what I’d do next.

Dreaming is fine as it opens up your mind to new ideas. But you got to be able to land those fantasies; otherwise, you’d forever be trapped in a state where you constantly dream about everything without taking action. And then you grow unhappy and get grumpy and become a 24/7 bitter person.

I intend to keep on playing the songs I recently put out anywhere I can.

I also will keep on reaching out to new audiences via digital and print outlets.

Currently based out of Madrid, and playing to other audiences in other parts the country and Europe is on the list.

I started writing new songs recently and intend to go into the studio soon!

Tell us what has changed in the music industry.

We’ve seen drastic changes over the past two decades with the emergence of the internet.

The “Music Industry Establishment” no longer has veto power over taste, exposure,  and styles.

We’ve gone from a world where the artists had to get their video on MTV with the “assistance” of a label that would mold the artists into products – discarding the art form – designed to translate into sales that would, in turn, sustain a corporate structure made up of large people who were not musicians or artists.

Fast forward to today; where anyone is able to upload songs from home with a high degree of independence and respect for the craft.

Can’t be nostalgic about the latter, unless you are one of those rare “artist” who profited from the corporate (and oppressive) structure of the industry.

In the classic scheme, should the artists’ sales recoup the advance they were given, they’d still not own the sound recordings. Almost like paying off a mortgage and now owning the house – A scam in every sense of the word, and sadly a structural part of the business.

Tell us your opinion on television/radio stations playing the same songs from established artists and giving little chances to independent artists

We live in a free market society and do believe that TV and radio stations have every right to programme anything they see fit for their formats.

I love ACDC and the Beatles and think is great every time they come on the radio.

Nevertheless, with the advent of the internet, we’ve seen a rise of interesting blogs and digital radio platforms alike that offer a chance for new and independent artists to showcase their music.

It’s not a perfect world, yet luckily there are outlets available for every type of music. If anything, it falls on the consumer to dig for new music and it is the duty of the artist to make his/her music available in as many platforms as possible.

Tell us the challenges independent artists are facing and how to tackle it. 

Every hurdle ought to become a chance to brainstorm and come up with a solution.

My advice is to think of your music project as a start-up. Just focusing on the music doesn’t cut it these days.

If you’re in a band, delegate the business side of things to the member most qualified.

If money is tight, don’t do a 12 song record. Do a 6 song EP and spend the rest on promotion.

As I said earlier, no one holds a veto over taste, exposure, and styles in the industry anymore. Set yourself a goal and map all steps needed to reach it.

Simpler said than done of course, but there is no other way around it. Also, stay who you are. By the time you try to catch up or imitate what’s hot out there, it’ll be too late when you finally release the knock-off version.

Share your press release and reviews with us.

“Pocket Tunes” is made of 11 songs (+ 3 bonus tracks which are Spanish versions of earlier songs).

It was recorded at the SEMI studio in the outskirts of Madrid and was produced by Josemi Sánchez.

Released in late February this year, the reviews have been positive thus far.

A prevalent observation on the album is how it straddles styles. I don’t know if it was a deliberate effort, but in retrospective, it mirrors my different tastes in music.

An Argentine journalist was able to spot a crosscutting emotion I express throughout the album: living in a hyper-connected world and the inherent need to sit back, pause and think.

Tell us your opinion on using social media to promote music online.

I think is great! I follow the Do-it-Yourself (DIY) mantra. Social media platforms offer endless possibilities to reach new listeners.

Take what Arctic Monkeys did, they put out their songs on MySpace and became a viral phenomenon who then got signed and reached the heights stardom. Granted, those guys are talented beyond belief but in their case, the industry knocked on their door, not the other way around.

In my case, social media has allowed me to contact and be featured in Italian, Argentine, and Peruvian press. Some of the songs in “Pocket Tunes” have made the UK and Argentine radio as well. Would that have happened without social media? The answer is no.

Social media is here to stay and although I have had an ambiguous opinion about it at times, I can say that the benefits for the artist community far outweigh the cons.

Promotion wise, the use of social media is a science in itself, not just for music but for anything.

Tell us about your music career.

I’m the kind that’s always strumming a guitar. I had played in bands in my teens and early 20s, now in my 30s music hadn’t been at the forefront as it had been in the past.

For a while, I had messed with Reason and got into beat-making and electronica but never went out to perform as I did when I was younger.

I can say that the recording and release of “Pocket Tunes” respond to the encouragement of friends to get out there and play – Definitely sparked the interest in writing and performing again.

Tell us what still motivates you to go on with your music career. 

“Pocket Tunes” is an honest effort. I enjoy being able to present songs in front of an audience. It’s almost like having a conversation with whoever wants to have one. I say this because I have in past bumped into the “we are here to rock you” types.

A personality that is trying to conquer demons through music and I couldn’t be far more removed from that.

Music ought to bring people together as opposed to bring tension into the mix.

I find the term ‘career’ bound to commercial success. I’d rather go on with the music ‘journey’, see where it takes the songs and not so much myself as a person.

At the end of the day, I put my energy into writing the best songs I can, contrary to using them to build up a character I’d like to sell to others.

Tell us about you as a person.

I’m from Lima-Peru and spent many years in the US (living in New Jersey mostly).

I have made Madrid my home since 2010. I’m a political science grad and have been working in the fight against climate change for close to a decade now.

Elaborate on the story behind the song. 

The origin for “A Song for Vampires” is a mix. Based on how as fictional characters, vampires lie and entice others to do or believe foolhardy things.

That’s how I got the first verse – “Try me again / since when did I become the enemy / Always on the run / I’ll dress you up in fire if you stick around.”

The second verse is rather confessional – “Lonely loneliness / When did you become my only friend / Thinking about you / girl you mean the world to me / I know I’ve been a fool”.

It’s about finding yourself alone after realizing you’ve screwed up big time…life….

State your artist’s name and elaborate on it.

I once read about the so-called “binary thinking” concept, which describes a system of thought that is based on things being either white or black, discarding a conversation having different tones of grey. Don’t know if that is the accurate scientific description, yet I liked it as it relates to my perception of the present state of public opinion in general.

It is getting harder to engage in a meaningful dialogue as we’ve become prisoners of what we understand and believe is rightful rhetoric.

At any level, we no longer accept that we need to disagree and accept that we could be wrong. We need to break away from that, thus “Binary Drift” seemed like an authentic name.

In addition, I always liked the name concept behind artists such as “Bright Eyes” and “Dashboard Confessional” which are solo acts under an alias.

State the title of the album and the reason for choosing the title.

There is nothing cryptic about “Pocket Tunes”. The songs that comprise the album are somewhat short in length. Most of them are under 3 minutes. If given a physical shape, they would be small items which you could easily fit into your pockets.

Hence, “Pocket Tunes” was a natural choice for the album’s title. That is the title I gave it, but everyone is free to have his/her own interpretation.