Over the last few years Luigi Tozzi has been calmly making a name for himself as one of Europe’s go-to DJs for his distinct brand of techno that draws both from ambient and club music. Raised in Rome, the DJ and Producer takes influence from the timeless italian sound, which he’s further developed with an emotional, swirling, dubby atmosphere. There’s an unmistakable texture to his productions.
As a producer, you have a lot of experience. When and how did you discover electronic music and when did you start playing and producing?
I discovered electronic music very early on through one of my best friend’s older brother who was into trance. Eventually, I made my way towards techno when discovering Basic Channel and the whole dub techno sound. That was a big inspiration for me to start making my own music.
I began to play when I was in school, I had some friends who were already dj-ing and I wanted to understand what they were doing. Then in 2012, inspired by the dub techno sound, I started to make my own music. Eventually I discovered deep techno and the vast array of Italian techno artists such as Claudio PRC and Dino Sabatini.
The first tracks you released were on Hypnus records. What’s the story behind your collaboration?
At the time I got in touch with Ntogn from Hypnus, I was using Soundcloud to upload my music so I could post it on forums and get feedback.
It’s on a forum that I met the owner of Hypnus – Ntogn – at a time when both of us were making music as a hobby. As we talked, he asked me for downloads of my music so that he could play it when DJ-ing and eventually he told me he was going to start his own record label, and from there things grew progressively; not only our collaboration, but also our friendship.
Do you help him out with Hypnus?
Yeah for sure I regularly give him feedback, but really all of us on the label do. For instance, Alessandro (Feral) is also very involved in the decision making process of the label. But actually, we all talk about the music coming into the label, so we all contribute and provide feedback and new ideas.
Tonight you play at Fuse for a party curated by Initiate. Initiate has been focusing on deep and hypnotic music since their beginning. Do you feel like this genre is starting to appeal to a wider audience?
No, I actually think it’s more niche now than it was in 2015/2016. Maybe back then people had more interest in deeper music than now.
At the moment, I feel there is a wave of super fast tempo and maximalistic music going on. I think this comes in part from the fact that festivals and their stages are bigger than ever before, and that techno has also become very popular. Fast tempo and maximalistic music with big drops is easier for a wider audience to connect to.
For some artists collaboration is an important part of their work. Is that something you are interested in?
Yes, I am. In the past I was a bit insecure to collaborate with people. For example when I made a record with Dino Sabatini I was wondering what I could add to his music since he is so experienced.
Now that I am more experienced myself, I feel more comfortable collaborating. I do it more and more and I have been happy with the results. For example I’m currently collaborating with Alessandro (Feral) and Antonio Ruscito on a live set with each of them and I’ve also been collaborating with Claudio PRC on producing a record. So yeah, collaborating is something that is interesting for me and that I want to do more of. But of course without forgetting my solo projects.
What kind of dynamic do you like to collaborate in?
In the past I tried long distance collaboration by sharing files via the internet and I had some successful results with Ntogn and BLNDR.
Now however, I prefer to work together with the person in the studio. For instance, Claudio PRC came to Rome for a week and we worked in the studio together the whole time he was there, and that is a much better work flow for me. So at the moment that is the way I like to do it.
How did your collaboration with Feral start?
Well, we’ve been talking about making music together since the day we met.
[hands the mic to Feral – audio interview] It was through Luigi’s music and a bit later Hypnus that I discovered techno, and it’s thanks to Luigi I got signed to Hypnus as he introduced me to Ntogn. After discovering Luigi’s music on the internet and noticing he was also from Rome, I got in contact with him and from there a friendship grew. This was around 2014. We only started collaborating 1 year ago, after a Hypnus showcase in Prague, really inspired us. In the end it was pretty natural for us to collaborate since we are both from the same city and are signed on the same label.
[Back to Luigi] So yeah the beginning of our collaboration started after the Prague showcase. The idea was to only play music we created for the collaboration and so we started melting our live projects together and from there we started to develop our live set.
When starting a new track, what’s the first thing you do? What’s your process in the studio?
It really depends what I’m working on. If I’m producing a proper loop focused techno EP, I’m going to start from a technical idea, like a rhythmic element or maybe a synth hook. But if i’m working on an LP, like an album, I don’t want start from a technical idea but rather from a concept that will guide me throughout the composition process.
Do you prefer producing on software or hardware gear, or a combination of both? What’s your favourite piece of equipment?
I think any way is viable as long as you connect with it. For now I’m software based, but I’ve also been starting to use old machines like the MS20 or Juno in the very beginning. Using these instruments with a no presets approach, is a good way of learning the basics of synthesis.
However, I feel much freer with software. Not only can you work from anywhere you want but you also have very few limitations. For example, I like to work with very long effect chains that would just not be possible to make using hardware gear.
What piece of software do you use a lot?
I use several external VST’s and a lot of native Ableton instruments and effects which are great. I’ve also been doing a lot of things with a VST called Aalto which is sort of an emulation of a Buchla synth. Another tool I’ve been using is a VST called Serum, which I think is aimed for EDM production and not so much techno but when you know it, you can make whatever you want with it. I also want to mention Reaktor which is in endless source of inspiration.
How do you make compromises between music composed (for home) listening and music composed for a club environment? Do you adapt your tracks according to wether your playing at a club or festival?
Yeah for sure. I make changes depending on where I’m playing and depending on the size and environment of the gig. The changes I make are not only based on wether I’m playing in a club or at a festival, but also depend on the size and the environment of the gig. For example, in an open air festival, I’ll want to play differently to when playing in a club. The music is still mine of course and follows my aesthetic, but I make changes depending on the circumstances.
Between live and dj sets, which do you prefer?
It depends. I don’t like short Dj sets anymore. So if I don’t have much time, I prefer to play live. But if I have a long slot, DJ-ing is great because of the interaction you can create with people. Really, I like both, it just depends on the situation and how much time I have to play.
Your performances have made you travel to many different cities and clubs. Has any place made a particular impression on you? What can you tell us about your residency at Khidi ?
Well I went to Khidi for the first time with Feral for a Hypnus showcase, and it was love at first sight. Everything from the lighting to the sound is very well calibrated so when they asked me to be a resident I was very happy. Residencies are great because they allow you to really get to know the crowd and to connect with them.
Another place I like is The Block in Tel Aviv, although I haven’t been there in a while. Lately though, I’ve had some good fun playing in About Blank’s tent which is in their outdoor area. Ohm should also be mentioned. For me it represents how a club should be. Great sound system, good architecture – even if simple – and a good crowd that thanks to the clubs layout is close to you.
Lastly, what are your upcoming projects in 2020 that you would like to share with us?
I’ve been working on a lot of remixes and a couple will be released on labels that I have been following since the beginning of my music career so I am very happy about that.
Also, I just released a split EP with Pris on Non Series and finished my collaboration record with Claudio PRC.