When mysterious Spanish house DJ/producer John Talabot (AKA Oriol Riverola) toured Australia in early 2012 with Laneway Festival, he was still an underground player. Formerly a struggling and disenchanted techno stalwart in Barcelona, he'd generated a buzz with 'Sunshine' on his own Hivern Discs label.
The DJ won a fan in James Murphy and was making inroads into indiedom with an EP on London's Young Turks. There had even been complementary rumours that 'John Talabot' was the alter ego of a Detroit producer. But then Riverola unleashed his debut album, ƒin ('the end'), an intoxicating blend of deep house, loopy techno, cosmic disco, Afro groove, tropicana and Balearica, on Germany's Permanent Vacation to rhapsodic reviews.
Riverola couldn't understand the fuss. "It was really, really strange to see all the feedback for the album," he tells Time Out. "Actually, I remember that when the album was released, I was in Australia, so I was doing all the interviews from hotel rooms in a really different timetable from Europe. So then I had to wake up sometimes in the night to do some interviews. But the feedback was so good that sometimes I was like, 'Whoa – I don't understand what's going on with the album!'"
Riverola intentionally didn't create a club record – although the melodically propulsive 'So Will Be Now' became a dance-floor hit – and believes that ƒin, while dark, connected because it can be listened to like a pop album. Riverola has inspirational allies outside of the club zone, in fact – he's toured with the xx and remixed their songs 'Shelter' and 'Chained'. "I think he has really good taste," Riverola says of the band's "forward-thinking" producer/musician Jamie Smith. "He has a really clear idea of what he wants – which is incredible, because he's so young."
Riverola is considering another album but needs to take time out from touring to focus on it. "I don't like to work on laptops and stuff like that," he says of the writing process. Meanwhile, he'll present a mix-album in the fêted DJ-Kicks series.
For now, he returns to Australia for the boutique festival Listen Out, the successor to Parklife, but with a two-man live show alongside pal Miguel 'Pional' Barros. He premiered it last year at Barcelona's Primavera Sound. "It's quite a different thing in relation to the DJ set," he promises. "It's more straight-off-the-album stuff."