This year we were really delighted to host CONCEPTUAL‘s mix for MNMT 331, as it helped us get closer to his sound and aesthetic vision. Simone Scardino has already proven to be uncompromising and unpredictable, as his productions and presence on decks, while taking part in various audio-visual projects has further shaped his artistic identity. Obsessed with composition from the very start and the interaction with the crowd, his unique approach that stems from deep, personal standards works as a key that unlocks various explosive mixtures – both in the surrounding atmosphere he generates and, of course, on his tracks.
Not long ago, he made an announcement that was more like an invitation. And this is a reference to the creation of DUNA. A label/collective that aims to develop an innovative catalogue, ranging from techno to experimental motifs, of constantly evolving producers who also maintain an original touch to their sound identities. Starting from the role that electronic music and its scene has played, he guides us through his thoughts and feelings that made him the person he is today, along with the design and the future of his newly-found label. Thus, our discussion does not only help to know more about him but probably sympathize and contemplate the content of his answers.
What drew you into electronic music and what do you still do to maintain this connection?
My connection with electronic music and art in general I think is innate and natural. I grew up in a difficult environment but was always surrounded by good music and a love for art. Especially visual art and aesthetics. As a child, I remember playing with my parents’ collection of cassette tapes and records and loving to dance with my sister while my parents selected music in the living room. At the age of 11, I was put in front of a real mixing console for the first time. I remember it was a cassette console. It was love at first sight! To be honest, I can’t live without this connection and I do everything I can to nurture it and live it 100×100.
How has the scene shaped you? What have you learned about yourself?
Over the years, I have learned so much both on an artistic and personal level, and I am thankful to the scene for letting me meet wonderful people that I will always be able to count on. True friends! But there are also downsides to it, nothing is perfect. For example, it saddens me that meritocracy has taken a back seat. Everything has become a bit superficial, among other things due to social media, unfortunately! We could go on for hours discussing the pros and cons of the scene. It has certainly taught me that passion, determination, and professionalism always pay off and that we should never give up on what we believe in!
Do you consider electronic music as an act of rebellion? Where do you stand in that?
Electronic music for me is freedom! Freedom of expression, freedom of thought, freedom to decide for me, for my art without having to conform to anything or anyone! I believe that this is the best form of rebellion!
How and when did you start producing your material? What process do you follow to complete a track? From its initial idea to the composition process until having a satisfying result.
I started producing in 2015 and I have been obsessed with music production since that day. I love making music and exploring new horizons, creating new combinations, especially now that I’m exploring the world of modulars. It’s fascinating how there is no limit and infinite possibilities! I usually start the track with a jam. If I want to do a techno dance floor track, I start from the groove to follow the synthesis and rhythms. After that, arrangement and mixing! Usually, I immediately understand if I will be satisfied or not with the result. I learned not to run my head into the wall too much and move forward if the project does not convince me! But to be honest, in the past, I’ve been in that situation a lot of times!
Where are you drawing your inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from everything that surrounds me. From personal moments in my life, from the energy that circulates, from other forms of art, and my childhood friends and their success and determination in their professional careers outside of the techno scene. And I listen a lot to my instinct, most of all!
What do you consider the most important thing in what you do?
Happiness is the most important thing! Be happy with yourself and the people around you. It’s not easy but it’s not impossible either!
What can you tell us about the creation of CONCEPTUAL and your aim through this project? Would you say it’s a part of you or simply you?
CONCEPTUAL was created from the need to express myself 100 x 100 without limits or barriers! Simply me without filters!
You have released very aggressive material that merges many aspects of the genre. Noise, experimentations, hard and deep elements. I wanted to ask, what led you to this direction and how does it make you feel?
Yes, I love dark and noise. You know when you want to explode, you want to push everything out – that explosion is the feeling I have when I produce or when my music plays at the club. Seeing the crowd going crazy to your track I think it’s one of the most beautiful feelings I’ve ever had! It is emotional, especially because all my music is in close connection with my mood and the various periods of my life!
Are you too complex as a person? How would you describe your creative self?
I have to admit, I’m not an easy one! There are fundamental aspects that must not be missing in personal relationships. Respect, loyalty, and balance to name a few. If any of these are missing, like a sound system goes into protection and stops playing to avoid destroying itself, I go into protection too. As my personality is not an easy one, so is my creativity.
So far you already have a full-length album which is quite an achievement by itself, let alone in such a quick time since you started composing. How was this experience for you and what have you gained from the whole process?
Surely the first album on WARM UP gave me the right energy to start the CONCEPTUAL project. I will always be grateful to Oscar Mulero who believed in me and gave me this opportunity. For the past two years, I have worked a lot in the studio to improve technically. Thanks, also, to the advice and feedback that I received. I am satisfied with the progress and I can’t wait to let you hear about the next releases!
What are your feelings towards what you do? How would you describe your production process, a night DJing or simply going through your music collection?
I love everything I do, from the production to the nights around the world as a DJ, to the events I promote, to the label, and so on! I’m always excited to work because I work with what I’ve always loved! Many times, however, it is not easy I must admit. It is frustrating to see that you are often alone and that you can only count on yourself, that the market and the scene in which we belong often do not give space to art as they should and give priority to profiles with strong marketing and popularity on social media. But I’m learning to ignore it and go my own way, without getting distracted by this bu****it!
Assuming your presence on the decks is no different, how do you experience being in front of a crowd, playing your favourite tunes? Considering also that many might not be aware of what you have in store.
I love to play, communicate and share my vision of techno, and especially to exchange energy with the crowd! Like a ping pong match. Feeling the crowds’ energy gives me goosebumps and it makes me feel good to give a special experience to people who didn’t know what to expect too! My sets are characterized by mysticism and full energy combined. I love to share trippy and special sounds, often I used to create edits of experimental tracks readapted for dancefloor. Don’t expect a static full set of basic 4/4, but storytelling.
From a quick read, we can see that visual and performance arts played a critical role in the creation of your project(s). How do they connect, what’s their aim and how are they a proper tool in your pockets?
Combining several art forms was the basic idea behind my CONCEPTUAL project. It is an addition to my music, presenting collaborations with my friends who create visual art. For example the “DIE UHR” performance with one of my best friends and strongest tattoo artist RALFMANN. The performance is structured as a back-to-back. We have our backs to each other, I’m facing the dancefloor and Ralf has his back to the crowd. Without spoiling everything, Ralf paints the music on canvas through his mystical codes following a time order, forming at the end of the performance a codex-style clock that takes on different shapes as the music evolves! Improvisation is at the heart of the performance!
You debuted your own label with a free (or pay what you want) track on Bandcamp. How do you envision the catalogue of DUNA label and its activities? Also, what sound would you like to host and what’s the idea behind it?
Yes, ‘Mai pe Jabbu‘ is the digital bonus track for free download of the first DUNA release “DESERT FLOWERS”, a double 12-inch LP that will be available for pre-order this week. DUNA is a label with a catalogue ranging from techno to experimental. It is hard to describe the sound in particular. But I can say for sure that it is uncompromising in every aspect, original and elegant. The first five releases are already planned and will alternate between vinyl and digital in 2023!
Who is welcome to DUNA?
Everyone is welcome on DUNA, but what interests me is the sound identity of an artist regardless of the sound! I will be very selective, meritocracy and originality will be rewarded. The label will focus on new and established artists that show and already have shown constant evolution and experimentation in the past whilst staying uncompromisingly true to their musical identity.
The first release is the compilation Desert Flowers Vol.1 including ten tracks in total from established and upcoming producers. What’s the concept behind this debut and what can its sound tell us?
The first release Desert Flowers consists of ten tracks composed by: Mike Parker, Stanislav Tolkachev, D-Leria, Retina.it, Sciahri, Pigreko, Danilenko, Desroi, Ribé and me.
As you can see the main concept of this release is to put together a stellar compilation. A strong statement that follows the underlying idea of the label to present new and already established artists who have proven and will prove to be true to themselves and their sound! Let’s call them pioneers or innovators or simply artists who have the ability to convey something without necessarily having to look at what the market wants or offers! DUNA takes big risks, but I am sure that unity is strength and I am convinced that we will create a strong collective, a label that will propose artists who are often overshadowed by a market controlled by numbers. Social media numbers.
Finally, what does the future hold for you and your personal projects?
The future is spicy, especially in 2023! Two very important releases that I can not reveal just yet, but I can guarantee that they are on two of the labels that have made and continue to make the history of techno! Many new projects in the pipeline too. For example, collaborations with other exceptional artists, such as Sciahri, D-Leria, and others that I cannot mention at the moment 🙂
I will also focus on the DUNA showcases that already receive interest in the scene. For example, December 2nd in Barcelona invited by NODE, December 9th in Kosovo invited by Uran B. owner of Hapesira, and January 6th in Utrecht in Holland where Metamorphosis and DUNA present a Semantica night. Finally, my aim is always to have fun and work with art and leave a message for all of you!
DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE, AND MAKE ART THE WAY IS BEAUTIFUL FOR YOU!