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Interview: Luke Brancaccio & Gai Barone

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Progressive house legends Luke Brancaccio & Gai Barone have been a force to be reckoned with and on an unstoppable run of late with new tracks & remixes on Lost & Found, Selador, Mobilee, Circus, Crosstown Rebels and of course, Bedrock which has seen them in the Top 10 artists recently on the Beatport Genre charts. 

Here they deliver an awesome deep, dreamy and melodically blissful vocal cut which works as well setting hypnotic moods on hazy dancefloors as it does relaxing at home or in exotic locations under the stars.  Teaming up with Kiki Cave, the song is written about a transcendental experience in Cyprus where she was transported back to a carefree time of extreme love, liberation and exploration inspired by a magnificent hidden cascading waterfall.  This marks an exciting new direction for the celebrated duo and marks the start of a new forthcoming album project and musical direction that’s underway.    

Hot off a Beatport Electronica #1, Framewerk deliver what is already being hailed as their best remix yet. The current kings of emotive breaks & electronica are hot property following recent releases on Bedrock, Renaissance, Selador and an album on Capital Heaven.  They have also been reinterpreting all time classics breathing fresh life into an array of seminal tunes like Pete Lazonby ‘Sacred Cycles’, Schiller ‘Ruhe’, Grace ‘Not Over Yet’ and ‘Solar Plexus’ as well as their Beatport chart-topping remix of ‘Here We Go’ by Jamie Steves & Anthony Pappa. The main mix is hypnotising and achingly beautiful with a nod to the classic Sasha & Digweed Northern Exposure sound but lands right on the cutting-edge trend in emotive breaks that Framewerk helped pioneer alongside luminaries like Bicep, Sasha, Logic1000, DJ Seinfeld & Franky Wah through expansive atmospherics and bold, hard-hitting breakbeats. Their synth dub cuts straight to the point for a late-night club roller with the same aesthetic but dialling things up to spine-tingling effect, and the package closes with a beautiful chilled electronica mix showcasing the song and homing in on the blissful harmonic structures from the original alongside an immersive soundscape.

Secret Sunset resident and winner of Sasha’s Last Night On Earth DJ contest; Gus F closes off the package and delivers a euphoric synth laden journey which is destined to soundtrack many hazy evenings all around the world.

Huge DJ love & support on the package already from Eelke Kleijn, HOSH, Jody Wisternoff, Marsh, Chaim, Paul Oakenfold, Danny Tenaglia, John Digweed, Nick Warren, BOg, Glowal, Maceo Plex, Musomesci, Riva Starr, Steve Parry, Psycatron, Carl Craig, Paco Osuna, Seb Fontaine, Richie Hawtin, Anthony Pappa, Ferdinand Weber, The Journey, Kosmos, Henry Saiz, Gai Barone, Joseph Capriati, Sasha Carassi, Franco De Mulero, Nico De Ceglia, GL0WKiD, Rare Candy, Stretch & Vern, Luke Brancaccio, Freemasons, Andy Wilson, Framewerk, Ken Fan, Severino / Horse Meat Disco, Elif, Aldrin, Beatamines, Michael Paterson, Praveen Achary, Mr.Diamond, Spieltape, Henry Hacking, Markus Saarländer, Marco Faraone.

Legendary UK artist Luke Brancaccio has been one of the key figureheads of the progressive house genre and an irreplaceable DJ and Producer of escalating renown in the history of underground dance music. His musical evolution has lead him from frontman of the British band “Suicide Sports Club” and the chart-topping production duo of Brancaccio & Aisher to headlining international events and featuring on the cover of DJ Magazine. A perennial of Bedrock, with whom he has had more releases than any other artist, his cutting-edge tracks have swept the charts, generating several number ones, widespread critical acclaim and collaborations with Nick Muir, John Digweed and Simon Berry (Platipus). 

Italian veteran Gai Barone‘s status is no less impressive and has rightfully earned his place leading figures in the progressive house and trance scene. , and it would be impossible to imagine the global scene without him.  His passion for all kinds of music has seen him score hits across progressive, techno, trance… supported by industry giants like Apparat, Above & Beyond, Nick Warren, Armin Van Buuren, Henry Saiz, Paul Van Dyk, Hernan Cattaneo… DJing since the 90’s, Barone’s sound has moved with the times, yet firmly stayed within the underground. First hitting the big time with ‘Lilith’ on Afterglow in 2008, he’s made appearances on some of the world’s biggest imprints, including Coldharbour, Hope Recordings, Perfecto, Armada… remixing the likes of Markus Schultz, Jim Rivers, Andy Moor, Cid Inc, Evren Ulusoy… Barone’s ascent continued, with hit original productions and remixes and a highly successful DJ Show; Patterns

Now at the vanguard of their craft, they’ve remixed a brace of classics; Air & Beth Hirsch’s “All I Need”, Killahurtz prog classic ‘West On 27th’, Dave Seaman’s BuzzFuzzle and the proto house classic Rockers Revenge’s “Walkin’ On Sunshine”.  They are putting the finishing touches to completing their first album project together alongside Kiki Cave currently.

‘Always’ is the first release up on the newly relaunched dance label Music To Die For Recordings; home of Maurice & Noble’s ‘Hoochie Koochi’ (one of Pete Tongs biggest records of the noughties), along with early seminal releases by Audiofly, Idiotek, Cloaked, Luke Brancaccio & Luke Dzierzek through the early 2000’s. The label was heavily supported by many of world leading DJs at the time including Pete Tong, Sasha, John Digweed, Paul Oakenfold, Luciano, Steve Lawler, Marcus Schulz, Tiesto, Annie Mac, Zane Lowe, Pete Tong, Seb Fontaine, Jason Bentley, Above & Beyond, Deep Dish and many more

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

LB: Something Gai and myself have just finished for a huge label, an E.P. coming out in May. Super Excited about this project; it’s a label we have had in our sights for a while. Watch this space.

What are your plans for the coming week?

LB: I’m going to be relaxing, getting fatter and drinking a shed load of Coquito (Puerto Rican Eggnog). Gai and myself have been working non stop this whole year, so i‘m looking forward to a well earned break. Then i’ll be DJ’ing again for NYE.

What music from your youth had the biggest effect on where you are today? Are there certain tracks or albums which profoundly influenced you?

LB: My mother used to work for Chris Blackwell at Island Records so I have had music surround my life since day dot. I used to be a massive hip hop head but ended up living in a house full of dance music addicted trainspotters when I was about 19 (not saying the year). Being surrounded by dance music 24/7 started rubbing off on me and the tunes that first grabbed my attention were Leftfield ‘Not Forgotten’, Windows by ‘Sil’ and ‘Passion’ Gat Decor. Albums that defined eras of my life were (in no order) Daft Punk ‘Homewerk’, Air ‘Moon Safari’, Massive Attack ‘Blue Lines’ & Portishead ‘Dummy’. This list could go on forever, I inhale music constantly.

How did you meet and eventually start collaborating?

LB: I was working with Simon Berry (Platipus) one day, we were on a break and listening to Patrice Baumel’s Essential Mix for Tongy and a tune came on that blew me away, as it was playing Simon told me it was Gai and he said this without actually knowing, but Gai has such a distinctive sound that you can just feel it’s him. So the next day I emailed him out of the blue asking if we could do something together and we haven’t stopped ever since.

A successful partnership is generally based around balance and compromise; how do you manage these things within your production dynamic?

GB: Honestly, I think it’s always a challenge, but in a very positive way. I mean a good coop creates something unique and in our case it’s a perfect balance between two minds that see music in a different way, but at the same time manage to keep balance; Luke is an incredible dj and I’m a musician, and this collaboration gets the best out of us.

Do you have different roles in the production process? And if so elaborate please.

GB:It always starts from an idea, Luke usually suggests a direction and I send him some sketches to work on; sometimes it takes a while, but in the end we both know that we achieve a solid direction and it will work!  Once we have a proper idea to structure we go on together, step by step, tweaking sounds and building something that excites  both of us!

Your latest single ‘Always’ has just been released via Music To Die For, tell us a bit about the release, how it showcases your sound?

LB: It’s actually a big departure from what we normally do and marks a fresh direction for us. Gai and I wrote the basics of the music but then Kiki Cave heard it and loved it so she and I ended up writing the lyrics for it. I had the word ‘Always’ going through my head with the melodies and Kiki took inspiration from that and a transcendental experience she had in a carefree time in her life inspired by a magnificent hidden cascading waterfall. there were a  few tweaks from myself here and there but she really captured something special that fit perfectly with the music and what we envisioned for the song.

Whats the thought process behind the remixer selection for Always as they look to have been well received?

LB: To Be honest the remix selection came from Johnny Hudson who runs Music To Die For consistently has his ear to the ground, as well as running Remixology who helped manage the commissioning process (www.remixology.net). Gai and I have been into Framewerk for a little while and I love how they reimagined the way the vocal works with the melodic pads & breaks; it’s very emotive and moving and presents the song to appeal in a different way to the original which we feel the best remixes often do.  Also Gus F is a newer producer but making waves in the scene and created a very uplifting, euphoric version with a positive energy that complimented the package perfectly.

Please walk us through the production process on track.

GB:I think Luke sent me a demo with an amazing bassline played with his MOOG SUB 37 and suddenly fell in love with it; it’s not a usual pattern you’d hear c in many other tracks atm so stood out.  I worked on the drums and some pads, and Kiki brought something magical with the vocal delivery and production then; I think her voice could create a track without any other instruments and it could just work, again, magically!!

 I think for a lot of artists music allows you to write a sketch of your own personal universe in a way; your travels, life experiences etc. Is this something which is true of yourselves? Where does inspiration come from and was there anything specific which inspired ‘Always’.

LB: Inspiration can come from anywhere for me but the best time is when I’m literally doing nothing at all, ideas seem to pop into my head out of nowhere and are usually my best ideas. Just as I’m nodding off or even dreaming. i have to get up and do a voice recording or write it down if its lyrics. I actually had a dream of a full vocal once, woke up, wrote it down and in the morning realised I had stolen it word for word from another tune, I was slightly annoyed.  This song explores a carefree time of of extreme love, liberation and adventure; something we could all certainly relate to.

 Why did Music To Die For feel like the right home for this track?

LB: I have so much confidence in Music to Die For as it’s run by Johnny Hudson, who gets his hands dirty and is there in the trenches right with you from beginning to end. He has a vast knowledge of the music business (he was a former Head of Marketing for Universal Music  for a start). He is so passionate and forthright; it is so refreshing.

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

LB: I have a simple set up in my office, a Moog Subsequent 37, a 303 and tons of software and what not. I tend to come up with ideas here (although I can finish things here comfortably) and then take them to a studio. I actually have lots of synths at friends or in storage but I’m very happy with my small but adequate set up.

 What is a piece of gear that gets used in every track?

LB: Moog Sub 37. It’s an absolute beast

GB: Analog 4 and Ableton

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

GB: Big fan of an amazing synth Schmidt eightvoice and any kind of Prophet , from Rev 2 up

Do you find it more difficult to come up with original tracks than remixing a track from another artist?

LB: I’m not a massive fan of remixes that dont really add anything to the original so when remixing we look for tracks that really mean something to us personally which gives us an opportunity to approach it differently stylistically to what’s come before but accentuate the parts that really resonate. I wouldn’t say though its always quicker to do a remix as sometimes the pressure to bring this fresh edge can be harder to nail than a new piece from scratch.  Other times it all slots into place with our sounds so in reality its not too different from new tracks. Every now and again you get something too special to turn down. Gai and I remixed ‘Walking On Sunshine’ by Rockers Revenge this year which was too good an opportunity to pass up on and we’ve been working on a new version of a classic track by Air which is exciting a lot of people.

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

LB: I don’t road test that much as I like the tune to be properly finished and mastered before I play it out. I am confident that if it’s passes mine and Gai’s ‘good enough’ test then it’s ‘good enough’. I have a few friends I play stuff too but I normally always send Anthony Pappa everything, usually when i’m drunk at 4 in the morning on a weekend and he’s just getting up.

What has the last year and a half been like for you? Have you focused more time on making music? And has the pandemic affected your creative spirit in any way?

LB: The last year and a half have been AMAZINGLY productive. I’ve signed to Lost & Found, Crosstown Rebels, Mobilee, Bedrock, Circus and a few others of course including Music To Die For Recordings. On top of that Kiki Cave, Gai Barone and myself have finished an album which I am the proudest I have been about any body of work I’ve done. In fact, Im stupidly overexcited about it.

What is the situation with the pandemic in your respective countries at the moment? Are there parties or events happening yet?

LB: I’m in London, personally i think we have got off lightly here

GB: Yes but its been a slow and painful process to see our scene trying to rebuild from such a difficult crises.

The problem of mental health is complex and nuanced, and it is an issue to which those working in electronic music are especially susceptible. It can be deeply rewarding but it is also competitive, fast-paced, unpredictable and hedonistic. Talk a bit about the pressures of what you do that fans may not be totally aware of.

LB: I have really curbed my (once) Rock & Roll lifestyle as I am not as young as I once was and consistently touring week in week out around the world takes its toll. It’s all about balance for me. not to say once in a while i don’t let my hair down;)

In your opinion, what’s the biggest risk you’ve taken and what made you do it?

LB: Everyday is a risk in this game, no guarantees, everyday is as good as your last. I’m surprised i’ve lasted this long to be totally honest

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

GB: I think it’s only in Italian and the name of the book is : “L’ascolto che guarisce”, basically the importance of “listening” and its cure; I’m a music therapist and that’s one of most intense book I ‘ve ever read about this topic, highly recommended !

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

LB: Doing absolutely nothing x

GB: Running 🙂

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

LB: I have a release on Mobilee with Nolan called ‘See The Stars’ (Dec 17th this year). As for 2022 we have a huge year, as i mentioned  our new album is coming out, i have just signed with a new agency; D&B bookings so i will hopefully touring as much as possible, have lots of fantastic of releases lined and some VERY special projects indeed with Johnny Hudson & Gai.

GB: There are so many good things happening right now, a huge project with Luke and Johnny for Music To Die For, a new remix of mine for the living legend Kasey Taylor, out in few hours, some new collaborations and finally some new gigs around, something I’m missing so much!

thanks a lot guys

Luke & Gai

KEY RELEASE LINKS:
Luke Brancaccio & Gai Barone – Always ft. Kiki Cave
Always – Original mixes: https://snd.click/always-promo
Always – Framewerk Remixes: https://snd.click/always-framewerk
Always – Gus F Remix: https://snd.click/always-gusf

Gai Barone:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gaibarone/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gaibarone
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GaiBarone

Luke Brancaccio:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brancaccioluke/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lukebrancaccio
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lukebrancaccio

Music To Die For:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mtdfrecords
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/musictodiefor
Bampcamp: https://musictodiefor.bandcamp.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/musictodieforrecordings
Beatport: https://www.beatport.com/label/music-to-die-for/100055

Remixology:
https://remixology.net

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