There’s nothing ordinary about Federico Gardenghi. With the stamp of approval from legendary acts such as Joe Smooth, Kevin Saunderson and Carl Cox, the seventeen-year-old DJ and producer has been playing to crowds of thousands strong for years, taking center stage at events and parties he himself wasn’t (and still isn’t) old enough to attend.
Born in a small town near Milano in Italy on May 10, 2004, Federico Gardenghi showed an appreciation of good songs at the age of 4 and even started playing around with a demo version of Ableton Live at the age of 6. Naturally, it wasn’t of the same quality as his current music, but the drive to invent his own songs was definitely there. Inspired by the likes of Armin van Buuren, Carl Cox and Jakatta as well as all other DJs and styles he discovered later on, he started honing his craft, deep-diving into DJing and music production every chance he got. And when his dad downloaded a bunch of DJ sets for him, he found out that the Techno and House sets were the ones he listened to the most. He just had to find out how the DJs did it, which eventually led to his debut on stage on New Year’s Eve in 2012 at the age of 8.
“I learned by watching English internet tutorials my dad downloaded for me”, Federico explains. “But I didn’t really understand the language yet, so I simply studied the positions of the hands of DJs and went from there.“
Fast forward to modern times. Federico Gardenghi now roams the common space between Techno, Trance, Tech House, House and Pop, both with his bass-driven productions and signature live sets. He is exclusively signed to Armada Music, performs at events in over twenty countries, plays alongside industry hotshots such as Carl Cox, Roger Sanchez, Inner City, Richie Hawtin, Stephan Bozdin, Adam Beyer and Chris Liebing, and holds a weekly residency at Italy’s biggest radio station (M20). Every single day, he juggles a fulltime career as a DJ and producer with being a fulltime student and teenager. So if you’re eager to find out how the future of dance music will shape up, you’d do well to keep tabs on this star in the making.
As Federico Gardenghi delivers this week’s Guest Mix we also took the chance to chat with him to discover what he has been up to and what is coming up for him as we near the end of 2021.
Enjoy the mix below and read on for the interview and mix track listing.
Ciao Federico. It’s a pleasure meeting you and also getting to host your mix on our platform. Before we talk about the mix, I would love to know how you are? But really: how are you doing and how is life right now in this strange year following all the months of lockdown and the changes that we are still living through every day due to the pandemic?
Ciao! Thank you very much. Actually I am having a very good time this period because I have just returned from my holiday and now I will spend a lot of time with my family at Lake Maggiore where I have a small studio where I can make music. Surely the pandemic has changed a lot how I live my summer since it is now the second consecutive year without any scheduled events. However, I always try to have fun as much as possible even if unfortunately I cannot play any events right now.
How have you coped through all of these difficult months?
For me and for the entire music industry it has been a very tough time because not having the possibility to do what we are supposed to do is very sad. Besides that, I haven’t got used to the fact that we were all stuck at home and had to stop traveling the world.
When I think about me DJing it seems like my last gig was ages ago! Surely can’t wait to play on a stage again soon!
Music has undoubtedly been an escape for many, so thank you for adding your mix to our collection. Can you tell us what this mix represents for you in terms of its representation of you as an artist? Is it a true representation of your sound and your current sets?
I think for myself it doesn’t feel right to stick to just one music genre because, as it is for this mix, I always try to play the music that I am feeling drawn to during that period of time. I think that my sound now is trying to replicate the feelings I had when I was playing in a club. I suggest to everyone listening to just close your eyes and try to feel the energy of the music.
The mix includes some of your own tracks. Can you tell us a little bit about them and their story?
I am very proud to have my new track ‘’Hold Me’’ in this mix which was released on Armada Music the 25th of June.
This track has a very interesting story because since I first started the project in June 2020 the piano and the grooves stayed the same but then created more than 10 different versions of the vocal part of it. It was one of the tracks I had sitting around in my computer for a long time and finally decided to release it because I liked it so much!
Do you have any other releases coming up this year?
Oh yes! Make sure to keep an eye on my social accounts for more info 😉
Many know you since the videos that went viral of you as a young boy DJing house, tech house and other groovy genres. How did you deal with all the attention at the time and how did it shape you into being the person and artist you are today?
At first, I wasn’t even realizing all the attention I got because I was so focused on the music part of it all. But I am very grateful for all the positive feedback, love and support I have received over the years. This definitely has been a big stimulation for me to keep doing what I love and to keep improving myself as an artist.
What was your parent’s role in your career as a DJ early on? How “responsible” are they for you being able to do this full time now and how supportive are they of it?
What they did for me was very important for the beginning of my career because they supported me a lot on the business side and helped me manage my social media accounts while I was in school.
You entered the nightlife and party industry super young. How did you and your family deal with ensuring that certain aspects of this lifestyle didn’t influence you negatively at a young age?
For them, it was always great to see that I was doing what I loved but of course in the beginning my mum was not 100% convinced this would be the right career path for me, especially considering my young age. But then one day at a local beach party in Ibiza Carl Cox saw me play and went up to my mum saying ‘Let him play. The way he puts his little hands on the decks is crazy. Don’t ever think that music is not a job!’ That was a big moment and confirmation that music is what I should be doing.
You cite Armin van Buuren and Carl Cox as two of the biggest musical inspirations of your career. Was that the case back when you started DJing or did that change through the years?
Carl Cox and Armin are and will always be my two biggest inspirations, not only personally but also music-wise. I learned my DJ technique just by watching their hands in their videos and kinda created my own version of their techniques out of that.
Of course, they’re big names, so let’s focus on some other artists: who are some of the younger or emerging artists you are really liking these days?
I do really love all small emerging singers that have an amazing voice but the thing that I like the most is that next to DJing, nowadays a lot of people my age are starting to actually make music too.
I really like the work that Meduza makes, considering the fact that it’s only their third year of making music!
I know you’re a big music nerd. What are some of your favorite pieces of hardware in your studio?
My speakers and audio interface of course! I use adam a7x speakers with an apollo solo interface and it sounds amazing!
Any chance we can see a photo of your studio?
Actually, I am not at home since September but I can send you a photo of my “summer studio”
Who are some artists you would love to collaborate in the studio with some day?
Definitely Armin and Oliver Heldens
You cite yourself as a full-time student, DJ and producer. What is a typical weekday in the life of Federico Gardenghi?
Usually, from Monday to Friday I am going to school in the morning and in the afternoon I work on new music or go out with my friends, depending on if I am inspired to make music or not. Then on Friday and Saturday I catch a plane to somewhere in the world to play gigs.
How about a weekend when you have a gig?
Usually, when I have a gig I try to organize my time the best I can so I also have time to study and even do some sightseeing in the cities where I am playing.
You of course have had a different kind of experience and perspective as a DJ and producer than most, given your interesting history and young start. If one day you have a kid and they want to learn how to DJ/produce music at a young age, what advice from your own experiences would you share with them?
I think that making music and DJing is a game and like when you buy a new game for your PlayStation; you need to master it and learn all the skills to win. Making music is the same but with only one difference, you have unlimited possibilities and several roads to success.
What are some of your biggest goals as a DJ and producer?
Reaching one million streams would be amazing but the thing I would love the most is to hear my song on the radio and on public loud speakers. That moment when everyone (young and old) recognizes one of my songs would definitely be a dream come true for me.
6AM Guest Mix Track Listing:
1. Feel The Heat – Sidney Charles
2. Do It – Coqui Selection
3. Destination – Paolo Martini
4. Like a Melody – Hotswing
5. Dream to be free – Mike Mago
6. Summer Thing – Kryder
7. Hold Me – Federico Gardenghi
8. Knock Me Out – Ferrick Dawn
9. Body – Elderbrook
10. Miss you – The cube guys
11. 3 Am – Low Steppa
12. Exotica – Purple Disco Machine
13. Groovejet – Spiller