Having released on Defected, Tronic, Global Underground and of course Terminal M, Italy's Paride Saraceni is carving out a name for himself as a go-to producer of thumping, dance floor oriented techno. We sat down with him to get his thoughts on dance music venues, dance music’s political conscience, and his recent release on Monika Kruse’s esteemed label in this winding yet thought-provoking interview.
How are things with you as we come towards the end of 2017? Was it a good year for you, both professionally and personally?
Thanks for having me here. To be honest this year has been rather strange for me both on a personal level as well as musically. I’d like to say that it’s all going well but it would be a lie, so no, actually it’s not that well at the moment. I am glad though that certain things happened as they gave me time to breathe and think over new ways of approaching both life as well as what I do in studies and music.
I have to say though that tour-wise it was quite reasonable as I played in South America and Lebanon for the first time, as well as touched base in Tokyo once again, which is always a great place to be and to play. However, I perceived a huge and radical change of mood within the scene, driven a lot by current new trends as well as perceiving for the very first time with such intensity, a collective approach, which has set the consumer/clubber/festivalgoer as the main source of input, rather than it being the artist and his inner stories.
So it has been very hard on that level to keep up my game in terms of EP signings, as well as bookings, given that a lot of attention is now collectively and almost entirely allocated to an ever smaller slice of artists, festivals and brands with incredibly solid management and backgrounds. What is very positive that I can conclude from this change is the observation of how quickly waters can shift and how to learn from it for the future.
Tell us about your EP on Terminal M- what inspired it and influenced it?
My latest EP, The Other Side, is a project which was inspired by Monce’s vocals: “Come to the other side and I’ll show you where pleasure is, don’t you, don’t be afraid, you know time will reveal the way,” as an allegory to post-humanism, and the way in which technology is dictating our day-to-day life, pushing us to our human limits at work, as well as in our private and intimate life.
Putting it on the DJ’s realm, where some DJs for example are being booked at incredible frequency, have to travel for hours and constantly be jet-lagged for the sake of keeping up their game, in a way becoming 'slave' of the very same methods and technologies which allowed them to live and be productive and do what they do. This push to human limits is echoed in the track as the ‘other side’ represents the digital world, where we would become post-humans, blend with the very same technology which we ‘use’ so that we may find relief or 'pleasure' in relying on our now post-human organism, which would essentially work on our behalf so that we may even fully enjoy it again.
On the other hand the track also echoes a concept imbedded in Afrofuturism, which “ventures also tend to invoke the imagery of science fiction” and the birth of techno music which is described by Steven Shaviro in his book “Post Cinematic Affect”. He relates to African-Americans, (or their ancestors, who had been enslaved and deported to the Americas) as the first humans to experience modernity, describing their deportation not dissimilarly from an ‘alien abduction’ as they ‘underwent real conditions of existential homelessness, alienation, dislocation and […] which through Afrofuturist music involves ‘a webbed network of computerhythms, machine mythology and conceptronics, routes, reroutes and crisscrosses the Black Atlantic’. The Other Side in this case also represents the Americas beyond the Atlantic Ocean, or the side beyond and before a dislocation.
It took me around one and a half years to sign it as it was initially designed to continue my Truesoul releases series, or perhaps first debut on Drumcode, but that eventually ended up not being the right material for either Truesoul nor Drumcode, as Adam himself played it extensively and left me a very nice feedback on it, yet commenting that it was perhaps too progressive for DC and too hard for a Truesoul release. I had then sent it to the other label I had been working closely with, Tronic, but again it did not find a home there either, which had me deciding to send it to Monika for Terminal M, who also has a very broad and open-minded vision of techno music and who has always been keen on signing both my works as well as works from other artists which I deeply appreciate as well.
Where and when did you write it, and does that affect the sounds that come out?
It was written here in London and the sound concept was once again driven by the original concept which I described above. The metallic sounds are introspective visions of an industrial or post-industrial space by which the conversion between human and post-human takes place. However, London has indeed played a role in my sound design as I do strictly relate this city to techno-inspired music, especially during autumn and winter. I recall the warehouse parties during 2010-11 and the sound-types explored in that time, which inevitably left some of their residues in me. The Drumcode events in London have played a major role in my music creation and perception since 2010, when I attended Drumcode’s first Halloween event here. What a blast that was, and I do feel that the Great Suffolk Street Warehouse was the ideal place for the sound-type at that time, not wanting to diminish the atmosphere Tobacco Dock or Printworks present however.
And how did you link with the label? Did you send off demos or did they approach you? What is it like working with them?
I have been in touch with Monika Kruse for a few years now, as I signed my first Terminal M release, "Twenty-Ten," back in 2014. I always liked the label and what it put out, and it was a pleasure to sign this one with them as her and Rainer are extremely professional in what they do, and also because they still press on vinyl. Following my first Terminal M release I was asked by Monika to send some works over for a few years, so finally I managed to put together this EP for her and I am really glad that she signed it, as well as I look forward to give continuity to it.
You study architecture right? Can you use that knowledge in any way when it comes to making and playing music?
I do. I am at my last year of masters at the University Of Greenwich. In a way, I do always apply my knowledge of spatial study when it comes to making music, perhaps more than playing music (which anyway is an architectural act in its own right, in quality of creating flow of people as well as narratives which eventually configure and reconfigure space according to what musical qualities are being emitted).
Think about how you might be interacting with a girl or a boy you just met on the dancefloor or at the bar, and the vibes are uplifting, fostering interaction and essentially aiding what may be read as the construction of a human rapport that may last in time and give origin to loads of other things. Then think about how all of a sudden the wrong track gets introduced in the mix and the crowd moves around, changes room, goes to smoke, leaving awkward blanks in space suddenly decapitating the narratives that were forming as well as possibly spoiling the course of a delicate interaction. Different actions occur in different kinds of spaces. Music is a great design tool to allocate what may happen where. As per my production instead, I like to see a track as a three dimensional space, so every sound I generate will have its own space and feel ‘organic’ and realistic as much as it can. I like to think of it as a synesthetic cinematic experience.
Do you feel fulfilled making and playing dance music? Do you sleep soundly at night and are you happy if it is your life’s work?
I guess music production has always allowed me to express somewhat the inexpressible. If I am managing to channel the right inspiration in the right direction, even if it does not represent exactly what I aimed to represent, it does indeed feel good and recharging. If there is a surprise coefficient within such then it is even better of course! As it happened in some works such as "Cold Summer," "Dissolute" as well as "The Other Side" feat. Monce.
It is funny, but I do happen to find the best ideas for my music just before falling asleep. So when that happens I try to ‘sing’ the melodies or sounds that come to my mind and record them with my phone. At times I really wish there was a machine that could turn thoughts into actual tunes, but actually that would be even more amazing if such concept or technology could be extended to create many other things as well. Imagine what would come out of it?!
Should dance music be socially and politically aware, or is it just party music for escaping the everyday?
I feel that dance music already is socially and politically aware, or better, we in relation to dance music are socially and politically more than aware of the music itself and what it actually represents and stands for. Testament of this claim is given by the way in which the general public nowadays are easily pulled in by a new wave of electronic music, just like a new wave of anything that is a ‘hype’, yet I do not necessarily imply any negative connotations to such notion.
The line between awareness and lack of it is very thin. Spaces between these two realities intersect and boundaries blurred. Some people ‘follow a genre,’ let’s say ‘techno,’ for actually researching interesting aspects of such musical representation per se, some others follow it because they feel synched and relate to its groove on a kinetic level, some others follow it because everybody does and they want to be ‘part of something’ great and inspiring, some others follow it because it would be a radical action in relation to their socio-geographic context and want to pursue the worshipping of something unique that gives meaning to their individuality; some others simply because it’s the new sound that drives our contemporary collective escapism from the daily mundane life; some others do it for all of these reasons perhaps.
I do think, however, that what we are all missing at this time in history is a clear notion of what this ‘new form’ of electronic music actually wants to give to the world and what was it born to represent and communicate. To be fair, I feel that the terms 'techno,' just like 'EDM' (which, for those who do not know, actually means Electronic Dance Music, the broad genre that comprises all of them) have highly been abused of, and been reduced to music for party-sake, or ‘techno for techno-sake,’ without much meaning of what the artist’s statement actually wants to express, which instead, was key in the early '80s Detroit movement.
We are talking about something that was meant to explore and critique the social political realities of the time among a specific ethnic group and social class in modern Detroit, as well as the advent of new technologies which soon were to influence our ‘rhythms’ and our perceptions. Techno music being the first genre to actually start a critique of the modern society (way more than house music did) via the very means of the technology that constituted its development.
Two mirrors facing each other is a way I would put it, which result would be in an infinite set of possibilities, questions and conclusions on various scales: social, political, human and post-human, as mythical Afrofuturistic visions pictured in late '70s. Inevitably enough, and without much complain from my side, the availability of something, such as the ability to produce electronic music on a large scale, which reflects the 21st century concepts of mass production, mass customization and availability, is a direct product of the advance of such technologies and their widespread could inevitably not have ended up with little repercussions and with their welcome from less-educated masses, who enjoy and well comprehend the final output, yet missing the idea of ‘process’ within it.
Concluding, yes I feel that techno or electronic music in general have now become a tool for repetitive partying and escaping reality, and I wish that their deeply artistic meanings and philosophical processes linked to society, politics, individuality and collectivity as well as spatial and architectural exploration could be revived as to perceive such entity (music) as a radical artistic tool to critique our present as well as our futures.
Why can’t electronic music be perceived similarly to a museum or exhibition experience? Why can’t live cinema theatre performance and electronic music experiencing be directly linked to each other operating for the same detailed and critically rigorous storytelling purpose? Why can’t we all experience music on a deeply immersive spatial level, similarly to what artists such as Max Cooper are pushing towards? Why can’t drawing become electronic music? And dancing become energy to sustain buildings, neighbourhoods or cities?
What do you make of the shape and size and layout of nightlife venues? Are they well designed or do we just do them like this because we always have? Could they be improved for a better experience?
As a process, ‘design’ is the creative act of taking decisions, which is obviously in a constant state of morphing, testing, and where there is always space for improvement.
I feel that the ‘classic’ configuration that (almost) all nightclubs and festivals adopt is the one driven by the fundamental aspect driven by the L+R audio configuration, cause for why stages and dancefloors are and have always been what they are and look as they look like. Discussing this aspect in relation to event spaces (rather than clubs, which have been carved out of existing post-industrial/post-function spaces, which clearly offer significant architectural and spatial constraints, eg. fabric London) I feel that the classic dialectic: dancefloor-stage is much outdated and a lot of new realms are yet to be explored.
For instance, why can’t the artist be at the center of the space? Or why can’t the artist move around the room while he or she performs? Or why can’t there be a different dialectic to the way in which artist relates to his audience? Why does there have to be a linear division between what is stage and what is dancefloor? Why can’t these spaces intersect and furthermore, actively interact? And most of all: Why are we in 2017 and still operate clubs on mono/stereo soundsystems while we could easily adopt 3D and surround ones just like cinemas do? The answer to these questions are often budget and format-related, however there is a great deal of design-related issues that we still have not managed to be aware of.
This paradigm has seen its center of gravity being shifted in the past 10 years with the DJ figure being highly elevated to the level of a pop or rock-star (something unimaginable in the early '80s) and the dancefloor constituting the ‘secondary’ element of a club. Things like the backstage have now became the main and most important dancefloors of all, and to make this statement even stronger I bring to your attention what Boiler Room is almost all about.
Furthermore, I do believe that a new wave of technological advance in format and sound system/configuration has to take place in order to give practical answer to these questions, and begin to concretely envision much more immersive music experiences, which would indeed enhance the whole quality of electronic music experiencing as well as generate a new notion of music creation and performance, that which carries real-world spatial qualities. Once again I can’t avoid thinking of the 4D sound group vs Max Cooper as the first example of radical space-thinking in relation to the reconfiguration of this classic dialectic into a new one.
Have you any mad or funny or crazy stories from your travels, from back stage, from on the road, that you can share?
I have to say that luckily I have never been left unattended anywhere (except for New York, where I landed after 10 hours of travelling and waited for four hours for my driver who had been bitten by a spider and completely disappeared for two days, only to be rescued by a friend who luckily hosted me and Dema at his house prior to our gig at Cielo) in the way I know some colleagues of mine have been forgotten in South America.
However I do recall once witnessing an entire family in a backstage, including a 16-year-old kid, sniffing cocaine as if it was water; when a girl in Germany left me her knickers on the mixer, or a guy in Portugal, who left his home-keys on the decks following some theatrical moves as sign of devotion to what he was experiencing thanks to the music; as well as when we almost drove through a fire in Italy on my way to Salento which were quite unexpected experiences, funny or intensely scary moments, respectively.
I also recall once in Czech Republic, a moment which, I bless the lord for being still awake, as basically our driver was passing out on the motorway on the way back to Prague from a festival, whose eyes I spotted closing through the mirror just in time for me to shout before we would have spun out at around 160 km/h having me, my agent, Carlo Lio, his wife and the driver inevitably killed, which is the reason why I have a ‘sober and rested driver’ in my tech rider.
What else have you got coming up/are you working on?
I am currently working on some new music, which I have tackled using a ‘new’ production approach, stripping everything down a bit and leaving more space to the software to develop its own things. I am also working on my upcoming label, Post Scriptum Music, which will possibly see its first release in January or February next year, having already some good support from Adam Beyer, Monika Kruse, Maya Jane Coles, Hot Since 82, and Carl Cox to name a few. And I am currently expecting a few shortcoming releases including an EP with Dema on Redrum Music with remixes by Skober and Nicole Moudaber, and a remix I made for Pirupa of his classic "Party Non Stop." At university I am exploring the concepts of Augmented Realities (AR) and their potential impact on the entertainment industry as well as music production and performance. A lot of exciting things are coming up on that front, I can tell you that!
Paride’s The Other Side EP is out now on Terminal M. Listen here.