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Tonino [Interview]

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As a producer, Tonino from Stuttgart, Germany has been releasing melodic techno and progressive house tracks on labels such as Mir Music, Schallmauer Records, Sunexplosion Records and Laps Recordings since 2020. His releases have been played by numerous DJs in the international electronic music scene and have regularly achieved considerable success in the Beatport charts.

His passion for electronic music and the scene is reflected in his sound. He plays in clubs and festivals like the Kessel Festival (Stuttgart), the Romantica (Stuttgart), the Off (Mainz), the Pracht (Frankfurt am Main) or the Gleis 44 (Ulm) and delivers an highly energetic mix of progressive and melodic sound. He has already played events with famous names like Extrawelt (Cocoon, Watergate). With a lot of heart and emotion he brings his years of experience, as well as his own productions into his sets.

With two new releases courtesy of LAPS Recordings and MIR Music out now we had a chance to chat with Tonino about his new projects, studio process, DJing, future plans, and more. Enjoy.

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

Hi, thanks for having me! Happy to share my thoughts with you today.

My mood is very good. I have a lot on my mind at the moment, but I feel great.

The last piece was 'Who I Am' by Manu Cerasa. A beautiful energetic piece that I can't get enough of right now.

How has your summer been so far and what gigs have stood out for you these last few months?

It has been a very great and busy summer so far. I had played a lot of nice club shows and open airs. I especially took to heart my last open air gig in Mainz (Germany) for my friends from Noises Of. I played together with Extrawelt and many other amazing DJs in the middle of an incredible crowd.  My set took place during the sunset. The energy was just overwhelming.

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

I am currently still working full time as a civil engineer. My days are usually very long, as I travel a lot all over Germany to work on my projects. My days are very structured, so that I still find time for everything. Every evening I set aside time for my studio. At late hours I am most creative and have the necessary output. Here I work on my tracks and at the same time emotionally reflect my day.

Tell us about growing up and living in Germany, how did that contribute to your path into electronic music?

I grew up in a town called Ludwigsburg near Stuttgart.  I had a wonderful childhood and grew up in a big circle of friends.  My mother came to Germany during the Yugoslavian war and my parents didn't always have it easy. For me it was always normal to help out and from them I got my work attitude. I started to be enthusiastic about music very early and also took piano lessons as a child. During my youth, partying was always a big topic for me. One day a good friend took me to a rave. I had absolutely no idea what to expect. When I felt the electronic music live there for the first time, I was absolutely hooked.  A new world opened up for me that I never wanted to miss out on again. The more I got involved with the music, the more I realized that this is what I want to do.  It's still the same passion that drives me today.

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?

My best friend and I started producing at relatively the same time. We taught ourselves everything from scratch. We spent a lot of time reading books and watching videos about music. In the beginning, the learning curve was relatively slow. Only later did we get to know producers with more experience.  The most important thing in the process is feedback from the outside. Often you are so caught up in what you are doing that you can't take a neutral look at your work. Honest feedback from people with more experience can be incredibly helpful. If you don't have the necessary network, there are now great feedback pools where people join together in groups. Every beginning is difficult. You have to make mistakes, analyze and improve. That's how you grow. Every track will be a little bit better than the previous one.

Your ‘Collapse’ EP has recently been released via LAPS Recordings, tell us about the EP and how it showcases your current sound.

I am very happy that Collapse is now released. For me the track is very emotional. I composed the track in a difficult phase, that's where the name comes from. The whole emotion I have packed into the track. I think the number reflects very well my current sound. I love melodies that transmit a certain drive and energy to the listener. For me, emotions are triggered by melodies. My sound is melodic, but still in that field harder, progressive and driving. My music is about emotion and energy. The two things together make a song.

LAPS is a label where the majority of your work has been released recently. What is it about the label which makes it so comfortable for you to release there?

The guys who run the label are all residents at the legendary club Gleis 44 in Ulm, Germany. I played there for the first time last year and got to know everyone. The guys believed in my music from the beginning and we became very good friends over time. Now I play there regularly and release a lot on the label. I feel very comfortable because we have become like a family.

Also, coming out shortly is your ‘Semicolon’ single for MIR Music, this sounds a touch more progressive than some of your recent work, how do you see the tracks

True, I'm very excited to release on MIR Music as there are some of my favorite artists. The label fits my sound very well. The EP really has a very progressive sound, which I love. I'm somewhere between Melodic Techno and Progressive House. The promoters call it Progressive Techno, which is fine for me.

Let our readers inside your studio, what is your current setup, and what tools are featured heavily in some of your most recent releases?

I produce exclusively digitally, which gives me the flexibility I need. I like to be able to work from anywhere and anytime with just my laptop. I have a studio but sometimes use the time on the road.  Synthesizers are definitely at the center of my producing. I like to work with Diva and Serum the most.  Sound design is relatively intuitive and there are no limits to creativity. Otherwise, my studio must always be very clean, minimalistic and tidy. Since it is sometimes very chaotic in my head, I can not use it if my environment is also.

Let’s look a bit more at production, 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?

I am lucky that I can test my pieces live. When one is ready, I play it live and pay attention to the audience's emotions and reactions. I always have a little notebook with me and make a few quick doodles. Then I let that flow into my tracks again. After 2 or 3 rounds, the track is ready to go.

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

Most of all, I love all the creative sides of producing. I like to slowly infest the blank page with ideas and sketches. I like melodies the most. I like the purely technical sides a little less.

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?

For me, track selection is the most important thing about DJing. Having the right track ready at all times and being able to respond to the audience. Every evening tells a story and every set captures it. I love to find tracks that are not really known yet, but are very high quality and spend a lot of time on that. I have developed a very precise sorting system in my library. I sort tracks in different lists by energy level, regardless of genre or BPM. This way I can always decide live where the journey should go. A good DJ also experiments a bit and dares to do something that the audience doesn't expect.

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

I'm usually at the event or in the club longer before my playtime. I like to get an impression of what the audience is like that night and what the atmosphere is like. Especially if I don't know the event or the club yet. I think about the first 2-3 tracks before my set, as my foundation. Then I pick track after track from my lists and lead the audience through the evening.

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?

DJing gives you a different understanding of electronic music. In contrast to producing, you have direct feedback from the listeners. Over time, you develop a feeling for which tracks work at open airs, which work in the club or which don't work live.  That flows into the productions. I think producing quickly leads to a purely technical approach to listening to tracks. You analyze the tracks and start to break the track down into individual tracks in your head. Through DJing you get more into a feeling of tracks and pay more attention to things like emotions and energy as opposed to a purely technical approach.

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?

A very difficult question, because there are so many good artists that I respect.

If it was my own event, I would choose artists that I am very close with.

Slot 1: RA:FA - My best friend since a very long time. He went through everything with me and supported me in every possible way.

Slot 2: Adi Dassler - The man who had the trust in my music from the beginning. He booked me into his Appetizer event series, in which I have been playing very regularly ever since. He has shared his entire network with me through this, for which I am very grateful.

Slot 3: As it is my own event probably myself haha

I'm always very hungry to play live, so I wouldn't miss it.

To make it even more fun I would invite someone for a back to back.

Slot 4: Hans Pech: Also one of the most loyal mates. He booked me into the Gleis 44 night club and put me on the Laps Recordings label. Since we played an all-nighter back to back together, we have a deep friendship.

Slot 5: Chris Hirose - Pure producing genius, my mentor and absolute killer techno DJ.

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

I love to watch films. I'm especially crazy about the Christopher Nolan films. Together with the music of Hans Zimmer, I draw a lot of inspiration from them.

If you were not a DJ/Producer what do you think you’d be doing with your life?

In any case, something else creative as well. I need to express myself creatively. I used to do a lot of art. Unfortunately, due to the lack of time, that got lost at some point.  Maybe I would return to it more intensively.

Current Top 5 tracks in your sets?

Aquiver - Quiddity

Some Of - Beginning (Purple Mars Remix)

Add-Us - Gravity

Paul Anthonee - Epilipsia

Temperat - Confines

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

My family!

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

There is indeed still a lot planned for 2023. There are 2 remixes and 4 originals to be released. Furthermore, I'm already looking forward to the club season, where a lot is already in the planning.  Among other things, my first international show.

Let me surprise you and thanks to everyone for the great support!

Follow along with all of Tonino's upcoming projects here: https://tonino.info

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