Based in Milan, Daniel Tagliaferri aka Ivory is an Italian producer, DJ and guitarist who has enjoyed a rapid ascent through the electronic underground. Long a favourite of Dixon, John Digweed, Lehar, Nick Warren, Tale Of Us and Trikk, Daniel’s music has found a home on some of the world’s trendiest record labels, most notably Atlant Recordings, Azzur, Bedrock, Chapter 24, Isolate, MoBlack and Kompakt. Now following his critically acclaimed Beatport #1 release ‘No Scale Can Resize You’ for Canadian behemoth microCastle, we catch up with him in this exclusive interview. Enjoy!
WWD: Hi Daniel, thanks for sitting with us today! Tell us, what does a studio day look like for you?
Hi, thank you for having me on WWD. Usually I like to start to work in studio quite early in the morning, after a good breakfast, I used to read a book or listen to music, I need this to relax myself and get ready to let the inspiration flow more freely. The studio is in the second floor of my house, it’s really handy, I work all the morning, which I think is the best time to try new ideas, shaping sounds and building track structures, after lunchh I continue till evening, working on arrangements, transitions and details.
WWD: What’s been on your to-do list this week?
Just a re-listening session of some work-in-progress demos, checking stems for remixes and collabs with other artists and an accurate promo selection but nothing more, I’ve recently come back from Off Sonar weekend, was amazing but really hard! (lol).
WWD: Tell us more about your story. How did you discover electronic music and what led you down the path of wanting to be a producer and Dj.
I love to listen to many different genres of music, I’m a guitarist and I’ve always played in several bands and written music too.
My love for electronic music started in the 90’s with popular artist’s like Daft Punk, Chemical Brothers, Aphex Twin, Autechre, just to name a few.
Step by step I discovered club music, the house and techno underground scene and thanks to this I decided to start my own project and I discovered that electronic music could be the best dimension to express my music.
WWD: At which club or event did you experience electronic music for the first time and what memories have stuck with you from that moment?
I had two moments of contact with electronic music to name which were important for me.
First, was at a Chemical Brothers live set, my very first time at an electronic music performance, was like jumping into a Lewis Caroll masterpiece, Alice in Wonderland.
Second, was at a Tigerskin dj set, such an immersive experience, that time I thought for the very first time “wow, I want to do it too”.
WWD: Can you name three tracks that were influential in your musical development?
Impossible, I can’t reduce my musical background to only 3 tracks, my musical experience is shaped by the multitude of music I listened
WWD: How did you settle on Ivory as an artist name, is there a story behind it?
Not a story but a way to see djing. A dj for me looks like an artist who express himself to people from the top of an Ivory tower, everyone in a club or in a festival follow you and your musical journey like a shaman temporarily trapped in his musical abstraction.
WWD: How has living in Italy shaped your sound and career?
Nowadays I think the place where you live don’t influence too much an artist, we are connected to the whole world, something very far from us can be able to change our mind or our way to see things
WWD: The industry and how fans discover new music has changed dramatically in the last 10 years or so. How do you discover new music nowadays?
Music is part of my life, I think about music all the time and music comes to me in every way possible because my mind is always ready to absorb music and be inspired by it.
I can find something interesting for my ears everywhere, from soundcloud to a soundtrack, from a tv spot to a song listened to in a restaurant, be curious and be ready to find fresh sounds, this is important more than the way.
WWD: Your productions carry intriguing design qualities; quite organic yet musical and cosmic sounding in away, while still having a great nose for rhythm, groove and ultimately the dance floor. Is this something you strive for in the studio and what do you want your music to convey to the listener?
When I’m working on new tracks everything start from a good rhythm, I need to build my melodic and evocative universe on a solid beat, if the beat works I can start to add my soundscapes ,add by layers of pads, leads and arps, is my way to work on studio, no stress, just my natural workflow, sometimes seems like music itself tells you how you have to do things, I just listen and let myself be inspired.
WWD: I think for a lot of artists music allows you to write a sketch of your own personal universe in a way; your travels, life experiences etc. Is this something which is true for yourself? Where does inspiration come from?
Everything comes from my life, my experiences, making music is like talking about yourself, it’s a way to express your soul, your thoughts and your emotions. Inspiration comes from everyday life and from any source could represent an input, other music, literature, cinema, art in general, it’s a process, a mix of all inputs processed and shaped in music.
WWD: You have a new EP out on microCastle — ‘No Scale Can Resize You’. Tell us a bit about the EP and how it showcases your individualities.
“No Scale Can Resize You” represents for me a new start for my music, I tried to do something different from my previous productions while still trying to keep my sound signature.
WWD: We’re very excited to share the full premiere of the lead track ‘No Scale Can Resize You’. Walk us through the production process on the track and why did feel like the right track to lead the release?
With this track I wanted to shape a feeling in the music, the atmosphere is dark, seems you’re lost in a very critical situation, a dimension where you have to confront yourself with your abilities and when you think it’s very hard a solution comes out, a melodic arpeggio brings colors and dynamics and give a breath to the track, like rediscovering your strength to keep on and improve yourself.
Sorry I know, it is maybe a strange way to talk about a track but music for me is about feelings and the idea behind the storytelling of the track, I don’t like to talk about waveforms and drum machines.
WWD: What made microcastle the ideal home for this EP?
I strongly wanted to release on microCastle because they always deliver a great product in terms of musical taste and artistic taste, I love the design of the artwork and the artists involved in every release. The result is always a piece of art, there is a strict relation between music and visual art on the label.
WWD: When working on music is the dance floor always something that’s taken into consideration? Or does a certain vibe or flow sometimes transcend that?
It depends what you want to express with a certain track, sometimes you need more atmosphere and melody and sometimes you want more energy, but honestly it’s hard for me not to do something even a little bit dancefloor oriented, I think rhythm and groove helps the listener reach a dimension where the music wants to bring you, rhythm is like a mantra, a prayer, it’s more mental and evocative than we think.
WWD: Is there a movie you would have loved to have produced the soundtrack for? And if so why?
Tom Ford’s “Nocturnal Animals”, because it’s pure art.
WWD: Is there a side of Ivory which you wish to explore more in your upcoming projects?
Yes everyday is a research of something new in your music, a discover of your hidden facets as an artist, this is the goal during studio time.
WWD: How much of an influence does music outside of the electronic spectrum have on you?
A lot, music is not just something related to a genre or a style, music is art, it’s in continuous movement and renovation, it’s always interesting paying attention to new music innovation and styles while keeping an ear to classics and past pioneers
WWD: Most artists go through periods of creative blocks, what do you do to help break through these moments?
I think just stay calm and carry on, don’t be obsessed by the result and have fun making music, inspiration will come back.
WWD: What’s the thing most people think they understand about being an artist but don’t? And what are the biggest challenges you currently face as an artist?
I think I can sum up these two questions by giving the same answer. Repeating good results is very hard, mostly if you already did something good and largely appreciated, you have to keep your own sound, your signature but step by step, you have to change something, you need to surprise people every time and it’s not easy work. It’s about finding a balance of these two different aspects, it’s one of the biggest challenges and at the same time people don’t understand how much focus and hard work there is behind it.
WWD: Describe one or some of the best sets you’ve played in your career. Where was the venue and how was the vibe? Do you often feel inspired to make music after being on the road?
I can’t choose one set or one venue, having the opportunity to bring your music and your selection all around the world is always amazing and mostly I can’t choose because I’m so critical of myself. I always believe that I could have done better but it’s just that typical human pressure that drives us to impose to do our best.
WWD: What is the one piece of advice you give now that you wished you could have gotten five years ago?
Try and try again, don’t think about your goal but keep focused everyday on the small steps that lead you to reach your goal.
WWD: There are a lot of factors which affect the perception of an artist other than his music these days, social media for one, how much emphasis do you put on stuff like this? and what are your thoughts on the current state of the industry?
About social media I just wanna say it’s really useful to let your music reach more people with, much faster than years ago and more helpful but at the same time it can make you lose the real sense of the music, it can become just a shop window “hey watch who played my track, c’mon look at my tour dates around the planet and universe” it’s part of the game we have to play and it’s ok but it’s most important to give total attention to the music and it’s originality.
WWD: This may tie into the previous question in a way but what are the biggest challenges you face as an artist in the industry right now?
Oh well, there’s alot of different factors I can mention but nothing is more important than your consistency, without it you can’t face up all the other aspects and challenges in the industry.
WWD: Looking back over your discography, which one of your very first tracks still puts a smile on your face when you listen to it now, and why?
Atlantis for sure, it was the first unexpected track that put attention on my music.
WWD: Current five favorite tracks?
Innellea – Blizzard
Made By Pete feat. Jem Cooke – Remember (Coeus Remix)
Keope – Yenkl (Trikk Sol Remix)
Murat Uncuoglu – Stapper
Ditian – Chromatic Minimalism
WWD: Apart from music, what makes you happiest?
My girlfriend, books, art, good films, food and the opportunity to meet people that love and support my work, I don’t have the real dimension of what my music means for other people and feel it through people is wonderful, it’s the best gift that can come back from your music
WWD: What can we expect from you for the rest of the summer – any releases or special dates we should be looking out for?
I’m very excited about my first gig in Bosnia at red bull diving contest in Mostar and for my residency at Volt club in Milano for the next season, we will host many high quality artists.
I released lot of new music in July, I have a track with Speaking in Tongues out in August on Upon You
WWD: Cheers for speaking to us today Daniel !