Techno Where You At?

The most comprehensive coverage of the techno scene from the most profound connoisseur of the genre today

Salvo Bucca, perfect collocutor at a perfect time.  A man who has listened to more music, attended more live sets, then most of the BPM festival ticket holders all together, on the sunny days, to just clear that out. Not to mention all of the acquaintances and correspondence with the most prominent artists on the scene. Born Sicilian, lives in Messina. He witnessed the Italian artists early bloom from the very beginnings until present times.

He knows Berlin, Scandinavia, clubs, podcasts, you name it. We think that out there is bulk of artists who would appreicate more his wink rather then 1000 likes on social networks. He won’t brag about it, of course, and we respect it. Techno community knows, it is more then enough. There is a saying “modesty is a virtue of the average”. In his case, we don’t agree at all.

It’s time for an encompassing analysis for the whirlwind that electronic music (further EM) got itself into. Crossroads. Demand, overproduction, popularity issues, plagiarism, overestimation. Did EM climbed to its apex? Will the downfall inevitably begin? Where is techno at the moment, as the eternal avant-garde of EM, her shield, her dam? A lot of perplexity and doubt. Buckle up.

  1. Salvo, do people, EM aficionados follow the trends or the quality. Deep house from 2011, that most of the artist nurtured, was replaced with some stronger sounds. Are we witnessing to another trend changing milestone? Finally, do people care more about specific genres or the artists?

Holy Shit Pavle, you made me feel like an important person. Jokes aside, before reading your questions, I had to reconfigure my brain, in order to focus, so just give me 5 minutes so I can find a couple of right tracks on my iTunes library, take a cigarette, and pour some red wine into a chalice. (playing Prurient – “Everything You Know Is Wrong”, Adult Swim in the background).

At the root of this question, I must first highlight a very important distinction, in the sense that, there are PEOPLE and people. Honestly, from 2011 until today, except for the scandalous and repulsive explosion of a Tribal/Afro Tech House of the last 3 years, I don’t find any kind of radical change, or at least, this has not yet happened clearly in certain branches of electronic music such as House Music and many of its subgenres.

One that I know, is just a small generational change – artists, more or less mediocre that are aiming to collect a miserable initial notoriety on social networks, which is most often provided indirectly by mainstream artists, with very little music selection.

The fact is that they are without any talent, inventiveness, imagination from a productive point of view. That makes it even worse. I believe that the people who follow carefully the musical genres are very inferior to those that follow the artists of the moment, 90% of these people have serious difficulties in knowing how to distinguish Techno from Deep House, and what matters to them is never the quality of the music that the artist proposes, unlike this, what counts for them is the name that an artist has carefully constructed.

For this type of people, the name of a particular DJ is synonymous of high quality, as if it were an absolute certainty as if it were a law as if it were mathematics, which for me is just a masterful bullshit. Over the years I have learned to recognize that even the best artists produce and play shit, for this reason, I never let myself be persuaded by the name of a DJ/Producer.

  1. Recently, one established DJ said that “there is no remedy for techno until artists give back their cozy velvet DJ pedestal seats, and figuratively get back to the dance floor”. He aimed at their wannabe rock star status, something that they are not, nor with the quality, nor with their achievements. Do you agree?

I don’t know who said it, but I would like to know his name just to be able to say to him “Hey man, you’re absolutely right”.

  1. Tale of Us emerged on the map around 2010 with the deep house, that is still, in our opinion, the best we ever had, they were accompanied by other artists as well. “ToU” gone techno, literally creating their own genre – melodic techno, giving as during that time few eternal gems. Afterward, they quit at Life and Death label, which was followed up by a foundation of Afterlife. An epilogue is well known. They created a perfect monster, a pattern that made everyone else greedier. Perfect machinery, that included aesthetic, environmental, and visual armory. Hoards of the similar followers started admiring, more to power and fame, then music. Emulation begun. Dark, nature-inspired scenery on the cover photos, oversized Rick Owens, Boris Bidjan like clothes, those horns, Moog synthesizers trying to catch some familiar structure. To what extent ToU, in fact, made techno-commercial, to the unrecognizable level?

Tale of Us? Oh Buddy, thanks for reminding me of their name and their existence. Well, I can’t deny the fact that I loved Matteo & Karm madly. They undoubtedly, together with the Mind Against were the last real artists that redesigned the standards of the Deep House scene, or as someone calls it “New Romantic House”.

I’ve always appreciated what “ToU” have done until the end of the summer of 2016. For your better understanding, let me give you pictoresque description of the rate of my esteem towards them. I’ve never been a lover of House music, never. I’ve always found this kind of music very, very boring, not emotional at all. Exceptions occur, though it happens very rarely. From time to time I open a parenthesis thunderstorm within the House scene, this occurrence happens only when I can feel a sense of freshness. “ToU” were the architects who reopened parenthesis on House Music, a parenthesis that I kept open for about 6 years, and this has never happened to me in the past.

This is enough to explain how much I loved them. That being said, I prefer not to comment further, on their label, parties, ventures, because I don’t have anything nice to say. You talk about commercial, unrecognizable level of techno? Behold, these to me are compliments, what I think is far, far worse.

  1. Afterlife now, techno scene generally. It seems that Woo York and maybe Recondite (with a dark cloud of doubt), with their newest endeavors managed to defy the tendency of the label, often being called commercial. Will they manage to endure, and when is the moment for the artist to contemplate whether the label they’ve picked is messing with their credibility?

If the memory does not deceive me, after the first release Realm of Consciousness, I kept only one single track, “Solaris” by Mind Against & Aether. Since then, inside my iTunes library has never entered even a single Afterlife’s release.

I have only made an exception for the recent album of Woo York because they are the only artists (in my humble opinion) that can make a difference, totally obscuring all the artists who are now part of the Afterlife stable. Personally, I believe that Dennis & Andrew can afford to release on any prestigious label, their release on Semantica is living proof. Afterlife, in my opinion, isn’t the label that defines their current sonical expression.

At this moment I can not say the same thing about Recondite, who, although he is also an excellent producer, and a guy with whom I have a great friendly relationship, based on enormous esteem and mutual admiration, I must say that his last EP on AL has made me totally disappointed. It looks like the ugly copy of his Theater II EP on Dystopian.

Afterlife and Innervisions are currently the only 2 labels where, always, in my opinion, Lorenz releases his worst music. I will add that, I think it’s time for him to reinvent himself a bit, explore and dare a little more, because it all became too known to the masses, and more and more “Dogs” aka”DJ’s Suini” (Salvo Bucca’s favorite epithets, red flags for plagiarism, author’s/comment) are recopying the Recondite’s sound. That said, eternal love for Recondite, always and in any case.

  1. New record labels are paying some amount of money to the established artists, so they can promote their fellow protégeés. Male artists backing up carriers of their girlfriends. Are they conscious about the fact that we know the plot, or for them we are just an insignificant minority, while they generically getting the fame?

We touch the button. Quite frankly, I don’t care anymore. Coyu, Regal, don’t even get me start. You said: “Male artists almost forcing carriers of their girlfriends”, and I immediately think about Farrago and his girlfriend Amelie Lens. If I start to make a point on the issue, I would be talking about infinite nothingness.

  1. Techno is on a junction between total alternative and mainstream. It seems there is no middle. Posh Isolation, Northern Electronics, Semantica, Edit Select Records, Silent Season, Hypnus, and respected others, are still here to preserve the honor of the real techno, at least that is an opinion of hardcore techno core. Your thoughts?

I don’t think Techno is divided only into the mainstream and the alternative. Likely, the alternative to techno is the techno itself under its interminable facets. What I see is just a giant difference in exposure between certain labels that have the Techno as their main mark.

I try to explain myself better; for example, Germany, particularly Berlin, has always been labeled as a nerve center, the main source for electronic music, in particular, Techno / EBM, and over the years this has led to a flood of producers from all over the world moving to Berlin and other German cities. The Berlin Techno I think is the most trodden in the last 25 years, and for this reason, without taking anything away from the Berlin Techno, Currently I find the Nordic sound much more interesting.

Scandinavia has a huge amount of excellent quality Labels and Producers, and exactly for this principle the Scandinavian Ambient/Techno is still the most fascinating, refined musical trail for me. What I am trying to say is that high-quality music is not perceived by everyone, and it will be represented in places like Ibiza, Time Warp and Tomorrowland, Furthermore, most of the labels you mentioned are still totally intact. The day that I will see a Offworldcolonies, Posh Isolation or Northern Electronics event in Ibiza, is the day I’ll stop listening to electronic music forever.

  1. The importance of cult underground clubs today, these days we hear a lot about struggling Bassiani in Tbilisi?

There aren’t clubs and underground music according to me. The Underground movement is dead and buried for over two decades. Today, on the Internet era, it is simply an analog term in a totally digital world, this physiologically has no more reason to exist.

Underground today is only a term used by nostalgic or by those who do not have anywhere near what was the Underground until the mid-90s, I am not nostalgic and I have ideas quite clear about the club culture in the 90s, which is why I don’t use the word Underground today.

Today only the “Swingers Clubs” can be described as underground, and certainly not for the type of music that inside you can hear.

The latest events happened in Tbilisi have left me totally blown away. I still don’t have a clear picture of the real reasons for which all this happened. In 40 years of life, I do not remember anything like this in a context relevant to club culture. What I think and I have understood is that the Georgian Government used the pretext of the fight against drugs and dealers, disguising the political interests. The imminent appearance of Nazi-Fascist groups in the streets of Tbilisi is very worrying.

That being said, I have always thought that you can fight the drug, but you can never eradicate it totally, at least, until the human species will exist. And for sure what happened to Bassiani, the dynamic of the facts, it is absolutely wrong. No Government in the world can overpower the music. Nobody! Tbilisi – The Power of Love.

  1. You had a privilege to attend various events. Sets you had listened, translated into time, could be counted in years, could you pick some event that made a difference to you personally. Name a few of the radar artists and labels you think deserve your praise, and a streamed set that made all the difference for you.

From the age of 15 to 30 years, I have regularly attended clubs. I had the opportunity to listen and exchange a few words with many artists who in my life have contributed indirectly to make me grow and discover a vision and a related open-mindedness about electronic music.

Realistically, despite being born and having lived in a small town in the deep south of Italy, the most familiar clubs to me, the most frequent and consequently my favorites, have always been clubs located in central and northern Italy, Tuscany and Emilia Romagna principally.

At the age of 20 I went to the club without worrying too much about the artists who were guests, I do not hide the fact of having listened to artists Tech House endlessly, a genre that I hate to die for. in recent years I have learned to attend the club only and exclusively on occasions where there are artists who really like me so much, that I follow, that I know well. Now I go to the club just to listen to the artist, I do not care about anything else.

If I have to choose an event that really left something indelible inside. so I have to go back a lot over the years and go back to 1995. I was 16 and I was in the most avant-garde club in Italy at the time. it was called “Insomnia Disco Acropoli D’Italia” the event was called “Mezzanotte Mezzogiorno” and on stage, there were my 2 favorite Italian DJs, Mario Più & Ricky Le Roy. Those were the years of Progressive/Trance, absolutely my favorite musical genres of all time.

Recently, I would like to praise an amazing performance by Anthony Linell a.k.a Abdulla Rashim, one of the events I love to remember. About streamed sets, I would pick  Vril’s (live) set at Bassiani x Boiler Room. There are several artists that I keep constantly under my vision, some of them are very well established in the scene, but I am always looking for new emotions, newcomers.

Some of my current favorites are: Love Never Leaves Me, Vito Lucente, Glós, MA, Exit Safe Mode, Soramimi, Some Science, Serena Butler, Yugen, Trancemaster, my big friend Manent with whom I collaborate as A&R on his new project and label Unità Psicofisica.

Infinite respect as well for the labels: Northern Electronics, Semantica, Posh Isolation, Offworldcolonies.ltd, Spazio Disponibile, Intimate Silence, Bassiani, Affin Ltd, AWRY, Janushoved, Rapid Eye Movement, STOOR, Transatlantic, Stilla Ton, Holy Geometry, From Another Mind, Silent Season, and of course Unità Psicofisica.

  1. New Dj Healer/Prime Minister of Doom. Names are changing, but extravagance is still there or? Your thoughts on new Varg, and some notions on Caterina Barbieri potentials?

I have not yet understood these 2 new projects, especially, I struggle to label the new sound of “Prime Minister of Doom” that, from what I understand, it should be the project equivalent to the best known “Prince Of Denmark”.

His “Prypjat” and “GS” are exactly the dub techno par excellence pieces according to my vision. Now I noticed that he went from dub techno to tribal house, and I can’t appreciate this. Matter-of-fact, his first album under the alias “Prime Minister Of Doom” I found unlistenable, at times horrendous, kept only a single track of it, “Truth Inside”, probably ‘cause of  my penchant for trance.

As Dj Healer he is much better, here I can still hear the real DJ Metatron imprint. I think that too much hype eventually had a bad influence on the whole project. I’m glad that he left Giegling. Attitude of one of its founding fathers (Konstantin) I found rather ridiculous. For about 2-3 years to be a regular at “Circoloco” party in Ibiza. Ibiza, DC-10, cmon, holy shit! It’s in total contrast to what Giegling stands for.

What can I say about Varg? Words can never express what he means to me. I can say bluntly that Varg is something that goes beyond the trivial standards of electronic music. His 2 upcoming releases on Posh Isolation and Northern Electronics are yet another masterpieces. He is simply another level, such as Maradona, Marco van Basten, Messi. Mad love to all of his countless projects. Also a praise for his The Empire Line project, together with 2 stellar artists, Christian Stadsgaard (boss and co-founder of Posh Isolation) & Isak Hansen, the voice of project and a super industrial master.

Oh man. Before I tell you my thoughts about Caterina Barbieri, I have to bow 33 thousand times. She’s a princess. She is THE princess. For me, she is the female equivalent of Alessandro Cortini, in a way like Evanescence and the Him in the gothic rock/alternative metal field. It is not a coincidence she released on a label Important Records. Finally, have to stress, a bit patriotically, that they are both from Italy.

  1. Other than EM, could you single out some albums and authors, which significally influenced you, to whom you always come back, endlessly.

 “My Heart Is Black But Nobody Knows (B-Side)”. This is my playlist on my YouTube’s channel.

My vision of B-side vs the other musical genres outside electronic music. In this context, I must mainly say thanks to my father. I early approached all of the genres, rock, metal, new wave, because of him. Even if I wanted, I could never avoid the huge impact that he has conveyed to me. Extremely crazy for Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett and his lifestyle.

I started to fall in love in a spasmodic way at the age of 10 with the bands and individual artists such as: Guns ‘n’ Roses, Nirvana, Metallica, Alice Cooper, Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran, Roxette, Madonna, U2, , The Cure, Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Queen.

Until I got to the most recent ones such as  Placebo, Him, Marilyn Manson, Skunk Anansie, System of a Down, The Knife, Audioslave, Tropic Of Cancer. I’ve always been attracted to the electric guitar, so I can’t fail not to mention sacred monsters such as Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, John Petrucci, Santana, Kirk Hammett, Slash, Dave Murray and Stef Burns.

I still remember perfectly the first 2 songs I had learned to sing in english; “Frankie Goes To Hollywood – The Power Of Love” and “Kiss – I Was Made For Lovin’ You”. I’ve always been allergic to Italian artists, except for Litfiba and Vasco Rossi. Gianna Nannini, a little bit. But just a little.

We enjoyed this interview a lot.

 

Vitraž | Pavle Jakšić