Interview with Giuseppe Ottaviani

Tosh Giles (TG) caught up with Giuseppe Ottaviani (GO) before his set at TempleSF to talk Trance in Italy, record labels and new releases.

TG: You are from Italy which is a country often not associated with trance music. How did growing up there effect your taste in music at a young age?IMG_6589
GO: Well, I grew up with a different kind of music in Italy, not with trance. It was called progressive, or what we called Mediterranean progressive like Mauro Picato, all the BXR artists from Media Records. My background is actually in classical music so at that time I had nothing to with dance music. I discovered trance music because of the rest of Europe, not because of Italy. I began DJing when I was about 14 years old, for parties and stuff like that. Different kinds of music, I was not really trance yet, but as soon as I had the chance to expand and hear some music from the rest of Europe, Germany especially, of course I said, “Ok, that is the music I like!”

TG: What is the trance scene in Italy like now?
GO: It hasn’t really changed really. We are trying to push hard but we only have one radio station playing trance music a couple days each week. It’s all about commercial music still. Hard trance and hardstyle is really big. Techno is pretty popular as well. For me, I only play once a year or less. It’s nice to live on the northern part of Italy which is where all of the guys live who promote festivals. They are more award of trance music and know what it is, that’s why I am able to play parties there, but forget about the center or south of Italy.

TG: Which trance artists were the first to influence you?

GO: It was around 1996 or 1997. Remember William Orbit’s Adagio For Strings, not the remix but the original, that the track that got me into trance music because that is probably the perfect match between classical music and dance.

TG: To go back further in your career, how did your group Nu NRG shape your current career?
GO: We actually got together in 1999, but professionally speaking we had been working since 2001 when we got signed to Paul van Dyk’s record label. For some reason everything went cool in the beginning, but when the hobby becomes a job everything gets more complicated. We split up in 2006 and I had to rebuild my own career under my name. I didn’t have to start from scratch because people knew I was 50% of Nu NRG. It helped that in interviews we were always introduced by our individual names so I think the real fans knew it was me.
If I could go back, I would change my name and use a more english sounding name. People often get my name wrong.

TG: Your musical training and background is in piano, correct?
GO: Yes, I have nine years of classical piano training which I completely forgotten by now. I still play music but I don’t think I am able to read music anymore. If you don’t practice, you forget. It’s like a language you know? I studied French for eight years but I don’t speak any French now though.

TG: Last year, you worked with Solarstone when he released his Pure Trance 2 compilation, and more recently artists like Sean Tyas and Armin van Buuren have launched labels for high BPM trance. How has this renewed interest in 138bpm trance affected the artists, like yourself, who have stayed with trance all along?IMG_6277
GO: It’s been really great. Solarstone launched Pure Trance a few years ago and it’s grown quickly and I am really happy to be a part of it. We just felt like there is a gap between the new kinds of trance and the original style. The idea behind this was to bring the real trance feeling into the new era without compromising the sound with the new electro and dubstep influences. I have a little different approach to it than Solarstone. I am not 100% pure, I like to mix things together. We’ve both stayed far away from what I like to call ‘the sound of now,’ or whatever you want to call it.

TG: It’s been great to have a few artists stay true to their sound for those of us who like that sound. This resurgence in popularity for that sound has lead to many new artists. You recently started your own label, Go On Air Recordings, which is on its second release now. Has it added a lot of work for you to manage a label along with your own career?
GO: It’s not been too hard because Go On Air Recordings is a sublabel of Black Hole Recordings so they do the hard part. I handle A&R, signing the music I like and setting the deals. I basically handle all of the artist side of the label, which is what I like to do. It’s still a hard job but I can do it thanks to their assistance.

TG: Well, congratulations on launching your label. What was the idea behind forming your own sub label?

GO: It was just a natural step because my radio show has a feature called “Hot or Not.” Basically what I do is take music from people around the world who make really good music but have a hard time getting noticed. They used to send their unsigned tracks to me and I would play my favorite ones. I let the audience vote for the track. Since a lot of label owners and DJs listen to the show, it would give great exposure for these artists. If the track is voted ‘Hot’ I would play it again the next week. Many of these artists would got a release after playing on my show.
After a year of doing this, I thought, maybe I can take these tracks and sign them to my own label. So that is the simple idea behind my label.

TG: How many releases have you signed?
GO: I am full until the end of October for releases and I am already collecting music for the Go On Air compilation which should come out in September. The label agenda is very full with really good stuff!

TG: How do you make time to practice for your live shows and for producing at the same time?
GO: Well, I have some support with organizing tracks for the radio show and with the label a little bit. When I am on the road, I work on my laptop a lot. I also use my laptop when I have to for putting some ideas down but I don’t like it. I honestly hate it. I am not a plugin guy, I use hardware… Once I get back to my studio I plug my laptop into my system and take off my plugins and use my keyboards to record it again. I care a lot about the sound quality.

Most people listen to music on their phone, but when I play my tracks in the club, I want it to sound very good. With trance music, there is a lot of information and sounds to deliver. If you use all of these layers it will sound really good. Otherwise, It’s just going to sound like a washing machine.

TG: You have a family with two kids. Tell me a little about how that plays into your typical work day.
GO: Yes, I have two kids. It can be especially hard because my studio is in my home. They come in, “Daddy, daddy, daddy!” It can impossible to get much work done sometimes.

TG: What can we expect from your label and yourself in the coming months?
GO: The next ones up will be a track from Andrea Mazza. Then a track from trance legend Misja Helsloot on February 24. I will continue releasing tracks every three week until the Go On Air compilation. After that, I will have to work out the new release schedule.

TG: Do you have a new artist album in the works?
GO: I just released my single featuring Alana Aldea – Heal This Empty Heart. The next single will be I Am Your Shadow featuring Shannon Hurley. It’s taken from the album and has very interesting remixes, but I can’t say yet..
A big project that I am trying to figure out to do is Magenta Live. It consists of all fifteen tracks from the album completely remixed and played in a live environment, possibly in Buenos Aires. We just started to work on planning it and getting the new remixes. So that’s my next goal for this year.

TG: You work very closely with Paul van Dyk. Can we expect anything new from you both?
GO: Yes, we should have a new collaboration for Politics of Dancing 3. I don’t know when that comes out, but I hope it will be soon! I may tour with him for the release of that album.

Thank you for sitting down with us today.



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