In-depth talk with techno heavyweight Enrico Sangiuliano on authenticity, production and upcoming Drumcode EP
Producer, DJ & Sound Designer Enrico Sangiuliano has become an establishment in the techno landscape, headlining a large number of festivals and hitting music lovers with massive tracks. His thorough technique and perfect productions have seduced the techno planet while his reputation, cemented by numerous and extended #1 positions on Beatport, have been skyrocketing, making of Enrico an indisputable tastemaker highly praised on by industry heavyweights such as Adam Beyer, Sam Paganini or Sven Väth. We had the opportunity to meet Enrico Sangiuliano to talk about his feelings on the rave spirit that characterizes his debuts and about how difficult it is for DJs & Producers to remain true to themselves while being awaited by the crowd and promoters. We also got some insights about his appreciation of collaborations as well as crispy news on his upcoming EP, to be released on Drumcode soon.
1. Hey Enrico, thanks for having us! You began your career in Northern Italy in the 90s at the climax of raves and secret parties, when going to the venues was all of an adventure. How would you describe the influence this period had on your identity as an internationally acclaimed producer & sound designer?
I spent many years playing in raves and all kinds of illegal parties, they taught me how to feel free and how to play the music I love. Indeed, they provided me with many influences like psychedelic, hardcore, trance and of course, techno. What is really great about raves is that they can happen in many different settings: they can be held in a forest, in a factory or in a cave and different atmospheres bring different vibes, which suggest different sound so I would say that raves help your sensibility to grow. Moreover, you feel part of a community ruled by the music and therefore it enables you to get some distance from our chaotic society.
2. Do you think it is different now and do you feel nostalgic about those times?
Not really. Actually, I do feel a bit nostalgic of course as we all do when we think about our past. But in the end, today you can find the same energy and sometimes even better energy in the sense that we still get real vibes, you have more people, the biggest and best sound systems and more safety so you can easily rave without the police breaking it up and making you all go home. At the same time, it was cool to do something illegal, so I believe that both before and now are good, just different. Moreover, nowadays, there are still some great illegal parties, just less in Italy for sure but there are a lot of interesting options around.
3. True, actually in parallel to the high expansion of very big festivals, it seems that raves & underground parties are experiencing a revival and reinventing themselves, with the resurgence of illegal raves and free parties in France for instance. How do you feel about this revival of the 90s spirit and raves?
I feel very happy. It is genuine and it has to keep going, I’m all for it.
4. Do you sometimes go to this type of parties yourself?
I haven’t been to these kind of raves for a long time because now most of my weekends off are for studio time, but I happen to go now and then. Sometimes, when I’m off touring at the weekends I go to some festivals or raves, but when it comes to illegal parties, I go to events organized by people I know in Italy. Small parties most of the time.
5. In 2016, you’ve hit #1 on Beatport Techno Charts with the massive Moon Rocks Ep, which stayed for a very long time on Beatport top 10 after its release. Congratulations! What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently fixing a couple of tracks in terms of mastering and they are going to feature on my next Drumcode EP. One of my tracks, ‘Astral Projection’, is actually ready and is already showing to be very popular after being played by myself and by Adam [Beyer]. It gets massive crowd love all the time.
6. Do you have any surprises you’d like to share regarding this upcoming Ep?
Actually, there are some aspects that need to take shape on the EP, I like to make sure everything is perfect before putting anything out to release. I can tell you that the B side track is also another favorite of mine and again it’s had a lot of love from fans when I play it in my sets. The first time I played it was in Ireland and someone threw a bra at me in the booth when the drop came in, so it has a special effect on the ladies let’s say! [laughing]
7. Your remix collaborations are quite impressive, ranging from ones with Mark Reeve, Mauro Picotto to Dusty Kid and also the most-loved remix of Moby “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad”. What’s your vision on collaborations and how do you approach your remix collaborations?
Every collaboration has its own story and it depends on which kind of project it is part of. But the most important thing for me, is that when doing a remix, it has to communicate a message to the crowd. It is a difficult process because you need to get inspiration from the original track while at the same time defining your own vision about how you want to remix it, which is the key to reinterpret a track. Sometimes, you just love the track and you feel nothing should be added to it, including your touch. With Moby for instance, I already loved the track and it was such a classic, but I needed to add my own personal contribution to it. It was a huge responsibility but also a very cool experience for me.
8. Were you satisfied with the result?
Yes, I was super happy because I tried to turn the track, which is really poppy, into a big time bomb and I feel that I succeeded.
9. Who would you really like to collaborate with in the future?
One of my dreams is to collaborate with Adam Beyer and I can tell you that we have actually done a track, and it will be released hopefully this year. I am really proud of it and love it. You can feel that it is a perfect hybrid between both our styles. It is a track that takes you instantly into a good mood: it is perfect for the summer. Definitely something I would play in Ibiza.
10. You once said that it was important not to get carried away with trends and to remain true to yourself. How do you find a balance between the crowd’s expectations, promoters’ expectations and your own, that is, with what you want to do?
It’s not easy to find a balance but in the end I believe that having some days off helps you to stay grounded. Maybe the key is to have a balance between the studio and the gigs. Don’t just fly around and stay away from the world for too long, far from your friends & family. Just try to remain true to yourself. It will enable you to keep producing effectively whereas if you just fly and keep playing party after party, your mind changes and you’re just focused on the gigs, which makes it difficult to go back to production. That’s what I’m trying to do: I’m trying to take at least one week off per month to focus on production. Taking some time to chill out after a gig helps you settle back to your own time and do what you love in the studio. Then, when you play around, just do the same: be yourself and let things be natural.
11. Still, in an era of high expansion and exposure of techno and electronic-related music, how do you feel about authenticity and do you believe an artist can fully manage to be true to himself while pleasing both the crowd and parties at stake (such as promoters)?
It’s not easy but I believe you can. Actually, as a DJ & producer, you are eagerly awaited by many. In the beginning, you just feel you are growing but suddenly you find yourself under a thunderstorm: everyone wants to talk to you, everyone wants your track, everyone is expecting that your next track is going to be better than the last one, that your DJ set is going to be better than the last one and more. Therefore, you have to deal with that and there is always someone that will hate you for some reasons. So my advice is just to deal with it and take it easy.
12. Do you have any ritual you like to perform before going behind the decks?
Not really. Usually, I spend the last 30 minutes prior to my set focusing and concentrating: I can’t talk to anyone and I’m on my own trip. Indeed, depending on who’s playing before me, I’m used to doing a kind of brainstorming session with myself about what to play and how to start.
13. Finally, where will we be able to see you this summer? Looking forward an event in particular?
You will see me in many cool places this summer! I’ll play so many festivals including Loveland (The Netherlands), B My Lake (Hungary), Isle of Summer (Germany), Audioriver (Poland), Aftr Sun (Belgium). I also have some big Drumcode parties around Europe and a really special event in Italy, but that's not yet announced. I’m looking forward to them all!
Interview by Jenaïna Naamane