In 2013, Emanuele Pertoldi started a new alias, Shaded Explorer, with the aim to represent himself in a more intimate way. The description of the project says he lives in a place where the music is hidden behind a dense fog and dreams are suffocated by an unpromising reality. This stimulates him to continue his research of magical places around the world, being them ethereal landscapes, deep cenotes or blue seas. In those places he discovered and created new sounds, melodies and rhythms that melted together create soundscapes for escape.
The first release was an album on Eclipsemusic that was also played live with hardware at Club To Club in Turin, following live sets also at Tresor, Le Batofar and more. In 2014 he founded his own intimate imprint Shaded Explorations.Now he’s one of the great masks of ambient music and deep sounds, especially after the releases on Silent Season and Kabalion Records.
We thought we could start by going back a little bit. Could you tell us about what first inspired you to get into electronic music?
It’s hard to say because lot of time passed. I remember it was a non-rational attraction. I was 11 and I received a Playstation 1 as Christmas present. I was not much into video games but I found one where I could create my own music loops so I started experimenting. What I remember is that for me at young age was a way to express emotions without using words. I was very shy and music helped me expressing myself.
Your musical universe goes from ambient and kickless atmospheric rhythm to deep techno. What brought you into this musical universe?
At a young age I listened to electronic radio shows and recorded them on cassette. That vibe was simply resonating with me. I felt I had to discover it, and I’m still in that never ending research. It just happens spontaneously. I was attracted by wandering and melancholic minor chords and the emotions they evoke. I found them in Detroit techno and dub techno and the translation to deep techno was a natural development. While experimenting I noticed I was into creating atmospheres and soundscapes so also ambient came out as a natural evolution of my journey in sound.
Your latest album, Harmonic Growth, will be released this month on Pregnant Void. Tell us a bit of the story behind this release, where was it recorded, what inspired you?
We’re always subject to change, but right now I’m going through a major one musically. I feel the urge to dive more and more into organic sounds and custom scales. This album represents the start of this shift. Actually, it is a collection of mostly past tracks plus some new ones where I used the new techniques. I took inspiration from various books, people who opened my worldview and wild places where I live. Stefano Mancuso, Timothy Morton and Vandana Shiva were a huge inspiration. Most of their topics regard our relationship with the environment. I think we’re living a consciousness shift and with the album my aim was to say that a world of peaceful coexistence between every species and the environment is possible. The more we know about the world, the more we understand everything is deeply connected. I hope that feeling this will be a stimulus to act with kindness. The album was mostly recorded live in my studio and I used also several field recordings I did outside.
What would you say is the ideal setting to listen to your album?
The ideal setting would be first of all mental. My wish is to stimulate active listening with a relaxed attitude. I hope you’ll take your time to enjoy the album, doing nothing except listening. I suggest you to sit comfortably or lay down, preferably during the evening when you did all your duties. Power up a great pair of speakers or also use a good pair of headphones and try to focus on the music. When your mind wanders in thoughts, you could try to bring your attention back to sound letting your thoughts go. I would be more than happy to hear what the album evokes in you if you do so. (Click here for pre-order link)
The ideal setting would be first of all mental. My wish is to stimulate active listening with a relaxed attitude. I hope you’ll take your time to enjoy the album, doing nothing except listening.
Can you tell us a bit about your process of producing ? Do you use software, hardware or both ? And do you use the same setup to produce ambient and deep techno ?
My process tends to be an experimentation every time. I don’t like to always use the same techniques and machines, apart from a few versatile exceptions. I enjoy learning something new while producing. So I use both software and hardware, but this album was made mostly live with hardware. My setup changes constantly, I try not to get attached to it and to focus only on a few machines for every track. I always prefer a live arrangement, because it gives the track an organic flavour. I think it’s important also to capture the feelings of the moment, so I record everything live multi-tracked from the mixer. Then I can cut some parts or adjust them sonically, but the core is there. I’m still improving this approach but for now it is what works best for me.
You play live acts with hardware machines. What excites you about working as a live act compared to say, Djing?
I think both ways are good forms of expression. I used to DJ a lot but after a while I felt it was limited for me. I needed to go deeper and to communicate with the music I create. This brought me more fun, more freedom and more spontaneity while playing. Each live set is different from the other, so I can share the uniqueness of that moment.
Let’s chat a bit about your live setup. What does it consist of? Do you have a favourite piece of kit that tends to form the basis of most of your setup?
My live setup changed quite a lot during the years. I started bringing out lots of machines, but it was overwhelming and distracting. The Elektron Octatrack was a game changer since I could record synth sequences in the studio and bring them live without a computer and without tons of synths. I do not have full control like on a synth, but it is a good compromise. Usually my setup is based around the Octractrack which provides soundscapes and synth sounds, a drum machine and a synth (modular or something else) plus lots of effects. I like to play a lot with sends on the mixer to make the track more alive and follow the vibe of the moment.
With gigs and touring on hold for now, how are you spending your time at the moment? To what extent has the current situation allowed you more time to focus on projects such as production ?
Spending more time at home gave me the opportunity to plan the new studio and to study eco-friendly acoustic materials to create the panels for it. I just finished building it and I’m ready to provide audio services like mixing, mastering and sound-design.
During the lockdown, I also produced some music and finished some projects from the past, trying not to force myself too much and create when I felt it. Indeed I cooked lots of pizza and bread too 🙂
Without a doubt, COVID-19 is impacting everyone around the world. How do you feel about what is going on in our music scene and what are your hopes for the future ?
Live music is suffering from this unexpected crisis but we can reinvent ourselves and continue to provide art in different forms. My hope is that we will have the chance to create more intimate listening and dancing realities, supporting local artists. I imagine situations where people can go to listen to live music but also to connect with each other and the artist in a deeper way than a big event. The web can provide a virtual connection between artists and people, but I hope it will not become our main medium. I think the real connection is something essential to live the experience fully.
My hope is that we will have the chance to create more intimate listening and dancing realities, supporting local artists.
What’s coming next for you, any plans, releases or exciting projects you’d love to mention?
I’m launching right now the new studio (http://organicaudio.it/) to help artist and companies growing their sounds. I’m also working on a new solo project named Flus. It will be more chilled out, merging ambient soundscapes with organic instruments, experimenting with the harmonic series and polyrhythms. Hopefully I’ll launch a new series on Shaded Explorations soon to share this kind of vibes.