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Gai Barone [Interview]

28 min read

With an esteemed career stretching the better part of two decades Gai Barone has become one of electronic music’s most sought after artists. The renowned musician and Italian native has long been one of the industry's most fascinating producers. An unrivalled quest for the creation of something uniquely memorable and deeply moving has fuelled his sonic journey. As a true craftsman, it is this drive for excellence that makes each one of Gai’s studio creations met with much anticipation. Afterglow, Bedrock, Lost & Found, Renaissance and his own Patternized Recordings imprint have been landing spots for some of his most notable work, while progressive music trendsetters such as Guy J, Hernan Cattaneo, Nick Warren and more have been steadfast supporters along the way. This week sees Gai making his Clubsonica Records debut alongside occasional studio partner D-Nox for a remix of Sex Mind's 'Niflheim'.

Progressive Astronaut caught up with Gai to learn more about the remix of ‘Niflheim’, his studio process, future plans, and more. Enjoy.

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

Hey there, I’m great thanks, I’m in a very creative mood at the moment, and the last piece of music I listened to was the new track “Magic” made together with Chris (D-Nox), which is out now on Einmusika.

How has your start to the year been and what are your plans for the coming week?

It was amazing, focusing on a lot of new projects and trying to keep my old ones going bigger and bigger; right now I’m just starting to select some tracks for the very first compilation on my little baby label Patternized.

How did growing up in Italy influence your music taste and direction? Or did it at all?

It’s weird, but living in a very small village in the south of Italy was a very lucky factor for me and my life as a musician and later as producer and dj; there was nothing else to do but playing piano or playing football, I chose the first option and it was one of the most amazing thing I’ve done in my life.

If you were a tour-guide for nightlife in Italy, what would be the clubs you’d take the people to see and what local DJs do they need to hear?

Actually clubs in Italy are not doing great in general, but we still have some amazing exceptions, and my favorite was and still is Tenax in Florence.

If you are not DJing or socializing at clubs, where do we find you? And doing what?

I’m a big fan of sport in general, but running, cycling and swimming are my favorite things to do after music, so you may probably find me running alone with some proper music on my phone in some dusty solitary roads.

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 had to learn everything by myself, since when I started almost 20 years ago, production was not so cool and popular as it is now, and it was quite expensive too; I mean a thin laptop was not able to do everything;

The only recommendation I may suggest to new producers is trying to find their own way of making music as soon as possible, seeing a lot of vids on youtube, attend some courses, being curious on new techniques, learning an instrument and above all, having fun!

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

I’m a music therapist too, so I’m trying to split my days in 2 or 3 parts actually; morning is for music therapy, afternoon for production and night and sometimes late night managing Patterns, and my label Patternized.

You’ve compiled a very impressive discography across your fifteen plus year career, looking back on it what would you say was a pivotal point in your career? Is there a release that stands out which really helped establish you? Or perhaps a stretch of releases which pushed you to the level you are at now.

There are a lot of releases of mine which were very important in my career, but if I have to mention one or two I’d say my remix of Lank: Run on Fumes (microCastle), and the remix of Soulmuse by Movement Machina (Mango Alley) ( I made 2, but the Dub is still one my favorite) …. There’ s still another one I’d love to add called DIADE, a an ambient track released few days ago, so addicted to it.

For the majority of your career, you primarily just focused on solo productions but in the last five or so years you’ve really embraced collaborating with other artists. What sort of impact has this been your career and creative spirit?

Collaboration with other people is an incredible way to see yourself and your music with different eyes, I strongly recommend to do it with people you really trust and respect; sometimes it can be a sort of cage for me, because a collaboration can cast some limits on my way of creating music, but it’s so useful to understand yourself as an artist and it always improves you in the end.

You have a new remix produced in conjunction with D-Nox for Sex Mind and Clubsonica, tell us about the remix and how did you guys decide on a direction for it?

D-Nox set the direction for this track, he wanted a techno-ish feeling track, with a strong bass line and a rolling hi-hat pattern, which is always impressive in his productions; I followed his tip and focused on some arps and on the breakdown, decreasing the tempo and increasing the power and tension; love this remix and really hope it will have the proper spot that really deserves!

What was it about the track that made you feel you could get such a good remix of it? And what do you generally look for when deciding on remix projects?

Actually I still don’t know, after some years, but definitely is the feeling that makes me stands up from my chair or what it gives me when I listen to it after some months or years; I mean a good track or remix is something that makes me thing how I made this? Or how did I come up with those sounds?

What does your current set-up look like? Do you favor physical gear over digital? And what studio tools featured heavily in the writing of the ‘Sex Mind’ remix?

I ‘m quite lucky actually, cause I still have some hardware, Elektron gears, Analog 4, Analog Rytm, an Octatrack, an old and beloved Virus TI, a couple of Waldorf Synths and some dusty racks from EMU, Yamaha and Roland, also an impressive Digitone, bought a couple of years ago.
We went fully digital on Sex Mind Remix, maybe the Re - Pro by U-HE is the synth we used most on this project.

Let’s talk about production for a moment, where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?

I usually let it flow, start playing something and if I’m lucky enough, after few minutes I come up with a good idea; it happened with a track called Level Ground, everything started on my piano and I loved that version so much that I decided to release it as it was; together with the original version, you will find the Terrace version, which was the one played live, there’s any note quantized in there, no limiter, just a piano track;
Also personal relationships are essential for me, at the end of the day I’m a family guy and still thank my family for everything I get from it, every single day.

And, to add to that, when you work on original music do you generally have an inspiration for a given track?

Inspiration comes when I start doing something on my piano or my guitar, music is all there, all I have to do is giving it a proper shape.

Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?

As I wrote before I do love doing sports and of course food is strictly connected to it; I ‘m trying to eat proper food, staying healthy, and also I’m addicted to coffee.

Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you're satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practice? And who is someone you share your new music with first for feedback?

I usually spend some days or weeks on the same track, trying to add as many details as possible, and then I quit, I stop listening to it for a while and when I come back to it after few days, if it still surprises me and makes me want to listen to it again I feel that track is ready.

What is the task you enjoy the most when producing and what would you prefer someone else to do?

The very first part of course, when you start creating, writing, playing enjoying, when you don’t have to pay attention to “numbers” like cutting or boosting frequencies … I usually take care of the full process of production, creating, mixing and mastering and I’m ok with that, even when I have my tracks mastered by a mastering engineer I have an exact feeling of how I want that track to be.

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

I’d love to have some real musicians in my studio, next to me, to get another point of view :)

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?

It’s not very different from making music, as a musician you always try to create a relationship between you and your instrument, in order to get something that makes you feel good; as I dj my purpose is trying to create a space where people may feel comfortable and feel you’re doing it staying true and faithful to your style and your identity. When I dj I never prepare a set before, cause you never know how people may react to your selections, and in the end there’ s nothing better than improvising in music, even when djing.

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 perhaps also, your work as a producer?

It influences me in terms of shaping a track, how long it should be, how people may react to a drop, how many breaks I may add , it ’s another point of view, that’s why a collaboration with some proper djs may be very useful.

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?

That’s a very hard question to answer as I see myself one of those 5 and let proper event managers do it for me ;)

Current top five tracks?

Gab Rhome - Alter He-Go (Moscoman & OMRI. Remix)
Come Closer - Jump Into The Fire (Tokyo Fan Club Reinvention)
Sasha Carassi - Ametista
Clyve - Mirage in a Cloud
Gai Barone - Level Ground

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

“My Octopus Teacher”, on Netflix: I won’t tell you why but please do yourself a favor and watch it…. it’s such a beauty.

What is one superpower you would like to have and how would you use it?

I’d love to have the superpower of persuasion, there are a lot of idiots out there, which are destroying our world and I’d love to convince them to change their minds, and stop making their decisions only for themselves.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

See people smiling

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

An incredible amount of new tracks, alone and in collaboration with amazing producers and djs out there, to be released on Sudbeat, Soundgarden Renaissance, Bedrock, Balance and many more…

Thanks a lot for the stunning interview :)

D-Nox & Gai Barone's remix of Sex Mind is available now via Clubsonica: https://bit.ly/3wVqxEB

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