Daniele Antezza Interview
Talking about an artist is not complicated if you really know where to start or if you stick exclusively to a unique profile, but there are multidisciplinary artists who shine in all their facets and who make things really complicated for those of us who try to prioritize their projects. This happens to us with Daniele Antezza. Most of us are inclined to label him as 50% of Dadub because it is his most visible project, but equally or more meritorious is his work as a mastering engineer or record manager.
These are difficult times, we are living in a very strange situation, how are you dealing with it? What has changed in your work?
True, the situation we’re going through is, to use an euphemism, strange, even tho from my point of view not totally unexpected.
If we think about the direction that the world has taken, the effects of wild globalization, pollution, merciless nature exploitation and so on, something should have happened: if not a pandemic, then something else. And I believe that this will be not the only shock we will have to deal with in the future.
About my personal situation I consider myself in a way lucky: I live in Europe and in 2020 it is already a privilege by itself, so this is the 1st element that keeps me away from complaining, it could have been much worse. I mean, I still have access to food and public health system.
On a psychological level I did not really panic, even if a deep sense of frustration and nihilism pervaded my whole inner existential dimension, devoured by visions of darkest dystopic scenarios, at least during the very beginning of the COVID spread.
Work-wise my condition has been negatively affected, but not as dramatically as for many of my friends/colleagues in the scene, because my surviving does not come entirely from live shows, which have been canceled for me too. My activity of Audio Mastering has shrink but not disappeared, and I can still rely on teaching.
How do you think all this will affect the electronic music scene?
I think the scene is already deeply affected, on several levels. Huge part of its business (and consequent surviving for artists) is about live shows, and when you block that, you remove big part of the fuel. Streaming will for sure play a big role, but it isn’t the same experience of sociality of a live event.
Referring to a more “phenomenological” aspect, I do sincerely hope that this pandemic will make us realize that we are not invincible, that individualism and narcissism should not be the ways to success, that pursuing our mere personal hedonistic goal is probably not the only way to go.
To me, being part of a scene does not mean just to wear cool clothes and acting as a monad, it should rather trigger a mind state, a global critical approach to the status quo. We no need at all to replicate that fast superficial approach of the real sharks in the business world, especially if creativity is involved.
Said that, I do sincerely wish for the scene to spend less time on socials and to be more social, to spend more time in getting knowledge and less time in buying/ showing objects, and to create music without any specific purpose or PR strategy and without relying on the inconsistent idea of being hyped.
These last years there have been important changes in your projects, how have they made you feel?
Well, in these last years I learned one of the biggest lessons of my entire life.
Between 2011 – 2013 Dadub got a significative recognition, also because of the strict interconnection with the Stroboscopic Artefacts hype. That period has been definitely interesting, a landmark in my career, but at the same time extremely frustrating: by one hand I felt trapped and tied up by the tricky “market expectations” and “PR dependency”, by the other I wasn’t mature enough to walk my path by relying only on my own strength.
So, around 2015-2016 I “simply” decided to step out of it, to put Dadub on pause and to relaunch it with Marco Donnarumma, to found my own Mastering Studio (Dadub Mastering) and to stay silent for a while, having blind trust that the quality I should have provided should have spoken by itself.
I’ve been studying hard, spending countless days and nights developing new music production and post-production techniques, and I realized a simple but important concept to me: that to give full freedom to my creativity I should have relied, financially speaking, on other side activities, therefore my push to make Mastering and teaching my main sources of surviving.
It has been damn hard, believe me, financially and especially psychologically speaking: I felt alone as never before, devoured by lack of self esteem and useless guiltiness. After about 5 years I can say that the choice I took was the best thing I could have ever done: I am now completely independent, the connections I built exist only because of the quality I’m able to provide and I can definitely do the music I want giving literally zero s**t about “market trends”. It feels like a liberation process: my mind is clear, my soul is back to creativity. It can take long time, but if an artistic output has weight and substance it’ll most likely emerge, it’s a matter of perseverance.
You founded Dadub in 2008 and in its first stage you shared this project with Giovanni Conti. Nowadays, your partner is Marco Donnarumma. Is Dadub a different concept from the first years?
The collaboration with Marco Donnarumma is definitely one of the best things that could have had happened to Dadub as music project and to myself as artist. Marco’s way to create and to work is astonishing, he is an unbeatable tank of ideas, and most of all he’s incredibly coherent to his ethics, a person of substance.
When I decided to re-found Dadub I needed an “exogenous shock”, that’s why my idea to involve a strong personality out of the electronic music scene.
About the question if Dadub is a different concept from its first years of activity, the answer is yes and no: Yes because the way we do music now is completely different from the past, since we do rely only on live improvisation exploiting a sophisticated hardware feedback system, when years ago it was a more controlled software-oriented process. Our new approach is already perceivable in our recent A Sun Called Moon EP (released for Ohm Resistance) but it’ll be much more prominent on the many tracks we are about to release. This new path is also one of our ways to “de facto” constantly move out from our comfort zone(s). No, because Dadub is still deeply related with its Visionary Post-Apocalyptic Dub approach. We don’t really care about the kind of genre we do, we still keep on deconstruct, smash and re-invent: to us is crucial that our creative process breaks boundaries and does not rely on laziness.
What did your Artefacts Mastering Studio entail for Stroboscopic Artefacts?
I co-founded Artefacst Mastering Studio with Giovanni Conti in 2010 and I left it in 2016, to found my own Dadub Mastering Studio in 2017. I can say that my personal contribution to Artefacst Mastering and to Stroboscipic Artefatcts has been to conceive and to think the Mastering as a continuation of a creative process, by contributing a lot in forging the sound trade-mark and identity for the above mentioned music label. This approach to audio post-production isn’t my invention of course, I did just want to actualize the lesson learned from King Tubby, Basic Channel and from any other experiment intended to interconnect science and creativity, which is also the core of my Masterclasses. So, what I personally did was to apply this vision and research to Stroboscopic Artefacts through Artefacts Mastering, and I see that the label music imprinting has been profoundly influenced by that, even if they’ll never mention my name hahahahaha.
Have you considered publishing in Stroboscopic Artefacts again?
I thought about it once, probably around 2016 if I correctly recall, but the label management took a clear different direction than the origin, definitely much more towards techno aesthetics and less oriented to a dimension of electronic music tout court, so at the end it did never happened. So, even if in life the quote “never say never” is true, an hypothetical Dadub release on that platform is a condition that at the moment I don’t really consider doable. Stroboscopic Artefacts is releasing good techno music, don’t get me wrong, it’s just that Dadub is about something else.
You combine the activity of producer with your mastering studio and also with the management of your label. Which of these activities do you give more priority to and why?
The priority I give is to my activity of Mastering Engineer, because it is my main source of surviving and it requires a continuous update and a never-ending fine tuning of techniques, with a consequent significative investment of time. All this is also functional to my teaching activity. Then, when I collect free time I do love to have studio sessions by playing and experimenting with sounds, without any specific purpose. When I get valid ideas I then jam with my partner-in-dub Marco as much as I can, whose personal schedule is also pretty busy, so we need to be well organized and productive, cause live gigs are still an important side of our work.We usually record hours of live takes and at some point we realize tracks out of that.
About my label Holotone, at the beginning it was leaded by a pretty random organizational approach, now I do have yearly plans I try to stick with, so it’s just matter of taking periodically some time to take care of it. I don’t do almost any profit by that, and the few I do (when I do) is injected again in the label: it’s just my way to spread music I genuinely believe in.
Dadub was inactive from 2013 to 2018, in this break you took the opportunity to publish several works as Inner8, what happened with this project, have you also taken a break or do not plan to resume?
Inner8 is a project which means a lot to me, especially on a deep personal level. Lately it seems not much productive just because I’m not releasing, but I have plenty of new music recorded, it’s just that I still don’t find mature enough the techniques I’m developing. I’m introducing frame drums in my production flow, and it requires study and constance. In this period I’m learning lap-style and free hand-style techniques, I need to perfection that before being back on release new material. I will anyways release soon some tracks on several Various Artists though: Holotone, Stirpe 999, Amok Tapes. Most likely next year I will feel ready again to work on something more organic.
During this period you founded Dadub Studio, you are responsible for mastering releases like MMXX_FSS by FSS (Veyl), a huge job, of all the releases you have mastered, which are the ones you remember best?
I consider myself a really lucky mastering engineer because most of the times I deal with really good music, and the releases I could mention are many. The ones I remember the most are, without any doubts, the last Scorn releases for Ohm Resistance (Feather Ep and Cafe Mor LP), music he released after almost a decade of silence. You know, Mick Harris has had a big impact into my music background: when I was teenager I’ve been playing drums for some years and I was into extreme metal, and Napalm Death (whose drummer was Mick Harris) was in my top favourite bands. Then, when I started to get interest into slow and heavy electronic music, Scorn sound notably impressed me and influenced quite much my approach to sound, especially for his evil amount of bass and his contorted interpretation of Dub Music.
So, when Kurt / Submerged, Ohm Resistance label manager, knocked at my door saying: “Dan! Mick is ready and I want you to take care of it” I felt a mixed mash of emotions, it has been utterly beautiful to master Scorn music.
I’d like also to express my gratitude to other big personalities of the electronic music scene like AdamX, Ron Morelli, Headless Horseman and Kangding Ray for their absolute trust in allowing me to take care of their platforms mastering.
As an engineer and producer, what do you think is more important, a good sound treatment or a great creativity to compose and combine textures?
I think that creativity, imagination and the ability of being visionary are the most important ingredients in order to achieve a beautiful sound / music composition. Sound treatment is something that could definitely help a lot to shape those textures to make their sound special, but a top notch studio without creativity is just a top notch studio.
I personally love to combine those two elements in my creative flow, but when I do create and record sounds I don’t really care about many technical aspects, I’m pretty punk. I wear the mask of scientist when I work on the sounds I’ve already recorded.
What are you currently working on in the studio?
Mastering-wise I’m taking care of some really good music for Positive Centre imprinting In Silent Series and I have to start really soon to post-produce a VA I will release in June/ July on my Holotone label. Music-wise usual sorcery: playing and experimenting with feedback, recursions, percussions, grooves and telluric waves / low frequencies.
Besides being an engineer and producer, you also run a record label. How is your day-to-day life?
I usually wake up really early in the morning, I do love to do mastering at that time of the day: my mind is clear, my ears are performative, my brain is more focused on technical details. I often keep on doing this ‘til evening, then I play music until I feel the need to sleep. You can then guess how my social life isn’t that intense.
About my label I do usually spend some weekly hours to work on it. Being Holotone not part of my surviving sources I don’t feel any pressure to generate extra-profit through it. It feels great because I can really focus on music and artists I want to release without worrying that much about budget, break-even point, PR strategies and so on.
Holotone is born in 2016 with an open style but, with a quite concrete sound, how would you define the sound of Holotone?
Visionary, that’s all. The genre definition feels like a limitation, I’m allergic to it, I feel it more functional to the market than to creativity and it kinda stinks of comfort zone. I imagine my label as a house where visionary artists of any kind are welcome, I’m not interested in following any pre-conceived aesthetics.
Tell us about Extract / Transform / Load.
EXTRACT / TRANSFORM / LOAD is the most recent EP released on my imprinting Holotone, produced by the young talented A/V artist SWARMM (Liam Noonan). It’s a very special EP to me, because Liam’s music and visual art is fresh, visionary, inspired.
The first time I listened to his music it left me speechless, he’s able to achieve with class and personality a notable aesthetics expressed through complex sound textures, and despite his young age his way to do art has already a strong and well identified signature. Pretty rare characteristics I would say.
Swarmm is not totally new to Holotone tho, he’s also part of Scald Process project alongside with the Combat recording label manager, the veteran Stormfield: they released and Album for my label 2-3 years ago and in that occasion I had the luck to get in contact with him. Beside being a great artist we’re also good friends, and I’m so happy he’s releasing for my label.
Liam deserves a shiny and successful future, I wish him all the best.
What are your short-term plans for the future?
I’m close to start tht building of a new Mastering Studio, I feel the need to upgrade acoustics and engine. I’m finalizing the project with an engineer at the moment.
Music-wise I’m taking care with my partner-in-dub Marco Donnarumma of the very last details for our upcoming Dadub releases, whose details I can’t reveal yet.
With Holotone I’m preparing two VA to be released soon and the 3rd chapter of the mini-series curated by Dadub, most likely out end 2020.
Finally, what do you expect from this new post-pandemic world?
That’s a good question, hard to find an answer.
The level of uncertainty is high, and I think we’ll find ourselves in the situation of giving up some of our individual / collective rights and we’ll deal with pretty difficult economic periods…if we’re not already going through it actually. Most likely more dictatorships and fascisms will raise all around the globe as well as big corporations power, and we know how these two elements are often strictly interconnected.
Besides my dystopic point of view I do sincerely hope that we will get a deep lesson by the COVID-19 pandemic, I hope we will keep in mind that we count immensely less than a burp in the Universe, and it’d be utterly nice if we stop to act as pure selfish assholes, drunk of privileged, obnoxious and meaningless optimism. We need to act, because we are what we build, and things go good if we build good things, trying perhaps to avoid to post empty purposes on useless narcissistic internet socials, by de facto feeding algorithms of big data mining, targeted marketing and so on.
We should be one and not ones I would say: a collective, interconnected way of thinking and acting should be considered, because the idea of progress characterized by fast life rhythms and greedy consumerism should be re-thought in order to achieve a wiser dimension. If we can die because of a virus or even if only our life can be deeply affected by that, it should be already enough to reconsider our path, like individuals as part of a whole.