Name: Daniele Gaudi
Occupation: Musician, Composer, Producer, Solo artist
Current Release: 100 Years of Theremin (The Dub Chapter) on Dubmission
Recommendations: ‘Gymnopédie’ by Erik Satie, and ‘My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts’ by David Byrne & Brian Eno.
If you enjoyed this interview with Gaudi, visit his website or facebook account to stay up to date with his music.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What is about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I started composing original music at the age of 16 and I had my first approach to music production at the age of 21. I started my classical piano studies from an early age and subsequently developed a natural interest for synthesizers and any electronic devices that produced sound distortions in general.
It was a random “E-flat” note I played on a piano at the age of 5 that drew me into music, at a dinner party with my parents at their friend’s house. There was a piano there which I randomly touched a key of, and that was it, that note, that simple note still resonates in me as if it was that moment!
For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?
Yes, I also went through those phases, I think it is a natural process. My piano teacher was very “old-school” so for the first few years of studies I didn’t even have the chance to touch the piano! Of course it was frustrating for me, as I wanted to put my hands on the instrument and experiment with it, but before reaching that moment I had to go through a development process, such as studying music theory, then the posture, scales, solfeggio and technique.
My “rebel spirit” started to appear in me at the age of 11, when I felt the need to create my own sound/expression, so I got some rusty industrial chains from an abandoned warehouse and put them inside my piano, creating the most disturbing sound! I loved it.
With the passing of time, my passion for electronic music instruments has increased even further, so I’ve embraced another music instrument which has been included in many of my compositions in the last 25 years: the Theremin.
What were your main compositional- and production-challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
At the beginning of my music journey I was always extremely complex in all my compositions, while production-wise it was the opposite, pretty simple and quick, I basically wanted to achieve the final result (what for me was “the final result”) as soon as possible.
My music skills have always been focused more on creativity than technicality, but my technical side surfaced later in the years when I felt the need to take the quality of my productions to the next level. I studied music primarily because I wanted to be able to “translate” my ideas into something concrete, that was my main goal at the time.
What was your first studio like? How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?
When I started making music in 1981 I didn’t have any studio, I only had a monophonic analogue synthesizer, a microphone, a four-track cassette recorder (which arrived 3 years later), that’s it. To build a recording studio at the time you really had to have decent financial possibilities, which unfortunately I never had. Studio equipment was horrendously expensive and I couldn’t afford it at all, so I was renting recording studios per day in order to record my demos.
My first professional studio arrived only 14 years after that, when I moved to London from my native Italy.
To answer your question about important pieces of gear in my studio, I tell you I am a synths/keyboards fanatic and collector, so I’m putting in my top 10: the ARP2600 (modular synth, year 1975), Minimoog (year 1974, this synth belonged to the Bee Gees), Fender Rhodes 88 (year 1977, this piano belonged to The Wailers), Arp Odyssey, Korg MS20, Tape Echo Roland 501, Tape Echo Korg, Soundcraft mixing desk 32ch, Roland TB303, Theremin, Roland SH1.
How do you make use of technology? In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?
Primarily I use technology to transform my ideas into reality, as an imaginary “bridge” let’s say, a tool that allows me to achieve a result.
Rare are the times (in my own specific case), that technology triggered ideas. It has happened, yes, but not very often.
Every typology of work is different, person by person. I generally rely more on my own imagination than a machine’s inputs. But when this does happen, I’m always happy to capture that precious moment.
Production tools, from instruments to complex software environments, contribute to the compositional process. How does this manifest itself in your work? Can you describe the co-authorship between yourself and your tools?
As I said in my previous answer, I am in charge of my own technical gear, machines, computers etc, I certainly leave a bit of margin, for the machine to express themselves, but I primarily like to be in control of the technical environment that surrounds me. Inputs and creative sparks are generally coming from myself.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
I personally love collaborating with other artists and musicians, I think it adds stimulations to each other’s creativity! It doesn’t always work, but when it does is really fantastic. I personally don’t have a specific “working formula” when I collaborate, it really depends by the relation with the partner and the circumstances, distance, availability etc.
My recent album with Mad Professor, for example, was created half together in the studio and the other half separately, then we joined forces for the final mixing/dubbing phase.
My collaborative album with producer Youth (also bassist of Killing Joke) happened entirely together, in the studio all the time sharing ideas, parts, riffs and playing instruments together. Also with Deep Forest, Pete Namlook and African Head Charge, it was the same.
With The Orb and with Grandmaster Flash, the process was different as we were in the studio together for a very short time so I recorded as many ideas as possible all at once - keyboards, theremin, melodica etc - then I left all my parts there for them to be used as they liked.
With Steel Pulse, Adrian Sherwood, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Grouch and Dub FX, I worked a bit by myself and then also together in the studio, while the project ‘Phonolab’ with Eraldo Bernocchi has been made entirely working together in both our studios.
Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
Nope, I’m not able to separate my music with my “normal life”, as my normal life IS music. I breath music, I think music, I eat music, I cry and laugh with music and I don’t feel it like an obsession, just … that’s what it is.
I wake up in the morning and as per my routine while I’m having my coffee, I play a record from my collection, from classical music to extreme electronica, from reggae to krautrock, it depends, but yeah every morning over the last 20 years I have always played 1 vinyl.
Then I go to the studio and I’m entering in my zone. Sometimes I’m in the middle of a production so I work with the artist I’m producing at that time, sometimes I’m more in the creative phase for my own albums and projects so I experiment and think, I think a lot, sometimes for hours in my studio in total silence. I give to silence the same importance as music, same. The silence in between the notes is vital for the notes to exist.