Releasing music on Stroboscopic Artefacts has become a real stamp of quality for the producers involved. Make no genre expectations; the labels back catalogue consists of peak time techno and acid, industrial experiments, ambient and beatless electronica, and everything in between. At no point though does the discography seem stretched, in Lucy‘s own words, there’s a ‘cross-pollination’ between the artists that have become central to its work.
Names such as Xhin, Perc, Tommy Four Seven, James Ruskin, Jonas Kopp, Pfirter, Dadub, Marcus Suckut and Forward Strategy Group have all featured, as well as the boss, Luca Mortellaro aka Lucy. His debut long player ‘Wordplay For Working Bees’ took techno way beyond 4×4 kick drums, into indescribable realms of atmosphere and sound design, formerly establishing his position as one of Europe’s leading authorities within the genre. Subsequent releases on Stroboscopic Artefacts, Luke Slater‘s Mote Evolver label, CLR and, most recently, Curle Recordings, have pushed his sound further afield, and a sophomore album, it seems, is a distant inevitability.
We had the chance to chat with Lucy and got onto Blawan, techno sub-genres, cross-pollinating influences, The Artefacts Mastering Studio and future output.
Let’s start by talking about your last release, ‘Finnegan’ on Curle Records. Firstly why Curle?
Of course Stroboscopic Artefacts is my own baby, my own label, but that doesn’t mean that I want to release all my music through it. I prefer to also use other platforms that I believe in, like Curle, Mote:Evolver, CLR, or Prologue; that way I can leave space for other artists and projects on Stroboscopic.
Do you write tracks specifically for a label, or is that decided post-production?
Until two years ago I produced with a label in mind, but since my album that’s changed. A switch flipped and now find myself writing music and seeing what happens.
Has that affected your production? Presumably you feel more free to experiment now?
Yes, but, I’ve always felt very free to experiment, especially on my own label. Look at my album, I really didn’t know what genre that was, it was the public and journalists that labelled it techno. At the same time it is important to respect the way a label works. It’s part of the game to contribute to a platform, but at the same time letting the platform contribute to your development. It’s 50/50. This dynamic became very clear to me working with artists on my label, and it’s part of the magic of running a label.
How important is the balance between the dancefloor-suited material, and the more ambient stuff on Stroboscopic?
Very important. It comes out very clearly in the division we made between the Stellate Series, which is dedicated completely to experimental music, and the rest of the SA output, more or less club-based… I mean, in our own way, but still club-based. And of course, within the album context, the interesting thing is to see how the artist can push borders to decide what dancefloor means.
Did you think the two, more dancefloor focused Pariah remixes of ‘Finnegan’ were necessary to give the release that balance?
In this case I just left Tom, who runs Curle, to decide what was best for the record. He heard ‘Finnegan’ by chance and said it was the kind of thing he wanted to release, proposed Pariah to me for the remixes, and I was very happy with that – he’s an interesting producer.
What do you find interesting about his music?
I think he, especially together with Blawan, has a very original interpretation of techno. It’s something I’m hearing more and more from the UK; I find it amazing that so many people that were doing different things before are now making something closer to my taste. I don’t feel like these guys are copying the German thing just to get more gigs, I really strongly think they’re shaping up a sub-genre, which is very clearly coming from the UK.
Can you name a few of the artists you’re talking about.
Blawan and Pariah obviously, Shifted, Sigha. A few weeks ago I played at Bleep, in London, with Blawan and I was very curious about his set and it really didn’t disappoint. I’ve read lots of articles saying there are all these UK guys that did dubstep and are now doing techno, just because techno right now is strong – but these are definitely people this doesn’t apply to. The artists I mentioned and others are really doing there own thing within a genre that interests them, and taking influences from around them. It was the same for me when I moved to Berlin.
How do you find DJing in the UK compared to Germany and Italy?
Even though I’m Italian, DJing there came afterwards for me. So, I’ve appreciated London and Berlin much more overall, and I love them both equally. Underground culture has always been part of the game in both cities, so it is very different to going to play in Italy, where I see a very fresh, new and exciting scene coming right now to the lights.
How much did the move to Berlin affect your music?
A lot. It has been hugely influential to me to experience, deeply, the electronic music scene here. And, in general I find cross-pollination the most interesting thing in any form of art. I’m not the kind of guy who’s into a nostalgic ‘pure techno’ dream or whatever you want to call it. And Berlin is perfect if you think this way.
Is this cross-pollination an idea behind Stroboscopic’s A&R?
Definitely, the roster has been fast-changing and includes artists making pure techno to artists making stuff that can hardly be called techno at all. Take Dadub for example, they’re doing their own thing too, when I hear something from them it’s like this is just them, and when you play it in a club, people freak out. I grew up listening to Warp Records; ambient, electronica, IDM and techno all just blended into one then, so it’s interesting when that happens now.
Tell us about the Dadub album? How much does their background in sound engineering come through in ‘You Are Eternity’?
Dadub is Daniele Antezza and Giovanni Conti from Artefacts Mastering Studio, they take care of all the post-production for Stroboscopic, they do lots of other labels as well but they’ve been with us since day one. Expressing their feelings and sculpting the sound is the same language for them. It comes through both in nightclub and experimental contexts. They can’t seperate the two processes.
What’s coming after that on the label?
We’ll have a few 12″s after Dadub’s album, and then the Monad Series will keep on going, and then another album.
And, what’s coming from you as an artist?
I want to leave a lot of room on Stroboscopic for other artists in the coming few months; so I’m going to release my next output on Mote Evolver in February, a collaborative EP with Silent Servant. After that another release on CLR. And of course there’re a few remixes on the way.