It’s been some time since the last interview, but we promised: this time we will make a big one. I had the chance to exchange ideas with Andrea Recla, which might not be known for his real name but definitely is by his art name Neve and the label he co-owns: The Dreamers Recordings. This small yet quite a lot supported label is scoring some serious results in the Drum & Bass panorama, getting support by many big artists, to the point that it made it in the final selections for the Drum & Bass Awards of 2016 (we also talked about an anecdote about them here). First of all, we gotta state something: why Neve? For those of you who don’t know italian as a language, neve means snow. However, as Andrea explicitely stated with me, “This word fits all the languages. It’s [\neve\] for italians, [\niiv\] for english-speaking people, [\nefe\] for germans, all don’t have a hard time spelling it. I come from the mountains, snow refers to that obviously, but for sound engineers it’s also the brand of one of the most famous mixers. For some people it is a name for drugs [chuckes]”. Not to mention that he is 2 meters tall, so 2 meters of snow is kind of what people are used to say in the mountains. Ok that’s enough! The next words are our conversation.
What was your first contact with drum & bass? Do you remember an artist or a track, or an event that dragged you in in the first place? How did it all start?
First of all thank you for this interview. It’s always nice to find someone that wants to add words apart from the music I make.
My first contact with drum & bass has been at the age of 17 (more or less 15 years ago), when London Elektricity played in the little town I come from: Rovereto (North Italy, in the Alps). Memories are blurred, I was a punk / ska guitarist back in the days, but I do remember how I was astonished from the performance. It was around the year 2000, all the new electronic styles were popping out, and it was always a pleasure to discover a new one, with new futuristic vibes. This thing is becoming more and more difficult to find, but not impossible: as a matter of fact, I want to bless Luca Fronza, aka DJ 5th suite, for having always pushed the culture of alternativa and vanguard electronic music in the valley where my hometown is, for the last 20 years.
The spark stroke some years later, when with my friends I became a rave aficionado. Switching between hardcore, hardstyle, trance, house was easy. However, I was still in search of that one electronic style that could fulfill my needs for bass frequencies, phrenetic drumlines and UK vibes. It was by accident that I hit the Livello Vecchio, a well-known subculture club in Bologna (Centre-North of Italy, hometown to many alternative music in Italy); I was astonished by the huge room full of people, they were playing a track with a very long intro that later on became a must of these events. I remember that the mystic vocals of that track blurred my mind to the point that I had to be taken outside to breathe some fresh air. As far as I got better I rushed back in, I didn’t want to lose a bit of that fantastic music: there were real drums, jazz, hardcore, reggae, every musical style inside it. I finally had discovered Drum & Bass. Some days later I dug deeper to find out who the artists were, but it was years later that I realized who Bad Company actually were in the scene. I also found out which one the track that made me go bananas was, and never stopped listening to it since then: Konflict – Messiah.
Huge track! One of those oldies that were actually a milestone in the genre. As a matter of fact, it has been the history of many, to come to Drum & Bass starting from sub-genres of Rock, Punk and Metal, as if Drum & Bass was some sort of a way-out from those genres without losing the artistic dignity. What do you think of this?
I believe that everyone have their own taste and their own musical experience, it’s not the most logical and predictable path. For sure, if you come from areas of music where drums and groove are the core of the sound itself, you can find what you’re looking for in Drum & Bass, but you can also find the unimaginable. Let’s leave Rock in its spot, and electronic music in its own one. Two different worlds, one played and one programmed, each one with its own rules and philosophy, good and bad sides. The only thing that matters is to have fun, dance and soak in every bit of new music.
Your label, The Dreamers, is gathering consensus here and there, and is one of the best realities of the italian electronic music scene. Do you have a mission, something or someone you inspire to/at, some fixed objectives?
Thank you for the kind words towards The Dreamers Recordings. It’s our fuel, what we need to keep going without losing the smile on our face! I’m talking plural to underline the fact that it’s not mine. The Dreamers is a collective that was born in Turin, in the well-known Puddhu Bar on the ‘Murazzi’ (a famous area of the city where lots of the nightlife has been going on until the council decided to shut it down some years ago). I moved to Turin 5 years ago, and becoming part of this crew has been something natural. In a few time, the Rollers Inc, Bow, Kermit & Sciso, Kwality and all the others have become my adoptive family. This situation of mutual brotherhood improved my DJ and producer skills, made me feel like part of a family. The most important thing I learned has been how to organize events, the teamwork behind it. We really did a lot of events, and we’ll keep on doing it [smiles].
The label was an idea of mine, instantly liked by the others as well. It was our next level, we worked together for 12 years, and I was in contact with a lot of italian producers that were releasing amazing music: it was the best thing to do. The Dreamers was born to value the producers. With the parties we budget releases, recharge our batteries for new music, and we can afford to keep the label machine going. Luckily, results have come.
I would really like to mention all those who took part in this first year of the Dreamers Recordings: Was a be, Kiril, Synth Ethics, Lynch Kingsley, Crimson, Treega, Hlz and me, Neve: nothing of this would have been possible without them. I would also like to unveil that the next artists to join our roster will be Fractale, Invadhertz, Frame and that also some very big artist will collaborate with us the next future.
Wow! Compliments, really. I have a particular bond with Turin, I support Torino FC (the football team) as do all my family. I’ve been visiting the city since I was a child, and I can say that I know it quite good, I believe it’s one of the nicest cities in Italy. We can surely say that the air in Turin is dense in electronic music, more than any other in the country. Do you agree? What binds you to Turin besides music?
I chose to move to Turin exactly because to me it looked like the most musical city in Italy. It’s not like the other big cities are empty of music, but there’s some particular energy in Turin. It’s the capital of esotherism, misticism, this city really melts together good and bad vibes balancing them out in every aspect. You can find drum & bass on a weekly basis, and this is true also for all the other different genres in electronic music. I’ve been thrown in since day one, and I really found out how this city and its musical scene is full of boys and girls, students and grown-ups all wanting to have fun and create something big. It offers a lot, and feeds all the different tastes during the whole year. Big up for Turin!
Philosophical question: what is your idea of music?
I believe that music is one of the strongest communication media on the planet. Lots of people gather in front of sound systems for the most different reasons: dancing, having fun, finding someone, getting drunk, doing drugs, feeling the vibes. However, the only thing that is not taken into account is that there are messages inside music, which is impossible not to soak. I played a music full of rage for years, but developing myself both anagraphically and musically, I realized that the message that I want to send is not only made of violence, war, bombs and monsters. In one event there’s time to soak in any kind of vibration, and make a voyage that goes through both marvellous and hard places, to conclude with a big smile. Drum & Bass can satisfy many different tastes, and in my sets I always try to make everyone happy.
It’s now 10 years that I’m into electronic music, and these broad musical horizons had a drawback on my productions as well. I am not bound to any of the Drum & Bass sub-genres, I believe I don’t have a signature sound (even though many told me that they could spot a track of mine among 1000): I just let myself go with the flow, I seek for good ideas and try to develop them to deliver a good product for DJs and events. I started mixing music in 2003 with vinyls, and luckily this year I really had a lot of gigs around, almost 3 per month. Therefore, thanks to all the crews that support me and us, it wouldn’t be possible without you!
A side note: I mix records, I play the guitar. I am extermely strict on this definition, and on the inappropriate usage of the term that is perpetrated nowadays.
In a hypothetical debate (if there was one -I chuckle-) on wether it’s better to mix actual records or having a completely digital consolle / mixing system, something like Traktor, do you have a clear position or do you just require that the performer outputs a quality performance?
Personally, I just want the people to dance, because this is what parties are for: have fun, and dance. Some live acts, with analog machines, well I would rather watch them right in front of the sound system but sitting comfortably on an armchair. We’re talking about music meant for dancing here, and it surely doesn’t matter how you play it. It is true that a vinyl sounds “warmer”, and with this I mean that it lacks some definition and some high frequencies, but I also think that while what is produced in an analog way should stay analog and be printed in vinyl, almost all electronic music is digital and therefore meant for digital distribution. Sadly, the CD puts some boundaries with 16 bit and 44100 kHz, but with a CDJ you can also play files which are at 24 bits, and with a computer you can outstream at higher frequencies and have a superlative quality of audio output. I can play both in vinyl and digital way, but my set up is two Pioneer Nexus 2000 and 2 USB keys. If you’re asking yourself why, the answer is that “we’re in 2017”. This is the technology we have, this is what a professional DJ should be able to play with for always being up-to-date. You spend fewer time getting tracks on time, and more on the selection, the actual choice that makes the party go bananas or not. The good old years where you spent ages getting the tracks on time are gone, we have to deal with it. It was fun, but now luckily there is a big and bright number on the monitor: the BPM. I usually play with two decks, sometimes three, I rarely double-drop, because I believe that if a track is good there is no need to overlap it with another one, it’s an excess: I prefer to play tracks that can stand alone, even better with an MC like our guy Kwality, which hosts the best drum & bass events in Turin. After having lived in Turin, I can’t think of a drum & bass event without the hosting of an MC skilled as he is.
This is for the gear-a-holics: what do you use to produce music?
I tried all kinds of sequencers in the years, both for work and for personal projects, but I feel comfy with Ableton Live at the moment. Pros and cons, clearly, but it gives me a freedom of expression and a user-friendly experience that I truly cannot abandon. I still design sounds with external hardware (properly programmed -winks-). I worked in many different recording studios where I had the chance to sample many synths, and still I do love to sample things with a microphone, from the external world as well. I never miss the chance to record friends, or particular sounds that I find along my way, they always come handy one day. In many cases it would be actually possible to add a booklet to my songs that describes where the sounds come from. It is fascinating, to bring moments of your life into music, shape them into something harmonical or rhythmical, let them last for eternity.
I do a lot of collabs, mainly because I am a good working companion, and it’s funny to share passions and creative choices with someone else, with mutual learning from each other. I do like to meet the flesh & blood copy of the producers I work with, because I think that the web is really a flat and reductive place to create music. The place, the people, the smells, and a thousand of other factors influence the sound beyond any imagination. Also, I always have a guitar on my side and I play it quite often, it balances out all the synthetic sound that is created in these sessions.
I could say that I understand you under every aspect of this answer of yours. One year ago I made a track which was entirely made out of sounds sampled in Padova (North-East of Italy, I lived there for five years)! For what concerns guitar, I am a guitarist too, with almost 20 years of experience now, therefore I know what you mean with ” I always have a guitar on my side”.
Do you ever miss music played with more traditional instruments, especially live, and the environment which is typical of rock music and its derivatives? Did you ever think that electronic music is a place where artistic expression has a harder time emerging?
I think that the main difference is the solitude. A producer spends lots of time at the computer, mainly alone, arranging orchestras of instruments. In a band rehearsal, instead, there are people. Everyone does his job, there is a satisfaction in playing a song correctly after months of tryouts which has no equals. When you realize that the band got flow, that you understand each other with just one second of eye-contact, that you’re all in phase, it’s a beautiful sensation. The comradery, feeling like a team, sharing happiness, this is something that an electronic music producer lives differently, and usually online. Almost all producers collaborate online. If one looks at my discography, can realize that I was never able to leave the sensations that I mentioned above: I keep collaborating and catching up with my best producer-friends all over Italy, either in person or online, shaping up what we like the most. More generally I can say I would really like to get back in a band, stay together and vibe… and today I would also be able to handle the recording sessions of the band [smiles]. For us, electronic music producers, is very important to make a lot of gigs around, because we’re always at the computer programming music to make you dance, and we need to reload the battery with smiles and people to keep on making good music, to get inspired.
Let’s talk about italian drum & bass from your perspective, since you’ve been in it for quite a while already. How did it grew up, what has changed, positive and negative aspects with respect to 10 years ago. Where are we going? What do we lack with respect to other european scenes?
There surely are more events than before, the genre has grown in the years, especially thanks to events organizers that gave blood and sweat to make this happen. I have a hard time placing arbitrary borders, because I believe that things go on and develop where people actually organize them, some kind of starting from the bottom now we here. Many people worked with Drum & Bass in the last 15 years, and there are many talented producers in our land. What I believe, is that we have to carry on this message, educate the boys, and let them trenspass the simple and soul-less club culture. I see only positive things: everything is developing with our new generations, and it is our duty to deliver a funny and solid culture.
I love how you see a mission in spreading music and culture. Who are your musical idols? And who are the non-musical ones? Who points the moon, if you allow me this quote.
I’m not sure I know how to answer this one. There are just too many people that I respect both in music and not, each of which comes with good and bad sides. For sure I am fan of every researcher that tries to bring innovation in humanity, both artistical and material. In my small world, in my little musical research, I hope to leave something in this beautiful planet Earth.
What does Neve do in his private life? Passions, hobbies, secrets. Satisfy our inner hairdresser.
I am a sound designer and sound technician, but one year ago I came back to my hometown and take one year off from work, dedicating myself entirely to the label development and to my music. Sadly, this year is almost come to an end but I’m quite satisfied with the results because we created something solid for the years to come.
Apart from this, I try to carve out some time to play basketball with my friends, with hip-hop background obviously, but most of the time I am somewhere between the web and the sequencer.
I am picturing you in a situation like Pure Gold, from Calyx & Teebee. This leads me to another question: since I remember a picture of you with C&T some years ago in your facebook profile, who are the most important artists your worked with, live or in the studio, and who impressed you the most?
You’re referring to that photograph with Calyx, Teebee, Rockwell, Alix Perez and Sabre from Ivy Lab at the Kappa Futur festival 2 years ago, right? That memory is unforgettable for me, both on my wall and in my heart [smiles]. I’ve been to really a lot of live performances, but the one that changed my idea of drum & bass has been Fracture. If I could, I would live my life out of jungle and 90’s vibrations.
In studio I worked with just too many people and on so many projects. There always was a fair exchange of knowledge and it’s true that you never stop learning. However, who really impressed me the most has been Disprove, the master, both as man and producer. He’s probably one of the best and most talented people I ever met in the drum & bass scene! I also want to mention The Buildzer from High Scream Records (a legend in the bass music and hip-hop music scenes), who believed in me from my first beat, and is still my beacon at the mastering studio in Milan. Last but not least, I wanna thank the whole crew of The Dreamers, especially the Rollers Inc, who never ceased to advice me on how make huge amounts of junglists dance with style.
Can you tell us something about your future releases and plans?
In the next future I’m gonna be playing in Italy, Europe and America, where Jungle and Footwork are almost more appreciated than here), and probably I’ll be playing at a couple of Med School parties. After having published with Flexout and Dutty Audio, and many other smaller labels, I started working with Med School and Hospital Records. My single Magic Flute stood in the top 100 for more than a month, getting even in the top 10 for a while, and that triggered the attention of many. At the moment I’m storing music in my head, trying to work for them. It’s a challenge to myself, to my skills, to prove that I can aim to such a big label, and I wanna take this challenge, especially because I have so many records of Hospital and Med School in my closet… it’s really a dream that is becoming true. We’re The Dreamers, we won’t stop dreaming!
In the end, I have to ask you the same question I asked to all the others I interviewed. Complete the sentence: “sometimes, when I’m alone, I…”
Talk like Chewbacca [laughs in wookie].
At this point our chat ended, but I felt like I learned so much that I could barely handle it all. Andrea is one of those people that cross your heart in a few words, you can feel the genius in every word he speaks, and nonetheless one of the funniest producers I had the chance to talk with. This interview was truly an experience, and while I think he feels like he let out a lot, I feel 10 kg heavier, but in a good way. Headphones up, UKF full-volume, and here we go for another day!
The Dreamers – Links: