Name: Paolo Baldini
Nationality: Italian
Occupation: Producer, bassist
Current Release: Paolo Baldini's L.A.B – Shadows Dub is out via Echobeach.
Gear Recommendations: I recommend exploring high pass filters and tape echoes.

[Read our L.A.B. interview]

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What was your first studio like?

My first studio consisted of a Roland digital multitrack, a humble VS 880 scsi, a portable MIDI sequencer (QY 10 YAMAHA), some microphones Sm 58 and a LOKO Box analog echo .. which still dominates my current mixer!

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?

Over the years the need to produce my own music was added to the need to also produce music for external projects. So the progressive and constant evolution of the setup was obvious.

Fundamental was the transition from mixing in the box to mixing on analog desk. I have used a Soundcraft 8000 console for more than 15 years. I only recently I bought a MIDAS XL3.

Some see instruments and equipment as far less important than actual creativity, others feel they go hand in hand. What's your take on that?

I think that dub is a musical culture that has given a new role to the figure of the sound engineer - from technician to artist! So it is normal that in this musical culture technical equipment is an important part of creativity.

A studio can be as minimal as a laptop with headphones and as expansive as a multi-room recording facility. Which studio situation do you personally prefer – and why?

A minimal situation can be perfect for composing, writing and pre-producing music.

In the light of picking your tools, how would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?

Both ... I have always thought that roots music (I elect King Tubby as a musical reference) was an important impulse on modernity

Most would regard recording tools like microphones and mixing desks as different in kind from instruments like keyboards, guitars, drums and samplers. Where do you stand on this?

As I said before I think that in this specific musical culture (Dub) the mixers and the filters are also creative tools.

How would you describe the relationship between technology and creativity for your work? Using a recent piece as an example, how do you work with your production tools to achieve specific artistic results?

In my productions (and especially in my post productions as in the case of L.A.B in DUB) I like to find the right balance between vintage and contemporary sound.

For example, in the choice of effects I like to combine very warm analogue outboards (Space Echo, Binson ..) with very '90s drastically digital effects (EVENTIDE, Ensoniq or T.C. Elettronics).

Have there been technologies which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?

Over the years I have regularly seen new technologies appear that should have undermined or even revolutionized the way of making music globally ... but then we continue to see reels of characters who continue to make very updated music with MPC or multitrack tape.

This suggests that in art different technologies (also belonging to different eras) can coexist peacefully to help create today's sound.

To some, the advent of AI and 'intelligent' composing tools offers potential for machines to contribute to the creative process. Do you feel as though technology can develop a form of creativity itself? Is there possibly a sense of co-authorship between yourself and your tools?

Probably yes ... but everything will depend on how these "outoscience" technological works will be perceived by the public. They could easily be "perfect" but also transparent, therefore devoid of any charm

What tools/instruments do you feel could have a deeper impact on creativity but need to still be invented or developed?

I think it's understood by now ... I'm not particularly interested in new technologies.

I grew up in a cultural niche (the Dub of the Jamaican school) that was part of the third world, whose "genius" consisted in using technical tools in an artistic way (subverting the rules), a criterion where chance generated "surprise". A game completely free from the logic of the technological development of the audio industry.

That said, I think we are in an era still dominated by the revolution brought about by the move to "digital conversion".