Giuseppe Ottaviani: You need to produce good music, but you also need a little bit of luck in this industry [Interviewing artists]
Happy trancer is happy! I finally had the chance to meet THE music man, Giuseppe Ottaviani and have a proper chat with him. After years and years of listening to his music, I couldn’t lose his return to Romania for Timeshift Bucharest Music Festival. It was a great honour to have this interview with him and it still is. I find the talk to be inspiring and it definitely made me think of the future and what I can do more about my love for trance music. He will forever be one of my very special music crushes.
I was lucky enough to see him setup all the hardware and prepare for his set, and to hear that yes for my interview. We went in a more quiet place and I enjoyed every minute of it. Even before I started asking all the questions, he answered to some of them. But we actually digged deeper, we talked about his background, his love for this music, his inspiration, his work and many more.
Giuseppe is a very kind and patient man. He took his time in answering my questions and he avoided none of them! I had fun, Giuseppe had fun. And the set he played that night is indeed a set to remember. Seeing him on the stage and his new Live 2.0, was something I will not forget too soon. I know this interview may seem long for some of you, but it is definitely worth it! Enjoy!
Who is Giuseppe Ottaviani and when did the idea of producing music first occur?
I think I started with trance music around 1996-1997. I started with all the gear, actually. Back in the day, only a computer, a laptop wasn’t enough. You needed a synthetizer, computer, mixer, other hardware and figure out how to connect all the stuff together.
Then I met new friends (Andrea and Jacopo) and we started to make music together. And ended up calling ourselves Nu NRG. We made this project back in 1998 and started releasing some tracks with a small Italian label. In 2000, we got signed to Paul Van Dyk’s label, Vandit, because one of those tracks was pretty good. (smilling) Finally. They liked it, asked for the license for Politics of Dancing 1 and yeah. That was it. We stayed in touch, got invited to play at Love Parade in 2002 and that was the starting point of my music career.
Easy (laughing). And lucky. You need to produce good music, but you also need a little bit of luck in this industry.
How would you describe the day by day Giuseppe Ottaviani? How would you describe your life?
It is hard to split music from my private life. Because music is part of my private life. It is my hobby. It is my favorite hobby. And now because it is my job, it is actually taking a lot of time of my life. But normally I have a family. I have 2 kids. And I just do normal life. Normal dad life. I am family guy.
I also hang out with friends. When I can. Because it is not easy. Between my job and my family, it is not that easy to stay in touch with all the friends I want to. So I had to scale down the number of friends. Somehow. To the very very extremely absolutely close friends. (laughing)
It is like a day job for me. I used to make music during the night, before the kids. But this is not possible anymore. I just work on a simple day time schedule. Like a normal office guy. Finish around 6, spend time with my family, go out on weekend if I am free. Normal Family life.
My favorite question of all: Why trance? Why did you choose this music genre?
Because I am coming from classical music. I have about 9 years of classical piano education and classical music is the music I grew up with. Because that is the music my parents used to play all day long.
I have a weird background because I switched from classical music to pop music, to rock music and then eventually went into German techno music. Very minimal, dark and I used to love techno music. I still love it. But, back then I said ok. I love the beats, I love the energy but I am missing the melody from classical music. So, when Adagio for Strings by William Orbit came out I said: ok. Hold on. I like it. I really like this. Basically, the remix of Ferry Corsten for Adagio for Strings brought me here. That was the track that made me slide. This is it. It just fits.
What should be your biggest musical accomplishment when you look back in the past till now?
Well, I made it here. (laughing) It is like 16 years since I am in this business. Which again it is not a business. It is a hobby. The best part is that I am not feeling like working. I am having fun. The best thing is that it’s been 16 years that I am not working. But I am getting paid. And this is quite nice.
Which single track that you’ve produced has had the greatest impact on your career?
I have 2 tracks. The first one is Dreamland, and it is together with NU NRG. That was the track that allowed us to be signed to Vandit, Paul’s label.
And then I have my first track as a solo artist, in 2005 which is called Linking People. That was the track, after we split up, the track that allowed me to stay within the Vandit Records family and that made my career. Because I had to start again. It was the starting point of my solo career.
How do you actually, produce your music? What is the inspiration behind your tracks?
Well, before at the very beginning, I didn’t had too many bookings of course. So I was just looking at the other big names, their gigs, looking at the crowd, and then I was inspired by the DJs, playing in front of such big number of people. And I was just pretending to be myself playing for the people and getting the inspiration to make music. Now when I finally have my crowd, I just go play, get inspired and make music the day after.
Do these tracks tell a story?
It is really made by inspiration. Depends on the party, the country, the crowd reaction. Everything. It does not necessarily tell a story, but it is about a particular moment of my life, in that particular place, with those particular people. Every track I do is linked to a certain place.
For example. 2 years ago I made Musica. And that track was born in San Bernandino, for Dreamstate. The first Dreamstate I ever played. And it is linked to that place. Linked to Dreamstate. And it will forever remind me of that very special moment. I made another track on the plane going to Liverpool. And I called the track Liverpool. I played a rough demo at the event I had and it went great. I just told myself. Liverpool it is. And that was the track.
Do you ever experienced the creator’s block? And how did you snapped out of it?
No. (Laughing).. I have an idea. I always start with a melody in my head. Especially with my new setup, I improvise in front of the crowd. If I hear a sound, it can be even a distortion, something that inspires me and let me hear a melody, I just play the melody and record it straight away. Even at home, whenever I hear something in my head, I go to the piano I have in my living room, hit record on my phone, play it and then listen to an older stage.
And it is always about getting inspiration from the outside. world. I was in Miami 3 years ago, one car passing by, with loud music (you know those cars with big stereos, very loud music coming out) and I heard a little piece of a melody which started looping in my mind. I do not even know what kind of music that was. I was just listening to this and it just started looping. And then I made a track for my Magenta album. Which is called Waterpark. So you know… It just happens.
We last saw you at Luminosity Beach Festival. And we enjoyed a lot your set, but also your Pure NRG set. How did you actually had the idea to play a part of the Lambada on the set?
(Laughing).. Well, it is summer time. We play at the beach. Let’s do something extremely stupid and play Lambada. And it was fun.
We prepared the set. We decided what are we gonna do, what are we gonna play and after a couple of glasses of wine, we just had a very interesting conversation:
Hey, what do you think if we play 30 seconds of Lambada?
Ahh. That will be nice. Yeah. Ok. Let’s do it.
Yeah. Let’s do it.
That was the first and the last time we do something like that.
How do you prepare for a set? Together with Solarstone?
You know, with Pure NRG, we do not play like a normal dj set. We do not go on a fly. We need to select the tracks we want to play. The sequences we want to play. We need to know what are we going to play. We just decide we are going to play this and that. You are going to play the drums in that track., I will play the keyboard. We need to organize, to plan what are we going do.
How is it? Working with Solarstone?
It is cool. Whenever we make a track it is either me flying to his studio, or Rich flying to my studio. But definitely we spend time together in a studio.
I saw an interview about Prophecy being the first online track. Are you planning to do more? Because that sounds really good.
Thank you. But, Prophecy took us some time. Because working online it is not that easy. It doesn’t actually feel the same. Because music has to do a lot with feelings. And we didn’t really fell right working online, for some reason. Also, because we are friends, we hang out together. We spend time together and have a very good time. And we make more music. Almost, one track per day, when we work together.
I am not sure if I can ask you this. But what can you tell us about the Go on air label? We saw that the last Hot or Not compilation is actually the last one…
Yes. It is the last one. Because the Go on air radio show it is not a weekly show anymore. The new concept, the new Go on air show it is monthly one and it is a live recording of one of my gigs. So, there is no reason to release a Hot or Not anymore. Because Hot or Not was connected to the old radio show and it is like a talent selection of music. And it is not going to happen anymore. Something is changing. I can’t tell you, to be honest. But it is changing into a very interesting and good way.
Under a new name?
About the live 2.0 show… How do you prepare? The same flow as preparing with Rich?
No. That is the thing. I do not prepare. It is completely different than a Pure NRG set. I do not prepare with my live 2.0. because it is my music, of course, plus all the live improvisation I do on the stage. It is called improvisation. So, I do not prepare.
I just prepare the hardware part. I do the sound checking. But as soon as I jump on the stage we will see about the rest.
What would you say to someone new in the industry? To someone that just starts producing?
The quality should be at a certain level. It doesn’t need to be amazing. Because you can always fix something in post-production, with mastering and stuff. But it must be at a certain level. You can’t actually, pretend to produce music on your iphone headphones. It is not going to work.
But then, as a label owner. If you are a new one, and you want to grab some attention, do not send 10 demos at a time. Sometimes, I say something like: This one is nice. Ok. But not still there, and then he immediately sends me another one, and another one… and then another. Saying: I am really quick. I can do a track in one day.
No, you can’t. It is not that easy. You can’t do it in one day. Fix that, make sure you spent enough time on one single track and then send it.
I am looking for an idea, but it also has to be at a certain level. Because if you have a massive idea, but it sounds bad, that means you need to sign the track but also get someone who can remix the track. Which is not ok. It doesn’t show the skills of the producers. Because at some point if you want to invest in a producer, then the producer must be able to deliver a finished product. One time is ok to get a remixer. Second time, not really.
Any upcomers you actually know and support?
Well. One of them is here (showing at): Starpicker. I signed a track from him because it got a lot of votes on Hot or Not a year ago. And then I was like: ohhh, this should be a single release. But I had no free slots in the singles release, because I was planning all the other ones. I said ok. Let’s put it on the Hot or Not EP, and then suddenly Armin played it as Tune of the Week. And I was like: There you go… After that, he reached me out for a second track and I said let’s do a single release this time. And it was good. And now I am just wait for the third one…
I know this is one of the hardest questions to ask someone. But can you tell me a top 3 trance tracks of all time?
1. Like I said, Adagio for Strings – William Orbit (Ferry Corsten Remix). This is the track that brought me here. That brought me into trance music.
2. Of course. There has to be Paul Van Dyk -For and Angel. Because it has to be. Seriously. That was the track from which I got the inspiration for that classic pluck sound that I am still using and that really influenced my sound, since ever.
3. And something more recent, I am really, but really in love with Ferry Corsten pres. Gouryella – Venera (Vee’s Theme). I even texted Ferry: Hey, remember me to give you a hug when we see eachother next time. Because it is an incredible melody. Definitely, one of my favorite Ferry’s productions.
Can we go to 5?
4. Aly & Fila with Ferry Tayle – Napoleon. – beautiful one.
5. A track that I am playing right now from 1996. Robert Miles – Red Zone. I know it is not Children. But it Is Red Zone, Part 1. A very beautiful melody for me.
With which artist, would you like to swap the places for one day if you could?
Neah. I wanna be myself. I do not care. Seriously. I like to get inspired by the others. I like to watch what others do. And I love to listen to what they do. But I want to do it in my own way.
What do you think about the trance community?
It is great. It is a real family all over the world. And it is a strong family. People think that is an underground thing. But it is not. It is a global movement. I am lucky enough to play all over the world and I can tell: the trance family. You can really feel it.
What do you think about the statement trance is having a big comeback?
It is true. (Laughing)… For comeback, it means it is getting more attention than before. Because it never left. But it is definitely, getting more attention. Thanks to a lot of factors. But also thanks to the americans pushing trance quite a lot now. A thing that it was impossible to imagine a couple of years ago. Personal opinion, is that Dreamstate is the best thing that happened to the trance music in the past 5 years, or even more.
P.S. Everyone has a hidden talent.
I can make an absolutely, great carbonara. Laughing…
THANK YOU, Giuseppe! Thank you for accepting the interview! Thank you for being such an amazing music man!
And thank you guys, for reading this till the very end. You all rock! Trance on!