Rico Casazza, like many before him, left his native Italy at the turn of the millennium and moved his life to London. Attracted by the bright lights and bustle of the city’s multifarious music scene, Rico soon found his niche in house and techno, experimenting with the minimal craze before trying his hand at slower, more downtempo styles. Today, he produces across the board, still as keen and hungry as ever to make the best music he is capable of. With over 10 years experience on the streets of the capital, MEOKO thought it best to catch up with Rico and see just what it is about London and its relationship with music that has kept him invigorated all this time.
Picture credit: www.stock5.tv
Hi Rico, thanks for talking to us. First up for those that may be unaware of who you are and what you do, could you give us a quick intro?
I have been making music for many years, always out of pure love. Music for me has always been an emotional output. I like to make music that causes goosebumps. I think about the dance-floor too, but my main drive is more psychedelic and deep, timeless music.
I started playing classical guitar when I was a child for a few years, then switched to electric, and then one day I bought a videogame for playstation called “Music 2000”. It was more than a videogame actually, you could create little compositions and edit sounds. From that day until today I’ve basically never stopped banging my head against the wall using various electronic devices. [Laughs].
Now that you’ve had some time to settle into 2013, how do you see the year ahead? What will you aim to build on and improve from last year?
I was lucky to release through some good record labels like Stock5, Release Sustain, Wavetec, Archipel, Serialism, Soma… This year I’m preparing a new live set that will showcase a lot of new, forthcoming music and some secret, unreleased tunes. I’m also preparing a second album, a lot of remixes and some new music. All in all, there are some goodies on the way.
I read you’ve been living in London since the 90s. Did you move here to pursue music? What aspects of the city and its scene have shaped the way you make and experience music?
I’ve only lived in London since 2001 actually. I moved here for music and also for an adventure. In my home town life and music were quite boring and the internet wasn’t fully developed like it is now, back then you couldn’t just log on and find music from any corner of the planet. I knew London was the home of trip hop, drum’n’bass and just considered the general European mecca of music. It is a magnet for dreamers and twisted minds and I understand the city well as I resonate with both categories. I was fascinated by belonging to a big city, where you can go and find interesting opportunities and totally odd experiences.
This city has had such an incredible influence over my musical career. It’s not even just the music, but the people, the parties – every moment spent in this city inspires you. There’s such a huge like-minded community in London when it comes to great music.
When I was a kid I used to listen to all kinds of music, remembering all the particular sounds that were more interesting and combining them with a lot of different, contrasting styles. I always loved the timeless melodies of classical and ambient music, the infinite dub delays and combining them with hard electronic drums to make a cosmic war!
How do you view the London scene today? Did you have any idea house music would take over East London in particular so dramatically?
The London scene has always been very strong. Something new comes up every year. In east London right now you can find many different type of music events. But yeah, house and techno are probable the biggest and the most mental [Laughs]. There’s a never ending cycle of new music genres springing up and dropping away – they stick around for a few years and then leave to allow for other, fresher styles to rise to prominence. I have been lucky to have witnessed the east London hype.
When you started producing, your tracks still carried that minimal aesthetic, whereas now they’re much fuller and more house-driven. Would you agree? Why the shift?
Yeah I hear you. I started releasing minimal techno in 2007 but at the same time I was making tech-house and broken beat/chill out music. The only thing is, these tracks got released after the minimal techno records. The track I’ve given to MEOKO for example is minimal, but I wrote it recently. If you asked me to choose between house and techno, I’d say techno. But I like to experiment with different genres, different moods and landscapes. I’ve enjoy writing trip-hop, dub, broken beat and ambient music – my first album ‘A Mother Love’ released on Bonsai Elemental on 2007 is a bit like that.
You’ve been releasing records solidly for over three years. Are you happy with where your writing ability and sound are at currently or do you still feel you have more to give?
I have been releasing music for the last 6 years. And yes I definitely have more to give and more to learn. I’m very happy with what I have achieved until now, but in terms of sound quality my productions aren’t the best they could be quite yet. I use Ableton and the sounds do lack crispness and clarity, whereas Logic gives a much fuller tone. But then again on Logic you can’t conjure up the sound you have in your head in a matter of seconds, like you can on Ableton. What’s important for me is the originality of the composition, more so than the sound quality itself. This is an endless debate, like vinyl and digital. A lot of people would disagree with me on that.
When you approach tracks these days do you ever feel pressured to make something that will really stand out? Something that will take your career to the next level?
When I sit down to make music I prefer not to work to a specific target. You can have certain ideas in mind or be inspired by a certain artist but in general I prefer to just encourage a natural flow to the process. I just make sounds, melodies and grooves and eventually it all comes together and a smile crosses my face. It’s kind of like when you’re cooking: combining spices and flavours to get that unique taste.
I think that if you set yourself a target while you make music, you will be influenced by the fact that your sound has to sound a certain way. It’s not natural. You should be wary of trying to copy something that is not within the competence of the manufacturer. The only pressure I feel is to make a better song than the previous one.
Your track ‘Ryuichi Dub’ on Bonsai elemental was really beautiful. Will we see more downtempo stuff like that from you in the future?
Thanks! ‘Ryuichi Dub’ is from an album I released in 2009; the track contains a sample of Ryuichi Sakamoto. That album sound is quite different than the trip hop stuff that I do now. And yes definitely, I’m preparing a second album of trip hop/downtempo music as we speak…
Your recent collaboration with Kozber on Soundbar brought a real full-bodied swing to your output. What was it about working with him that achieved that? Are there plans to hook up some more in the near future?
Yes, when we make music together, we make completely different stuff to what we would usually on our own. We’ve known each other for many years, we understand how each of us likes to work and he’s a kick-ass dj – and a nice guy too!
That Soundbar release was something we made last summer. We were thinking to make some edits of abstract funk music from the 70s and in the end we came up with ‘Gillett Square’. We are working intensely on new projects right now, including many remixes for great electro clash and synth pop bands, which will come out in a few months.
Finally, what’s next for Rico Casazza?
I’ve got some music that will be released later this year for Holic Traxx, Cartulis Music, Save You Records, Stock5, Suspect Package and a good number of remixes and collaborations with some good friends. And of course my new album. More and more music to come!
Rico Casazza exclusive mix click here
To accompany this interview, Rico has very kindly donated an exclusive, unreleased track to the MEOKO readers. ‘Holy Kingdom’, as Rico mentioned above, calls on his earlier, more minimal influences, despite it having been written fairly recently. The record provides us with a rhythmic, percussive and slightly twisted insight into the mind of one of London’s most dedicated electronic musicians. Definitely one for the early mornings.
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