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Eleven Of July [Interview]

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Based in Rome, Italian artist Augusto Proto aka Eleven Of July has been at the cutting edge of electronic music for the better part of a decade. Comparable to the path of the genre's elite artists, Augusto has found a way to create his own personal universe by crafting avant-garde club tracks, and ultimately finding a place in the trend-driven state of underground dance music. On the strength of support from Adriatique, Dubfire, Mind Against and Undercatt, Eleven Of July has been operating at the heart of the melodic house and techno movement since the genre's inception. Fully formed within the creative confines of his Rome studio, the two-track showcase 'Drived' opened the year for both Eleven Of July and Brokenhearted, a project which has seen the Italian artist go on to re-imagine 'Aquiles ' by Tchaka for his first remix of the year. Now, presenting the much-anticipated follow-up to 'Drived', Eleven Of July returns to his comfortable home of BrokenHearted with a special single track release entitled 'Life'.

Progressive Astronaut caught up with Eleven Of July to learn more about the release of ‘Life’, his studio process, DJing, future plans, and more. Enjoy.

Hi Augusto, thanks for joining us, how has your summer been so far in terms of gigs and otherwise; and what are your plans for the week?

Hi! Thank you for having me on. I am having a quiet summer, indeed I spent it in Rome and this city is a working space for me. I was taking care of some businesses here and of course I’ve been busy in the studio, with several new productions. So my plan when I’m here is always work, work,work.

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your production work and otherwise, please.

I would wake up around 9am and then start the day with breakfast before getting some workout at the gym or swimming. The rest of the day is pretty much all about working, and I would take the evening free, usually to have dinner outside because I’m not a big fan of cooking.

Can you name five tracks (not your own) that were important in your musical development and why they are so significant for you?

I would say that all the productions made in the early 90s from the pioneers of the Progressive (aka trance progressive) played a significant role for me. First of all because it got me to start djing and second because - to date - I still love that music and I can hear how my production has been influenced by that sound.

Where do we find you if you are not DJing or socializing at clubs? And doing what?

It’s hard to find me ahah I would be in my studio, or in some hidden beaches in the southeast of Asia.

When you were first getting started in production did you have someone help you or are you completely self-taught? And what would you recommend new producers do to help with the learning curve of production?

I don’t believe in a self-taught approach because it is too slow and probably incomplete. Whenever I wanna learn how something works (even if it’s my new washing machine) my approach is methodical. Studying is key. I was studying music production, arrangement, sound design, mixing, and then taking different courses, private lessons and schools. In real person, not online. I had a couple of mentors too. I was also spending all my time practising music production. Studying hard and exercising is the only way and what I recommend to all newbies.

Being a melodic house and techno artist, you’re in a genre which is very driven by trends. How important is it as an artist to try and follow along with these music trends? And what are your thoughts on the current trance-inspired state of the genre?

I don’t like to define myself as a melodic techno artist. When I started to make music this genre didn’t even exist. I do my things, the way I like. People will categorize it the way they wish. For the trends, I hate trends. They kill all the genres and they kill Art. To be quite honest, I’m not very pleased with the direction this genre is taking. Ninety per cent of the tracks sound the same right now, I’m sure there will be some change soon. From my side I would simply keep doing what I like. Trends are temporary by nature, your own style is unique and immortal.

You have a new track ‘Life’ which has just been released on your BrokenHearted imprint, tell us a bit about the track and what your inspiration was for it.

“Life” was inspired by life itself. Ever since I came back from Thailand I felt disoriented, doubtful, and definitely changed. At the same time I had many things to do, so I had to take action without thinking too much. It was a new chapter, but I love these kinds of challenges. I believe this is what keeps us alive, motivated and forces us to grow and become a better version of ourselves. “Life” was born in this context. In a moment when most of my productions wouldn't make me completely satisfied, suddenly a track like “Life” was born, able to synthesize all of my current emotions in an engaging shape.

Let our readers inside your studio process, could you walk us through the production of ‘Life’?

“Life” was immediately a bomb, since the first draft. But when you have a bomb in your hands you need to be careful as you can easily make it explode. It took my months until the final version of the record was ready. There are many elements, starting with the bassline, which is a layer of three different sounds. Two channels were used to record two oscillators of my Subsequent 37 , which I wanted to separate for mixing, sound design and arrangement purposes. The third layer is a top bassline, higher in frequencies. Three different synth sounds, which I combined together (I like to do this a lot in my production) are the main guys in the story. As I said, I spent most of the time mixing the track, it was probably one of the longest mixing sessions I ever had, but I’m finally pleased with the final result and I can call it one of my best records to date.

Is this what you would call a typical blueprint for you to produce a track? Or is each one a different journey in terms of the process?

Everytime is different. Different approaches bring different results, and I like to surprise myself when I start a new project. I wanna have fun, first and foremost.

Now let’s talk about DJing for a moment, it’s a unique discipline at the border between presenting great music and creating something new with it, between composition and improvisation to an extent. How would you describe your approach to it?

Also behind the decks is all about having fun. I have been doing this for so long that I’m not even thinking anymore about all the technical aspects (reading the crowd especially) so I focus on having and giving the best experience possible to the crowd. I never prepare my set, it’s all about improvisation. I play what I feel and I feel what I play.

Can you tell me a bit about how your work as a DJ has influenced your view of music, your way of listening to tracks, and also, your work as a producer?

Having been a dj before becoming a music producer definitely influenced my production in a way that whatever I write I always have the dj in mind.This is a genre that is made for the dj and for the dancefloor, so it’s essential that this is taken into account during the production process.

How much prep do you put into the tracks you choose to play?

All my favorite tracks are collected under different folders. I keep these folders updated, so when I find a new record I like it will end in one of these folders. I know all these tracks inside out, and I have an idea about what moment would fit better for each of them. But the rest - again - it all comes in the moment when the crowd is in front of me and I can understand what they want.

If you could set up an event with a line-up of five artists of your choice, who would you book, and what set times would you ascribe to the artists?

Recondite, Nina Kraviz, Mind Against, Vinvar, Ogazon. In this order.

What’s a book you’ve read or film you watched that has left an impact on you, and why?

The Players HandBook by Rollo Tommasi. I've been into this kind of literature for over ten years but everytime I’m reading something new it always opens a new window. I believe this is a must read for every man.

Current Top five tracks in your sets?

They are all unreleased tracks from myself, including “Life”, of course.

What does the remainder of 2023 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

I will probably have at least a new release before the end of 2023. For the rest, I hope to be able to finally go back to Thailand this winter, and end the year by the beach.

'Life' is available now via BrokenHearted: https://bit.ly/47MKWwT

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