Interview: Paride Saraceni

UK based DJ/Producer Paride Saraceni is not a name new to many peoples lips, with a techno back catalogue to go against most others. Releases on giants like Drumcode, Truesoul, Sci+Tec and Terminal M show Paride is very much well thought of when it comes to his work in the studio. We sat down with him last week, to gather his thoughts on the techno scene, what it feels like to have the support of such pioneers as Adam Beyer, and his recent release ‘The Other Side’ on Monika Kruse’ Terminal M…

What’s an average day in your life like, do you have any set routines?

Hi everyone, thanks for having me here.

My average day includes getting up at around 8.30 am, breakfast comprising of milk, cereals and crunchy peanut butter, after which I either go to the Gym for an hour (twice per week) or work either on music or at University. I am currently studying Architecture here in London which means that I spend a good 5 days per week on campus, in Greenwich, working on my projects. I just started my last year of Masters so it is not too intense right now, but at times I literally live on campus!

However, when I stay home I work on music, which means either work on some new tracks or remixes or catch up with emails from my agent, manager and advertiser. Sometimes curating my online profile, bits and pieces, sketching ideas of how to promote upcoming Eps or gigs and so on. At around 8 pm I start cooking and then I spend the rest of the evening finishing off the earlier work most of the times, or watch some films as well as sometimes going out to meet some friends.

What’s it like to have Adam Beyer and Maya Jane Coles support your music?

It feels great actually, as I have been fan of them since I can remember: I discovered Adam in 2007 when I first begun to be interested in Techno music, and I followed Maya from her first EP. To be honest It did feel a bit weird when we met as one could expect, as I always saw them as my heroes in a way, but I am glad to have established some good relations with them now and absolutely happy to receive their feedbacks and support on my works.

Does it give you confidence or add more pressure, do you try and recreate past successes or do different sounds with each new release?

Having the support from artists like Adam or Maya definitely helps in terms of confidence, and I never felt any pressure from either of them, except perhaps for when I feel Adam is trying to ‘passively push’ me or invite me in sending him better, stronger, edgier works, (which he has all rights to indeed). However in terms of music workflow I think it is pretty easy to fall into the past success trap, I feel we all end up there at some point and I think it can also be inevitable perhaps, since as producers we are constantly navigating on the boundary between what we ‘want’ and what we think we may ‘need’. This often calls us to compromise one or the other, especially if we economically rely on our music production, (which is the main reason why I am studying Architecture) in order to be free from economic constraints and give more space to taking risks, perhaps going a bit counter-current if we feel it necessary. On one level I somewhat dislike the current Techno scene as I feel it is utterly unoriginal in the contents it gives out, often trying to re-create already ‘cooked’ experiences in a sound that is long outdated, and I refer to the 90’s acid kind of sound that we are being bombarded with lately once again. I think there is nothing original in that at all anymore, especially when it pretends to emulate the raw and old-skool sound, giving breath to what I call a “Techno for Techno-sake”, while we could instead use those very same old (as well as new) technologies and sounds yet reshaping them into something worthy of our contemporary moment in history.

I feel there are very few producers who can see further than the standard set out by ‘the masses’ and in one way Techno has indeed became a mainstream genre, which, going back to the question, brings producers to either follow or reject; re-enact the past or project a new vision of the present/future; sell or take the risk of not selling at all. I feel it is rather silly to stand for one specific sound-type, call it Techno and disallow anything which is different than that, while that very same concept at its root was invented in order to give freedom to explore, find and make ‘different things’. Technology should make us extroverts and not introverts into a ‘sect’ or a set of pre-decided actions. What I feel is happening in music (as well as in fashion) is a ghettoization of style by the popular misuse of its very terms and means. Techno is much more than what we are pushed to think it is.

Coming to my personal take on this matter, I feel that on a production level I am not taking as many risks as I would like to, but I feel this is mostly due to a software-hardware or production process forma mentis, more than a releasing one as I feel quite independent in terms of the musical output that I want to have, and this is probably why it takes me sometimes years to get my tracks signed, to get labels and label-owners convinced. However I always begin new projects from scratch, always using new sounds (exception for claps, hi-hats and rides perhaps) I realize that my tracks do often end up with similar grooves, structures and with similar way of sounding, which sometimes leaves me happy in terms of having a consistency, but that I wish I could also give origin to a different sounding output and be surprised of it.

To conclude this point, to which I feel question is a very good one, I feel that my Burning EP on Adam’s Truesoul was both my success and my ‘doom’, since labels only started to ask for demos similar to it, and artists wanted remixes that would sound similar to it, which in a way inevitably puts you in that condition that no matter what you do, when you have success that is the only time people will talk about your work in both very good or very bad ways and all the other works you have released but that did not get that same attention, do not constitute ‘you’ for the general view of you. That said, I bet you all know how to conclude this line.

Tell us about the latest EP – what inspired it or influenced it? How did your relationship with the label come to be?

My latest EP, ‘The Other Side’ is a project which was inspired by Monce’s vocals: “Come to the other side and I’ll show you where pleasure is, don’t you, don’t be afraid, you know time will reveal the way” as an allegory to post-humanism and the way in which technology is dictating our day-to-day life, pushing us to our human limits at work, as well as in our private and intimate life. Putting it on the DJ’s realm, where some DJs for example are being booked at incredible frequency, have to travel for hours and constantly be jet-lagged for the sake of keeping up their game, in a way becoming ‘slave’ of the very same methods and technologies which allowed them to live and be productive and do what they do. This push to human limits is echoed in the track as the ‘other side’ represents the digital world where we would become post-humans, blend with the very same technology which we ‘use’ so that we may find relief or “pleasure” in relying on our now post-human organism which would essentially work on our behalf so that we may even fully enjoy it again.

On the other hand the track also echoes a concept imbedded in Afrofuturism, which “ventures also tend to invoke the imagery of science fiction” [1] and the birth of Techno Music which is described by Steven Shaviro in his book “Post Cinematic Affect”. He relates to African-Americans, (or their ancestors who had been enslaved and deported to the Americas) as the first humans to experience modernity, describing their deportation not dissimilarly from an ‘alien abduction’ as they ‘underwent real conditions of existential homelessness, alienation, dislocation and […] which through Afrofuturist music involves ‘a webbed network of computerhythms, machine mythology and conceptronics, routes, reroutes and crisscrosses the Black Atlantic’. [2] “The Other Side” in this case also represents the Americas beyond the Atlantic Ocean, or the side beyond and before a dislocation.

It took me around 1.5 year to sign it as it was initially designed to continue my Truesoul releases series, or perhaps first debut on Drumcode, but that eventually ended up not being the right material for either Truesoul nor Drumcode, as Adam himself played it extensively and left me a very nice feedback on it, yet commenting that it was perhaps too progressive for DC and too hard for a Truesoul release. I had then sent it to the other label I had been working closely with, Tronic, but again it did not find a home there either, which had me deciding to send it to Monika for Terminal M, who also has a very broad and open-minded vision of Techno music and who has always been keen on signing both my works as well as works from other artists which I deeply appreciate as well.

Terminal M has also always been one of my all-time top-played labels so I thought that was the next one on the line, and I am really happy that Monika liked both tracks and signed them.

As you can read it is not always easy to sign music, and I hope that label owners could feel reassured by the scene in taking a bit more risks. My recurring questions are along these lines: What’s the matter if a techno track has a female vocal in it? What’s the matter if it is below 126 bpm? What’s the matter if it has a trancey or progressive synth? What’s the matter if it’s not Techno at all? Once again we go back to the previous point.

[1] [2] Ref: Shaviro, S. (2010). Post cinematic affect. Winchester: 0 [Zero] Books, pp.26, 27.

Where and when does it written? Do things like that effect the sounds that come out or do they come from a more internal place than that?

It was written here in London and the sound concept was once again driven by the original concept which I described above, the metallic sounds are introspective visions of an industrial or post-industrial space by which the conversion between human and post-human takes place. However, London has indeed played a role in my sound-design as I do strictly relate this city to a Techno inspired music, especially during autumn and winter. I recall the warehouse parties during 2010-11 and the sound-types explored in that time which inevitably left some of their residues in me, the Drumcode events in London have played a major role in my music creation and perception since 2010, when I attended Drumcode’s first Halloween event here. What a blast that was, and I do feel that the Great Suffolk-street warehouse was the ideal place for the sound-type at that time, not wanting to diminish the atmosphere Tobacco Dock or Printworks present however.

Do you make music with certain labels in mind then hit them up, or do you just wait for them to come to you?

I sometimes do have a label in mind when I feel that a track is reaching a certain style or sound-type and that is a way for me to keep focused on it, and to pursue a certain quality within that track; however sometimes I can just drift away with the flow and ‘take a risk’ which eventually takes me to develop a track which I would have never thought I would make, and when that happens the only label I have in mind is my own. I am saving some of these kinds of works for my Album, whenever it will be ready to be put together and released.

Do you think more should be done to get women and minorities involved in dance music?

I think more should be done in general, to get people involved in music and much more, whether such involvement is of course a natural initiative and welcomed initiative. I don’t think anything prevents women in getting involved in dance music nowadays or in the past 20 years, as a matter of fact we see ever more women being involved in it, Nina Kraviz, Anna, Nakadia, Charlotte De Witte or Amelie Lens just to name a few are testament of such claim, which on one end I feel it’s great, on the other hand I feel this is just something natural that should take place by default and we should not feel surprised about, just like we should not be surprised if women assume men’s roles in the workplace with the difference being in that DJing was never ought to be a man’s job (see Monika Kruse for example who is one of the first female DJs on earth) which is why I do not understand why people nowadays are still so surprised when a lady takes control of the mixer / party. Are women less capable than men? We shall stop creating and suggesting differences where there clearly are none.

In regards to minorities, I can only think of communities in third-world countries, which unfortunately I have not yet managed to visit, but which I feel it would be a very interesting experience both music-wise and on a human level. On this matter my friend Arjun Vagale comes to my mind, who runs a music academy in India, the “I Love Music Academy” where electronic music is thought to local youngsters and people who want to be involved in music production. I feel that these kinds of initiatives are absolutely constructive in any realm and in any city in general, allowing the young generations to explore their skills and embrace a creative activity, give it is music, architecture, design, pottery, fashion or even sports on one level, which essentially constitutes the basis of a healthy education and reduces the risks for some children to remain on the streets.

Apart from third world countries, which I have no data for to compose some thoughts, I feel that a minority could be understood as the young generations who are new to music in general, or in electronic music, for which it is great initiative to show them the way into this creative activity.

What’s on your rider? There has been some controversy recently over what it is OK to ask for. What are your views on that?

My rider comprises of essential requirements for my set-up, which includes size of a table/workspace as well as height of the decks (unfortunately being tall can have its downsides, and I often end up with a massive back pain if the decks are too low.

However, understanding that it is not always possible to raise a table I always have with me some polystyrene supports to put under the mixer) the monitors type and amplification, as well as of course, the type of mixer, decks etc.

That said I also have some standard requirements such as having a sober driver to pick me up, flyer graphics to be approved, and type of drinks during the set, all of which is written on paper but that is often friendly re-discussed with the promoter.

On the other hand, I admit that I do get frustrated when for instance, water is missing or the technicians have completely ignored my requirements (as it sometimes happened) or I get told that the mixer requested can’t be installed either because there is not enough space on the booth, the sound system is set up already on the other mixer, or because ‘all other artists use another type’. I believe that the mixer is to a DJ like a guitar is to the guitarist, you may give me a tool that I am not familiar with and be prepared to hear a set full of mistakes, which by the way you are also paying for.

On the other hand, I am aware that some artists have some extra (and often silly) requirements, such as very particular brand of drinks, floatable balloons, bucket of flowers or things like that, but I assume that the purpose of such requirements go deeper than their actual superficial function. When booking a very expensive artist, at times I believe that a booking agency may want to ‘test’ their clients, putting them under high pressure to satisfy the agency’s or the artist’s needs in order to see where their limit is in terms of economies and organization, in this way being able to introduce their praxis as well as enforce their ideal fees and other sets of much more relevant requirements. I am not saying this is right or wrong, but I guess everyone has its reasons for certain things, however sometimes it is just done so that people can gossip about it in this way rising the artist’s popularity, which again, I am not saying that it is necessarily right or wrong.

What’s next, what else you working on?

I am currently working on some new tracks which I hope to sign soon, as said on my Album as well and on my upcoming label, Post Scriptum Music, which right now runs a podcast series where I propose my own sets recorded around the world as well as from artists whose music I deeply love. I am also working at my university projects which aim at analyzing and proposing new forms of entertainment infrastructures as well as techniques which one day may (or may not) become relevant in the industry of music experiencing, which I feel it is currently lacking in the investment of energies, economies and technicalities allocating them without precision and resulting in a poor/average exploitation of available resources, such as space itself, sound systems and human interactions within an event space; all issues which can be resolved by a correct and more efficient design and design methodology.

What’s your favourite record or bit of studio gear and why?

This is definitely a hard one! There are so many great records that it is hard to pick one! As per the studio gear I work mainly on software and hardware-wise I only have an Audio 8 soundcard, a Korg synthesizer/vocoder which I rarely use and a portable recorder.. Not sure it would be an interesting answer haha

Therefore, I guess that perhaps one of the most intriguing, impenetrable and weird records that I have ever listened to, and which I am still very puzzled by is Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh by 70’s French band MAGMA. It is 39 minutes long, and it is written in Kobaïan, a language invented specifically for the creation of this album [3]; it is a blend of Progressive and Psychedelic Rock, Opera voices, Classic music and early electronics and it is arguably one of the greatest achievements in the history of modern music.

Paride’s ‘The Other Side’ Ep is out now on Terminal M

Grab it here!

[3] Ref