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Eleven Of July [Interview]

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Operating at the heart of the melodic house & techno scene since its early beginnings, Augusto Proto aka Eleven Of July has now established himself as one of the movement’s core artists. World class DJs such as Adriatique, Dubfire, Mind Against, Undercatt and more have chimed in with support for his stylized take on the genre, while a bevy of long-standing imprints including Click, Dear Deer, Movement Recordings, Three Hands and Us and Them have been landing spots along the way. Now looking to bring his elusive vision further, Eleven Of July launches his own imprint ‘BrokenHearted’ with a four-track various artists showcase entitled ‘Antologia’. We had a chance to chat with Augusto leading up to the release and we hope you enjoy it.

Hi Augusto, thanks for joining us. What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to?

Hi! Thanks for having me. I’m a mix of excitement and sadness. Excited because I’ll be back in my country after a very long time, and sad because it’s hard to leave this beautiful country, especially after such a long time.

Hows your year been so far? And what are your plans for the coming week?

This year was probably the best so far. I started the year by the beach – for the third time in a row – and for my carrier as a Dj and music producer was probably the the year that gave me the biggest gratifications. I didn’t book my flight yet (I love to book my flights at the very last moment) but I should be back in my country in three days.

 Do you consider yourself a DJ or producer first? And which do you enjoy more and why?

I feel myself both. I started out as a dj but then production definitely toke over. At the moment I really enjoy my time in the studio as much as I enjoy being in a club surrounded by people that are having fun while I try to pick the best tracks for them.

Do you think growing up in Italy had any effect on your career path into music? And if so how?

Yes, I definitely think so. My approach to the electronic, underground music happened when I was just a kid, and in Italy was very popular a style of music called “progressive”. My cousin was already a dj and one day he gave me one of his mixes, recorded on a music cassette (there were no CD back then). That changed everything as in that moment I felt in love with that style of music and it still influences me. I still like to listen to some of those old records.

What are some of your best memories from first going to clubs? Were there specific nights or sets that really made you feel you wanted to pursue electronic music?

I started to go clubbing when I was 14. I never stopped. There’s been countless parties and memories but I decided to do what I do as a full time occupation when I came back from my last season in Ibiza. I was working there for the whole season. I couldn’t stop to listen to the music anymore. Literally.

Youre now based in Thailand I believe, what prompted the move there, how has it changed your approach to producing? And how is the nightlife?

Yeah, not for long unfortunately haha. I love it here and during the last two years and an half my production has changed dramatically. I don’t know if this was a normal process or if living here generated it or at least accelerated it. For sure playing here, where techno music culture is not big at all, it made me realised that if I wanted to reach more people on the dance floor I needed to change something in my music. And so I did. And I’m very pleased with the result as I feel that my music has now the potential to move small and big dance floors and even crowds that are not too familiar with the style of music I produce. Nightlife here is a lot of fun, I just wish that in the future there will be more space and consideration for the underground music. 

What do you miss the most about Italy?

My family, my friends, and my studio.

What have been some of your favourite venues to perform or attend events at in both Italy and Thailand, and why?

Probably my favourite in Italy was at “Ex Dogana”, as it used to be the biggest venue in Rome and many international artists performed there as well. For Thailand, I believe the last gig I had, at “Emperor Secret” Bangkok, because the place is really cool and because it was the last one. For now.

Youve gained some nice notoriety within the world of melodic house & techno house since first emerging around four years ago, is there a release or track you could point to which had the most impact on your career thus far?

Well, I would say I’ve been very lucky because since my very first releases I immediately received the support either from Beatport either from some important names in the scene. Maybe “Hermeneutics of Salvation” [Awen Records] was the one that more than others reached a big public. If I’m not wrong the title track from that EP is still one my most played on Spotify.

I find your music connects very well with futuristic themes, what are some of your biggest inspirations when working on new music?

Inspiration is always inside me. Since I was a kid and I was first approaching music and creative writing as a form to express my art. I always found that what happened in my mind is more interesting than what happened outside. Of course, there are also over twenty years of techno music background that I’m sure play an important role in my creating process and in many of my choices.

You have a track Cloud Gapwhich is out this week as part of the first release on your BrokenHearted label. Tell us about the release and how Cloud Gapshowcases your sound.

Yes, I’m very excited about it. I found out, having a release on your own label is like having your first release. At least for me. It has been so difficult for me to choose among my finished records. Actually, to choose all the four tracks ahah. I invited all the artists personally, choosing among the artists that I like the most in this period and I’m very glad they accepted. They all did an excellent job. I love every single track and I played all of them at least twice, either on a venue either on my livestreams.

“Cloud Gap” belongs to the latest strings of productions, encapsulating my latest vision of dance music. As I mentioned earlier I like records that are specifically made for the dance floor, at its peak time, and I want to hear new sounds, new ideas. “Cloud Gap” embraces this idea.

What does your set-up like? Do you favor physical gear over digital? And what studio tools featured heavily in the writing of Cloud Gap?

I love analog gears but I’m not a fanatic. Nowadays, analog synths don’t sound better than digital, they are just more fun to play with. In my studio in Rome I have several analog gears but since I live in Thailand I went totally digital (it was too complicated to bring my synths here, and I was supposed to be here only for a few months!). Nevertheless, the studio inside my laptop is quite big and it worked at its full potential during the production of “Cloud Gap”.

What led you to start BrokenHearted? Is your first foray into running a record label?

BrokenHearted is my first label, yes. I’ve been thinking a lot, years, before really deciding to take the very first steps leading to the creation of the label (it’s been a long journey). Nowadays is easy to start a label, but it’s not easy to start a label in a professional way, with the potential of being successful. I wanted to wait until I was sure about my talent and I had enough knowledge about the music industry in this particular field. The main reason behind the creation of the label is that I really wanted to have a playground for my own music, being totally free of producing whatever I want, away from the schemes or the latest “trends”. At the same time, I wanted to be sure that my music is in the hands of people who know what to do with it (in the past – unfortunately – I literally wasted some of my music, dealing with incompetent people). Beside my own music, I would really like to offer to talented producers who are unable to release on “stronger” labels- for different reasons, that sometime have nothing to do with the music itself – the chance to count on a strong support, even if what they produce is not “trendy”.

Tell us about the BrokenHearted livestreams youve been doing to promote the label leading up to this first release, youve done six so far I think?

Exactly, six and I recorded a seventh one just before leaving Phuket, a week ago. So in total they will be seven, which it makes sense: July is the seventh month of the year ahah. Yes, I found myself in this beautiful island – Phuket – stuck (so to speak) there for eighteen months, and I was thinking “I’m not taking the best out of it”, I mean, musically speaking. With all the amazing places at my disposal, and with no many people around because of Covid, I came up with the idea of the livestreams. At the same time, I branded them with the label name, as an occasion to showcase the sound of BrokenHearted. Last but not least: living in Thailand for such a long time means I haven’t played in European clubs for a while, so the livestreams were also a way to reach all the people who follows me from Europe. They still represent the majority of my fan base.

In terms of DJs and artists who would say are the biggest sources of inspiration for BrokenHearted?

I really don’t have any inspiring artist/individual. It is all about my music background, my experiences, and the personal taste that it is a result of it.

What advice do you have for artists hoping to get signed to BrokenHearted?

Be original. Don’t follow the trend. Don’t try to sound like someone else. Produce records for the dance floor, not for Spotify.

Is big DJ play a factor in signing something? From someone like Tale Of Us for example.

Not at all. What counts is one thing only: my personal taste.

What is your thought process behind remixer selection on a given project and how many is too many in your opinion?

As for the selection of the original artists, it follows the same pattern. I would call artists aligned with my style and my vision. One remix is already enough.

Generally speaking, do you find it more difficult to come up with original tracks than remixing a track from another artist?

Even if I like to heavily manipulate any record that I remix, remixes are still way much easier. The idea is already there, you only need to manipulate it. When you write a new song, you need to create a new story from scratch.

Whats the task you enjoy the most when producing and what is something youd rather have taken care of by somebody else?

I love every single step and every single process. I would never let anyone else touching my own work. Good or bad, it’s my product.

Whats a piece of gear or software that always gets used when youre writing a track?

I love playing around with my Korg Minilogue and with the digital synth Diva.

How much road testing or friend feedback is done before youre ready to say a track is finished? And who is someone you share your new music with first for feedback?

To be honest I don’t do much of that. I used to do that years ago. At the moment I trust myself very much so at the end of the day I’m the only one deciding whether a track is ready. Sometime this period is shorter sometime is longer. It takes countless listenings for sure. That’s why all my tracks are usually “resting” at least one month before I get back to them, listening like they are something new. Only the, I’m able to decide whether they are ready.  

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?

I would definitely book the artists from my label, so for now all the guys from the first release (Q.U.A.K.E., Riggel, Santiago Luna, Celestial Inside). The intention with my label it is to set up events in the future, and to showcase the sound of BrokenHearted it makes sense to have the same artists who released music there. For the set times, it’s something I would need to consider. I know many artists only as a producers but not as a Djs.

What would be a musical extravagance for your studio you would pay for, if you were very wealthy?

Nothing too crazy, really. But one day I would like to have a villa on the beach, with my studio facing the ocean.

Whats a book youve read or film you watched that has left an impact on you, and why?

All the literature from H.P. Lovecraft definitely had an impact on me, since I started to get really passionate about writing similar stories and maybe opens the doors of my imagination even more. Movies, probably “Vanilla Sky”, it always makes me think about how small choices can change our life forever.

Whats a superpower you wish you had and how would you use it?

Limitless energies, to do exactly what I do now, but without taking breaks.  

If you could travel anywhere for one day, all laws and limitations void, where would it be?

Where I am now.

In your opinion, whats the biggest risk youve taken and what made you do it?

Probably leaving my pattern in the law field (I have a master degree in law ad a further expertise in civil law). But I dropped everything to dedicate myself hundred per cent to the music.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

Beach, sport, and women.

What does the remainder of 2022 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

Well, I’m coming back to Europe very soon and I have no idea about what is going to happen ahah. In theory I should finally play all the gigs I couldn’t play in the last two years , either because of covid either because I was too far from Europe.

Surely, I can promise several upcoming new releases. 

‘Antologia I’ is available now via BrokenHearted: https://bit.ly/3xko488

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