The music of Chilean producer Cristo Gavras under the moniker Imaabs is an exercise in resistance—both ideologically and in practice.

In practice, his unique flavour of identity-blurring tracks is a response to what he’s referred to as the hegemony of house and techno. “The ethnocentrism and the auto-colonialism is really hard, everybody produce[s] something like techno and house music without identity, or almost [without] some innovation,” says Gavras in an e-mail interview.

Gavras believes that early on the Chilean club scene adopted a European formula for clubbing, and this imitation has subsequently become a prescribed establishment that commands uniformity. “What kind of music is Chilean music? [Chilean music] is basic; is sad; is minimal; is bored without identity; is auto-colonialist […]” says Gavras. “Nobody resists, except hip-hop, and the people with a critical capacity.”

Ideologically, Gavras envisions his music as standing in opposition to the way Chilean society has developed since the end of the Pinochet dictatorship in 1990. “Chileans have an extension infinite of the same dictatorship,” says Gavras. “The people have fear, and nobody does nothing. The mechanisms of contention are really diffuse—social media, bad salaries, fear, the impossibility of other systems, the depression, the collective neurosis, the debt.”

His music—with all its diverse stylistic flourishes drawing from vogue, jungle, Latin American music, and ambient—stands as a colourful contrast to this societal greying. “I want [to] make this as a political intervention,” says Gavras. “Chile is the first experiment of bio-political control, with a dictatorship and with the neo-liberalism, the system is perfect for the corporations, because now with a supposed democracy the system is the same.”

Gavras stresses the importance of class structure—the way prisons and drug wars are used as population control, and how capitalism enables exploitation. “In the third world nobody has rights, the state of right is totally dead for the free market,” says Gavras. “In Mexico the narco-state make[s] businesses out of death. More than 20,000 disappeared, [because of] the war with the traffickers. The people die for nothing.”

He cites scholar Achille Mbembe’s concept of “necro-politics,” or the use of political power to exercise control over both physical and social death. “In [the] U.S. there are people living in an apartheid,” he says. “The prisons [are] totally full of black people, they [are] living in similar conditions like many people in the third world.”

Gavras studied philosophy at a university that he describes as being one of the most emblematic in Santiago. Although he had been making electronic music since 2005, it was during his studies that Gavras began really applying himself to his productions.

I decided in 2012 because I had a possible scholarship in Canada, for this reason I wanted [to] learn DJing and producing music more seriously.”

After graduating he taught for five years before being fired in 2014 for teaching counter-cultural ideals. “I tried to make discussion[s] in my class, and [teach] how [to] question the system and do something, how the media manipulated the information,” he says.

Obviously I was fired, because the people in the public [and] private system are not allowed to think.”

It was around this time that Gavras was contacted by the A&R for N.A.A.F.I (No Ambition And Fuck-all Interest), an artist collective based in Mexico City. Like Gavras, they take a rebellious approach to clubbing, throwing their own parties to showcase sounds and cater to people that don’t fit in with Mexico’s pre-existing club culture. Gavras joined them, a move that added more networks of identity and risk-taking to his music by introducing a new staple of collaborators and involving him in a movement that’s gaining worldwide momentum.

The story of Imaabs is ultimately one of the extent to which electronic music is in line with a greater artistic, multidisciplinary tradition of political resistance. an aspect that Gavras hopes will begin to take hold at home.

I hope the people will [decide how to] use the pleasure or the desire, and build something right now,” he says.

Find Imaabs fueling the resistance through music, gigs and throwing parties with the N.A.A.F.I crew.

Editor’s note: the transcript of this interview has been edited for clarity.

By: Jonathan Crane

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