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Enrico Sangiuliano: “Don’t start from presets, it can influence your music in a bad way”

Italian producer Enrico Sangiuliano has been one of the fastest-rising names in techno over the past few years. With a background in sound engineering and a natural ear for percussion, his productions turn a stripped-back mix of synths and drum sounds into tracks that are both propulsive and epic in equal measure. 

Following releases for the likes of Drumcode and Truesoul, and ear-catching remixes of Moby and Armand Van Helden, 2018 saw Sangiuliano release his debut full-length album, Biomorph. FM caught up with him at last year’s ADE festival to talk studio gear, hypnotic synths and more.

What’s your current studio setup and what gear inspires you?

“I’ve been based in my studio in Milan for 10 years and it’s mostly digital. I have a few hardware things which I exchange around with friends. Lots of swaps. I have a Juno 106, and a Universal Audio soundcard which is key to giving a nice colour and finalising tracks. 

“I really know the room well, so I feel comfortable. One thing which inspires me is Reaktor from NI because it has endless possibilities and you can create your own environment in there. What else inspires me? More than a single piece of hardware, I’m inspired by just hardware synths in general, because the physical approach brings you into another mood; it’s totally different to what you can get from digital.”

If you could go back in time and give your younger self one piece of production advice, what would it be?

“One of the best pieces of advice would be to always be free and follow my soul. Don’t follow your friends, don’t start from presets. It can influence your music in a bad way, because it’s already sculpted and designed and it’s not your personality. You can use them as a starting point to learn how to use a machine, but that’s it.”

When you sit down to write a new track, what’s your starting point?

“It can start from a mood that I want to translate into sound. That happened with Astral Projection. I was just in need of a hypnotic synth line, so that’s what I did. Sometimes it can happen just while floating around the synthesizer. You’re exploring and immediately find yourself sound designing, and come up with a new idea.”

What’s the best way to beat writer’s block?

“I learned not to worry about it, instead of staying in the studio and knocking my head against the wall. The more creatively I spend my time around, the more ideas I get.”

How important is music theory for producers?

“It’s not 100% essential but the more you know the better it is. But sometimes knowing too much can distract you from what you know inside, in the soul. I think a mixture is best.”

Who do you consider to be the most inspiring producer in the world right now?

“I never follow a specific producer, but I always follow a specific scene, generally. At the moment I really like, for example, Yotam Avni, from Israel. His production really stands out.”

Talk us through your current DJ setup?

“In the booth I’m once again a hybrid between a traditionalist and new technology [fan]. I use CDJ decks with USB sticks. And underneath, an Xone92 mixer which has a really good sound spec. I also use guitar pedals as effects, which are the least quantised thing you can have in a booth. That’s it. When I switched from vinyl, using the sticks was an amazing step. Nowadays I’m able to deal with my entire library in 10 seconds which wasn’t the case before.”

What are you working on right now?

“At the moment I’m still enjoying my album being out so I’m not working on anything in particular. I’m just thinking about how to restart my next mission. I like to start things from scratch. Because this album was a unique concept I need some time to let it go and do proper research.”

What, in your studio, would you save in a fire?

“The first thing I’d save is the Apollo soundcard because the rest is pretty much digital.”

Enrico Sangiuliano’s latest album Biomorph is out now via Drumcode.

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