Even when held up alongside a slew of strong releases on the Munich label, Andrea‘s debut album impresses in typical Ilian Tape fashion. Ritorno feels like a beautifully knit-collage, a circuitry constructed upon a stream of new ideas spawned from the Turin native’s mind over the past 2 years. It’s a portal, a glimpse into a particular world that the Italian producer cherishes, channeling the sonics from his rich environment. The resulting release is a final product with elevated depth. Often occurring within the same track, Andrea criss-crosses between moments that thrill with titillating jungle-esque breaks and others delicate and hypersensitive.
We caught up with Andrea to find out more about the album, influences, a return to his childhood neighbourhood in Turin and more.
These are exceptionally peculiar times, so thanks for taking the time speaking to us. Firstly, in your own words, what is your new album all about?
I would say Ritorno is my journey of experimentation, putting together many different influences, without focusing on a particular format, but following a constant inspiration.
Following a consistent stream of output on Ilian Tape, you’ve managed to craft a signature sound through various experiments, techniques and styles. Would you say that Ritorno is an amalgamation of everything that you’ve experimented with over the last 8+ years?
For the last 2/3 years I started experimenting more seriously with a different production workflow and techniques. I basically kept the same approach producing all the releases of my discography, but with my last EP released in 2018 and the album released now I tried to go out of my usual production schemes. But sure, I think I learned a lot from every release and always tried to be more accurate in all aspects of the production.
The album artwork is a really good choice for the music on offer. Both possessing an array of depth and nuance. Can you talk a bit about the artwork?
We discussed a possible concept and we both agreed that something organic would fit and reflected the vibe of the music. We then shared the idea with Anja that already worked on cover of Stenny’s album. She proposed this close up picture from a stone reworked in a proper glitchy way and we immediately liked it. In almost every track I tried to maintain the connection to the nature and I feel the same with the artwork, as it represents something natural and creates an involving and dynamic effect that connects to the music.
In its entirety, this album’s really versatile. The music flirts between home listening material and rave worthy. Tracks such as, Liquid and Lana say a lot, carrying an aura of sensitivity and melancholy about them. Whereas tracks like ‘SKYLN’ and ‘Reinf’ are murky in substance, geared more to the murky-sweaty basement moments. Through the medium of albums, do you adhere to this idea that it’s the duty of the ‘electronic music producer’ to showcase of wide spectrum of music?
After talking to Dario about the possibility of releasing an album, I kept the process very spontaneous. All the tracks were recorded in the last 2 years and they were recorded with the intent of making an album, but without focusing on following a certain scheme or particular order.
Dario and Marco accurately helped me to select the final tracklist and track order that made the most sense to us.
Ritorno does a fantastic job of reinterpreting a lot of different UK styles and sounds (both past and present), you’ve clearly got an ear for ruthless amens and bass-heavy drum programming that are synonymous with the UK. Did you produce this album the sound of Ilian Tape in mind, or did you go into this project with a blank canvas, so to speak?
Genres like early IDM, ‘90s Techno and Jungle in general mostly influence my sound, but for the album I tried to combine more influences from other genres and artists I regularly listen to.
At the beginning, I didn’t have a particular concept in mind and so I followed my daily imagination without really thinking too much about the album itself, but mainly making music with more freedom – an experience I wasn’t used to when working on my previous releases.
For sure Ilian Tape and its artists have a great impact on my sound and I think the label reached a great sound variety in general. Every new release sounds really unique and is therefore always a great source of inspiration for my own work.
Also, a swift Google translate reveals Ritorno is Italian for ‘return’. As an Italian, can you talk a bit about what compelled you to choose this title for your first album?
Using Italian words for the album and also for some track names was a way to feel more comfortable and connected to the entire project. The title “Ritorno” for me represents a “come back”, as my last record was released in 2018, but also a “come back” to my origin – as we’re about to move to a new house that is in the same area which is closely connected to my childhood, so I wanted to dedicate my album to this.
Did you approach the task of creating this album differently than the way you’ve approached your previous EPs? If so, how?
Yes, I managed the whole process with a different approach from the idea itself to the recording sessions. I think before my last EP, all the tracks of my discography were made with a very similar workflow of recording and processing the sounds and arranging the tracks.
Beside the fact that I gave more space to many more influences, when I started working on the LP I developed a more free approach in the way of starting and producing the tracks. In general, I didn’t introduce any new particular equipment or plugin, but I started experimenting more with the sounds and with the effects, trying to reach a more accurate composition.
I also found good ways to improve my workflow, starting for example from Ableton beat-sketches arranged in different moments and situations, for example while travelling, waiting at the airport, being seated in the airplane or on the couch. This helped me to catch inspiring moments and develop a more unforced attitude in working on the entire project. I feel very conformable with this approach as I don’t have to force myself to sit and work in the studio without starting from something already conceived.
It feel as if there’s a tendency amongst some artists to create an album just because it’s the next ‘thing’ to do in their musical career. Can you talk a bit about what made you think that now was the right time to release this LP?
I think the idea came spontaneously when I started sending some new tracks to the guys and they realised I was exploring new directions – so they proposed me to start working on an album. Until that point I had never seriously considered to work on an album. When receiving the request, it was something really motivating and keeping me going with this new sound exploration.
It’s no secret you’re an esteemed member of Ilian Tape family. Can you tell us a bit about you fell into the hands of Dario and Marco Zenker?
It happened around 2011 when they both came to Turin to play at Doctor Sax alongside Stenny. I was really into Dario and Marco’s music, so I went to the party with some friends and met them. We talked about our tastes in music and what kind of sound Stenny and me were working on back then. They got curious about us and we kept in touch. After some time, Stenny and I started to send some music, which they started to like and found interesting for their label.
Was there any doubt in your mind that the album would be on Ilian Tape?
Nope, not at all! I was euphoric when Dario proposed me to start working on an album and releasing it on Ilian Tape was the most logical and desired option.
Do you expect to put any records out on any other labels in the near-future?
I really feel part of a family and this is an important aspect. Every new release is surprisingly good and I’m always really motivated to work on new music and send it to the Dario and Marco, especially thinking that it can contribute to the continuous progress of the label.
There is a lot of freedom to experiment and professionalism in all decisions. Also the fact of being in constant contact with them and having always immediate feedback has never made me consider to release my music somewhere else.
When on tour, how do the live gigs compare the DJ sets? Performing live at Berghain must be pretty special for you.
I mostly enjoy both, live and DJ sets in the same way. For me it’s even more fun to play back to back, especially when I have the chance and pleasure of playing together with Stenny.
But I think playing live gives me something more, as I can experiment and play my own stuff going through my unreleased tracks or alternative arrangements of the released ones. I try to develop a new and different live set for every gig, including my latest output, which I generally produce with the approach of being able to integrate it in my live sets. I’m always thrilled about the idea of presenting something new and I’m always curious to see the reaction of the dancefloor.
I am more than glad that touring around gave me the possibility of making many great experiences and Berghain is for sure is one of them. I remember the first time that I was invited to play live there and I didn’t have much experience, as it was one of my first gigs. So I was very nervous and excited at the same time. The live set went really good, with a surprisingly positive reaction of the crowd. Every time I come back there I still feel that vibe.
How was the recent marathon party at FOLD for you? A few of my friends were there – probably for a bit too long.
FOLD is definitely a special place. They invited us three times already and we developed a very enjoyable relationship. I was impressed by the atmosphere on the dancefloor – it for sure was a very powerful showcase and I was impressed about how many Ilian Tape fans came there to support us during this long rave. Every artist played intensely and people never stopped dancing throughout the party.
Your various social media channels state that you’re a Turin native. Being signed to German label must bring about a temptation to relocate to somewhere like Munich or Berlin. Apart from being your home, what is particular aspects of life in Turin are you so fond of?
I have a very strong connection to Turin, as I was born and spent all my life here. It’s a very beautiful and characteristic city, with a lot of art around and I’m always happy to see friends that come to visit and appreciate it.
Musically speaking, there always been important events here, such as international festivals. We have an interesting and dynamic underground scene as well, even if it is struggling during the last years due to local limitations of venue closures – but the people involved still believe in it and continue to offer enjoyable contents.
I simply feel comfortable living here, as the city offers everything I need. I think the multicultural attitude is one of the strengths I appreciate the most with the fact that it’s not a frenetic city. Of course there are some cons compared to bigger cities, but in the end I never had the real need of moving somewhere else.
There has been a time when I seriously considered moving to Berlin as my girlfriend used to live there. I am more than happy, that in the end she decided to move here and I am even more happy to see that she settled down so well. Seeing her living a happy life here, for me makes it a clear and good sign that the city offers a valid alternative to other international destinations.
In what ways might we hear Turin in your music?
Turin gives me a lot of inspiration. I consider the city as a calm place and I found a very good balance and stability living here. I think that I am reflecting this in my music, as I always kept my concentration steady trying to not lose focus over the years. All of this helped me to maintain making music in a very natural and genuine way.
Best place to eat there?
I don’t have a favourite one. I live in San Salvario and I would recommend this neighbourhood to every visitor who comes in town. It’s a great spot where you can find very good restaurants and bars.
And apart from music, how have you been occupying time whilst in lockdown?
Studying, listening lot of music and watching movies, but also bringing order to my studio and the house in general. I’ve been thinking a lot during this quarantine and there have been some anxious moments seeing what was going on all around the world, especially here in Italy. But in general I tried to enjoy the time at home and take advantage of this new lifestyle in my own way. In the end I actually came to realise how fast the days passed by.
Any films/books/shows you’d recommend?
I recently watched The Lighthouse and really enjoyed it. Over the last years I appreciated the movies of Eggers a lot, but also Garland and Villeneuve.
Once the lockdown situation subsides, musically speaking, what can we expect from yourself?
After releasing the album I practically didn’t take any break from making music and this lockdown situation gave me more time to develop some new ideas and start working on new music. I haven’t planned anything yet, but of course I am looking forward planning a new release.
Ritorno is out now on Ilian Tape | Buy it here