Characterising trance music’s energy in both approach and output, Italy’s Giuseppe Ottaviani has long been recognised as one of the genre’s most respected and prolific merchants.
Over the last decade, his trailblazing Giuseppe Ottaviani Live! and Giuseppe Ottaviani Live 2.0 evolutions have redefined what a DJ does.
In this candid interview, he talks to OzClubbers about his upcoming shows, the evolution of Evolver and worldwide trance family.
In just a couple of weeks you’ll be in Australia for Festival X, how many times have you been here and will you have any downtime?
I’ve been countless times to Australia, basically coming down here every year since 2004. I’ve had the opportunity to visit a lot and be a tourist in the past, but this time it will be in and out as my schedule wouldn’t allow me otherwise. I am excited to be playing at the first Festival X though, it should be fun.
Tell us about the Live 2.0 concept and why you branched away from the traditional mixer/turntables DJ set up?
In reality I’ve never been a DJ, I always played live since the early days. I mean I used to play with vinyls and turntables when I was 14 year old, but professionally speaking I started my career as live act in 2002 and never changed it.
What did change though where the instruments I use as the technology continuously evolves and offers new things and opens new frontiers reinventing what a “DJ” can do.
The Live 2.0 is a concept born in 2016 and basically it allows me to create music on-the-fly during a show, or at the sound check or in my hotel room right before the show and play it straight away.
It’s a small portable studio which I bring on stage. Now how this works is quite of a long story and it’s probably better to watch it than explain it in an interview so you might want to check this short video out:
Explain in simple terms (for non producers) what exactly is happening when you’re creating a track on stage and using crowd interaction?
If you just watched the video then you already have the answer 🙂 If you haven’t, well, my setup it’s kind of a hybrid setup with two distinct sections but both linked together.
A “DJ” section where I have all my studio productions where the tracks can be played in their full form, and a live section where I can select and record sounds to create new music on-the-fly. The combination of both sections is what allows me to deliver fresh sound in every show.
Some track is completely played from the live section so I can perform the track every time in a different way following the crowd reaction.
Normally when a full track is playing from the DJ section I have time to write and loop a simple melody and record other elements like bass, drums, on the live section and I can combine those elements together with the original track playing from the DJ section.
Sometimes those melodies I write on-the-fly are good enough to stand for themselves and so I just continue working on them after the show (usually when I’m back to the hotel) making a full track out of it.
And this is the great thing, making a full track on my Live 2.0 requires no more than 5 minutes. Of course it’s raw, basic and it doesn’t necessarily sound perfect but it’s good enough to be played live and see what people think about it.
Usually the best ones, those that get the best reactions from the crowd will be brought in my studio and turned into a proper production and released at a later stage. I made an entire album this way 🙂
Is it a challenge to adjust your show for the shorter festival set time?
Not at all, of course I like to play longer and I can be way more creative on longer sets as I have more time to work on new live elements and so on, but shorter sets are also good as I tend to pack together the best things I have to offer from the live section. A festival set is just as enjoyable as the longer club sets, it just works out a bit differently.
Congratulations on Evolver! Tell us about the concept behind this new album?
Evolver was born on the road. As I explained above the good melodies become a full live track and it gets road-tested straight away, so after 3 years I ended up with over 22 tracks made like that.
So I just decide to bring those rough live ideas into my studio and turn them into full studio quality production. This is also why the entire album is instrumental only and there are no collaborations at all, just me and my crowd!
Evolver is testament to how much you value the input of your fans to drive your creativity and create your music. Trance fans are so passionate, it seems only fitting to involve them.
The major point of Evolver is that the entire “evolution” process, from a live-created demo into a full studio production, has been streamed online and I’ve been reading all the comments from people who was watching my studio streams.
They gave me a lot of ideas and I took a lot of those on board for my productions. Basically this was a sort of collaboration between myself and my fans.
Evolver couldn’t even exist without them, in fact they pushed me to create an album as they wanted all the tracks to be released at once. Evolver is the first album I’ve made which I solely dedicated to my fans.
For trance fans, this music is more than just listening to an album or song, it’s about being part of a community and their connections to the music and the artist. How important is community?
Compared to other genres which are more dictated by a temporary fashion, trance fans are serious about their music and very loyal to the artists. This is why trance never really faded away and stayed consistent through all these years. The strong and growing Trance Family worldwide is what keeps this genre alive and the future looks even brighter seeing all the new generations joining it.
You’ve very successfully embraced technology to both collaborate and create. Is this the perfect formula to take trance into the future?
There’s not a perfect formula and there is not only one way when you look at the future. Music evolves and technology keeps evolving as well. Who knows what it will bring to us in the next years. My Live 2.0 concept couldn’t exist in 2012 for example.
What artists underground or otherwise are you listening to at the moment?
Honestly I tend to simply turn on the radio and listen to whatever is being played. I do listen to music every day and when I’m not working I just need to completely change and listening to something without even paying attention to it. Otherwise I listen to U2, Muse, Coldplay, some Moderat and the latest GAIA album is just out of this world.
Are you doing side shows while in Australia and what does 2020 have in store for you?
Unfortunately not, I’m just coming down for the two big Festival X shows this time, but I’ll come back soon next year.
2020 will be very interesting as I’m working on a major update of my Live 2.0 show, but I’ll have more info and a better plan around January so stay tuned for some news.
Festival X Dates
Friday November 29 – Brisbane Showgrounds
Saturday November 30 – Sydney Showgrounds
Sunday December 01 – Melbourne Showgrounds