Joining Truants in 2010, Riccardo has been a writer and member of the editorial board ever since. Overseeing most things editorial, plus taking on the task of running the Truancy Volume series, he has been essential in making the series and website into what it is today.
Photo By Riccardo Villella
"The whole idea around Neighbourhood is for the guests to play the music that represents what they are about in an intimate space and for people to enjoy it, discover the beauty, go and see them play more and ultimately buy their music. It’s important for me to book great DJs as well as producers. It’s been a great five years, with so many amazing guests having played so many special parties. Neighbourhood has a great following who bring good, warm energy! I’m really grateful for all the support. Neighbourhood has evolved into something more than what I set out to. I really enjoy bringing DJs over from other countries who I’m really feeling."
“I have this fascination with an image perfectly complementing the sound or vice versa to create a really powerful experience that can really stir emotions. I’d say film composers like Hans Zimmer are the masters of this. Also recently I was watching The Revenant and at times what I was seeing and what I was hearing was so powerful yet if you was to take one of the elements away it wouldn’t have had nowhere near the same effect. Another good example was the film/documentary about Kurt Cobain that was recently released. There were these animated scenes that were combined with Nirvana tracks and sound effects which made the impact they had very powerful - almost too intense at times but the message was clear."
“I struggled for quite a long time playing live, as there are so many factors that come into it when playing your music live in a club setting. I used to probably go a bit too left-field for some dance floors, and while that worked in some settings most of the time I wasn’t totally satisfied playing live. When I started to DJ I also had a learning curve to overcome, and I still feel like I’m learning every gig, but I find that it is easier to express myself and feel more free when DJing than playing live. Having said that my new live show, which is all hardware-based, is far more inspiring and I am able to improvise more while doing certain things on pretty much on the fly."
“Basically there are references to my career in music in everything I do and the RISE Gallery in the north of Neukölln has been an important place for me to discover contemporary art. I will never forget a performance I saw there by the artist Jon John, where he repeatedly drew the words “the two of us“ with his own blood that poured out of an arterial catheter from his arm, to the point where at the end of it he almost collapsed and wasn’t able to walk away. To see and think about extreme performances like this I find really inspiring and also educational for me. I met the gallery’s owner Lee Wagstaff early on. He is an amazing artist in his own right and the first ever piece of art I bought was one of his pictures."
“The early Pure crowd was a mix, a proper mix of people and that was part of what made it. Ravers, acid teds, students, casuals, NEDs, bikers, punks, indie kids, hippies, Alex Higgins, the Ragga Twins, straights, everyone was welcome. I don’t like compartmentalising people but it was a broad draw of people that went and from all over Scotland to a certain extent. It was edgy but people were welcome. I think this changed as it got later in its life but early on you just wouldn’t get that mixture anywhere else. People were curious about acid house and rave and it drew them in. Plus it was beyond good and much of the Pure crowd was brought in on word-of-mouth rather than internet hype. That’s really the seed of what you have to remember about Pure and Sativa. It was before the internet."
"So Ole’ was one of my first DJ residencies. I opened for a night called Brass which was a label night for the Delicious Vinyl sub label that was also called Brass. I was 17 years old and had already been collecting hip-hop, jazz and rare groove at the time. The night was with Orlando, Marques Wyatt, Dj Daz and occasionally the Umoja Hi-Fi Quintet who all came up from LA to do the night. I learned a lot from kats out that way man, some serious collectors. After that was Green Circle Bar, a home for many DJs in San Diego and out of town performers. The place saw the Roots, Arrested Development, Greyboy Allstars pass through as they were all rising to their individual fame and successes."
“So Luke Vibert is a big inspiration for me, but also just a complete dude; so kind and always down to go record digging when we are both in London. He once gave me a CD — actually it was the first time we met — and it had 200 unreleased tracks on it. Very trusting fella! So I have always had these unheard gems and when it came time to asking him for a jungle EP he decided to do it under that name. I asked for Plug at first, but was happy as I really enjoyed the LP he did on Reflex back in 05 or whatever. Same with the Luke Warm EP. I get Luke cause he releases so much music like myself, he needs other aliases as to not cram his own release schedule. So it's partly out of necessity but also just how he compartmentalises his style."
“BleeD represented my maturing tastes, and as I’d become a pretty experienced promoter by then (mainly losing other people’s money), it felt like a good time to branch out on my own. It was also an incredibly fertile time for left-leaning music, with the likes of Raime, Demdike Stare, Oneohtrix Point Never and Laurel Halo amongst my earliest guests. I hope the label retains some of the character of the night, although I should stress that it’s not ostensibly an ‘experimental’ label, whatever that means. Every BleeD release will be informed by club music and designed for the dance floor, although it’s aimed primarily at the most open-minded dancers."
“Parmegiani was the first of a list of electroacoustic composers that I was introduced to when I began studying at Goldsmiths in London. Electroacoustic didn’t grow quickly or easily on me at all – as with any music, you’ve got to learn a vocabulary that allows you to interact with it, and the first thing that really struck me about Parmegiani’s music was its pacing, which I’d describe as this innate feeling of logic in an otherwise arbitrary framework of sound. In other words, every sound that Parmegiani places in a work seems to be there in a way that makes total sense, and couldn’t have made sense in that way to anybody else. It’s a sort of collision of instinct and taste."
“The shop has been up and running for over a year now. I like to think of it as a boutique record shop for the discerning. It’s really linked to my love of being around vinyl, plus I’ve got 15,000+ records in my collection and I realised I’ve got multiple copies of some classic records and of course the new tracks on my Tortured and Electrix labels so I wanted a way to get those records to a new audience. When I moved back to Brighton last year I thought I’d take the opportunity to actually go through all my collection and that coincided with a friend having a basement space available, and so The Vinyl Curtain was born. It’s the best of the classics plus plenty of good new stuff.”
“Places like the Warehouse, Fury Murry’s and Tin Pan Alley is where I stumbled across Slam for the first time. Tin Pan Alley was a three floor place and Stuart and Orde had this little room there which was full of weird projectors. I guess this must have been around 88 as acid house was just coming through. I had been to the Sub Club once before with a guy who I used to work with who lived on the south side of Glasgow. We started going there again to Joy which was on Friday night and then Atlantis on a Saturday which Harri was then doing along with them. It really was a special period then, particularly in the early 90s. It kind of felt a little like a secret society I guess, it was the same people there every week and with the music and the vibe it was a great place to hang about."
“I think Youtube is a really amazing way of discovering weird and wonderful music. If there’s a track you like, then you just take a stab at the ‘suggested videos’ and keep going and going. You’ll probably stumble across some interesting stuff. People also tell me that they find my NTS shows act as really good starting points for finding out about more music. I try and make the shows informative, and talk about the music I play, so that if someone is listening and hear something which grabs their attention, they can go and look it up, and try and find more like it. And then of course, just sifting through record shops, or crates in a market, and picking out stuff that might look like it could be a winner. My favourite record shops in London for this are El Dica, Sounds of the Universe and Zen Records."
"The Music Institute was a one of the true spots where you could go hear some good deep house music and see the who’s who of the time, whether it was the big name cats or up and coming DJs like me in those days. My fondest memories of the Music Institute was when I got the chance to catch the late great Ken Collier. He played some real heavy shit. A lot of stuff I had never heard at that time and still haven’t heard since, straight up deep! Another time I got the chance to catch Farley Jackmaster Funk, a Chicago legend. His set too was a masterpiece. When I say you could see anybody on any given night that’s what I mean.”
"At the time, I was listening to a lot of 70s cosmic disco, new age music and reading a lot of 70s science fiction. I was really into the idea of the 70s vision of the future being utopian as opposed to the dystopian future that pretty much takes over in futurism from the 80s onwards. Nowadays anything science fiction is always a dystopian future, there is no sense of wonder and possibility, it’s all fear and we are heading towards a nightmarish future. I made a few tracks around this idea at the time and Return was one of them. It’s kind of supposed to be the return of some character from a space voyage or something, which is why I was so happy with the video Thomas Traum made, it was perfect for the theme of the song.”
"I’ve worked with Dominic Brunt (the director) a few times, and I’ve known him for years. He’s on a TV programme called Emmerdale, and I used to work on the show in the script department, so we got talking about horror films (he’s a massive zombie film buff). He started making films a few years ago, and I asked if I could score all of his projects. Before I start writing the score I like to watch the movie through a few times and get a good feeling of what’s happening and the interactions between the characters. I like all the emotion to be brought out with music and I don’t like doing ‘underscoring’, I like the music to guide you and let you know exactly what’s happening. The music has to make a strong statement, otherwise I’d rather the movie just silent!”
“Jen and I started this label to help support and develop female artists & producers. We’re conscious of how few women there are in the deep electronic music scene. If men make up 95% of the producers & DJs you see on the bills around the world, on the websites, on the charts, that’s not an exaggeration. Being a woman in the scene, there can sometimes be a sense of isolation as you’re walking an artistic or professional path. Jen actually released an album called “Woman Walking In The Shadows” (on her own label, Bu-Mako Recordings). As far as the sound with the label, we will be going for tracks with a ritualistic or hypnotic feel: tribal percussion, organic sounds, something mystical or deep in flavour.”
“I think my interest in art started at exactly the same time I discovered techno music. The CDs in my cousin’s bag were all very minimally designed and used metallic blue or grey pantone with very simple graphics in a similar way to Warp’s Designer Republic or !K7 covers. My first real graphic emotion was further amplified by my first musical emotion when I took the record out the sleeve and started playing a certain special record. ‘We have to sterilize the population.’ When I got older and I wondered what to do with my life, I went to a weird art school in a small city north of Paris called Cergy. Whilst there I learned a lot of things, from computer programming to field recording, but it’s also the place I learned about patience, subversion and also developed an interest or certain love for repetition.”
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"I devote a chunk of time to ripping tapes. It’s such a long process and I have to sit and monitor them as the levels are usually pretty all over the place and I kind of have to ride the fader from the tapebox to the computer to make sure the levels are somewhat even. I guess a mastering person could fix them but I still want to make sure I can hear what’s going on myself. In addition, a lot of the tapes are really old and physically they’re a little bit fucked. I’ll start to play them back and I’m like ‘These are hammered, there’s no way they’re going to work.’ Sometimes it’s just a case of the spools being a little messed up and needing tightening but that’s always the initial process. Then I’ll end up with like one tape as long as two forty five minute sides that are full of sounds."
“I love doing collaborations. I guess I can slip in and out of doing them so much because I’m just so used to making music with Matt. Every time I work with another producer on some music I take so much away from that project. Everyone has different styles and approaches to making music, and it’s inspiring to see another person’s take on things.”
"I think when I started making music all there was was hardware, when I was like this is what I want to do with my life. This is around 1996 or 1997 and there was this guy who was in sixth whilst I was doing my GCSEs, his name was Matt Baker and he was this really amazing guy. He was making jungle and drum & bass with a guy he knew from Bristol, so I just asked him what I needed. In those days he said you need a sampler, a mixing desk, maybe a synthesizer, so that’s what I got into. I was like, I need a sampler. What is the best sampler around? At the time it was the EMU E6000/400 Ultra and I couldn’t afford that at all, but a guy in my class had a little Boss SP 202 and I basically stole that and never gave it back."
"I started making beats on a Playstation around the year 2000. It was that game called Music Generator which I've heard a few producers say they started producing on as well. I still have my old tapes where I would record beats from the Playstation to a boombox because there was no way to get it on CD. Perhaps I'll put some of these tape recordings on my Soundcloud or something. I thought I was making some crazy drum and bass but generally I had no idea was I was doing. I then moved to a computer and then some sampler and some synths. I didn't start DJing till much later. To be honest I didn't think I would be able to do it but my friend Bret (CB Radio) was like "You already know how to line two samplers up in your sampler, just do that with two records."
"The DJ/producer thing evolved in parallel with my interest in computers/programming! I was fortunate enough to have access to a PC at a very young age and learned really basic sample-based music sequencing on a shareware (free) application called Fast Tracker II while also learning how to write code. Back then was also when I got my first DJ gigs playing at warehouse parties/raves in Montreal. And yes, I would say that coding and making music share quite a few common traits. There's never only one way to do something. You have to do a ton of it to become a master at it. Being creative helps you excel at it."
"During the making of "Ghost People" I was playing with ideas to take the music from the album, live. This was mainly because over the last years I had DJ'd at quite a lot of gigs, especially festivals, where I think it would have been better if I could've presented my music in a live way. I'd be playing a DJ set say between Caribou , Daedelus or Flying Lotus and be thinking to myself that it didn't make sense, because people would walk away and the end of my set, they only had heard me play other peoples music and no-one would know what Martyn sounds like. I thought taking this album live would make it easier for people to hear what I'm all about. That's how it all started, and it ended up being pretty much trial and error from there onwards."
"That was kind of a whirlwind couple of years because the scene was coming out of the tail end of dubstep and moving into the Swamp 81 territory, Boiler Room had popped up and I was going out a bit, but mainly witnessing it through the internet as I had done with music most of my life. The tracks I writing at college reflected that, as they were basically just a complete mess of ideas from all over the shop. I’m waffling on quite a bit so long story slightly shorter – I then did a Creative Music Technology degree at Bath Spa, honed in on a sound I liked and wrote that first BRSTL record."
"There is quite a lot to get your head around but definitely makes you learn and expand your knowledge on making sounds. The modular world is like an endless rabbit hole of ideas and possibilities due to the fact to can totally re-think the chain of modulars every time you sit down. Sometimes we only use it quite subtly, maybe only for effects, sending a normal synth through a eurorack filter with external triggers. Once you get your head around sending and using triggers from drum machines and how much you can really expand upon one melody in terms of movement (Variable controlled filters, triggering reverb size with the Erbe Verb etc.) it really become a never-ending source of inspiration."