Brazilian-born, Berlin-based techno titan Victor Ruiz's first memories are connected to music. The Beatles, The Beegees, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, and ABBA soundtracked his family meals. And he shared a room with his older brother, who ensured he was lulled to sleep by the sweet sounds of Metallica, Iron Maiden, Led Zepplin, and AC/DC.
He charted a route that began when he got an electric bass at eight years old. He traveled the well-trodden routes of a rock and roller. He was in bands through high school and thought he was destined to be a rock star. However, he changed course when he discovered psytrance late in high school.
“It was somewhat similar to heavy metal,” he says about the moment he discovered his newfound obsession. “And to classical music as well. Because there were so many layers, so many sonic textures, and rhythms and dynamics.” He was fascinated by how something so repetitive and uncomplicated, could be so compelling.
Ruiz was introduced to techno at university in a similar way. And he began to complete yet another musical transformation in his life as he started his degree in electronic music production. He was drawn to techno because he could achieve peak emotional impact by using far fewer elements.
These seismic shifts in his career always occur with great introspection and thought from Ruiz. And during the pandemic, he went through a different kind of transference.
“I think the mental health part of this journey is quite important.” He explains. “I even had a big crisis. The beginning of this year, I thought I was going to quit."
He explained to me that he began to see holes in the fabric of the dance music scene. And a steady progression away from the founding tenants of Peace Love Unity and Respect.
"There's so much weird shit and wrong stuff in the scene that I don't agree [sic]. I don't think it's healthy long term. I hope everybody's noticing that.”
Ruiz needed to realign himself and ponder why he was a musician in the first place.
”Is it for as an egotistic thing? Do I want just applause? Do I want to be regarded? Or I just want to share happiness with people? Or [do] I just want to have a good time? Or am I running away from something? Or maybe it's everything together.”
His moment of introspection led to an important life lesson. He needed to take better care of himself and create a more healthy routine. It also led to a super-secret project that he says will help make the dance music scene healthier.
“I'm stronger than ever. And I'm very excited. I'm very excited to do things differently.” He begins. “I just want to make our scene a little bit healthier. So we can change a little bit of the consciousness and the awareness. So we stop being so egoistic so selfish. And be a bit more altruist a bit more selfless, a bit more willing to help the other.”
He also spent time with his partner and fellow techno DJ and producer Tao Andra. A year ago, they created a podcast that documents their journey through quarantine. At times it feels like you are listening in on an intimate conversation as they cover everything from their childhood memories to how they stay healthy.
Ruiz adores Andra he says, “she's an amazing speaker, you know, and so eloquent.”
Andra created the podcast to encourage long conversations. Ruiz says it has made him a better communicator.
“I learned to listen more actively. I always had issues expressing myself in past relationships. I learned how to have a safe place to talk. And that's the most important thing now when you're talking with someone that's giving you a space to be yourself, to be who you are and also to feel safe, not feel judged or criticized. And that's key.”
Learning to be vulnerable has been difficult for him. However, it's been a window into what he says is a dangerous and toxic culture of silence among men.
“It's harmful. We're very, we're very sensitive people as well. think if we were more connected with our feminine side, you have more balance, you're gonna have a much more actually relaxed life.”
As the conversation draws to a close, I feel inspired by this winding conversation that has allowed me to begin to understand who Victor Ruiz is beyond his career as a DJ.
He says music is what opens the door for these kinds of conversations. “Music is my tool to get to you. And then I send you my message. You know, I think that's the important thing. Music is beautiful, music is often how I feel, and how I perceive the world. And how I actually connect to people. And once you have the connection, then you can talk freely, and are open actually to listen.”
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