Giuseppe Ottaviani likes to do things differently. From his unique live set up that allows a lot of room for improvisation to his latest album Magenta Live, Giuseppe is setting himself apart from the pack. What makes this latest release unique you might ask? It's a two disc album where the first disc was recorded live in Argentina, while the second disc is a studio remixed version of his Magenta album by Giuseppe Ottaviani himself. You'll also find 3 brand new tracks that are just perfect to be played in clubs worldwide this summer. In this interview I talked to Giuseppe extensively about the new album, his live set up, his views on trance today, and even his exciting new partnership with Solarstone with Pure NRG, enjoy:
Tell me about your latest album release, Magenta Live
It was just released and I'm really excited about this new project because it was about the time to bring out the new album remixes since Magenta was released a year ago. I do play my music live and I'm not really DJ'ing, and I always try to improvise on my keyboards to find a new melody, to test new sounds, etc. I've been playing the Magenta tracks for the past year and actually found new melodies and new ideas. At some point I realized that I had a full package ready to do remixes of the Magenta album by myself. So that's where the Magenta Live idea comes from, but I didn't manage to remix all of the Magenta tracks because I wanted to leave room to introduce brand new tracks in the album as well. So I reworked 11 tracks and have 3 brand new tracks.
You said that you play live, can you define what that means in a Giuseppe Ottaviani live set?
It's a confusing term because it's not the case that every DJ is playing live. Playing live to me is actually playing an instrument on stage more than playing music from Cds or USB sticks. Live music is something different, like when you go to a U2 concert, fans expect them to play live, right? You don't expect them to play with Cds, do you? I'm not a band, I'm a solo artist so I need to get the help of my computers on stage. So I still bring my keyboards and midi controllers so I can play from the keyboard and control the sounds from my midi controller. Above all, I tend to play my own music only, or remixes/re-works that I do for other people.
For me it's not about playing the biggest hits of the moment to get the crowd to go crazy, it's more like playing my stuff. When fans have a good time at my show, I'm really proud because they're actually having fun with my music. This is the main point for me for playing my music live.
"The keyboard that people are used to seeing is used to play the main leads like the piano in the track live. What makes this very different than a DJ set is that I can improvise. If I feel like changing the main melody, I can do it."
In your live keyboard setup, do you manage to actually play certain aspects of the tracks live? Do you choose which part of the track to re-create in a live setting to play in front of the crowd?
Like I said before, I cannot play every single sound live as I've got only two hands. I have a background that's done already and I control a lot of sound from that background, the groove, the beats, etc. The keyboard that people are used to seeing is used to play the main leads like the piano in the track live. What makes this very different than a DJ set is that I can improvise. If I feel like changing the main melody, I can do it. It's trance music and you have to follow the song, especially if you have vocals. It's cool that you can improvise because you can get something interesting that you can only hear in that moment. It's a unique show everytime that it happens. This is also how I get all of my new ideas on how to re-work my own tracks and turn it into Magenta Live.
There are 2 discs, can you tell me what can fans expect from the first and second discs?
I know the tracklists look the same, but the first disc was recorded live from Buenos Aires. Argentina has become one of my favourite countries and it's become a really big place for me. So I decided to record my show at club Madarine at Buenos Aires. I was playing all of the tracks live to give a different feeling as well as bringing singer/songwriter Eric Lumiere live on stage with me to deliver an even better show. On disc 1 is a continuous mix that we recorded the crowd and all of that magic that happened that night. You will get to hear something different on disc 1 from the original productions because of the live aspect of my show. Disc 2 is just my extended remixes of the original re-work.
Was disc 2 created in the studio or was that just the raw feed without the crowd recording?
It's been re-worked properly in the studio. Disc 2 is actually delivering the remixes while disc 1 includes all of the new tracks and the re-worked tracks played live.
Has anything like Magenta Live ever been released before? It sounds like a truly unique concept.
I was talking to Arny, the big boss from Black Hole Recordings, and he said it was the first time he had ever heard something like that. He obviously had Tiesto recorded in concert before but it was a different concept as he had live singers to play the tracks with him. But the concept of finding new melodies and sounds over the process of a year to rework them back into the tracks and play them live is probably the first time that's ever done before that I heard about. I don't think many people did it in the past 10 years.
How did Argentina become such a hot bed for trance music?
I don't know, I guess they have a great taste for music. (Laughs) It's just such a warm crowd. I've probably gotten the best shows over the past few years in Argentina. So it was an easy choice to go back. I always get a very warm welcome from them and that I've got a really big fanbase over there. They always give me a lot and I tried to give something back, so I gave them music. I thought inviting fans to be a part of my disc would be nice. It's a noisy crowd and they know how to make a party.
You released 3 brand new tracks for Magenta Live (“Passion”,“Liverpool”, “In This Together”), is that correct?
Yeah I made 3 brand new tracks for Magenta Live. All 3 of these tracks were made on the road. “Passion” came about through a sound check. I always have to do the sound check where I have to test my gear, and then I started playing something randomly that I thought was nice. So I recorded it on my phone.
I noticed that 2 out of 3 of the new tracks I would consider to be hard driving trance music. Is this hard-edged sound the new inspiration for Giuseppe Ottaviani in 2014?
First of all, I try to keep my identity alive as I'm not going to change drastically from my style. But I'm really influenced from what's in the market, from the new era and generation. But I don't like everything, but I do like a few elements that I brought into my signature sound. I don't think it's all about the bpm, I don't really care about it. I just do what I feel. It also depends by the place because I created those tracks inspired by certain places. “In This Together” was inspired by Brisbane, Australia, where the crowd was different of course. I got the first idea for “Liverpool” because the inspiration came from that city. I like to keep it real and naming the tracks where I got the inspiration from while on the road.
I have a few fans that are a little bit worried about the new sound but they don't need to be because they just need to listen to the full CD where you'll find my old school sound, new sound, and something in between. I might be moving around but I'm not going anywhere other than trance.
"When I call something trance it's something from back in the days probably. Trance has to be made in a certain way."
With the new trance sounds appearing from let's say Andrew Bayer from Anjunabeats, KhoMha from Coldharbour Recordings, and even via Armada with some of the new stuff coming from Cosmic Gate - how do you feel about the current evolution of trance music?
If I really have to be honest I wouldn't really call this trance music at all. This is because I'm really really old school. Even what I do is not properly trance music for me. When I call something trance it's something from back in the days probably. Trance has to be made in a certain way. It's not really my sound but I do like some parts of it but I think we're just going different directions.
"The reason why I'm talking to you now is because of William Orbit's Adagio For Strings, the original, and not the Tiesto remix, from 1998-1999."
According to Giuseppe Ottaviani, what is trance music?
It has to do with beautiful melodies first of all and not concentrate on only the drops if I have to be honest. Trance is not about waiting for the drop and judging a track's worth based on the drop – it's not like that for me. I am coming from a classical music background so everything had to do with the melody, a beautiful melody. It's all about closing your eyes and enjoying your trip with this beautiful music. For me trance music shouldn't be made with vocals.
When I first got into trance music, I thought it was a perfect match between classical music and the dance beat. The reason why I'm talking to you now is because of William Orbit's Adagio For Strings, the original, and not the Tiesto remix, from 1998-1999. That's what I consider trance music, and all of the rest is what I consider to be an evolution, which I don't mind, I like it, as there is a lot of great music around. So if you have a good melody, you have a good song and you can turn that style of music.
If a friend of mine asks me to sing him my latest track, I want to be able to do it. If I have a melody I can sing it to my friend. But with this new type of music, I probably wouldn't be able to sing it. A song doesn't have to be with vocals, and obviously I love vocals now but if you have a good melody, you can remember it. A melody lasts longer than just drums, beats, and drops. Since I'm a live act, I also need something to play on a keyboard. (laughs)
Is this the reason why you have identified with Solartone's and the Pure Trance movement?
Solarstone has got this great idea which isn't anything really new, but it's bringing back to the audience what trance is supposed to be. It's not about playing music from the 1990s, because Pure Trance is still releasing very new and fresh music that remains within the range of what trance music is considered to be. For me it's great to be a part of it because even though my music has evolved, it still has to do with the original sound. I think we have a very good compromise between both of us because Solartone is completely pure, and that's fine. I'm slightly different because my approach is slightly more aggressive, more dancefloor geared music that is within the trance range. We don't want to have the same style for the entire night so when we play together we touch all of the different edges of trance music.
And you guys shared the same stage this year at Bal en Blanc, right?
Oh yeah, it was great. First time for me by the way.
What can you tell me (if anything) about Pure NRG? Will this be a new duo between yourself and Solarstone?
Yes, correct. I wouldn't say much here because any question about Pure NRG is supposed to be from the both of us. I can't really say too much because we are about to announce it officially very soon. We already have our first show planned.
On Pure NRG with Solarstone: "So we're definitely going to have new exclusive new music for the project as well there will be a live act. For more details, stay tuned!"
Will Pure NRG be a live act, or will you two also create music under the new name?
First of all, it has nothing to do with NU NRG, which was my ex-project. That project is closed and that's it. The reason why it's called Pure NRG is because that's the direction we're taking the sound. We're combing the PURE trance of Solarstone with the NRG of my typical style. So we're definitely going to have new exclusive new music for the project as well there will be a live act. For more details, stay tuned!
The idea is that everyone is playing back to back now right? So we're trying to bring concept of back to back to the next level. So we're doing back to back live with exclusive music.
With Magenta and now Magenta Live, and the big news of Pure NRG - what else can fans expect from Giuseppe Ottaviani for the rest of 2014?
I'm going to mix the new Go On Air compilation which will be released on the Go On Air recording label. We're going to be releasing a double CD by the end of September and I'm mixing the compilation right now actually. All of the music will be 100% exclusive material so it will be music that people have never heard before. We're going to be featuring fresh new names which is something the Go On Air radio show and record label want to do. I want to give a voice to the great music that is around which hasn't been really noticed yet from the big names.
My thanks to Giuseppe Ottaviani for this excellent interview.
Magenta Live is out now and I suggest you pick up a copy: (Click on the image to buy on Beatport)