feeder insider interview with Luciano [Cadenza]

feeder insider interview with Luciano [Cadenza]

In this interview with Luciano, the renowned electronic music artist discusses his long and passionate career, his transition from underground to global recognition, and his commitment to his family and music. He emphasizes the importance of staying true to the art form and never compromising on artistic integrity. Luciano also discusses his support for Romanian artists, like Petre Inspirescu, RareshRhadoo and Arapu and his role in providing a platform for their talent. Luciano talks about his label Cadenza‘s 20th-anniversary plans and his recent projects, including recording sounds in Greenland and creating music from natural elements. He shares his thoughts on DJing and the importance of adapting to different environments while staying true to his musical knowledge.

minimal / dj / underground / Cadenza

feeder.roHello, Luciano it’s a pleasure to have you as a guest for an interview and to exchange a few ideas about music! In the “We Are Sudamerican Beats ” documentary released in 2014, you were already talking about a long and successful career. How do you manage to keep this passion for electronic music? And how do you perceive the transition from an underground movement, to a scene connected worldwide?

Luciano: When everything started, there was never an intention of becoming so big or becoming so massive. I always made music with absolutely no intention other than pursuing my passion. So, I was always passionate about the technical side of music production. I was very much into sound engineering and discovering new technology to express my feelings toward music. This incredible new dance music scene was emerging in South America in the 90s, and we were all hungry to exchange ideas and share them with the world. I would say that I always stuck to that original intention and never paid attention to anything else. 

But at some point, the music started working, and people were listening to it. People became curious about what was happening. When you spend 25 years of your career going from one gig to another, convincing audiences ranging from 1000 to 10,000 people, you start to wonder. It’s almost impossible for underground music to suddenly become so popular. I’ve always emphasized the distinction between commercial music and popular music. Popular music reaches people’s hearts, whereas commercial music is designed to be sold. We never designed our music to be sold; it always came from our hearts, and it’s a process you can’t control.

What has kept me grounded and motivated throughout all these years is my family. I’m a father of five kids, and that’s what kept me doing what I had to do. I never questioned whether I should do something else; I knew this was my mission on Earth. This is my mission, and I will achieve it, no matter what it takes. My perception has remained the same, and I continue to hold onto it. I fight for what I love, and I fight for what I believe in.

fWe never thought that we’d have the chance to ask you this, and we think a lot of people are interested in finding out, what things caught your attention about Romanian artists like Petre Inspirescu and Rhadoo, and what motivated you to release their music on Cadenza label (Tips in 2007 and Dor Mit Oru ‎2×12″, EP in 2008)?

Luciano: To be honest, Romania is one of the most incredible countries for this kind of music. I think we were all surprised, and it’s not just Ricardo and myself. All the little crews that were coming here, inspired a lot of artists who were growing up in Romania, and they also inspired us constantly, every day. 

I mean, I’m always in contact with many producers and artists, and I think it’s because of the music history that Romania has. There are a lot of similarities between Romanian culture and what we went through in my country, Chile. There’s this hunger for talent and a desire to be heard not just in your own country but worldwide, and that’s what caught my attention.

I was amazed by how incredible and rich the music was. So, we didn’t do much; we just provided a platform for incredible artists like Petre InspirescuRhadoo, and many others, like Arapu and Barac. There are so many incredible talents in Romania. We simply gave them a platform, just as I had my first platform when I was a young DJ and producer. Derrick May signed me for the first time, and Perlon signed me for the first time. Those were platforms that allowed us to have a voice worldwide for a community of people who appreciate the music. Romania is also a niche, much like my country, Chile, with great producers who have a unique vision and a profound understanding of how modern dance music should sound.

That’s what we were always seeking. Cadenza, for me, was always a platform. I never aimed to sign a hit. Sometimes, people would send me demos with ten tracks, and one of them would be a big hit, but the other nine didn’t fit. I always turned down that kind of music. I focused more on the overall sound because every artist has a vision. So, when ten tracks were coherent and made sense together, that’s the music I was looking for. Artists like RhadooPetreRaresh, and all the others in Romania are extremely loyal and coherent when it comes to the sound they produce, and that’s what we were searching for. We didn’t do much; we simply gave them a voice and a platform to be heard beyond their country. That’s what we did.

fAnother milestone for the local scene, and what we now call ROminimal & micROhouse movement, was a track made by Raresh, featuring your conversation with Ricardo Villalobos, talking about how musical frequencies can touch your deeper feelings, especially when using drugs. The track functioned as a tutorial, being heavily played around the world. Many years after was released by [a:pia:r] in the form of Vivaltu Remixes EP. Do you have any memories about that conversation, the context in which it happened or where was recorded?

Luciano: I believe that conversation came from a documentary that Ricardo and I were filming. We were both very young at the time, just starting our careers. These sounds were relatively unknown, and it was the early days of Perlon and this new sound emerging, whether it was called minimal, organic, or something else. When the entire Frankfurt scene, including labels like Klang Playhouse Ongaku, was making a significant impact, Ricardo and I represented our country.

Ricardo is one of my mentors, more like an older brother. He has helped me through a lot of things, both as a friend and as an artist, and we always exchanged our ideas and visions we had towards the way we wanted our music to be played and the way we wanted the music to be seen.

We were young, and we had, of course, a vision that was very attached to the form of expression we wanted to have through our music, and that’s the context in which it was spoken. If I’m not mistaken, I think it came from this documentary that was shot in the early 2000s, about the beginning of the underground music scene in Berlin. That was quite strong, and there were different needs; you had the BPitch sound, which was the electro sound of Berlin, then you had all the Tresor, which was a bit more techno, and you had this, you know, a small, really niche of music coming from Frankfurt and Berlin. That was this kind of minimal sound, weirdo kind of thing. In the end, we all came from there.

f: Good to know all these details from you, because we have been wondering for a lot of time about this. 

In contrast, in 2018, you announced in a very honest and detailed fb post that you were completely done with drugs and alcohol. In this context, we are curious as to what you think are the main ingredients for a good musical composition that keeps the audience listening and dancing.

Luciano: The beauty of life is never surrendering when you make a decision. For instance, I could have said, “Okay, whatever has happened to me, the accident related to my music, I’m done with this.” I’ve led a crazy life, pushing myself to many extremes because I believe life is all about experimenting with significant moments. This is how you become more intelligent. The more experiences you store in your soul, and in your body, the more aware and smarter you become.

There’s one thing I’ve always been clear about: I will never surrender to anything. Even when faced with something that teetered between life and death, I would never give in. Music is my form of expression. It’s fascinating to observe the journey music takes you on when you’re going through really sad times, happy times, dark times, or moments of inspiration drought. But you never surrender; you always accept that you’re a slave to something bigger than yourself. I don’t control it, and I’m in no position to tell anyone what’s good or bad music. I’m simply a servant to the people, a servant to the music, and I must make the best use of my sensitivity to express something. I would say this perspective has changed a lot of things for me. Music is art; it’s not just about arranging good notes.

I think mixing music is even more crucial than creating it. I can come up with a crazy, catchy idea in 15 seconds, but then it’s about placing that music in space. It’s about creating a stereo sound with a beautiful mix where everything finds its place, where the highs sparkle like crystals, the bass is deep, and all the elements flow together seamlessly, forming a single identity. That’s what I strive for today. For me, good music isn’t just about having a good idea; it’s also about the ability to put sound in space. That’s where I focus most of my time.

f: Super inspiring answer.

How is life since you took the decision to live a sober life and what are the benefits, when looking in retrospect?

Luciano: You know what I always compare it to? A football player, a soccer player. When a football player joins a club, there’s a team of people around them who help with food, sleep, body maintenance, sports, and a lot of other things to ensure they perform at their best. In my case, I was assigned to create dance music and entertain people all around the world. When you start travelling and visit around 180 cities in a year, you realize that the most important person to have next to you is your tour manager. However, the tour manager often faces the same issues. There’s nobody to tell you, “Hey, you should slow down, be careful with this, take care of your body,” because without being in top form, you can’t perform freely. You need that freedom to express yourself. If you’re not completely free within yourself, you’re blocked in terms of expression.

For me, it was about achieving my freedom, and I discovered that I could find more freedom by not being hungover, and not feeling down from long weekends of partying that took me about five days to recover from. I realized I was closer to my heart, my brain, and my intellect when I slowed down. I accepted that I had to stop running. I accepted that the only way for me to continue providing and being a free spirit in my music, expressing the sound I was creating, was by slowing down. I had to stop running and start walking again, learning like a little kid how to navigate through life, becoming the child I once was and setting an example for my kids. I wanted to set an example for myself and fall in love with myself again because I had been destroying myself. So, I learned how to take care of myself, and it’s surprisingly simple. This had a massive impact on my music, my goals, how I project myself, and how I challenge myself with new things. It was the biggest challenge in my life.

f: We can‘t even imagine how challenging this was for you. 

Luciano: It’s very tough, and honestly, when I left the hospital for the first time and went through all the rehab years ago, they told me, “You can’t go back to what you do because we don’t think you’ll be able to.” And for me, that was the greatest challenge ever. I didn’t want to give up on what I love, on what made me who I am. I refused to quit because of that; I just wanted to keep going. But I knew I had to be stronger than anyone else, and that’s my biggest challenge. I do this for the people I love, my family, myself, my kids, my friends, and also for the audience because people appreciate seeing someone who is completely committed. When I step onto the stage, I’m fully committed to them, rather than feeling nervous or anxious or anything like that. It’s not easy, but…

fHow do you manage to keep up with such a busy schedule, and how do you find the balance between your career and personal life, family and friends?

Luciano: Well, to be honest, the only way to achieve this is to have a really good team and have incredible people around me who have helped me lead this life.

Over the years, I’ve learned that surrounding yourself with people who support you, love you, and assist you with your career is essential.

That’s how you can make it. You need a strong support system to succeed because walking this path alone is very challenging.

fThis year marks the 20th anniversary of Cadenza. What are the plans for the label? 

Luciano: We are in the final stages of planning because we want to offer something special to the community that has supported us from the beginning. I’m particularly excited about an upcoming release with Arapu.

We’re also putting together a book that encompasses twenty years of history, sharing stories about the label’s journey, our incredible artists, and the beautiful music we’ve created.

It’s not just about making music; it’s about having a family on tour and the strong bond we’ve formed. I never imagined it would last this long, and looking back at the past 20 years is going to be a truly special experience. I can’t wait to see where it will take us next. 

fWe appreciate the label very much, and for sure it will be part of history and the next generation of artists will be amazed about your contribution.

Luciano: Appreciate, thank you.

fSticking onto this subject. What are the differences or similarities you are looking for when you select music for a DJ set, compared to when selecting music for a release?

Luciano: Making music is a completely different thing from going to DJ, to selecting music.

Cadenza‘s music was always a reflection of my personal selection, and I was consistently searching for a unique sound that could establish its own brand identity. I aimed to offer a platform to many talented artists who had distinct voices and stories to share with the world. That was the essence of Cadenza, and that’s how it worked.

I always provided artists with absolute freedom of expression when they released music on my label. I never dictated how something should be done or confined their creativity. As a producer myself, I never compromised on my work. I always created what I wanted to create and constantly experimented, ranging from downtempo to breakbeats to ambient. I never signed anything I wasn’t happy with.

And the DJ things… I’m an entertainer. I’m able to play disco. I can go and play ambient. I can go and play a warmup. I can go play at a techno festival. I can go play in a minimal after-hours crazy Romanian style. And for me, a DJ is like a chameleon, if you have this ability. It’s about the people, it’s not about you, first of all. The DJ is about the people, so you need to commit to the people. If you can’t commit to the people, then you need to stay in your little thing and not move from there because you are not doing this for the people, so it’s always like you have to feel you have to go, you put the first record, you try different things, you go in different directions and you are here to entertain. You are here to give the people a good time.

My job is to give people a great time, and, if I can’t do that, then I’m doing the wrong job. So I’m always concentrating. I have a completely different approach when coming to a stage or a festival, a club, or wherever I am to be, playing differently. That is the ability of a DJ. I can play one of the VIP things, but suddenly, be in after-hours. Then, I can go to a completely different event, to play on the beach, because I adapt myself, and I try, inside this adaptation, to bring my knowledge of music. All the music I know from all these years that I’ve been collecting in my head, I try to bring it the way that I know bringing the best music, for the best environment.

fDo you have certain ideas, memories, or dreams that you want to translate into sound, or is it that music is a completely different dimension that you plug into for inspiration and recreation?

Luciano: There are always incredible projects. For example,

I’m currently involved in a project with individuals who have been collecting trees in the South of Chile. They have gathered thousands of 2,000-year-old trees that have fallen in the jungles of Southern Chile. They cut these trees in the middle and created a kind of record from the trunk. They made a small machine that could read the tree’s circular patterns, and we generated MIDI signals that produced sounds. It’s like capturing the sound of the tree’s history. Right now, I’m working on projects like this, and, for me, it’s almost divine. It’s something that doesn’t originate from my hands or anyone else’s but is a gift from nature, offering a source of inspiration to create music that feels truly divine. This, for example, comes from nature.

fYour music conveys a sense of freedom when you’re listening to it.

Luciano: Exactly, the music makes me feel useful in something bigger than myself.

f: You collaborated with Nicola Brusegan and Camilo Gil on a truly underground electronic music project called “Revolution of tha Mind’’, and pressed by Oblivium Records in a limited edition of 300 copies. What‘s the story behind this project?

Luciano: Well, it all started when Camilo Gil, who’s a friend of mine, came to me with a straightforward request – to whip up a remix for a track. I jumped on board, it was as simple as that. Through Camilo, I got to know Nicola and got introduced to Oblivium Records. Working on the label’s debut vinyl release was a pleasure. The project itself was this cool homage to the legendary TR-909 drum machine, which has been the spark behind countless musical dreams, including my own.

fYour upcoming release on Rawax will hit the shelves of selected record stores worldwide. How does the title of the EP, “Hakuna Matata”, relate to your musical compositions?

Luciano: During Covid, I got the chance to visit Zanzibar for the first time. There, I found a musical paradise once again. The place was absolutely stunning, and it was there that the idea of “Hakuna Matata” really clicked with me. This phrase reflects an easy and calm way of living – a way to slow down and enjoy each moment. The EP was born during this time, and I’ve always loved that phrase.

It’s not just because my kids liked it from “The Lion King” movie, but also because I learned about its origins. It fit perfectly at that moment, which is why I kept it as the title.

fRecently, you embarked on a week-long journey to Greenland with explorer Mike Horn to capture and record the sound of ice. What are your goals with this project, and what do you plan to do with the audio recording?  

Luciano: We went there to record the sounds of icebergs cracking and the fading sounds. The mission changed while we were in that stunning environment. We discovered many things: I saw things that changed my view of what I came for. For example, the harshness of the place explains the actions taken by people to survive in the North Pole.

Our main goal was to record diverse sounds from the environment — wildlife, indigenous people, and ice noises. The plan is to make an album named “Arctic Sounds“. But the idea extends further — I want to compose and organise a variety of sounds and create an “Orchestra of the North Pole”. It’s a big project. The best part is that these recordings will be in immersive audio.

fAny plans to come back to Romania soon?

Luciano: I’ve been visiting Romania for years, and I’ve always supported the scene there. I love that country. Romania holds a special place in my heart. Every time I visit, I’m fascinated by the people, the cities, and the places. It’s just incredible.

fDo you have certain memories or places you would like to see again, in Bucharest or Romania? 

Luciano: I have wonderful memories of Krystal in the early years. I cherish incredible memories from the Midi Club in Cluj. The earliest Sunwaves events, right at the beginning, left me with stunning and fantastic memories. I don’t have a single bad memory from my time in Romania.

fA particular record you released on Cadenza in 2007 (Petre Inspirescu – Tips), change our perspective on music. It was surprising and unexpected to find it at a record store in Cork, Ireland. It was amazing to see Romanian artists released on labels like yours. For a long time, we were asking ourselves what was the reason for this to happen.

Luciano: Because, as I mentioned earlier, we are nobody special. We just provided a platform for someone as incredible as Pedro, who created remarkable music. We wanted the world to hear that unique sound, and that was our primary goal. Our mission was straightforward: “Don’t change anything. Keep doing what you’re doing, and it will find its way out.” That’s it. That was our mission.

fHere in Romania, the music industry is one of the main things for artists and young people. Especially, the minimal scene, which, in part, is your input! We are grateful for this super nice thing you did, putting this part of the world on the map.

Luciano: That was our inspiration, and I’ll say it again, that was our mission and intention all along. We wanted to provide a platform for the amazing musicians and artists you have in your country to have a voice.

I come from Chile, and in the 90s, when I was making music in my country, nobody believed in me. People thought music from the outside was superior, and Chilean music was considered unimportant. It wasn’t until someone from the outside, initially, Derrick May, gave me the first light. Suddenly, people started believing in what I was doing. So, I felt I had the same mission. If people hear me now, if people are paying attention to what I do, I have to use this not for myself, but to put people, other people, that I believe have great talent, to be heard, to be respected, and to be known. That’s what we wanted to do. I’m really happy if this made it through.

fRelated to this, how do you see the transition from a super underground scene to a global phenomenon? 

Luciano: I think this is what defines the underground. It’s similar to the beginnings of other genres like Blues or House music. The early days of house music featured artists like Robert Johnson, who played the guitar and performed from house to house. That was the essence of house music. It also marked the birth of rhythm and Blues, the emergence of Rock and Roll, and so on, and all of it was deeply rooted in the underground.

It’s just that when something is genuinely good and resonates with people, you can’t contain it. Dance music had a similar impact. How could we keep it underground when it had such widespread appeal? You can’t. It’s like a snowball effect. Why should only a small group of people have all the fun?

We never expected it to grow so big. I can walk into a supermarket in the middle of nowhere in Thailand, and they’re playing dance music. Nobody anticipated this level of expansion, but I believe everyone in this community contributed something that the world needed. That’s when the underground scene transitioned into becoming commercial or popular.

fPopular yeah. 

Luciano: And you can’t control this. It is something that is out of the control of anybody.

fIt is interesting to learn so much from you. We are full of answers. A super inspiring discussion.

Luciano: That’s cool, great. I’m really glad.

When Idriss sent me the questions – I don’t do many interviews now, because sometimes I feel that the questions are always like: “Where do you come from” and things like that. I’ve been through this a lot. But when I saw the questions, I was like, you know what, I enjoy talking about this. I could feel through the questions that there was a lot of passion. Fascinating questions. I’m also grateful for that.

fWe also thank you very much for your kind words. It means a lot, especially coming from you! Super strong power here. 🙌🏽

feeder insider interview with Luciano [Cadenza]
feeder insider interview with Luciano [Cadenza]

Luciano on WebsiteSoundcloud | Facebook | InstagramLinktree
Cadenza on Soundcloud | Facebook | Instagram | Discogs | Youtube

About feeder insider
feeder insider is a series of interviews that explore the universe surrounding music and visual arts while connecting the local to the international creative scene.

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