Yaiza Varona ‘Le Chef Compositeur’ – Guest Blog November 2014

On art vs industry


Once upon a time, in a magic land called Music Industry, there was a composer that was giving much thought to what she was writing. Maybe she shouldn´t have, because occasionally that led her to speak in third person.


Anyway, she also loved going to the point so here we go.


LE CHEF COMPOSITEUR – Hamburgers vs Risotto With Truffles (A tale of art and industry)


Like Ancient Romans´ architecture, I believe tracks need to have:


  • Firmitas (to be well built and not collapse),
  • Venustas (beauty) and most importantly,
  • Utilitas (the building must serve the purpose it was built for).



Now let me make sure I´m meeting all three criteria adapting whatever project I currently have in my hands to them.


I cook music. I love cooking some music dishes better than others, I´m naturally better at cooking some than others and my kitchen is more prepared for those certain dishes I do more often, however no matter what, I work in a happy, efficient kitchen because I enjoy cooking music so much.


As someone who cooks, I encounter two scenarios; I cook for a customer, or I cook for myself (or some loved guinea pigs).


Let´s imagine that hamburgers are successful, demanded by a big majority and associated with fast food, while truffle risotto requires investment, slow cooking and finesse, and it´s more on the delicacy end.


Scenario 1: Customer walks in, requests 15 hamburgers to be cooked within 20 min.


Hamburgers. Again. AGAIN. Don´t people eat something else?


I can try and convince my customer that there are other dishes in the menu, that my risotto is fantastic and that he or she should wait for 2h and invest more in live truffles as it´s more than just nutrition, and ask him / her to rely on me having the skills to pull off an otherworldly risotto.

This would be a funny situation, right? You as a customer walk in, know what you want (and you might as well not give a damn about truffles anyway), and if you´re happy with the service and like the place you might return later on and actually give that risotto thingy a chance.


Which means in this occasion as a chef, I´m stuck with doing 15 hamburgers within 20 min. A few crunches, red band tied around my forehead, the fun begins!


In this scenario, I become a mercenary: I’m focused, ruthless, on a mission, like in a videogame. Step one: let go of wanting to do a risotto. Next time. Wipe mind clean and embrace the concept ‘Hamburger’. It just so happens I love hamburgers too!

I find the most efficient way of cooking what I am requested with the means at my hand. I don’t have to reinvent hamburger all over again. The recipe is perfect, and you can have it as often as you wish, can’t go wrong like that. And more importantly, as much as I keep on falling in love with hamburgers, I try and add my little personal ingredient and sign them all with a big Y on the top.

This is no McDonalds dodgy stuff. This is MY hamburger.


Scenario 2: I´m on my own in my music kitchen.


I need to spend time alone with my tools. Reminds me why I started cooking music in the first place.

If I’m cooking home – who cares what do I use or how do I accomplish it? I put together whatever I fancy if I feel it feels right. Cocoa and chilli can belong together. In any set I need something to contrast, a slight dissonance, a touch of rawness just because. But who cares? That’s just my aesthetic, my taste. Is my plate nutritionally balanced? Has everything you need? That’s all there is to it! Especially after having worked so hard on the hamburgers, I owe it to myself.


This is the time for me to allow my artistic self some space to breathe and do whatever I fancy: no deadlines, no constrains, no pleasing others, I am GOD in Yaizaland; I rule, destroy and create.


I enjoy spending ages perfecting my very personal truffle risotto. I also gather information about who may actually be interested in such dish.


One last advantage of this mental division: whatever I develop in one area helps the other and viceversa. The resources I come up with when being a mercenary help me focus and not be too ethereal when writing as an artist ( for what is the use of a track that never gets bounced, however high idea we have of it in our mind? ) and the techniques I slowly discover when taking ages to write I can later accelerate my everyday writing.


I love being a music mercenary. And an artist. I am lucky like that!


This is my current approach to writing, but obviously there are many others from which I could learn so much.


Now, I would love to hear how you cook in your music kitchen.