Franco Cangelli Interview

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After the interview with Shadi Megallaa, we have this week some answers from Franco Cangelli, a Belgium based producer, DJ and label-owner. He’s involved in the scene for some time now, he has released ep’s on Toys For Boys, Autist, Sushitech, he has established 2 labels : Aesthetik Records and Mowar, the first in a collaboration with DJ Aki. With his recently released ep on Seventh Sign Recordings with Sven Weisemann on the remixers lineup, he once again confirms his quality taste and view in music, view that he would like to be full-time as he shares with us in the interview. Some other things you might find out if you read below are some of his future collaborations and releases, his workacholic side, some surprises during his gigs, the Belgium scene and so on.

1: Hello Franco, how are you? What have you been up to these days?

I’m fine thanks. I’m in between jobs right now, looking for something else to do during the weekdays. But other than that, I’m waiting for the mastering of the next Mowar release and I’m in the middle of setting up Nowar with dj Akî, which will be the sister label, aimed at house. Mowar stays techno.

2: How did the ideas to start Aesthetik Records and Mowar appear? How were they born? You find it difficult to keep running them and still DJ/produce music?

Well unfortunately we had to stop Aesthetik, since sales were far too disappointing to keep it afloat. The idea behind Aesthetik was to propose music which was somewhere halfway between the current minimal quirky sounds (back when we started it) and old school Detroit and Chicago sounds. But I guess it was too hard to get the message across. And since we didn’t really work with big names, it was quite difficult to get noticed. I’m pretty happy with the Highway ep I produced on the label with the Reynold remix and the Ozka ep is also one of better releases we did. I hope at some point people will discover the music we proposed.

I then started Mowar on my own because I felt the need to have an output for my own ideas I guess. Mowar is rather aimed at deep Detroitish sounds. Detroit techno being one of my main influences, I think it makes more sense for me. At the moment I released my Wee Funk ep with Lerosa and Russ Gabriel on remix duty. There’s a Lee Holman ep coming up for October, followed by another ep by myself. I’m also working with Aubrey for an ep and passenger from Italy.

As to the question whether I can keep running labels and produce/dj, well it’s just a question of getting your priorities straight. Having a day job takes a lot of time away from music, so everything happens during the evening and weekends. But it’s ok, I like doing this. Of course, it would be more encouraging to be able to do this full-time for a living, but that’s a different story…

3: Having labels like Sushitech, Autist that released your eps, are there any other ones in the future through which we’ll see your music being released? While we’re at it, I’d like to ask you what should we expect from you in the near future, in general?

For now I mainly like to release my music myself since it makes things a lot easier. I decide on what to release and when. But yeah there was my ep on Toys For Boys in 2005, the ep on Sushitech, the digital release on Autist and very recently my ep on Seventh Sign Recordings from Glasgow, which I’m still very into actually. In October there will be another release on Italian label Persistencebit, which I’m very much looking forward to. I also programmed a second ep on Mowar on which there’re remixes by Estroe and Solab.

I hope to play out more in the future in Europe and beyond, but that’s still work in progress really.

4: Your music seems to vary from deep-house flavor to ambient-idm sounds. To which genre does your heart belong to 🙂 ?

My main influence as a producer is Detroit techno. I’ve always liked the soulfulness, funk and emotional side of Detroit techno. It’s what grabbed me the most I think. On the other hand there’s still a special spot in my heart for the experimental electronica/idm stuff. When I heard those dark, twisted out-of-this-world sounds, it blew me away. I went through a period where I was done with techno and only listened to experimental electronica, and it’s still a very big part of my record collection.

But being a child of the 80’s, I of course heard acid house and Chicago house in the late 80’s. It’s fair to say that the sound of Jack hasn’t lost its grip on me either. I always bring some Chicago jack with me to gigs.

As to deep house, when I started dj-ing, the first records I played was deep house, the NY sound as well as the West-Coast deep house. I’m still very much in love with that sound. Deep strings, sweet sexy chords, dreamy vocals… it’s soothing for the soul!

To sum it up, what attracts me the most in all the genres of electronic music I like, whether it’s Detroit techno, Chicago house, deep house, dub techno, minimal, experimental, drum’n’bass or pure ambient, is the deep emotional side. Dark, melancholic, sad, sexy, funky… as long as it speaks to me in a deep way.
I don’t like stuff that’s too happy or superficial. It just doesn’t work with my personality. I’m genuinely not a happy person. So that emotional side in electronic music is essential to me. If it doesn’t make me cry on the inside, it doesn’t affect me at all.

5: You’re a producer, DJ, label-owner, so my question is, what “job” suits you best? Which is the one that brings you more smiles?

The producing thing and the dj-thing are two different worlds for me. Producing is just me and my machines, far away from the outside world. Producing is an island where I can escape to, where I decide about the rules. And dj-ing is speaking to a crowd through the music I play. So I can’t decide between the two really. I need both. But I have to say it’s nice when people “get you” while you’re dj-ing, when you’re in sync… that will crack a smile or two for sure!

Running a label is a bit like dj-ing, since you try to say something through the records you release, but there’s many more aspects involved like sales, money, frustration etc. Less smiling there, but still very gratifying to see the end result.

6: Having a wide range of genres that you take in mind while you’re making music, you must have lots of influences, so, who are those? Who’s the influence whom without you wouldn’t be making music today?

it would have to be Detroit techno and experimental electronics. Detroit because it moved me so deeply inside and experimental because it made me push the envelope musically and go beyond the formulaic.

7: Could you name a few places you enjoyed most playing in ? Or if you had any (un)pleasant surprises during one of your gigs?

I vividly remember the Moog in Barcelona. I really liked playing there. I could play about anything I had in my bag with me. Chicago, Detroit, minimal, deep house. The people accepted it all and enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed playing there.

The closing party at the Festival des Arts in Brussels was also quite nice this year. I could really play different shades of house and techno.

Unpleasant surprises are part of the game. Mostly it’s bad monitors, bad sound system, wrong line-up, getting in lost in a city you’ve never been before, someone peeing in front of you at a festival in France etc.
Sometimes bad luck turns out to be a pleasant surprise, like having to sit in first class in the Eurostar on your way back from a London gig, because your original 2nd class place was double booked.

8: You live in Belgium, how is the scene there? You get often to play in clubs there, or it’s not that easy for you?

The scene in Belgium is not what it used to be. We used to have a healthy underground scene with plenty of small parties everywhere, and not only house or techno, but also electro (proper electro I mean), breakcore, ragga, italo-disco, drum’n’bass, bleep techno… Now unfortunately the big thing is anything that’s fuelled by hype like all this electro-house crap and jumping style. It’s awful to see how quality made place for the commercial and superficial. So it’s definitely not easy getting gigs here. There are some nice parties in Brussels, but outside Brussels things can be pretty hard. I hope I can get some more gigs abroad, because out here, things are pretty disappointing. I hope the scene will get better…

9: What can you tell me about the Romanian scene? You know someone there? Is there any Romanian sound pleasing to your ears?

Yeah I’ve heard about Pedro and Raresh, but I can’t say I know a lot of it.
Teach me!

10: With what do you occupy those lazy days, as I’m guessing there might be some? You have any hobbies that we haven’t heard of?

Apart from my day job, music occupies everything else.When I was studying, I was quite the literature nerd, reading 3, 4 books per week. I miss that… I hope I can get more international bookings so I can spend more time in trains, planes, lounges etc to catch up on my reading J.
I also like to watch movies as long as it’s not cheap and superficial. I like movies like Lost Highway or Thumbsucker (look it up if you don’t know it). The Big Lebowski is also still one of my favourite comedy films. The Event Horizon and the very first Alien movie for the sci-fi vs. Horror. Ah… there’s many more movies I could speak of.

11: And as a last question, I would like you tell me if you’re going to watch any sports at the Olympics, and (well, I lied, there are 2 last questions )  if you have any message to send to the Chinese government?

Nah, I don’t like watching sports. I prefer to do sports, although I haven’t had much time these last few years. I used to do a lot of sports…
For the Chinese government, I would say “stop torturing your own people and start educating them about how a bunch of evil hypocrites you are”. But I guess that would make people rise up against them and overthrow the government. But sometimes, that’s what it takes. We’re not perfect in Europe either mind you, but I can speak my mind without being kidnapped and tortured… (right?)

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Written by pessh

August 12, 2008 at 7:37 am

Posted in interviews - en

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