Hailing from the deepest realms of hypnotic ambient techno, Italian producer Luigi Tozzi is one of the most exciting artists to have surfaced onto the scene in recent times. Debuting in 2014 with his ‘Deep Blue‘ EP on Hypnus Records, he has since released music through Outis Music and Mental Modern. Based in Rome, Luigi has forged a very personal approach to electronic music, influenced by his beliefs and defined personality.
Last December we caught up with Luigi Tozzi in San Lorenzo, one of the most traditional neighbourhoods of Rome, to discuss contemporary club culture and its obsessions pro forma, as well as his forthcoming LP. To accompany the feature we are thrilled to present an hour-long live session from Luigi, featuring mostly unreleased tracks that perfectly conjure up the deep, dubby and trippy tonalities that characterise him so well.
Interview by Vittoria de Franchis Photography by Giacomo de Franchis
"If going to a techno party becomes trendy and all about being seen, it is obvious that the focus on what really matters, music for instance, becomes lost."
I didn’t ready any questions….so let’s just go with the flow and see what happens!
Sounds great, way better to have a chat out of the usual schemes rather than always being asked the same questions. What’s interesting about these meetings is to get to know better who’s behind the music and to see a bit more what’s behind the curtain..at least that is what I’ve been always captivated by when reading interviews of musicians I particularly respect.
Electronic music has turned into a big business, especially in the last decade but there are still some fundamental aspects of a gig that doesn’t seem to be considered as they should, it seems like it is more important how things look like than what they sound like.
Absolutely! In some cases the process of turning into something big leads to not considering some fundamental aspects that allow integrity between all the parts. If going to a techno party becomes trendy and all about being seen, it is obvious that the focus on what really matters, music for instance, becomes lost. You cannot expect to have top quality sound everywhere but the loss of focus on what you hear compared to what you see worries me.
This issue with sound systems for me is one of the key problems here in Rome. I can’t believe we don’t have two or three good places in a city like this. I’m not talking about huge venues, I’m talking about offering a good space, with quality sound and a good selection, from the lineups to the crowd. I believe we have a crowd here, it is just dormant because, as far as I see things what is on offer isn’t interesting.
"When you are working with kids you can't think about yourself, you have to be completely immersed in their world. It was a good therapy because it brought me back to reality"
It seems like the only option is to organise something yourself in Rome.
It’s actually something I’ve been thinking about for some time. I have many close friends that are working in the music world for a long time and at some point it would be nice to try and do that. I’d love to start with a small space, something that would be full with 150 people. It’s the only way to avoid being a slave of numbers and feel free to bring some interesting musicians into the city. This would require a lot of time, which I don’t have.
At the moment I am focused on making new music and traveling. I quit my part time job that I have been doing for the last couple of years, which was teaching French to children. It was helping me balance out the crazy weekends and week days.
When you are working with kids you can’t think about yourself, you have to be completely immersed in their world. It was a good therapy because it brought me back to reality from the Monday, avoiding any eventual ego fulfilment, which the night scene is pretty familiar with.
Teaching kids, being a producer and touring throughout 2017 seems like a difficult task. How was your traveling experience? Are there any particular experiences you vividly remember?
2017 was the first year I decided to travel a bit more. In 2015 and 2016 I had the chance to build a dense traveling schedule but I felt it was crucial for me to spend a lot of time in the studio. I’ve been in the music scene for a few years now and I feel like I have a lot to learn and experiment with in order to achieve something that has a strong identity and that completely reflects myself. If you start traveling all of a sudden, every weekend, I believe you would end up far away from the studio, being sucked by other dynamics.
What I seek is an organic path to preserve my creativity and freedom. My agent Alex is very important in all of this, because he really understands what I am looking for. At the beginning of the year we decided to stick to 30 gigs more or less, and it is the exact number we ended 2017 with.
Regarding experiences, I had many that I remember with a smile on my face: I played in clubs that I’ve always respected and that I had the chance to enjoy from the dancefloor in the past, which is just great. One gig that turned out to be really surprising and unexpected was the one I played in Kosovo (Prishtina) few months ago, right after two nights in the well established clubs such as Rex (Paris) and Contact (Tokyo).
"I see musicians bringing tons of analogue gear on stage for their live sets just to impress people, while on the other hand you have geniuses like Rrose that are able to pull out unbelievable performances with just a laptop and an iPad."
I felt a bit tired and gloomy before the party and I wasn’t really sure about how many dozens of people could show up for my set there. Well, it turns out that the venue is this amazing former print house, filled with more than 1000 people who built an incredible vibe during the whole night.
Besides that, I want to talk about what are the two of my favourites clubs right now without any doubts: Khidi (in Tbilisi) and The Block (Tel Aviv). In both places I have a personal connection with the people behind the club and there I really had the chance to grow not only as an artist, but as a person.
I have a residency at Khidi and it feels great to be part of this amazing process which is the growth of a completely new scene. People there are so enthusiastic and eager for new music without any prejudices, which are easier to find in the older and established scenes.
When you say “prejudices” it kind of reflects the contemporary electronic music scene and all this obsession for knowledge, trends, naming everything underground. All this is contributing to a continuous expansion almost as a financial bubble, which will eventually burst.
I don’t know if it will burst, everything has to collapse at a certain point and regenerate as in a cycle and this will also happen within the electronic music scene I guess. However, this expansion could also be very good if who is behind the scene would still keep an eye on the substance over the form. If the scene is driven by people that still have the right intentions, I think it will be preserved.
I want to stress again the idea of putting the focus on what you see instead on what you hear. For instance all the trends about analogue over digital are a good example. I see musicians bringing tons of analogue gear on stage for their live sets just to impress people, while on the other hand you have geniuses like Rrose that are able to pull out unbelievable performances with just a laptop and an iPad.
Every way of expression should be treated equally but unfortunately it seems that some ways are more fashionable than others. My setup at the moment is entirely digital and I am super happy with it. Still I had the chance to make music with machines and it was for sure an enriching experience.
"My second album is taking shape because I feel the urge to pull out some feelings and emotions that are inside of me in this very particular moment of my life."
Since you quit your job and limited your gig schedule, are you spending the rest of your time in your studio producing?
Besides the music I cultivate a lot of passions like literature and cinema, the more time I can invest in those, the more I’ll be purified and inspired when I’ll get back to the studio. But yeah, I spend a lot of time making music, that’s a given.
Sometimes I also think that I am a bit ‘over-productive’. The idea of playing live popped up when I decided that I still want to have a way to play and enjoy music I make, that is not necessarily released. This is the reason why my live performances will always be different one from another, partially filled with new music each time.
We couldn’t be happier to host your first live jam on Inverted Audio and we cannot wait to witness it at Waking Life 2018 in August! You also mentioned an upcoming album, which follows your debut LP last year on Hypnus Records.
Indeed! I am working on something that will hopefully turn into an LP. It’s exciting for me because it’s taking its own path and pushing me far from my musical comfort zone. I wanted to start to work on an album again in 2017, but I understood with time that it’s not something I can plan or decide. My second album is taking shape because I feel the urge to pull out some feelings and emotions that are inside of me in this very particular moment of my life.
Luigi Tozzi performs live at Waking Life 2018 this summer in Portugal, discover more about Waking Life here.
Photography by Giacomo de Franchis
Discover more about Luigi Tozzi on Inverted Audio.Luigi TozziHypnus RecordsOutis MusicDeep TechnoDub Techno