Bruce Zalcer: I decided to show my face and be who I am

Radio Intense is always happy to introduce amazing artists to the world. This time we are meeting Bruce Zalcer - DJ and producer from Panama City, Panama.
Bruce Zalcer's music embraces the darker elements of humanity, the complexities of psyche, and the uplifting momentum of both the individual in flux and our collective evolution.
We talked to Bruce about his path in the industry, debut release Primordial Ignition on IAMT, the music scene in Panama and many more things. Read it now below!
Hi, Bruce, How are you today?
— I'm doing well. Very excited to be with you to talk about my new release. I can say I've been waiting for this for a while.
— Glad to have you. Why for a while? What kept you from being with us before?
— Well, this is sort of unexpected for me. If you would have asked me two years ago where would you be today, this would have never been my answer.
— How come? Tells us more about that.
— I was born and raised in Panama City, Panama. After graduating high school I went to University in the United States where I studied economics and history. After graduating in 2004 I went straight back to Panama. Not a week passed and I was working in my father's insurance brokerage firm. Where I've been until today.
— Tell us more about your life in Panama?
— Well, Panama is one of the most developed countries in Latin America. So, in general it's a safe and comfortable place to live in.

I've been married since 2013, and have two daughters. So I have a quiet, family life haha.
— How's the electronic music scene in Panama and in the region? How do you see it?
— Panama had a burgeoning scene until a couple of years ago. A law passed that forced clubs to close early so that basically destroyed the scene.

In the last couple of years there's been a lot of new, younger, motivated promoters who are doing an excellent job of rebuilding the scene in our country.

I think that the region is packed with talented producers, DJ's and artists in general. So, it's just a matter of time for that talent to be recognized and for the scene to explode.

Although, there needs to be more investment and structure for that talent to rise.

The internet has breached many borders and shortened distances. So, I think the future is bright for the electronic music scene in Panama and Central America.
— Ok, so how do you go from economics, history and insurance to music production?
— Music has been a part of me throughout my life. Since I was a little child I became fascinated with Latin music that my mother used to play in the car. I remembered all the lyrics, used to ask what they meant, etc... Then when I was around 9 years old, a friend introduced me to bands like Guns and Roses and Metallica. That's when my life long obsession with music in general, and hard rock/heavy metal in particular really began.

Music became everything for me. I watched MTV constantly to try to find new bands. Recorded the videos with VHS at the time. There was no internet at the time. So, in Panama, that and through the radio, were the only ways we had to discover music.

Then CD's came out. I remember having a case full of CD's that I took with me everywhere I went.
— Things are starting to clear up, tell us more about why a Techno EP and not a hard rock or metal EP. Why Techno?
— I've always had a tendency to like music that's outside the mainstream. Since I started listening to rock, I rejected popular and emotion driven music. I preferred more authentic, dark themes. Lyrics, rhythms, melodies, that invited me to question convention and popular opinions.

In Techno I've been able to find that.
— But how did you get to Techno?
— I went through some issues in 2016-2017, that made me question certain things in my life. I had a picture perfect life but there was something missing. I felt I wasn't doing what I wanted but really didn't know what I wanted.

I started questioning many things that were "sacred" for me. One day I just felt like listening to a hip hop track which I had heard on an MTV documentary when I was younger. Before, I would have never done that. Hip Hop was something I just didn't listen to. But again, I was prepared to change.

So I started exploring different genres of music. You can say that I had put aside all prejudices I had regarding music and was just listening to what I felt like.

One night, while watching YouTube I came across a Charlotte De Witte set at a festival. When I heard that kick pounding, I said that's it. That's what I want to make. What I want to focus on.
— Was that your first experience with electronic music?
— No, in 1999 I had my first major split from rock music. I was introduced to Trance at the time and I really liked it. The music, the raves, the scene, etc..

I was moving away to the USA for University. So I worked throughout the summer to save and buy DJ gear. Pioneer CDJ's were much cheaper then.

But after some time, I left that scene and music behind.
— How did you start producing music?
— I've always played instruments. I started playing piano when I was, I don't know, 5 or 6. I also played violin in the school orchestra. Which I hated really. I wanted to play guitar.

So when I was 12 my parents bought me my first guitar, then a bass guitar a year later. So those two instruments have been a part of my life since then.

When I started listening to new music in 2017, I also wanted to make it. So I started producing. I became familiar with new technology, DAW's etc.. and that's that.

It's kind of funny that I bought my new production equipment in the same store in Los Angeles, California where my parents bought me my first bass in 1995.
— I see you have a lot of gear, synths, drum machines, samplers, etc..., how come?
— I think that the possibilities afforded today by technology are sufficient to produce quality music without resorting to external hardware, synths, etc... At least for electronic music.

Nevertheless, I like playing instruments. Each instrument has its own sound, in a way, its own personality. To be able to walk around the studio and play something that's there, that's real, is a feeling that can't be replaced by software.

Obviously, I do incorporate them in my productions. But I'd be lying if I said that I have them solely for producing.

I also like playing live techno. At the moment, I'm focusing on DJ'ing and some hybrid sets. But I like just turning on a sampler or drum machine, programming beats and just playing with synths.

It's a form of inspiration through improvisation that I find priceless.

I also have a guitar and bass collection, so, you can also say that I like collecting instruments haha.
— Let's talk about Primordial Ignition, your first release with IAMT? How do you feel about it?
— I'm really excited really. To release music is something that I always wanted to do, but never really got to it. I felt that I was already too old, or that it just wasn't something that was possible. Especially with rock music, that tends to be played by a band.

I remember I went with my band to a recording studio when I was 13, had to pay a lot of money and the engineer lost our recordings. It wasn't until a couple of years ago where I saw the possibilities available nowadays to make music from home. I think that's something to be very mindful and thankful for.

So it's sort of a lifelong dream to be able to do this. And I'm very happy and grateful to Spartaque and the IAMT Music Group for the opportunity.
— What about the tracks? What do they represent for you?
— I think they're both aggressive and powerful in their own way. I feel Ignition is the rawer, meaner of the two and Primordial is more melodic and carries more emotion.

They mean different but complimentary things for me and that's why I chose each name for it. Primordial is that process before we make the decision to act. That primeval, raw idea or thought that still cannot be defined or rationalized into action but starts motivating us.

Primordial is a gift that comes to us when we're ready for it. When God or the Universe, feel that it is our time.

Ignition is when that raw notion lights up something inside of us that motivates us to act. To do what's necessary to make it a reality.

I felt that process vividly in the last couple of years and that's why I chose those names for the tracks.
— Why did you choose IAMT to release your tracks?
— I've been following closely the work and effort that this label and its affiliates have done to release quality music, support the artists and promote their work.

This is something that not many labels do. I've come to admire the mix of quality music and top promotion. It's a powerful combination. Because putting out great music is not enough. It has to get to the public. The label plays a major role in that.

So it's only natural for me to choose IAMT to release my EP.
— What have been your influences? What labels do you mostly listen to?
— That's a tough question. It's very hard for me to look at music like that. I can't really point it out. But I'd have to say that I listen more to labels like Codex/IAMT, Terminal M and 1605
— The industry has gone through a tough year. Were there any creative challenges you dealt while working on music recently?
— I try to think that everything is for the best. When quarantine started I had my first gig in a long time and was sort of freaked out it was canceled.

I've tried to keep in mind the blessings that I've received this year and especially since quarantine started. I can see that it's been a time for me to focus more on music, being able to connect with fellow musicians, secure releases with important labels, etc...

By trying to be in the moment I've been able to be much more productive musically. I'm very grateful for this time as I wouldn't have been able to do this otherwise.
— What would you say to someone your age or similar, who wants to choose another career or an alternative to what they're doing now?
— Well, I'm 38 now. When doing music professionally became a goal for me I was 36, it wasn't an easy decision. I was and still am Executive VP of a successful insurance brokerage firm, had a daughter and wife at the time (now we have two) and I thought my path in life was just to continue what I was doing. Obviously I wanted to be more successful and grow my business, but that was that.

I was a very big skeptic of all deviations from the norm, seeing them as impulsive and irresponsible. In other words I was very rigid.

So, initially I hesitated and didn't want to put my face and name out. I wanted to be as anonymous as possible. But then I said screw it, I'm going to take a risk and just do. So. I decided to show my face and be who I am, just like I made a decision when I was a child and had a rock and roll life, even though it wasn't the popular thing to do. And even though I was against all odds, I was very successful then.

I've always felt better when I do what I consider right and what feels right. Parents, siblings, etc... will advise us to go through the safe, most conservative path. But I think we owe it to ourselves and to our loved ones as well to do what's right for us and not what was right for another. In that way we'll be happier and better for ourselves and for them.
— What can we expect from Bruce Zalcer in the nearest future?
— I'm very excited for my next release; a three track EP coming out on Set About early December. It's a collab with Alan Wools, the very talented and gifted Ukranian producer and sound engineer. Whom I've had the honor to work with.

After that I have an EP coming out on Codex. And some surprises on the way, so stay tuned....