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Dear Inigo, nice to “meet” you again! It’s the first time that we do an interview to an artist afterwards playing at TheFRAG. One of the reasons is that we – dramatically! – had problems with the dj sets recording of that magnificent January night spent with you. That night you played almost as sort of a techno-god! So, the minimum that we can do is to make you some questions and enjoy your answers and opinions. Please, let’s start telling us what do you remember about your gig in Padua: the place, the atmosphere, people…
IK : It’s nice to ‘meet’ you again too and just as it was nice to meet the first time in Padua! It is usually easy to feel the way a trip will be after a few minutes of arriving at the airport and for sure it was nice to meet all of TheFRAG family and share a great time! I remember a nice pizza (and a pizza roundabout) and a really great party with a passionate organization and a lot of other small details that made the time so easy from my perspective. I learned about caffècorretto as well🙂 You know it is sometimes hard to find the right mood and energy for the best performance that you want to do, especially with the flying and messed up sleep, but it was absolutely the best feeling playing that night in January. It was one of the times that everything is flowing and it is as if there is no need to think about how to do it and there is a direct connection between ears, mind and hands. I had the feeling this was really shared by the people there also and that’s how it should be for the best. We are all in this same place to get an experience from the environment (there was fantastic light production there as well) and get lost in different ways so it should feel like something mutual and connected.
Returning strictly to you and your music, we know that you’ve owned a label since the 90s – Asymmetric – and that you were also the first artist who did a release for a very respectable label that we know very well (especially its founder…..). Can you tell us something personal about this two different roles: how is it being both a label manager and producer? And how have these two roles changed since the “digital arrival”?
IK : Well I suppose I wouldn’t really see Asymmetric as a place that I have acted as a label manager for example. It was really just designed to be an outlet for my own music and to be able to take a little bit more risk and less compromise than when I was working with other labels. So it was really just about putting out the music that I believed in the most. I think the result has been something quite identifiable and it is always nice to hear the way people talk about the label and especially that the sound is quite unique and identifiable. That justified my feelings to do it and not follow the herd so much. The arrival of digital has in a way provided that structure also, especially now that it is better understood and has matured into a serious model. I switched Asymmetric to digital and made all the music free a long time ago, early days for digital when you look back now, but this was more a fight for independence and against all the ‘middle men’. A lot of people told me it devalues the product and so on. In a way it is the word ‘product’ that is the problem! At least there is a proper commercial understanding and business model for digital now although it is certainly still in its infancy and evolving to match the human nature that consumes it.
I have to say that with that very respectable label, Token, the perspective I had with Asymmetric is there so much and it is a real feeling of family and that’s a perfect combination. It is so good to be big part, in fact to be the start as I produced the first release, of something that has grown really strong and represents the techno scene very well. It’s been good to feel like there’s no pressure really to compromise my music and some of the more unusual tracks I have released such as ‘The Shard’ or ‘Obsidian’ have become important for a lot of people and cornerstones of the label as well as the more immediate tracks like ‘Cathedral’.
The role that digital plays is really important for promotion and the ways that this has evolved are fantastic but it is a huge bonus that Token is concentrated really hard and primarily on vinyl. The feeling to hold the music and enjoy the packaging and design as well as just the music is so important I think.
Give us some names and some reasons, we’re curious: a few names for the Uk new Techno scene, a few for Italian young producers that you particularly appreciate (if there are some), and the last few ones, among the musical genres you’re used to listen to. And please: tell us something that you remember about the meaning music had for you during your childhood and adolescence.
IK : That’s always a tricky question to answer fairly! For sure there are amazing things happening in the scene in Italy at the moment. The last two years especially there have been some fantastic parties, very good organization, both friendly and professional, and I think some incredible music also. It’s almost unfair to name check people in a way since I often forget what is what that I am playing and maybe I just missed something good! Seems to be passionate and talented people in every city I get to visit and that is a healthy thing!
I can say like a short anecdote though that I discovered almost by accident last year a CVO remix of a PVS track and that to me was probably the track of the year. The first time I really heard it was during a set I played at Berghain in the autumn. I have a lot of tracks now on CD which I have selected from digital promos. In theory this means that they should all be something I decided I am interested in but it can be quite often that I’m not familiar with and all the CD’s look the same with scribbled writing! Sometimes it can be quite random to pick a track from the CD’s during a set and it was this PVS track on that night. The moment was perfect and the room was totally electric and I had to remember afterwards what was this beautiful monster I had found by accident and where is it on all these CD’s that look the same! At least I found it and now I can’t hear it enough!
Going back to my childhood and adolescence I got to music quite late and we didn’t really have a lot of music at home for example. There was a piano and I used to make my own music so I suppose I did have an interest quite early but it wasn’t until teenage years that I discovered and got access to a lot of music through the radio like John Peel and the library where we lived that had a big vinyl collection and it was easy to borrow music from all genres. That habit stays with me so I listen to quite a lot of different music. I was very introvert and shy as well and it became quite natural as I got older to start to go to a lot of gigs and later clubs and get lost in the music and the energy. And still it continues🙂
Have you ever thought about stopping djing all around? If yes, why? You’ve been playing for so soso many years, sometimes it’s human to have the need to stop and take a rest. If you’ve never thought about something like that, tell us what you love the most from the “art of djing” and what gives you inspiration and energy.
IK : Ah, well of course there are some dark moments after a hard weekend with the wrong mood and it feels like what is the point of all this!😀 But that’s normal and very temporary. It’s a really lucky position to be in and amazing in fact to be able to travel a lot and meet so many people through music so I still feel like it’s something special and I can be proud of what I’ve done with my time on the planet and have some great stories for grandchildren one day. Plus as I already described there are magic nights and electric moments where you can feel so good. As long as that still happens then let’s keep going!
We have another question for you: can you tell us something about all your ‘alter ego identities’ – Tomito Satori and Reducer – and describe their peculiarities?
IK : In late 90’s and early 00’s I was quite prolific in the studio (a lot of people might still think it’s true) and there were so many tracks to get out and a position to be able to do it. Those names just became homes for some of the different styles I was producing.Tomito Satori (and HelkiTörsnum) for a really raw punk style of techno inspired by what was happening at parties in Eastern Europe at the time (and that made use of a filter and distortion machine that I built for myself). Reducer was a more cerebral and hypnotic perspective, more inspired by the Detroit sound. I enjoyed both styles and ultimately the Reducer evolved more into my general direction and the harsher sound became more synonymous with a particular era (although it is quite mad to see that it had become popular again recently and I’ve seen really old tracks pop up in recent sets in this new wave that has adopted the hard aesthetic).
Two advices required from you: one for young producers and one for the techno lovers.
IK : It’s easy to say and maybe harder to do but it really is just important to be true to yourself and not change your ‘shape’ just to fit into everyone else’s jigsaw or what you think they want. That goes for young producers and techno lovers the same. Follow your heart is a simple strategy! I didn’t say it was easy though.
Last but not at least: we’d like to know more about your future projects and your actual professional ambitions.
IK : It’s an exciting year for me as I have just completed an album for Token. I’m so excited for the release and I feel like it’s some of my best music. Heh, there is a sneak peak of one of the tracks in a clip of my set from TheFRAG on YouTube in fact! There are some really strong emotional tracks are there so I hope these will connect with people really well. It was such a surprise for me to even get the music done as we have a baby at home and time and energy have become a lot rarer in the last year! Maybe a little pressure made me not think about it so much and in the end music was flowing. I was quite nervous that I would have nothing ready! And so was our good friend Kris who runs the label! In theory my ambition is to follow my own advice that I’ve just written, keep a balance with music, working and family and keep making music as it feels natural to do. I’d hate to feel like I was doing music by numbers or because I have to for some ulterior reason.
We really love you, Inigo, sincerly. Molte grazie!
IK : Nice words to read and thank you too!I hope to see you again sometime soon and maybe we will get a recording also!
Interview by Divna Ivić