Nicholas: "I'm more productive when I have just a few hours a day to spend on music rather than the times I can sit a whole day at the studio"
Nicholas Iammateo is mostly called by his first name. He’s young, Italian and comes from Perugia. He also likes to dive in the past decades of soul, funk and house and transform them into a melodic dance sound of today. A handful of Italian have already visited Vilnius this year and Nicholas will be joining the club on March 8th. Not with a live set but with a crate of records instead of flowers. Before the trip he had some stories to share with me.
I first learned about you when I heard “Without You”. Loved it. And then I heard “Don’t Send Me Away”. Loved it too. I think the two versions are quite different, but I’ve also read some comments that you haven’t created that much. What are your feelings towards the negative anonymous internet critics?
Everyone is entitled to express his or her opinion, I have no problem with criticism, and I don't expect everyone to understand what I make.
Regarding that song in particular I have to admit it's one of my favorites, and It's probably one of the most creative things I've done. It's not an edit by any means, it's a brand new track, and it's based on sampling. I didn't use the main hook of the original, I just sampled a part of the verse and made a brand new tune out of it, it was like finding a hidden track lying inside the original tune.
How did you come up with the idea of making a new track out of “Don’t Send Me Away”? Was it actually your breakthrough track?
Initially I wanted to do a simple re-edit of the track, but when I got that main loop rolling I new I had something special and opted to make an entire track out of that.
I don't know if it was a breakthrough track, I never had this feeling when it came out, but as the years have gone by it's definitely one that keeps coming back when speaking with people.
Is Italy a good place to live for an artist aiming for an international career?
It's all right considering that trough Internet you can connect with everyone around the world, it doesn’t really matter were you are. All it takes is to put out some good music and you can work out the rest without being any big city. On the other hand Italy is a country that doesn’t help out their own breed of artists, or at least not the right ones, they are not really supportive with their own people, so this makes things a little bit difficult at times. I think I've played in my own country just a bunch of times in the past years, weird, right?
Do your knowledge and degree in law help you sorting out record deals and booking contracts?
Not really, I think most of these record deals with underground labels are a pro-forma, usually there isn't anything too important. I work with people I know and can trust so it's really not a matter of contracts and deals.
Is the law degree a backup plan if the music career doesn’t go the full way?
I don't know yet, with the crisis right now I think it's not a solid back up plan anymore. Anyways I need to have something else outside of music going on. I couldn't spend all day in the studio just thinking about music. I need something else to do. I'm more productive when I have just a few hours a day to spend on music rather than the times I can sit a whole day at the studio.
After reediting a lot of Nu Groove stuff for Needwant, do you have other ambitions of maybe reviving some good old labels or artists officially?
No I'm probably done with that. It was great doing it once but I think it wouldn't be as interesting if I did it a second time. It was super fun doing it, but I want to focus on my own music rather than re-working older tunes. Also at the time I did it it was something fresh, while right now the idea of remixing an old classic is considered boring and dated. If I did that same project now I'm not sure it would have had that same recognition.
You’ve remixed Mario Basanov, the most successful electronic artist from Lithuania. What do you think about his music?
When Needwant asked me to remix his track I didn't really know his music too much, but kept an eye on him since them. I've been steadily following his great music and right now I think he is one of the best in the game, especially with his Ten Walls alias he seems very inspired. I like this darker side of him, like on his latest ep on Needwant as well.
There seems to be something in the air in Lithuania because I just discovered another artist called Gardens Of God, which just released a great EP, which brings me back to the good old days of "Sandcastles" by Ferrer & Sydenham.
How does your live set look like (I know you will DJ in Vilnius, but we’ll get to that later)?
It has evolved a bit during the years, although I try to keep it simple, as I want everything to work right. now it's basically made of a Novation Zero SL MKII which is a controller to trigger the sounds from my laptop, Korg Kaoss Pad for various FX and synths, M-Audio Keystation to do some cheeky impromptu keys and a Korg Nanopad where I have vocal samples and drum hits.
What electronic artists that perform live are fun and interesting to watch for you personally?
In the years I haven’t had a chance to catch many artist playing live, actually it comes down to just a few, usually I'm the one doing live so the other acts are djing. Anyways in Russia I heard Wbeeza Live and it was sick, it's a very simple set up, but the result is massive, and that's all it matters to me.
Would you agree that today a live act has more strength in the lineup (marketing-wise, maybe) of a night in a club than a regular DJ?
I have no idea marketing wise, I'm on the other side and I don't really care about these kind of dynamics. Anyways it's fun for me to listen to a live set because you really get to see what that artist is all about, with a live set it's 100% you out there.
You didn’t DJ until last year, I think, is that right? What made you start doing that and what was the learning process? Who were your tutors, direct and maybe indirect?
After a few years of just live I had the need to play other music outside of my own production, so that's how it started. I've been buying dance records for the past ten years and wanted to share all this music, not just keep it in my studio. I've learned trough the years, watching people, practicing at home and playing my first DJ gigs at local clubs, like everyone else. Probably my style is very influenced by the resident deejays of Red Zone club in Perugia, which is where I took my lessons in house.
I know you’re a vinyl junkie. Do you mostly buy old stuff that maybe inspires you in the studio, or new stuff? More of which does your collection consist of and how do you catalogue it?
Most of my record collection is old music, although I buy new records as well, but those usually in digital format, unless they are really worth it.
I just reorganized my records a few weeks ago as they were a mess and I've divided them like this: House is generally organized by artist (MAW, Pal Joey, DJ Duke) or labels like Prescription, Nu groove, Henry Street etc. I also have a huge section dedicated to old Detroit house like Happy records, KMS, Serious Grooves etc. I have a mixed techno section although it's not that big. Then a decent disco/soul/boogie section divided by labels, but it's a mess right now. I also have another large section where I keep all the Red Zone Club classics. Oh and there is a whole crate with spiritual house African records, like Ibadan, Joe Claussell and the likes. This is how it is roughly but then there are always random records lying everywhere.
You have just returned from the USA, right? Compare the audiences there and in Europe, please. Which do you prefer - audience-wise and also promoter-wise? Where do you get a better treatment as an artist?
I've always had great experiences both in Europe than in the US, the crowd in the states are cool, maybe not that crazy like in some European cities but still really good. And the promoters have always been nice everywhere I went, I can't complain about that.
What is the biggest mistake you’ve done and you wish you could fix?
Taking law school maybe. Just because you can't do a lot with it right now in Italy, too many lawyers!
Your most awaited gig in 2014.
On paper every party is important, I am equally excited every time I have to travel somewhere. I can't say which is the most awaited right now, all I know is that so far the least awaited ones have turned out too be the best.
Nicholas @ Soundcloud
Nicholas @ Facebook
D.D. 2004 - 2016
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