“From the true passion for the vinyl born Be Apart Music. This is a new music experience, traveling from minimal to techno, raving with a musical touch, and going beyond the usual way.”
This is how ‘Be Apart’ label owners Cristano Cellu & Simone M describe their burgeoning vinyl only label based in Florence, Italy. We sat down with the two of them to find out more about Be Apart, their careers to date, and plans for the future.
You’ve both released on some great labels in your time, but is your collaboration at Be Apart the first time you’ve both joined forces? And whose idea was the label in the first place?
Simone) We have worked together on many projects, many of which have remained unreleased, while others have come out. Like our last EP on Truesounds Music or our BeApart002, at the moment we are working on our individual projects, but we always find the time to work together.
We decided to open our Be Apart to give something of different, without precise musical schemes, leaving the freedom to express their concept to the artists, obviously always in the underground context, and the satisfaction is coming.
Cristiano) No, we work together on some tracks, the first one we did was released years ago, and we did some unreleased tracks as well after we joined forces more, the idea of Be Apart came. Always we will still work on our solo projects.
I always thought about starting a label and when I said that to Simo he supported me and we put our ideas together to build everything!
How does it work at Be Apart then? Are you both jointly responsible for signing music, marketing, artwork etc.?
S) We both administer all these aspects, about music, about titles of the tracks/EP, marketing and the selection of the artists we intend to release.
We often find ourselves in agreement with the choices and we always try to be 100% happy.
As for the ‘technical’ part we rely on our dear engineer Alex, a guarantee of quality!
For the covers instead, we have Davide, an emerging local artist who always manages to understand what we have in mind and to draw it.
C) We have both the same responsibility for everything; if we found music, what to share on the socials, and everything.
However if we both don’t like something we don’t do it, like a veto right, about the artwork we have an amazing friend that does it with his hands, Davide was so huge, we love him!
Why did you feel the time was right to run your own label and how do you think your label differs from others?
S) I think there is not a right time to open a label. It’s something you feel like doing for you and for those who work with you. We think we are different than the offered musical proposal, without precise schemes and limits imposed on artists, but strong ideas and a lot of passion.
C) I really don’t know if you have to wait the right time to open your label if you think you can take some great things to the people you can do what you want. I also think that you can find some apart from us, something that born from electronic music, but not in a perfect genre of music.
You’re just as likely to have music on there from yourselves as you are other producers. Do you find it important to help younger producers who are coming up especially? I guess you’ve been in their shoes too, right?
S) I think that the important thing is the content, the music. Big producers are often a guarantee of good music, but if they are smaller and the product is good, there are no problems. Our label is always open to new musical proposals and new artists. Music is art and like all the arts it serves to bring everyone together into the same family.
C) Yes, I think that we are always young in music, no one can know everything about it. My own philosophy is about to always listen to the next one, he can help you or you can help him, just a point of view because the music belongs to everyone!
The label is based in Florence, right? Whenever we read about Florence we read about the Tenax club. What is it about Tenax that you think makes it such a special place?
S) The Tenax in the minds of all Florentine and Tuscan fans of the alternative scene is one of the key places to meet, exchange and share musical ideas. The artistic choice is of high level and the club allows you to enjoy the top artistic performance.
C) Sure! For me it’s a really special place, it was one of the first clubs where I go at the beginning of my passion and a place where I still go. It’s always was a big experience, I’ve also played some gigs in there on the second floor (Tenax 1.0) with my friends from Underground Solution (the organization which I promote some events) and some other times.
And back to the scene in Florence overall – is it in a healthy space at the moment? How active are you guys locally with running parties etc.?
S) The Florentine scene is really full of big and small organizations that work on the territory. We live geographically a little distant from Florence, near Arezzo, and I often I play in the clubs in that area. Our home is the WIP (Work In Progress), a small-great club that always gives emotions, especially when I play in pairs with my dear Cristiano. In any case, Florence is also full of small underground clubs, where sometimes we happen to play.
C) The Florence scene is so broad, there are a lot of organization as well as Tenax like Lattex Plus, Decibel, Lapsus Music, Tropical Animals and many others.
We live a little out of Florence, and with two friends I own the organization Underground Solution, we have been active for 5 years, organizing parties all around Tuscany and more. At the moment we have a monthly residence in a micro-club near our home, WIP (Work In Progress), that’s in a cave under the ground, a huge experience to live.
Your sound seems quite focused on peak time electronic music. Do you think that’s fair to say or do you explore other sounds too? And will Be Apart be hosting a lot of different types of music or what’s the plan there?
S) Obviously my passion is the dance floor of the club, and my musical productions are part of this category, but before I became an electronic music fan, I was a big fan of pop/rock music and I played the drums, so my mind is always open to new experiences. We try to apply the same idea to our label without forgetting that our mission is to make people dance!
C) Personally, I’m used to listening to music outside of electronic music, and sometimes I try to play music from underground pop artists, some bands, and ethnic music. Though I can say that it can be so difficult to find music that the people can understand and have a good reaction to, but when this time arrives it’s so magic.
And the latest EP is a real treat! What producers did you take inspiration from while you were making it? Were there certain DJs and producers you listened to a lot at the time that really inspired you?
S) Our latest EP on Be Apart is truly a mix of multiple styles of electronic music gathered in a track. You can hear dark and melodic notes that are very ‘Techno’, grooves near to ‘Tech-House’ and vocal shots that are very ‘Dance’. When we started working on Phaconto, certain artists did not inspire us. Though in recent years I found my inspiration from listening artists like Fideles, Denis Horvat, Fur Coat, the dears Pongo, our dear Federico Grazzini and many others.
C) Usually, we don’t create music with a proper inspiration from an artist, and I personally like to work without constriction, working on things that are more original than the usual music you can find around.
A lot of artists inspired me in the years, one of the biggest I think is Davide Squillace, he always has great ideas on his work and amazing sounds.
You’ve got Federico Grazzini on the remix. What’s your relationship with Federico and how do you know him? Do you remember always being impressed with his style?
S) Federico is a true king of DJing for me. It’s always a big pleasure to listen to him play, his selection is really varied and his musical culture is great. I had the fortune to play before him at the Taotec Club around one year ago and to have some drinks with him at various parties. I’m really happy about the remix that he made from our track, it’s very powerful and perfect for the dance floor, in total Federico style, and I’m very happy to have him on our Be Apart Music.
C) I used to go to Tenax and Sunflower for years and we have some common friends, between small talks and some drinks we met! Yes, I’m always impressed by his selection of music and his studio skills. I think he has one of the great minds around the business.
So if you’re looking for a remixer or to sign some music to the label, what do you look for exactly?
S) We look for the remixer that knows how to give value to the ideas of a track, so it is obvious that we move toward more known artists, but our choice does not have precise standards. We are very free in choosing remixers, but at the same time selective.
Lets quickly chat about your kit. How do you make music and do you have a favourite type of machine/software that you love making music on?
S) In my studio I like to have many tools and always buy new ones. At this moment I use a lot the fantastic Elektron-Analog Four and the Roland Tr8 drum machine to make grooves, but also I like to play ‘live’ with the electronic drums. I like to use my Nord Lead and Arturia’s Minibrute to create pads, atmosphere, and arpeggiators. I love the ‘analog‘ tools, but I also enjoy producing with so many types of VST. At the end, I can say that the studio is my second home!
C) I often buy and sell gear, I try it for sometimes but if don’t feel it I take it out!
At the moment I own a Roland tr8 and some Korg keyboards, then I cook drums on the Roland with my blessed Maschine, and at the same time I use a pinch of records from the analog Keyboards and mix it with some VST, all is mixed up in Ableton, and then the recipe is ready.
In terms of your releases, where does your work on Be Apart stand against some of your favourite works to date?
S) Until a few years ago I was producing music closer to minimal / deep-tech, with less synths and much slower. I always kept the ‘dark’ sound, even though what I produce now is nearer to the techno style. When we work for Be Apart, we combine our styles and always come up with something quite new and different than our individual productions. However, I can say that the work we do for Be Apart is different than our collaborations on other labels.
C) I think when we work together we have a more “dark” sound compared to my latest work, however I personally never have a “perfect” line of sound, you can listen to “Marzapaning” [Prismat Recordings] or “Down” [Truesounds Music] that are more progressive than my releases on Lapsus Music.
Otherwise, I have a lot of work that I like from my past, but nothing is like what I do with Simo, on Be Apart.
What’s next on the agenda for you guys that we should be watching out for?
S) Surely the next releases on Be Apart, we have several projects and objectives for our future and our label. We will have many new artists and a lot of new music. We have nothing certain so, for now, we do not name names, especially for superstition!
C) We have our monthly residency at WIP. We are in the middle of a lot of things, but we will say more when we have more confirmed things!
‘Cristiano Cellu & Simone M – Phacanto’ EP is out soon on Be Apart.