Piezo is a producer I’ve kept a very close eye on ever since he sent me a collection of tunes, which to my surprise [given how picky I am] were fairly darn good. This was back in January, around the same time I discovered NoMad Records, an Italian based label with an inspiring vision to expand beyond it’s domestic frontiers and reach the eager ears of those in search of the next sign-able sound. The dream came to fruition. The second half of 2013 will see NoMad release music by Matt U, Piezo/Killawatt, and Sick’s Fatboy accompanied with a remix by Artikal Music, an essential record which has been supported heavily by Matt U, J:Kenzo and Youngsta. Consequently, these announcements have now placed NoMad on the global radar. What was once a small outlet catering for a handful of bass music enthusiasts, is now an label recognised among the ranks of those with similar merit looking forward at the bigger picture. By the same token, I too have been supporting Piezo, featuring his music in my Trusik guest mix for Bunzero back in February, and more recently on our debut Dusk FM radio show (podcast available soon). Opting for the techno dub route, Piezo’s sound is built around fast paced rhythms. The flare of his eccentric flow is driven by rigorous kicks, frantic percussion, snappy samples, the groove of each complementing the next, as the experimental frenzy deepens. Granted he’s in the primitive stages of his producing career, his beats are raw with exécution méticuleuse. Of course, my words are only one side of the story, so for this reason, I thought it was about time to introduce you to one of Italy’s best kept secrets.
TRUSIK: Before we start I have to ask, what does Piezo mean and how did you acquire the moniker?
Piezo: Well, it’s not so cool to be honest. Some years ago I was studying physics for a uni exam, and I read this word, “piezo-electricity” (I don’t wanna bore you with the meaning, but it’s quite interesting). I loved the way it sounded (pronounced pi-e-zo). Then I thought: “Well, Piezo is also the name of one of my favourite tunes by Autechre. Ok, this is a good moniker”.
(ps: Autechre – “Piezo” from “Amber” LP)
(pps: sorry Gantz, I know your name has similar origin…)
T: When was your first contact with electronic music, and how has it shaped you as the person you are today?
P: Given the previous reasons, it’s clear I’ve been heavily influenced by IDM and experimental electronic music. When I was a teen, the first time I listened to an Aphex Twin song was devastating: I really felt something moving inside me. But I was still not able to produce. The first real contact with music production was with hard-techno music and underground free parties: I owe lots of my current skills to that scene, cause I learnt to make music with a computer and test it on the crowd in a fast and simple process. Some elements are still inside me (the tribal thing, the broken patterns…): so now I know it has been a perfect starting point.
T: Describe the emotional response you felt upon hearing ‘140’ for the first time. What is it about the sound that made you say, “This. This is the sound I want to connect with. This is the sound I want to produce”?
P: For sure, it was a Mala gig at Sziget Festival in 2009: that was the first time I listened to ‘dubstep’ on a big soundsystem, it was when I first felt its true potential. It was deep and dark, but also absolutely danceable. In that period, I was not satisfied with my techno music, asking myself: “how can I go on? What can be the next step?”. Those low frequencies gave me an answer: techno learnt me how to make a proper rhythm, Mala was telling me that I needed sub bass. That was the first time I thought about producing dubstep but, for several reasons, I didn’t start to make it until late 2011. Then after the mighty Outlook Festival, that literaly blew my mind and showed me the deep way. Yeah, that was the real starting point.
T: And of course, the result of all this led you to Turin where the scene was run by NoMad Records and the Bratski Krug family. With two releases already under NoMad, with a third on the way, are you happy with your current developments and musical output? Will you continue to release your music exclusively through NoMad, or are you open to working with other labels if the opportunity arises?
P: Yeah, in late 2011 I came into contact with the NoMad guys thanks to a common friend: he was telling me that some dudes in Turin were pushing a proper sound with a series of club nights (Bratski) and an interesting label. In a few months we became good friends and my tune “Ketre” joined their “The Red Sines Compilation” with some other Italian heroes 🙂 It has been all quite natural: we started sharing lots of ideas, and then “The Omen” EP saw the light of day. Here in Italy, they are simply the best label for real dubstep music, and among the few who seriously built a scene. So, I am obviously happy with my releases on NoMad, and I’m also very happy with the other producers into it: some absolute bangers are coming out on this label, and those guys really need big support! They are my family and I will always be happy to release on it, but this dosn’t mean that I’m exclusive with them. I will be very happy to release on foreign labels, and I’m currently working on it 😉
T: Moving onto the actual music itself, I like it a lot. Given your early experiences to bass music, there’s notable references to techno, but more importantly, it’s the injection of energy driven by your drums and percussion where your strengths lie. When you set out to build a track, do you have a clear direction of what you want to achieve, or do you start with one element with everything else falling into place thereafter?
P: In my tunes I try to imprint more a techno feeling rather than following the half-step pattern. And this doesn’t necessarily mean I’m using 4/4 kicks. I like to create fast and agitated beats, and percussions always help me a lot in this target: think about my tune “Marwuk”, where I used several layers of percussions both to enforce the kick and speed up the rhythm. Yeah, rhythm means everything to me: If you build an interesting pattern, you don’t often need to put the snare in the same place (in fact, you don’t even need to put it in at all), and you are more free to experiment. Indeed, I don’t like to call my music “dubstep”, I prefer to use simply “140”: yes, I still enjoy the slow, deep and dark style a lot, but at the moment I’m not sure I’m able to produce that kind of sound properly and I’m trying to minimize it in my DJ sets. What about my production process? Well, to be honest it’s a complete mess. I usually start with a good idea and try to arrange all the elements in order, but then I over-complicate it. It’s crazy, but in the end it’s good for my creativity: I start with something, then go paranoiac, then end up with something completely different. We can take my tune “Pink Foot” as an example: it was originally intended to be a deep thing with lots of pads and atmos, but after reshuffling it hundreds of times, I found this movement hidden through my drums and then got the inspiration. It was slow and full of breaks, and it needed some weird synths. If I had continued pursuing my original target, I’d have ended up with nothing good in my hands.
T: Your track ‘Ptay’ is perhaps a true reflection of the current 140 sound. So much so that Killawatt jumped on the remix. Given his current stature in the scene, how did you manage to get Killawatt onboard, and are you pleased with the result? Can we expect any further collaborations with him?
P: I feel “Ptay” very much because I like how it alternates straight between the rhythmical parts and that deep melody. This was not intended, but came out well. Killawatt went on the remix basically thanks to the NoMad guys: Matt was playing at a Bratski night in Turin and while we were talking all together we realized this idea. Sure I’m pleased with the result: the original tune is good, but he went off with this remix. It’s so dark and it has the typical techno progression. You know Killawatt tunes are always something different from the schemes. At the moment nothing is scheduled with him in the future: obviously I’ll always be happy to work with him when possible, but on the other side I don’t want to subtract time for his collabs with Ipman ahahah. They’re so fuckin huge!
T: The ‘Ptay’ single will be your first record released on vinyl. How important is this for you? Is it a format you would like to see your music released on in the future?
P: I like vinyl because it’s something physical, something you can touch: this completely changes your perspective and adds value, so I hope to have as many vinyl releases as possible in the future. For me, it’s also a question of djing control: I’d rather touch a fake vinyl than a jog wheel, so I love Serato cause it’s the best way for me to play unreleased or digital-only stuff. Anyway, I’m not a big vinyl collector to be honest. I buy them and have a good small collection, but at the moment you’ll mainly find UK techno (Blawan, Shifted…) and 128bpm bass/house/garage in it (little dubtsep). I do also love that kind of sound, and I enjoy djing in different situations.
T: Outside of production, what other interests or hobbies do you dabble in? Do any of these activities inspire you creatively when returning to the studio?
P: Well, given University, the job and the music, I don’t have much time to dedicate to other things not strictly related to them (except for my girlfriend). I enjoy playing classic piano and this is still inspiring to me. Indeed, everything I do converges to sound at the end: I’m studying computer science at uni, and working as an Ableton trainer and sound designer here in Milan. So it’s pretty much all about the music 🙂
T: Focusing on the scene in Italy, are the Italians more responsive to the deeper, foundation sound or the tear-out commercial sound? Are there any up and coming Italian producers we ought be paying attention to, who deserve some recognition?
P: To be honest, here in Italy there’s not a big response to the deeper side of bass music. Except for Turin, there aren’t cities with a real dubstep scene. But people still enjoy dancing to a good djset: just don’t only play dark and static tunes, but mix different things together, and that’s what I’m trying to achieve. Now, let me introduce some guys from the Italian family. First of all, he’s not a producer but needs an equal mention: I’m talking about Dj Foster, one of the first Italian dubstep selectors. He’s always pushing the proper and freshest sound during his monday SUB.FM shows. (Him and NoMad Records are setting up something special, stay tuned…) Then, you must pay attention to D-Operation Drop, my favorite partners in crime in music production: they don’t need any presentation, just go check their soundcloud and you’ll understand. Obviously keep an eye on the Turin gang (especially Epitome, Seth, De Niro) and also on those true pioneers called Numa Crew (with their recent addition, Ago, a very talented guy). Finally, also a mention to Lorenzo, Sick, Plato, Urban Tank and Mind The Dubstep, but trust me, there are many many other talents out there.
T: What can we expect from Piezo in 2013, is there any forthcoming material, or other interesting projects you can spill the beans on?
P: I am very excited about some collaborations: I’m working together with many of the previously mentioned Italian brothers, and also with a couple of foreign guys. I’m working also on a couple of releases (one of them not strictly related to dubstep), and waiting for some remixes by sick producers, but I can’t say more than that. I’m collecting some bookings for the summer (if any promoters are interested, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org) and I hope to dj as much as possible. Anyway, my first interest is to find as much time as possible for producing and working on the quality of my music. Got tons of ideas, but need some time to get them done properly.
T: Take us through the mix you put together for us.
P: I didn’t care too much about including only my tunes or dubs: I did want to build a mix as fluid as possible, with a selection of deep percussive beats. These are just few of the tunes I’m currently feeling: too much good 140 music out there at the moment. Obviously, you will find a big representation of NoMad Records and Italian sound in there. I hope the Trusik readers will enjoy it and get to know us!
T: Finally, your five favourite tracks at the moment…?