A Never Ending Passion Project: In conversation with Enzo Raffler
There’s a huge network of people and bands in Latin America perpetually in motion—making zines, releasing albums, making shows, sharing information, and ultimately uniting everything and everyone in a big exciting network of cooperation. And there’s people that are always eager to be part of it, to help, to work towards something they think could […]
The post A Never Ending Passion Project: In conversation with Enzo Raffler first appeared on DIY Conspiracy – International Zine in the Spirit of DIY Hardcore Punk!.
There’s a huge network of people and bands in Latin America perpetually in motion—making zines, releasing albums, making shows, sharing information, and ultimately uniting everything and everyone in a big exciting network of cooperation.
And there’s people that are always eager to be part of it, to help, to work towards something they think could be great, building ties between cities and countries. People like Enzo Raffler. This 19 years old punk from Viedma, Río Negro in Argentina, who, in recent years, has been playing in a lot of great bands, making interesting projects, sharing splits with groups from all over the world. Enzo’s been also helping with labels and blogs, surfing this big network of punks and music fans that everyday try to build, heart in hand, something amazing and truly worthwhile, something that symbolizes a very core aspect of punk.
So we logged in on Discord and talked about writing music, surfing the web, making peer to peer connections. About living in South America and exploring the local scene. We had lots of fun and we’re now sharing some of it with you!
How did you first get into music & punk?
There were three important things for my early introduction to music and punk in general. Internet, MTV and Guitar Hero (laughs). They formed me when I was between 7 and 12 years old. They were my main source of musical discoveries. I didn’t watch MTV that much, but I have some memories of watching some really cool things there, very different from what was on the local mainstream channels. In the little town where I lived nothing ever happened. From there, I moved on mainly to the internet. I’ve been online from a really early age, but I was open to anything. Listening to the bands I saw [on TV], searching information about things I saw elsewhere, about albums I wanted to buy, watching videos and all of that. That was my first approach. And Guitar Hero… (laughs) well, I played it again not so long ago and most of the music is awful, it is bad, like 80% of it sucks. There’s stuff like Fall of Troy or what not, but… (laughs).
There’s also The Used somewhere in there.
Yeah (laughs), something by Buzzcocks, too. Kinda weird that mix. It’s like both for music lovers and people who don’t really care about it, that are probably more casual about it. And that’s fun. These last years I’ve been learning to accept and encourage ridiculousness, musically. Stuff that normally is frowned upon or that gives you some kind of second hand embarrassment, stuff from cringe culture in general. Not everything is that bad.
You even have been approaching stuff like trancecore and scene music recently.
Yeah, it’s really cool. I never was that much of a fan of that kind of thing, even when I was a child. I was a bit more close minded. I liked Green Day and Paramore, a lot. Paramore’s first album was a favorite of mine since I was like nine and I still think it’s a beautiful album. But I didn’t go beyond that, I didn’t know what was an Attack Attack! or a Saosin or a Taking Back Sunday. I didn’t know about any of that. Years later I made the connection from metalcore and post-hardcore through other stuff. And I think the first emo band I’ve ever heard was Archipiélagos, because of their split with Hungría. But it’s all the same, stuff you find through the internet. It wasn’t like I could go see some band or artists and discover something new that really interested me. That never happened to me. I never found that through the local cultural movement. It was all thanks to the internet.
And why do you think it was like that?
Well, I don’t live in a place that big. There are not many bands here and even less bands are playing their own music. There’s no places to play. DIY-driven cultural proposals appear here and there, like the ones that happened yesterday and the day before [with mis sueños son de tu adios and The Manuel]. In recent years they have been happening much more, there’s been cool stuff, but as I was growing up nothing really appealed to me. Not because it was only local stuff, but it just didn’t seem interesting.
How did that change?
Well, when I say local, I mean it literally, just here. I’m not talking within a radius of 300 km or whatnot, ‘cause there’s cities, bigger cities, where some great stuff is happening. But if I had to name a moment when I said: hm, maybe there’s something cool in this town, was when a band named Marcando Diferencias, which played a kind of metallic hardcore, formed. I’m friends with the singer now, we met later on, but that was like three and a half years ago. They played in a bar owned by a junkie. That was the first moment when I thought that something cool or something that might interest all of us might happen here. But that’s just my personal experience. I can’t speak for others, that’s just how I see it.
And how did you start making stuff where you live?
I met a lot of people through Instagram and in parks, or going to live shows, and that was really important. I met Tomás (from Sin Voces Discos who also makes music as Sinusxide). He lives near me, and he was one of the first people with whom I made some kind of connection. We understood each other and it took off from there. We said: there must be some people making shows here! And we talked about people we knew from the internet, people who made music and people, who were in the same situation as us, that didn’t know anyone or didn’t want to start stuff ‘cause they thought that there wasn’t anything to do or anyone to do it with. From there we moved on.
I knew Marcando Diferencias. Then I heard about Tim Batterton and Alfalfa, some bands who were in La Plata, and The Manuel, who ended up being friends of mine and I started playing with them later on. There was also a friend who used to live here, moved out and then came back. He started making music alone, recording an album, and so on. Stuff and people like that. But there’s no unified cultural movement. We do everything between those of us who know each other, because there’s no other option really. Live shows end up being a mix of someone who plays their songs, then someone rapping and then someone playing folk or whatever. But things here are still very conservative, so that’s why there’s not much activity and we need to gather like-minded and “cool” people to make something beautiful.
How did you first get in contact with the DIY scene?
This is gonna sound very funny, probably the funniest thing I’m gonna say in the whole year (laughs). I’ve been thinking about it because they invited me to the podcast of Movimiento Circular de los Árboles and they usually ask you to make a playlist so they can hear stuff from other bands and talk about it and I was thinking of saying the same thing. There’s a moment when I realized… I used to think a bit about it, watching a lot of videos of bands and reading some stuff, knowing about Gilman Street (which was crazy for me, it blew my mind), all of that seemed really beautiful to me.
But, for some reason or another, I found in YouTube a kind of documentary made by Manuela and Dani from [the Chilean indie pop band] Mitimiti’s, a doc made for university or something like that, and it was kinda funny ‘cause in it were bands like [chilean indie rock/emo band] El Cómodo Silencio De Los Que Hablan Poco making shows, carrying stuff and setting everything in houses, in backyards, and that was the moment when I said: I’m an idiot! I can do that too! What am I waiting for? (laughs).
If I want to do it, I should just do it. And it’s not very old, it’s from like for years ago or so. That’s when I connected to the ethics of punk. In that moment I listened to a bit more of hardcore punk, math-rock, post-rock, I kind of had an idea. But that’s when I connected with the attitude and the way of making things in general.
You gotta make stuff, you gotta play more, no matter what, you gotta use the internet in your favor. We gotta do everything we can so we can make cooler stuff between everyone who wants cool stuff to happen.
So, indie music turned you into a punk.
And how did you start making music?
I have been playing guitar since I was 12 years old, first using a classical one, playing fifths and riffs and songs by other bands, without a clear reason, it was just me sitting there playing songs. And in a totally random moment it just occurred to me that I had to try to make my own stuff using my cellphone and my computer.
My first setup was the cellphone microphone, which I used for recording the guitar and an old desktop computer. I recorded stuff using two cellphones, one with a metronome in FL Studio, which I don’t know how to use, I don’t know why I used it (laughs), then the other one recording the guitars and then I added the vocals on top later. Using FL, I added some drums and that was how I started, everything was very precarious. Then I got the same equipment I still have now, a Behringer mixer, my computer and a microphone. And I just learned by experimenting, trying stuff alone, always recording like I was a band without actually being one.
I also have made some recordings more on the ambient and electronic side. But I never was one to rehearse and all of that, I just sat on my computer, connected the guitar, programmed some drums, recorded something, then closed it without saving anything and moved on. And that’s how it all started. I actually just know how to play the guitar, I don’t know how to play bass, drums, sing or scream (laughs). It was all just me making stuff. There’s a lot saved on my computer. Sometimes you find something old and say: how could I record this so badly? You can even hear the metronome!
I don’t know if there was a specific moment that made me start sharing what I do, it just slowly happened. I started uploading songs on Bandcamp pages that are now floating on the internet and then I tried to make things a little bit better so I could spread it and be more consistent with it. The fact that I have like 20 AKAs helps me (laugh). I’m still learning from all of this and there’s still stuff that I’m ashamed of. I recently released a compilation with demos and other stuff and I released it because the first demo is awful, it’s a shame how it all ended up sounding, the vocals are really loud, and I said: this can’t be! there’s like 20 releases and 15 of them sound terrible! But, like with everything I make, I learn progressively with it and that’s part of it.
You don’t usually erase stuff, you keep it uploaded or save it on your computer.
I haven’t erased much from the internet. I don’t know if that’s good or really bad and I think the only things I’ve erased are ones I uploaded to YouTube and wanted to reuse the lyrics, the arrangements or some of their ideas for other songs. I remember that when I started, I uploaded a bunch of songs just because I wanted to and after that I deleted them, grabbed some of the ideas and polished them. They ended up appearing in a split I made together with [the band from Buenos Aires] facultad de medicina with my AKA tu todo en mi nada. It came out pretty cool. They were all recycled ideas from old songs and things that are not on the internet anymore.
That’s gotta do with your relationship with archive and investigation.
Yeah! That’s totally it. I’m kinda manic with it. Links gotta work, stuff gotta be saved somewhere. That’s what moves me, trying to make things not get lost. Maybe there’s a band from 15 years ago and all their members are ashamed of it but I think they are the greatest in the world and maybe someone somewhere on the internet feels the same about them or about other band or about the things I make and I wouldn’t like the fact that they can’t find the albums, that they can only find dead links. I don’t know where that mania of archiving stuff came from, but I think it is something very productive in a sense. If what I do helps at least one person, I think I’ve already won. I’m the king of the world and don’t need anything else!
All of this has a lot to do with my relationship with the world of emo, punk and the culture of those old blogs that exist around it. Going into La belleza del caos to download some albums. I downloaded my first emo albums from one of these blogs and sometimes you found all of them. Other times there were some missing and that made me so sad! So I’m always motivated to keep things up. I remember once I was really angry because I wanted to find an album by [chilean screamo band] Leidan and I finally found it and felt unstoppable (laughs)!
And I want to share these things and upload them. I want to help people that are searching for something and don’t know where to find it. Maybe they’ll go to YouTube and find it on my channel. Sometimes these are people that I don’t know at all, I don’t know where they come from or what they do. They would comment on these things and be pretty passionate about them, but they are not that much into archives, investigation and searching. And I want to facilitate all of this material to them. It’s not something I think about deeply, it’s just something that I do, a never-ending passion project (laughs).
That’s why you love Soulseek so much.
Yeah, yeah, I love Soulseek. I’ve found an incredible number of albums that I thought that I could only listen to if I met someone that had it and asked them to rip it. It’s used a lot in the emo community, but you can find anything on it. And that’s great.
I also got a story about it! With Tomás we used to have this screamo band that kinda went noisecore, it was called la plus belle des raisons. We didn’t know how to call the band, but we already had two songs (laughs). We needed to make the Bandcamp page and also an email to connect it and we didn’t know what to use, so we searched for a song and we used one from a demo by Petit Printemps, a French screamo band that only had that release [I found on Soulseek]. It sounds awful but it is absolutely beautiful.
And then we kept going, we released an album and all of that. At some point, we got a message on the Facebook page we had from a guy who wanted to talk and I gave him a way to contact me and he told me he was the brother of the vocalist of Petit Printemps. I showed him what we made, he said he really liked it, we kept talking and it was really crazy. I talked about it with a friend from France and he told me he knew him, he talked to him sometimes about appearing on live shows. And it was mind-blowing, ‘cause I made all of these connections through Soulseek.
Going back to the topic of archiving, that same demo tape… I don’t how many copies came out [note: Discogs doesn’t say how many, but they’re selling them high] and the digitalization sounds awful, I don’t know if it was the sound of the original tape, but there were people passionate enough to share and upload something from like 25 years ago and that’s great, there was this group of people really into this obscure thing, looking, hearing, searching, sharing.
You also have a blog where you upload things, El basurero del emo (the emo garbage can).
Yeah, I thought about it for a while. I found some Latin American stuff in some blogs, like Sophie’s Floorboard and whatnot, but I realized there wasn’t an active Latin American blog that uploaded this kind of music. There was a gap and I needed to do something about it. In a few years all these blogs that still have something on them are going to die, the links are gonna expire. That’s happening right now. There are albums in blogs that are already disappearing or that are only available on that specific blog, links elsewhere are dead. So, I wanted to take part in that, I wanted to make an archive of it, a newer one that would try to be more lasting.
And the blog was even mentioned on Bandcamp’s web.
Yeah, that was totally weird! I don’t remember how long ago it was and I think it was on a Bandcamp Daily publication where they talked about screamo from Latin America. I think one of the compilations appeared. That was really wild (laughs). And the process of making the two compilations I made was great, really fun. It sucks that the people that made the cover ended up being horrible, despicable people, and I only knew much later about it. But thanks to the compilations I knew a lot of bands and a lot of cool people. It was a nice exercise in trying to gather some kind of micro-scene.
Now, please guide us through all of your musical projects.
Ok, yeah, I’ll try to remember everything (laughs).
It kinda goes like this. I first started playing songs just with my guitar and my voice. Then I made Fotograma Lunar, where I played lo-fi indie pop, and it lasted like a year or so. Between all of that I started my ambient project and a noise one with which I only released a split with a friend from México. Then I made a short-lived band with Tomás, we made a single demo and then went on to form Plazoleta. After that… I’m not doing it chronologically ‘cause I don’t remember it that well (laughs)… I had a midwest emo/post-rock band after that. Then appeared tu todo en mi nada, a dreampopish slowcore project, and I think then I made 704w high street, a midwest emo project that was an excuse to make the best reference to American Football in the world. 704w high street is where the house from the classic American Football album cover is. It was just an excuse to use that name (laughs).
I think I started with mis sueños son de tu adios after that, it was a kind of side project that derailed a bit and grew a lot. One thing led to the other and now I mostly play screamo. Oh, there’s also No flashes confianza, which started kind of as a joke. I was in someone’s apartment and it was like 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning and I told someone who was there: “Hey, I have the best idea in the whole world, I’m gonna make a hardcore band called No flashes confianza and I’m gonna use that image of the cholo Spongebob” and that was it. I have a whole album recorded and saved in my computer, I could never record the vocals. There’s like 15 songs. And I have them there, maybe I’ll use them in the future.
I always recycle old ideas. I’ve sent you some songs a while ago and one of them has a piano loop that I recorded a few years ago with a Casio keyboard. But yeah, that’s pretty much it.
Not so long ago you also started working with Larry Records.
It’s very chill. Between October and December of last year, I don’t remember well, they published on Instagram something about releases to come and I talked to them. I had already released with them the [now sold out] EP paginas_muertas and the [also sold out] split with Sano Ex Machina. I told them that if they needed help with some flyers or graphics, that I could help with it, no problem, and they were really excited about it. So I ended up doing a lot of stuff and now I help with the design of a lot of covers, j-cards, inserts, flyers and all of that. It’s really awesome, I really like it, I’ve worked with some great bands and made lots of cool stuff.
I love how almost everything you’ve told me has been through the internet.
Yeah, the truth is that I could make everything I do even if I lived on the North Pole. Not many people know where I live. (laughs) I couldn’t have done any of this if it wasn’t for the internet, I wouldn’t be the person that I am. Like in a general sense, not just considering music. I’m very anti-anti-internet (laughs). Luckily enough, most scenes are not anti-internet, they use it to their favor. Maybe some orthodox punk scenes are, but not that much, they’re doing their stuff, it’s ok, it’s their thing.
Before we finish, let’s talk about kittencore.
Kittencore (laughs). Yeah, I don’t know, I got to know that term through a RateYourMusic list that had some bands in that vein and in the description linked a blog, I think it was You Don’t Need Maps, that talked about it in detail, showed some bands, etc. It’s about a way of screaming, very high pitched, and playing, kinda ramshackled, very teenage-like. There are not much bands I think, but they’ve been appearing a lot recently. But yeah, it’s like when they started calling these poppy math-rock emo bands twinkle daddies (laughs), same things, it’s the screamo version. It’s like a style more than it is a genre. But it’s really fun, it’s a cool sound and I like it.
What have you been listening to?
There’s cool stuff coming, I’m very excited. A split with retratos de heroína is coming pretty soon (with each song with an accompanying video), two more splits in what’s left of the year and if everything goes fine, a 7″ vinyl. I’m looking forward to all of it (and so you should!) Those are my plans.
Thanks a lot for everything!