130 - Mattia Di Cretico
Artist Interviews 🎶 Studio Tours 🎛
Hello music people 👋
Today in the spotlight, Mattia Di Cretico
Currently in Italy, he is a drums teacher with a love for ambient music. He shares his way of transferring concepts between these two extremes 🎶
Interview & Studio Tour
Who are you and what is your relationship with music?
My name is Mattia Di Cretico, I was born in Rome and I now live in Milan.
My relationship with music started as a drummer. I started playing when I was 15 years old, at first in rock bands and then I mainly specialized in jazz music, but I still play as a session man for different artists without any genre limitations.
I've been teaching drums for about 20 years. In 2017, I started experimenting with electronic/ambient music, using tape loops, samplers, and synths, and that was the birth of my project MDC, which is basically the opposite of what I do as a drummer.
Which piece of equipment in your studio is essential to your production process?
I'm basically a "DAWless guy", as I dig the idea of using my equipment as a singular instrument that I can play with. I usually use the computer only to record and master my performances.
My favorite piece of equipment is the four-track cassette recorder, TASCAM Portastudio 424, as well as my Elektron Digitakt, which I use to sample my tape loops and as a master sequencer.
I've recently started to build my modular synth setup and I'm having a lot of fun finding ways to integrate it with the rest of my instrumentation.
What is the least expensive piece of gear that gave you the most results?
Probably the kalimba that I purchased on Amazon and then modified by adding a piezo. It's the main instrument I used to record my Sense/Hear album.
Walk us through your process for creating and producing music.
I usually don't produce my music, I just try to make performances and record them. I basically start with a tape loop or a synth sequence, then build sonic layers around that initial idea and search for an evolution in the structure.
What is a production technique that you always come back to?
Given that I use tape loops, I can say that my favourite production technique is looping and sampling.
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How would you describe your style?
Both when I play drums and when I play electronic instruments, I try to create a groove. Of course, it takes a different meaning when I play drums, where the groove is given by the rhythmic scan, which is well deciphered.
On the contrary, when I play ambient music, I try to create a groove in a much longer space of time without using any drum machine or percussive sounds. I know that talking about groove in ambient music sounds strange, but for me it's the basis.
What is a big challenge you have as an artist?
I make music because I like it. Should I no longer find pleasure in doing it, I would probably change jobs. So basically my real challenge is to make music I like, and for me that's also a setback because until I'm sure I like something I've created, I don't put it out.
Everything about promoting my music is another big challenge that I have to deal with, but I'm working on it by putting out weekly videos on Instagram, where I try to show my creative process and give an idea of what I do.
Has building a hardware setup changed your perspective on music or life in general?
Creating a hardware setup did not change my perspective on music, rather it gave me back the sensation of playing an instrument.
Playing hardware instead of producing music on a computer is much closer to what I do when I play drums. It gives me the feeling of being a kind of "conductor."
One tip on how to spark creativity?
I personally think that starting with a small idea, be it a musical phrase, a loop, or a sequence, can be a good way to try to imagine everything else.
Many times I also fall in love with a sound and try to create something around it. It is essential to try to create regularly so that different inventive solutions emerge.
Also, listening to other people's music and trying to imagine how they might have created it, is a nice way to create something new, which is not a copy but it's influenced by that process.
A book, movie, article, or album that has inspired you?
Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd.
Anything else you'd like to say?
Thank you for this interview!
Where can people find more of your music and connect with you online?
I have several cassette and tape recorders of different types:
As sequencers and samplers I use Elektron - Digitakt, Korg Electribe 2S, OP-Z.
As synthesizers, I use an Arthuria - Microfreak and my modular synth setup, where there are oscillators, granular effects and modulations.
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