I recently had the pleasure of Interviewing the well-known sound experimenter Riccardo Mazza who, alongside with photographer/videomaker Laura Pol and keyboardist Carlo Bagini, is the creator and producer of Project-TO, an italian, “authorial” band of electronic, big beat, dark/ambient, techno and visual music whose debut album “The White Side, The Black Side” is set to be released on September 29th via A21 Productions/Machiavelli Records.
How would you classify your music?
I would say a mix of Big Beat and Techno. Project-TO has two faces, The White Side Album is sort of Electronic Big Beat with little taste of Rock, while the Black Side Album is more Techno dark oriented. During the Live Sets we alternate the Whites and the Blacks, where the Blacks cross the White tunes one to the other like a wave. But they are published as 2 distinct albums so that you can choose which to listen at.
Who are some of your top 5 musical influences?
The project comes from a long long… gestation. I will try to rank the choices by the elements that influenced me most composing the music in descending order 🙂
5th position: Pierre Schaeffer (1910-1995) the father of all DJs. He was the first composer that used sampling as composition techniques and his idea is still the foundation for most of the electronic music produced today. His experiments using reel to reel analog tape recorders fascinated me, and many sounds form the album have been achieved using those ancestral techniques.
4th position: Led Zeppelin. The rock soul inside the album comes from there. John Bonham’s unique drum style has been great source of inspiration for me, especially on The White Side album where you can hear some of that hammering crash and ride cymbals in Bonham’s style.
3rd position: Prince. He was for me a master in the use of complex rhythm and percussion arrangements. During the production of Project-TO The White Side album, I’ve been using a lot of real drums multi track recordings that I crushed with different electronic drum sounds, so to create a compact rhythm base that might sound natural and electronic at the same time.
2rd position: Alessandro Cortini. I love his italian style and elegance of his electronic compositions. Maybe because I’m italian too, but I do really think he’s at the same level of the great italian composers of the past. His sound is unique and it really influenced me.
1st position: The Chemical Brothers. Project-TO is a visual and sound project, it’s a video-story 31 minutes long that evolves interconnecting subjects and situations of the six tracks of the White album. All movie has been directed and conceived by Laura Pol that beside the shootings, she’s also VJing the whole live show on stage in real time. The work has been inspired by the video project “Further” by Chemical Brothers, and I would say that Project-TO really started from there.
What do you want fans to take from your music?
I believe it’s a magic moment for electronic arts. I can see people from all ages and nationality attending in mass at the electronic festivals. Many of these festivals today combine different arts like video, photography, sound installations and I believe that all this synergy will increase the level of art and culture. For us it is a privilege to be part of it. Our Live-sets are a combined visual and sound experience that occurs in real time, thus we do really get in touch with our public, we try to surround the audience participating with them and sharing their sensations. We just hope that people that follow us will have a good and positive time and they could leave for a moment their problems away. That’s what we are trying to accomplish with all our energy.
Tell us about your latest release?
It is my anthological collection. It has been a hard work, but at the end finally I made it. It’s called Riccardo Mazza Experimental Works 2000-2015 and it’s composed of 9 CDs of experimental music I composed in the last 15 years. My whole life is there from concrete music that includes the recordings I did around around the world in 2000-2001 when I produced the Renaissance surround library, to the many soundtracks I’ve created for exhibits and museums. One of the Cd for example is about generative music that I created programming algorithms that produce soundtracks in real time. The collections will be available in digital edition by the end of october, while the physical box that will include all 9 Cds, will be available before Xmas (I hope).
What do you love and hate about the Music Business in your opinion?
I love the fact that there is plenty of space today for good ideas, especially for young talented musicians that have at least the opportunity thru socials and internet, to be visible and hopefully in the business. I hate when I have to do the administrative work! Invoices, taxes, bills… My dream one day would be to have the money to hire a butler, so that I can stay locked all day into my studio with alla my beloved vintage gear…
What is the best concert you have been to? What do you like most about playing live?
Pink Floyd Pulse! I believe it was 1994 in Turin. The sound was amazing I never heard anything like that before. A Live-Set for me is pure emotion, what I like the most is when I see people dancing and moving. Then I know people are fine and they are having fun, so we did a good job and this makes me happy!
How have you evolved as an artist or band over the last year?
Laura Pol really helped me in blending the music composition with the video screenplay. Project-TO has been conceived since the very beginning as a visual and music experience and it has been first produced as a live set. We have been working together on single elements, sort of audiovideo cells to use during live shows where she was the eye and I was the ear. The album and video assembly came afterward. This experience has been a total new approach for me, that I think it improved me as artist.
If you could meet, play a gig, co-write a song, have dinner, get drunk with any band or artist (dead or alive) who would it be?
I guess Brian Eno! He’s artistically the person I feel closer to the way I work.
What is next for you?
We just opened a new label called “A21 Productions” and I’m moving the studio to a new location that includes also a video-photo room and a small showcase front street. We are trying to combine electronic music productions with contemporary art and performances events, thus we are contacting photo art galleries, dance companies, film festivals etc, and see if it will come out something interesting.
Thank you very much and I apologize for my english.