Sometimes interviews pan out slightly differently than the standard Q&A format. A brief introduction via email turned into a prolonged chat via FB with Michele Pinna (label head of The Triangle Records, aka Time Traveler whose recent release "I'm Made of Stars" and subsequent remixes takes us on a epic journey through time and space. Inspired by conversations with his dad and shaped by a prolonged hospital stay, we caught up with him about his thoughts on music, time travel and why he has no gods.
CGNY: Is it a good time to talk Michele?
TT: Sure – I’m just watching Mr. Robot
CGNY: Oh yes – I’ve heard good things about it!
TT: Yeah I love it!
CGNY: So how long have you been making music?
TT: So I started studying music at 6 years old. I started playing guitar jumping from jazz to metal. From 6 to 18 I played just the guitar.
CGNY: Metal! Interesting but makes sense.
TT: Yes you can find an influence on the LP. Especially in all the distortion used on the synths, bass and definitely on the drums.
CGNY: Are you using analog machines or Ableton or what?
TT: Yes I do. I used a lot of stuff. I’m not a purist. I am about achieving the most effective result. If I need gear, I use gear. If I can do by VST or something digital I will use that. In Made of Stars - it’s quite a big melt of techniques.
CGNY: So when did you start working on this release?
TT: I started this LP during a long hospitalization time. I stopped playing guitar after a car crash when I was 18.
CGNY: Oh wow and what age are you?
TT: 31. During this accident I lost the use of a part of my left arm. It took a lot of time to walk again and use the hand. So I had to forget about playing an instrument.
CGNY: Pretty life changing I can imagine.
TT: Yes. The last surgery was 2 years ago but in the last 13 years a lot of other surgeries.
CGNY: So by not being able to play the guitar, did it sort of force you into another musical genre?
TT: No. I was already a clubber! I always loved electronic music since I was a youngster. I grew up with music. So it was a case of “Well let’s see what I can do now” kind of thing. During my university studies I started studying new music technologies by myself. I was in the faculty of architecture so every day after lessons I went home to study from books videos and everything about how to start in production. I'm self-educated. It took perhaps longer than producers who are already masters or take classes.
CGNY: That's a lot of study and discipline!
TT: Yes but I had the time. It was kind of a joke at the start but the necessity was to make music. Not to become a musician or a producer.
CGNY: So you mentioned that the inspiration to make this album came from chats with your father?
TT: Yes, everyone wrote this but no-one understood really. It wasn’t just one conversation or chat but a kind of connection we have on this topic. We talked a lot about it over the years when we want to escape from reality you know what I mean? It wasn’t just one conversation and then I decided to make the LP about it.
CGNY: Yes I understand – it happened over a period of time.
TT: I’ve always found astronomy fascinating and dreaming about travel in space.
CGNY: Haha me too!
"I was a graffiti artist for many years and my moniker was STAR.
I did this for a long time so I moved
around in lots of interesting and perhaps not so legal areas."
TT: Very much interested in sci-fi but this last time in hospital – it sort of allowed my mind to travel. And I have never said this in an interview but it was a promise to my father that I would find a way to travel using my imagination. So this is why I chose this title. Behind this of course is 13 years of trouble I got into!
CGNY: Oh yes? Obviously then your parents - your dad always supported or encouraged your interest in music?
TT: Yes and my family had a lot of patience. I was a graffiti artist for many years and my moniker was STAR. I did this for a long time so I moved around in lots of interesting and perhaps not so legal areas.
CGNY: You are the second artist I've interviewed who has had a background in graffiti and tagging. Seems to match together!
TT: So yes my family always supported me. I had an exhibit in Italy, BIENNALE in Venice. But no-one gave a shit about the underground graffitti in Italy.
CGNY: So you’re Italian?
TT: Si yes from Sardinia, Cagliari.
CGNY: I see and you live in Berlin now?
TT: No Rome. I will be not the nth person who comes to Berlin to ‘become someone”. It is a utopian illusion. I started as an artist from a small city: on an island where there are no clubs, in a small studio.
CGNY: So you are saying you don't feel it necessary to live in Berlin to 'do your music' as it were?
TT: Yes. I just moved to Rome because every week there are djs and friends here. I don’t need to be in Berlin :) Maybe one day Berlin will call me but for now am content here in Rome. But I love to walk around Berlin
CGNY: So..these thoughts about space and time travel - have you seen the movie Interstellar?! It's my all-time fave sci -fi - so far! I ask because it’s the title of one of your tracks on the release.
TT: I did see it. But was not my favorite to be honest.
CGNY: You know NASA actually ratified some of the science behind it?
TT: Yes. I read it about that.
"Every era has reasons to rise up that cannot be the same as for our parents.
Their life soundtrack cannot be the same as ours..."
CGNY: Why does techno and sci -fi match really well. Am listening to the track "Chronicles" now and yes it reminds me of big clunky spaceships moving inexorably into the void. There is such a natural connection between the two don't you think?
TT: I don’t know. I just used a flow of work that fit me. I used to watch images or art and inspired by those, I create soundscapes. It’s like I have to paint with sounds.
CGNY: And then the remixes.. How did you decide on those artists? I know Bryan Black – Black Asteroid.
TT: Bryan is a great friend of mine and of course I love his music. We see him every time he is in Italy. So his remix was something sure on my LP. We have tons of common interests: fashion, art, music.
CGNY: And Joe ( DJ Hyperactive) and Bas and Brian - all great folks whose style would seem to fit very well with this album. So when you ask someone to do a remix – what are you hoping they will accomplish with it?
TT: In my case, I did it to compare my work. Some artists do it for fame. A more famous artist could shine a light on your track. In my case it was a kind of personal challenge. I asked my favorite artists to listen to my work and if they agree, to then make a remix. So for me it was a privilege too. Artists I admire like Dave Clarke, Detroit Techno Militia and Brian Sanhaji etc. They are among my favorites.
CGNY: What do you think of the work of Jeff Mills whose tracks are very futuristic sounding?
TT: I love Jeff but not every track from him. His live playing on the machines is amazing to listen to. But I don’t love to deify. Some of his works appeal to me some don’t. For example his last performance in Rome two months ago, 90 minute set, 60 minutes was boring. Anyway I have all his records. But I have no gods ;) As I say in the outro: GOD IS A WORD
CGNY: So do you still go out clubbing yourself?
TT: Of course, I’m a clubber!!!! When I play with friends after my set, I’m on the floor dancing while they play :) Otherwise I would have stuck to architecture.
CGNY: I think I saw on your twitter something about not trusting a dj who doesn't club?
TT: Hahah – yes it was mine. I don’t use Twitter a lot in Italy. No-one cares about it. I’m not for tweeting in my life. I need a page where I can write chronicles!
CGNY: So I asked the question - if you could only take one album with you on a journey to Mars - what would it be?
CGNY: I had a feeling you might say a Pink Floyd album!
TT: The first cassette that I listened to at 2 years of age was this one when my dad drove me to nursery school.
CGNY: Where do you see electronic music and techno specifically going in 20 years’ time? A lot of the innovators and pioneers of that music will be in their 60s and 70s then!
TT: I have a forward vision of electronic music. In the next 20 years I'm pretty sure it will go hand in hand with the modern forms of arts and communication. Every era has a sound. We are sons of the modern electronic era. Every age has reasons to rise up that cannot be the same as for our parents. Their life soundtrack cannot be the same as ours because every age speaks a different language. We talk the machine languages, and our music could only be made by machines. Now the technologies and machines are developing so fast that we are completely submerged by it. So in my opinion also the kind of sounds that could accompany this evolution cannot be anything but electronic. I see interest in electronic music fields which before was impossible to imagine, like fashion catwalks, commercials, and movies. This is the prediction of a complete engagement of electronic music in everyday life.
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