Bucharest’s Vlad Dinu has been inconspicuously refining his sound for over 10 years. His hunger for experimentation has led him to move beyond genre constraints and use music as a mode of emotive communication. Vlad Dinu’s artistry is an extension of his passion for the power of groove, and his expertly honed productions have found home on labels including Generatia’90, Synesthesia, Mihai Bravu, and Half Naked Dog. Vlad Dinu has also collaborated with the likes of Sublee and Iuly.B, releasing music under the Stedi and Nord Pipes aliases respectively.
We are honoured to have Vlad Dinu join our podcast series and delighted to have had the opportunity to talk to an artist whose drive and humility are palpable. For his MEOKO mix Vlad Dinu dives into the dancefloor-oriented side of his collection, building and sustaining an energy guaranteed to lift your spirits.
An advocate of the power of the groove, Vlad Dinu’s ability to extract new and exciting musical possibilities from his selections renders him a sought after presence in his local scene. Having appeared alongside Piticu, Charlie, Emi, Suciu, Cezar, Praslea, Kozo, and Ion Ludwig, Vlad Dinu is beginning to ascend on a promising trajectory of his own. Drawing from his multispectral influences, Vlad Dinu’s sets offer fresh and creative sounds delivered with an effortless veterans touch.
Hi Vlad, thank you so much for your time. It’s a pleasure being able to chat to you and we’re super excited about the mix you’ve put together for us. Can you start by telling us a bit about the idea behind the mix?
Hey guys, first and foremost, let me say that I’m absolutely thrilled and honored to be featured on your platform .
I’d like to think that the mix I’ve put together for you guys is somewhat representative of what I would play during a club set . I’m thinking this is a very good opportunity for people who don’t know me to get a small taste of what they might expect me to play during a club night . All together I hope the audience enjoys my selection of records and I surely hope to bring a smile to everybody’s faces 😀
Taking a step back, how did everything begin for you and how has it evolved over the years?
Well I guess it all began in 1996 for me. I went on a trip with my dad to Philadelphia and I discovered a local record shop whilst exploring the city, which would later become one of my favourite shops in the world. That’s the spot where I got in touch for the first time with hip hop, as I bought my first Kool Keith record. Dr. Octagon which was released that same year Mo Wax .You have to imagine that I was 12 years old and I just bought myself a PG18 rated record . That’s the point where I started losing it and started buying as much records and CD’s I could afford. Hip hop was a big part of my life as a cultural movement and I sill feel culturally connected to hip hop through my music a lot ! High school later brought me face to face with electronic music , as I was constantly hanging out in one of Bucharest’s most legendary venues ( one that actually saw a lot of the legendary names in Romania play , guys like Dj Vasile, BogMan which was then known as Dj Sleek , Vexxatu Vexx, Blanoz Distrusoz , Suie Paparude or Unu, just to name a few ) . I’ve started playing dance records about 12 years ago and haven’t stopped ever since.
What are your views on the current Bucharest club scene? Is there anything you’d like to see done differently?
Bucharest has rapidly evolved over the past 8 years into what you would might call “the place to be” when it comes to the clubbing scene. Clubs are constantly lined up with the best names in the industry, whether it be the local heroes or big names from abroad . Furthermore, I think that it recently became a more diverse scene than before as new and talented artists are diversifying their DJ sets with all sorts of music as a response to the massive growth in record acquisitions that goes on lately . Thus being said, I wouldn’t change much as I think that the local club scene is constantly developing into something better and better as time goes by. Only thing I would definitely wish for would be new venues as we have a lot of astonishing buildings and establishments that would easily fit a club event.
As a DJ, the breadth of your selections makes it clear you have an intuition for digging deep. What are you looking for when it comes to finding new music?
The main element for me is groove . If a track perspires groove, whether it be a minimal one, a housey one or why not even an experimental one, as long as it has groove it will definitely get me interested into it. Another thing that makes me buzz are the tracks that tell a story. You see, I also like to think that my DJ sets are about me transmitting my story to the audience , so therefore, a track with a good storyline and a strong groove is definitely going to have me buy it !
Now let’s get into the production side of things. Your catalogue is very diverse, and I’m sure only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the music you’ve created. Did you get into production through DJing? How long have you been making music?
Hah, thanks, you make me blush 🙂
Production wise, I started putting out tracks 10 years ago so I would guess that makes me old now wouldn’t it? I’ve always maintained a low profile as I have been constantly working to perfect my sound both as a DJ and as a producer but now I feel I have achieved that which I was looking for and it’s time for me to put it out for the people to enjoy.
Could you talk a little about the creative process behind your productions? What continues to keep you inspired?
I guess every day life is what gets me inspired. I always find myself jamming whenever I sit down in my studio, and it’s always based on how I feel at the moment. I don’t think that I have ever narrowed down my inspiration to on thing or another, it’s basically the sum of all my experiences since the last time I sat down to make music . So, in other words, my music is somehow my personal diary .
What about your technical approach? Could you describe your current studio setup, and your workflow when starting a new track?
Being my dad’s kid, I grew up listening to Motown Records mostly every day, so you might say that my only technical approach is jamming till it sounds good . I currently work in a home studio which is basically pretty well equipped as far as my needs go. I have 3 samplers ( Elektron Digitakt / MPC 1000 / Roland SP 404 ) , 4 analog synthesizers ( Korg Minilogue, Roland JX-3P, Behringer DeepMind 12 and a Behringer Model D ) and a couple of other digital synths that I always go back to when I need that “extra something “ , a delay pedal from HardWire and that’s basically it. I also use a couple of VST’s , mainly the ones from Fab Filter but then again, I rarely use them as I like my sound to be as raw as possible whilst sounding pleasant to your ear .
Do you ever reuse elements of unfinished or unreleased tracks while generating new ideas?
Once I have exported a track, as far as I’m concerned, that’s one closed story . I like to keep it diverse and so if a jam builds up into a track, than that’s that . If it doesn’t, I will probably later strip the instruments apart and try to rebuild it from scratch.
Maintaining a distinct personal sound across a range of styles is something you’ve managed to master. Do you have any techniques processing-wise that contribute to giving you this distinctness?
Only “technique” I think I have mastered is the art of not being afraid to explore . I never set out to produce a track in a predefined way, whether it be in my mind or be it following a certain predefined arrangement that I earlier decided upon. I just sit down, jam , and let the music take me where it wants to .
Thinking ahead, what are your goals for 2019?
I’m definitely looking to travel more with my music and put out more records as my track stash is currently busting open with fresh material. I’m also aiming to give a fresh restart to my own record label, Mihai Bravu Records, and put out some of my favorite artists’ music . I also look forward to collaborating with more people from the industry – I have been blessed enough to put out a tribute EP for Swayzak and also got a remix from them , also got remixed by Tommy Vicari JNR ( again, a wonderful and blessed experience ) and I am currently waiting on a remix from the Italian duo Nudge , so that’s already a win for me this year 🙂 My main goal is to keep doing what I do no holds barred .
As Vlad Dinu :
As Stedi (collabo with Sublee)
As Nord Pipes (collabo with Iuly.B)
Words by Lily Dalton