Jorge Montiel gives Kevin Le Gendre an insight into Imagenes.
When was the label founded?
JM: I am a DJ and producer from Caracas, Venezuela, I moved to London in 1999 to study sound engineering but soon became involved in the city’s club scene. I had run a sound system and had an interest in beatmaking and remixing. On a return visit to Caracas I made contact with my childhood friend Juan Laya, a drummer and percussionist, and we started some studio production. Once I came back I told Juan that London is the place for music. So he came here in 2002 and we started working on our musical ideas. The label Imagenes was a logical next step.
As a DJ did you find inspiration in your record collection, with its classic cuts of ‘70s soul, funk, Latin and disco?
JM: I remember we were playing Galaxy by War. We were just so into the music, Juan said, ‘Yeah, let’s make a live project’. Initially, it was a disco band and after it became Los Charly’s Orchestra. Since then we’ve been working, trying to create a fusion between funk, soul, disco and a bit of, obviously, Latin influences, which are our roots. It’s just trying to blend all of that together. Los Charlys is a little musical community.
Los Charlys Orchestra members come from all over, right?
JM: The vocalists, rhythm and horn sections are all London-based but hail from Britain, Brazil and Venezuela and include singers Andre Speut and Elpidio Alegria, bassist Matheus Nova, keyboardist Milt Mavrakakis, trumpeter Paul Batik, guitarist Phil Stevenson, drummer Mike McKenzie and percussionist Wilmer Sifontes.
What’s the attraction of having a live band as well as being producers: a Masters At Work type of situation?
JM: Our aim has always been to integrate and combine the more musician-minded perspective of Juan with the more technical, DJ perspective from me. And find a balance between the two, mixing the old and new school of production into our signature sound.
Tell us about the excellent recent collaboration with Omar.
JM: We had always been followers of Omar’s stuff, and I used to be really into the Broken beat scene about 10 years ago, I remember going to Co-Op at Plastic people on Sundays and dancing to It’s So – it was my favourite Co-Op tune from all times! So it’s a real honour for us to have had the opportunity of working with him on our latest Los Charly’s Orchstra EP.
Los Charly’s Orchestra feat Omar’s History and History/Sunshine EP re-worked by John Morales are both out now on Imagenes.