David Castellani is an unrelenting Italian-born, Los-Angeles based producer that is taking the techno underworld by storm. Castellani first grabbed our attention with the thrilling ‘Alpha Gamma’ EP, which dropped on his Noetic imprint in July with a remix from the illustrious Redshape (Delsin, Monkeytown). The release was swiftly followed by the acid-infused ‘Solaris’ EP, 2 originals cuts strapped with a remix from revered Frenchman Voiski.
Castellani hit three for three and closed out the year with arguably his finest piece to date; the ’Electrochemical’ EP on October 29. The sumptuous four tracker (which includes a remix from Matrixxman) has garnered support from a host of genre-defining heavy hitter including Adam Beyer, Laurent Garnier, Anna, Randomer, Nicole Moudaber, Francois X and many more. We caught up with the rising talent to dissect his 2021 and look to the future. It’s all below!
WWD: Thanks for joining us David. Congrats on the recent success of the ‘Electrochemical’ EP. Can you talk us through the creative process and what was going through your mind at that point in time?
Thank you, I really appreciate the chat.
Electrochemical is a bit of a tornado when it comes to ideas. The title track came out of my first run with the Sequential Pro One which I had recently gotten my hands on. It’s really a beautiful synth whose tone cuts through a mix unlike any other synth I own. This led to securing Matrixxman for the remix. From where I am standing, he is one of the most talented artists in the techno scene right now. I really resonate with his sound palette, ideas and I feel very blessed to have him top off the EP.
Last but not least, is Acid Test. This track is a bit of an outlier from the rest of the Noetic Releases. A bit more aggressive and raw, Acid Test, has some genuine qualities that you will see more of from me in the coming future.
WWD: You’ve spoken about questioning the quality of your final product and the challenge of saying a track is finished. Are there any tools or methods that you find useful during that process to facilitate your decision making?
For me, it’s tough finding the finish line with these tracks. There is always the thought in the back of my mind that this section could be a bit better, or some adjustment needs to be made. Unfortunately, I can’t speak to any foolproof method that defines when a track is finished. And to be honest, I feel that is the beauty of music and art in general. If there were clear cut rules and metrics in art, we would not have the diversity and richness that the world provides us with everyday. So even through the frustration, I enjoy the subjective character that music and art have.
Going even deeper – I believe that this undefinable characteristic about art in our world is both the gift and the crutch that all artists bear. The unquantifiable truths of value within art is what allows artists to push themselves outside of what has already been created, and to move the boundaries of the collective creative output. On the other hand, subjective benchmarks of quality in art can easily fool an artist into not pushing themselves beyond what is convenient or easy. I am a strong believer that with enough focus, heart, thought and time, anyone can create great art. But with a slippery definition of what makes “great art”, it’s easy to pat ourselves on the back before we’ve explored our full potential.
WWD: 2021 has been a breakout year for you. What does pushing your boundaries in the studio look like in 2022?
I am constantly over analyzing music and trying to enrich my understanding of my internal value system. Though I am pleased with my current output, I know I will always have more to learn and, via more focus, I can always do better. In 2022, I plan to step up my stride and dig deeper into my own creative and technical boundaries and, just like every year before, I will push to make the best music I can.
WWD: Can you share with us an insight into your current live set-up?
My live set-up consists of 3 Dopefer A-100 Monster Cases including modules from different manufactures. This is where the bulk of the sounds & sequences originate from and where I do all my mixing. I have around 5-6 sequencers in my rig running at any given time which feed to the 20 or so voices in my performance patch. These fall into four Befaco Hexmix Mixer modules and one WMD Performance mixer.
Beyond the Eurorack – I usually have an x0xb0x with Atomic Mods next to me. I find this to be the best 303 “clone” and, with the Atomic modifications, it really shines. I can’t stress how much I enjoy this synth. Acid is such a huge part of my creative palette and without the x0xb0x, I would be lost (or at least lose 4k on a Devilfish Tb-303). I also like to have a Digitakt close by for extra auxiliary percussion and supporting percs to the main leads coming from the modular rig.
Lastly, I bring out a didgeridoo which I run through the Panharmonium by Rossum Electro for some extra color.
All of the channels run individually to my soundcard, and then into Live where I track all the live performances. I also have two faderfox controllers which are mapped to extra effect sends on every channel. Though no sounds or sequences are coming from LIVE, the additional effect really helps give the live set an extra sheen that I find very valuable to the performances.
WWD: Where can we catch you on the road in the coming months?
I have a 95-year-old grandfather and will be taking some time off the next few months from gigs and will be traveling back home to Italy for the holiday season. You can expect me to get back on the road in early 2022.
WWD: How do you balance your time between making music and performing, your fashion line After Infinite, and modular synthesizer company Anti-Kulture?
A thing I’ve learned that helps me stay motivated is not spending too much time on any one task. After a few hours of focusing on something, I usually need to shift my thoughts onto something else to stay inspired. Generally my days consist of 3-4 hours at home working on After Infinite & Anti-Kulture responsibilities, after which I head to the studio for the next 7-8 hours to work on Noetic and new original music. While in the studio, I try to divide my time equally between new recordings, mixing/wrapping old tracks and live jamming. This helps me cover lots of ground daily and stay on top of deadlines.
WWD: What makes Los Angeles the ideal home for David Castellani right now?
Los Angeles is a wonderful place to live. Here you are immersed in a big urban city that is surrounded by the pacific ocean, the nearby mountains and the desert. You can’t beat the weather and practically anything you need is an arm reach away. My favorite part of L.A. is the music scene. The general level of musicianship here is really high and even in small dive bars you will find musicians with incredible skill. But the best part for me is the livelihood of the techno warehouse events. The scene is very healthy and there is nurturing of the scene here which is rare in the U.S. I do possibly see myself returning back to Europe in the future, but for now California is my home.
WWD: 2021 is fast coming to a close, some quick-fire questions for you…
Can you share one new thing you’ve learned this year?
Developing a new Eurorack module, I’ve learned the vital importance of a simple UI design in Eurorack modules. Tools that are intuitive and offer immediate results are extremely powerful.
WWD: 2021 Track of the year?
This is a VERY tough question but I choose 190209.2 by Rene Wise and Rødhåd
WWD: 2021 Mix of the year?
Also a very, very difficult choice but I really loved the DJ Stingray 313 Boileroom from Cologne.
WWD: One artist you’ll be watching in 2022?
Colin Benders – I can’t wait for him to burst even further onto the scene.
WWD: To make it in music in 2022, you must…
Get solo releases on some of my favorite iconic labels.
WWD: Before we let you go, what can we expect from Noetic in 2022?
Unfortunately I am not allowed to go into specifics but you can expect Noetic to keep releasing forward-thinking techno by myself and other innovative artists. Stay tuned!
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