Monument is delighted to welcome back Alan Backdrop on the MNMT podcast series for his second mix. The Italian native has had a considerable high-quality output in recent years, releasing on the illustrious Semantica, Motoguzzi records and the legendary record label that stopped releasing music in 2015; Prologue. The Padova-born DJ brings you an outstanding 90-minute mix, filled with flawlessly mixed deep, hypnotic and mind-bending grooves. Monument also conducted an interview with the native Italian, which can be read below.
1 – Hi Alessio, thanks for agreeing to this interview. You have been producing music for some years by now. Could you tell us a bit about how your focus and goals has changed over time in making music?
It still feels like I just started but, yes, some years have passed.
To convince myself is always the main goal. I will probably never achieve this goal wholly, but maybe this is the engine which moves me to the adventure and to research “something more”.
Aiming to reach those emotions that warm my heart and make me dream like a kid.
If I’m able to transfer these emotions also to other people, even much better.
I couldn’t say I make music only for myself, and think it’s important to share it with others, finding the best channels to reach them.
At last, we all know life puts in front of you bigger issues and responsibilities when you get older, so I guess it is more than important to find the way to self-sustain yourself and improve your skills in spite of everything. And, after all, to continue to make music.
2 – The first album you released, VR Plan, was on the esteemed label ‘Prologue’, what was your relationship with the label and how did you first come into contact with the people behind Prologue?
I guess I’ve already answered a question like this before, but it will be a pleasure to run through those moments again. I started to buy and follow the label since their first release in 2008. At the time I was not registered to any social network and I was using internet just to place orders at the record stores.
I remember it was easier to mythologize the labels and the artists I loved and was feeling a sort of good separation and a sense of inaccessibility that made everything so mysterious and magic.
Well, Prologue was one of those labels.
After a while, I joined Facebook and Soundcloud and discovered a new world in front of me.
I was able to share my music and my mixes with the rest of the world and it was literally fantastic.
I made many new contacts and good friends who led me to reap the fruits of my labor like the chance to approach Prologue. Somehow they came across the very first mix I shared online and I guess they started to keep an eye on me from that moment. Later, they invited me to send some demos and a little at a time we planned VR Plan.
3 – Could you describe your creative process when making music? And do you like to primarily use hardware or software?
The creative process has been changing in the years.
I started using some software at the age of 15, when I was completely ignorant about electronic music production. I spent at least the first 10 years of producing trying to understand what the process is to create electronic music and trying to learn how to make “this and that”. Hence, not developing any actual creative process.
Probably I would recognise a creative process from when I started using hardware instruments.
They helped me to get a bigger awareness about what I want and what I need. For a long time, I tried to make “detailed music” remaining seated for many hours and focusing on the small details of the sound and on the technical aspect. But I have to say it was quite difficult for me to get acceptable results working in that way. Then, I realised I need more action while making music and, most important, I need to seize the day. Sometimes I just fiddle with my instruments and let the events to inspire me. When I get that sound that has “something more”, I just start to build things around it. Some other times, I already have a certain idea in my mind and I just try to get closer to that idea. Sometimes it is successful, sometimes not.
But anyway, I pull out something new while trying and it could be good to keep working on it even if it was completely different from the original idea. This is often the way to create a completely unexpected track
The biggest problem I have, especially when I try to force things, is to easily get lost in the process.
I completely lose the cognition with reality and then I’m not able to judge what I’m doing anymore.
That’s why it is so important for me to be spontaneous and let me go to enjoy the moment for what it is without forcing these events.
4 – Could you tell us how you got into DJing?
After some years making music I felt the need to complete myself starting to mix music. I bought two turntables and a mixer and I started to collect vinyls.
5 – I have noticed that you like to use vinyl in your DJ-sets nowadays, have you always been using mostly vinyl when DJing? Where does this love for vinyl come?
As I said before, I started mixing vinyls and somehow I kept doing it until now.
When I was a teenager and I spent my time dancing to electronic music in clubs, the DJs were using vinyls. It was normal for me.
Besides, there are many friends here where I live who have been using only vinyls and probably we always influenced each other in that respect.
Just lately, I started to use CDJs more constantly to be able to play promos.
Unfortunately, when you go to play around using vinyl, you often have discomforts and technical problems because the most of the venues nowadays are not fitted with a proper solid and functional console with turntables like in the past.
On the other hand, modern CDJs are very good machines which offer you stability and many other new possibilities.
6 – Can you tell us a bit about your absolute favourite gig that you have played in your DJ career so far?
It’s not easy to chose a best one I have to say.
Probably “Harmony Open Air” in Prague on the August 2017. Me and Feral were the guests and I remember he made a memorable warm-up, just perfect. He gave me a so warm dancefloor who was listening so carefully but at the same time was so full of energy and eager to dance.
The venue was just marvellous: a small islet in the river of the city.
I started playing and after a few records the sunset had begun… I got so big goosebumps for the strong emotions.When the open air ended, an incredible afterparty took place at club Ankali until morning.
Among the other guys, me and Feral played there once more and everything was flowing in a magic and harmonious way.
It is not a case the guys chose that name for their collective and record label. Harmony, a name and a fact!
I was their guest again on the following March for the live a_000 with Primal Code and it was truly amazing once more.
7 – What are your thoughts on the development of the techno scene? Do you think things are heading in the right direction as compared to, say, 5 years ago, or do you not notice much difference?
I don’t have much to say about this. I think there is not a wrong or right way.
Simply everything changes and becomes the result and the consequence of the events.
Personally, I think it got a bit flat and cold in general but it is obvious considering how the world changed in the last years.
This is not necessarily something negative because who does it with love and passion will be pushed to find warmth and dynamics in other, perhaps innovative ways.
8 – Could you mention some up and coming producers that you have been impressed by lately?
Without giving precise names, I can say there are many friends doing special things and I guess they will have a good following.
9 – What can we expect from you in the near future? Any new releases or gigs that are upcoming?
About releases, 2018 should be already over with the EPs for Mental Modern and Semantica and with the NESS REWORKS 001 as a_000. Now I’m trying to plan new releases for 2019.
More news will be communicated shortly.
Regarding gigs, I’m getting ready for Institute Fuer Zukunft in Leipzig where I’m going to play in about one week.
10 – Do you have any plans to create a live set in the future?
I’ve been thinking about that from the first day I tried to make music. As I said a moment ago, I approached electronic music production years before than djing and the only way to imagine a performance was a live set. Over time, especially after I started djing, this idea got a bit “put aside” but it is always alive. I had the chance to do it with the project a_000 together with Enrico but I need to find the way to organise things if I have to perform alone.
11 – What kind of mix have you prepared for Monument this time, did you have a certain focus in mind before making it?
No particular focus except to have fun selecting and mixing music I like to play in this period.
As always, thanks everyone for listening!