f: How did you first get into making music?
Stefano De Santis: My mother plays piano and she loves classical music. I started listening to her and she gave me my very first piano lessons.
f: What was the first dance record you bought?
Stefano De Santis: It was ‘Sunlight’ by Herbie Hancock. A gem from the golden era of jazz/funk/disco. In this record, the Maestro started using the vocoder.
f: How would you describe your sound?
Stefano De Santis: Alternative electro jazz.
f: Who were your musical influences and did they have an impact on your sound today?
Stefano De Santis: There is so much music out there today that I’m inspired by – Kaidi Tatham, Kamaal Williams, Robert Glasper, Georgia Ann Muldrow, just to name a few.
f: What was your first release?
Stefano De Santis: I have worked for many years as a session man on other projects.
I feel that my real first project is ‘Cycles’ by Re: fill, released in June 2022 on Cognitiva Records.
f: Which of your own tracks was the biggest labour of love to create?
Stefano De Santis: I would say ‘Sick with Rhyme’. It took a lot of time to decide the structure and the mood of this tune. It was initially a slow jam with long synth improvisations. But I didn’t like it, so I decided to speed it up and insert vocals parts that refer to hip hop.
f: You’ve just released your fabulous ‘Unreachable Galaxy EP’ on Ramrock Red Records, what can we expect to hear across the 4 tracks?
Stefano De Santis: It’s an overview of what I like, broken beat grooves, jazz funk, and most of all, the joy of playing music and keyboards
f: Do you play all the instruments yourself and were you classically trained?
Stefano De Santis: Yes, I’m classically trained. The Conservatory where I trained in Italy was useful to learn the fundamentals, but I’ve always loved the freedom that Jazz gives you – the unexpected is what I was looking for.
f: Have you got a favourite track from the EP?
Stefano De Santis: ‘Cosmic Days’, it has different moods inside. It was the first tune I recorded and it gave me the confidence to make more tunes to put an EP together.
f: You also have a band with Gaetano De Carli as Re:Fill, please tell us a little about the project?
Stefano De Santis: Re:filli are a duo born in 2020 during the lockdown with my friend and consumate drummer, Gaetano DeCarli.
We needed to make music to forget the isolation. Everything came from drums and keys jams, catchin’ the moment’s vibe. The imaginative groove by Gaetano provides a rich musical background to my instrumental trips, balancing the tradition and the contemporary sounds.
f: You’re based in Rome, how is the music / Jazz scene there now and who else should we be on the look out for?
Stefano De Santis: In Rome there are many good musicians and the traditional jazz scene is quite alive. What is missing is the contamination between the genres. There are many niches, but they’re not communicating with each other. In this sense I find Milan much more stimulating in terms of new music to listen to. Anyway Hyperjazz records, from Rome are doing very interesting things.
f: Any tips or advice for aspiring Jazz producers looking to break through on the scene?
Stefano De Santis: Despite the influences, try to find your own voice, your sound… With the good and bad, but you have to be recognizable.
f: What else are you working on at the moment that you can tell us about?
Stefano De Santis: I’m very busy. I’m currently working on two tunes that will be released in February on 7’’ inch. I would define it a Brazilian electro trip. I’m also recording some new music with Re:fill for our next EP, and then there are live gigs along with other many projects.
Stefano De Santis ‘Unreachable Galaxy EP’ is out now on Ramrock Red Records