When Pennsylvania Avenue resident Loic Maestracci founded the San Francisco Music Expo in 2014, inviting seasoned producers and engineers to speak on the subject of “Inspiration to Completion,” he had a hidden agenda of sorts. He’d been dabbling in music for years, producing a countless supply of melodic fragments.
“From a personal point of view, afterwards I asked, ‘how can I apply that to myself,’” he recalled.
Earlier this year that soul-searching question culminated with Maestracci’s first release, an eight-song EP, Electro Funk Samba, recorded under the stage name, IguazЬl.
The music draws on an electronic style known as French Touch, which Maestracci fuses with Latin rhythms and American funk and Rhythm and Blues. According to the French-born Maestracci, the EP echoes the sounds of Bebel Gilberto, Jamiroquai and even Chic. His approach to funk also bears the influence of the lighter elements of San Francisco-based Michael Franti & Spearhead.
Synthesizers and drum machines form the foundation of tracks over which Maestracci layers voices, electric piano and live percussion. When he began the project, he relied on a plug-in simulating a Roland TR707, a classic 1980s house music drum machine. On a visit to his father, Hyacinthe Maestracci, who lives in Serris, France, he was startled to find a real TR707 in the closet. His dad hadn’t used the machine in 10 years, and insisted he take it. Maestracci re-recorded the tracks using the actual Roland.
The elder Maestracci was also a musician, playing piano and accordion. But it was the abundance of classic rock and R ‘n B played at home that seeped into Loic’s consciousness. When he moved to Los Angeles for college, he dabbled musically and worked for a few years in distribution at a record label, but soon found himself drifting away from his creative side.
In 2010, vacationing on a Brazilian beach, Maestracci realized that music was missing from his life. He decided to start the expo to help catalyze San Francisco’s music audio and software sector, by giving musicians networking opportunities with recording professionals and gear providers.
Maestracci also decided to complete his own album. Limiting the scope of sounds to three subgenres – South American, U.S. and French Touch, which itself is based in American disco and funk – resulted in a consistent sound across the EP, and allowed the project to be completed. “Anything that didn’t conform, I excluded,” he said.
One of the biggest lessons Maestracci learned through the process of making the EP was to get over the fear of being judged, and to act on people’s advice. “That’s number one. The best thing is to do one thing really well and pass it onto people for them to hear and be ready to be hurt,” he said, “and actually, you are not. It was about crossing the finish line. Can it be better? ‘Yes.’ But will it ever get released?”
He advised struggling composers to adopt boundaries. In today’s age anything is possible with a computer. While opening doors, the abundance of tools can be a draw back. “Having unlimited abilities and having to make decisions was a big roadblock,” he said. “Whatever setup you have, learn it and don’t worry about needing new things or having the right gear or plug-in.” Maestracci followed what he calls “time boxing,” setting aside 20 minutes daily to work without distractions.
Having toiled through those “frustrating nights” to create the EP, Maestracci believes his next project will be easier. “I turned years of frustration into an amazing sense of accomplishment,” he said, adding that he dedicated the project to his fiancО, Karena, who persevered through his ups and downs. “I thought it would be the end but it’s really the beginning.”
He’s now busy planning the third Music Expo, which has doubled its attendance since it was originally held at The Chapel. This year it will be located at Ex’pression College in Emeryville on November 12.