Digging Deeper with Vito Gatto: Evolving Violin with Electronic Music

Vito Gatto
Author : Marco Sgalbazzini
June 09, 2020

Digging Deeper with Vito Gatto: Evolving Violin with Electronic Music

Talented Italian composer, producer and Violinist Vito Gatto has just released his electronic-tinged debut album, titled Evolve via his own imprint NeMu and distributed by Kompakt.

Vito Gatto studied violin and graduated from the prestigious G. Verdi Conservatory in Milan in 2009, and has since gone on to produce music through an unconventional application of classical knowledge onto electronic productions.

Evolve is a hauntingly beautiful LP, a collection of tracks that are instinctively produced and at times improvised. With this milestone release, Gatto decided to restrict himself compositionally and technically to see what the effects would be, and the result is emotive and sonically stunning at the same time. All the arpeggiated sounds on the album are made from one single violin note which he transforms throughout the entire collection of tracks. Elements like distorted bass lines, hardcore inspired percussions, whistles and alienating string melodies represent unexpected alterations. With Evolve, Vito decided to keep these instinctive additions clean from excessive control as a representation of the beauty of the unpredictable.

Gatto’s process is extremely considered and complex, he has evolved from a classical violinist into exploring music from the industrial and experimental scenes, i.e. his collaboration with Einsturzende Neubauten in 2015, to falling in love with techno and the electronic scene. Since his love with techno and electronic music flowered, Vito Gatto has gone on to release on Grandriver’s One Instrument alongside Donato Dozzy, DoubleDoubleeu, ReWorks and more. He also produced the music for the Brightburn movie trailer, released last year.

There is no doubt that Vito Gatto is a unique artist in his own right, his music a strangely wonderful marriage of violin and techno, all born from a deep passion and love for music. We discussed all this, and more, in our recent interview.

Ciao Vito, nice to meet you! I am a fellow Italian, like you. Where were you born?

Ciao Marco, nice to meet you too! I was born in Milano, but my origins are from the south of Italy, from the isolated and quiet hills inside Sicily, and from Campania.

How was it growing up there? What did you like to get up to as a kid?

I think it’s nice to have grown up in the city, but to have had the opportunity to often visit places more related to nature, and free from over-saturation.

The perfect balance of the two needs, living in the city allows you to have many more experiences when you are growing up and even after.. distractions and possibilities, museums, parks, technology, events, and so on..

But to have the opportunity to get lost in the countryside, those colors and scents, and to run into the small streets with friends that you could only see in the summer, these are unforgettable and precious memories.

I’ve always been very fascinated by space, science and nature, or better as a kid by aliens, space travels and dinosaurs.

When did you discover your love for music at first, and what music was it?

Believe me, if I tell you that I have no precise memory of having discovered the “love” for music in one breath.

It was a gradual and not always linear path, I always had a love-hate relationship with music, since I started studying violin at 6/7 years old.

I feel that I have always been very close to music, emotionally, but this feeling is dangerous sometimes, too much love can hurt and make yourself doubtful.

It’s a constant in my life.

You’re a classically trained musician right? What instruments do you play?

As a classically trained musician I can tell you that I can play the violin. It is the only instrument that I really know how to play, I know its expressive possibilities and fragilities, and how to make the most of them, without being sure of always succeeding.

Other instruments that I know and that I use are Piano, Viola, Drums, Percussions, and Synths.

Sorry for clarifying, but I do not completely understand the term multi-instrumentalist: “there are those who know how to play chess, and those who know how the pieces move”

I get what you’re saying, that’s a great distinction. At what point did you discover electronic music?

I discovered electronic music like Goa Trance, Hardcore and Drum ‘n’ Bass when I was in the High School, but they didn’t particularly catch my attention during those times.

I completely fell in love with Techno culture when I first started going to some clubs here in Milan, more or less 7 years ago.

Now I’m deeper inside experimental and contemporary electronic music, like I’m exploring new galaxies of sounds every day and the way to aggregate them, but techno continues to satisfy and inspire me a lot.

Also I’m returning to appreciate some hardcore/gabber treatments, especially on kicks and basses. It’s all about studying the right applications of elements.

How are you blending your classical training with your love for electronic music? How did one evolve into the other?

Both classical training and electronic music require practicing and studying a lot to know exactly what you are doing and what you can do, and there is no end inside this knowledge.

I feel that there are a lot of common points between them in terms of expression and sensibility, so I feel it on me like a natural consequence.

I love the idea that machines can help creativity and feed our souls. I feel that this vision of music, this combination of organic and electronic, can bring us to another level of expression. The perfect coexistence area between brain and heart.

In practical terms, it’s really impossible to explain in a few words… better to listen to my new album Evolve maybe!

Right! About the album, aptly named Evolve… Can you tell us a little about it, its history and what the album means to you as an artist?

I had the vision of Evolve before most of the music was created. It is the consequence of some thoughts I had about music world itself, and my personal need to be inside of it.

I always composed music just for the pleasure to create it, having some melodies or beats in mind and wanted to take them out to listen to them and let other people do the same, experimenting and whatever at my best of course, but at some point I felt it wasn’t enough.

I started wondering what my music vision was for; new music is releasing every day, I feel there is big saturation and I can’t distinguish one project from another.

Why do people need to express themselves? Does it matter to ask why? Do I really need to express myself or am I part of a big production machine without asking me what I really want?

Also for these questions I started to focus on the experimental world; I wanted to be surprised in every way, good or bad, more than having a good compliant soundtrack of everyday moments. I wanted to give more importance to music but not talking about music, going deep inside something that is radical, inevitable and natural. I think that we are losing the concept of respecting someone’s vision, we are losing concentration, we are less and less able to go deep inside, we just “like” or don’t. I feel there’s something really poor in this.

All these thoughts helped me to understand that I really wanted to “talk” about Evolution. I wanted to represent something that could help to understand that it’s normal to change, every time we want, for ourself first of all, also that it’s insane to always act the same because we are scared of losing people around us (or… losing Likes?).

Evolution is a constant of life, changing our thoughts and our points of view helps us to feel that we are alive, and not stuck always at the same point.

I see this album and its imaginary evolutionary steps more in a psychological way, but I wanted also to represent a parallel visual aesthetic more focused on an imaginary biology, out of this world but in a natural and a perceptible environment, made of elements that we recognize as living beings but whose origin we don’t fully understand.

A clear metaphor of what’s happening inside us when we don’t feel comfortable in the situation we are living in the present. Furthermore, I had the pleasure of collaborating with the contemporary artist and performer Benni Bosetto, essential for shaping Evolve’s aesthetics.

What do you hope it conveys to listeners?

I just want them to find 40 minutes to listen to the whole work and think about what they want, it’s all about fantasy and suggestion. However, it depends on the listeners, someone maybe will concentrate on techniques, someone will focus on melodies and someone else on the concept I propose, but overall these are only the starting points for the listener.

I don’t want my twisted vision to compromise other people’s freedom and imagination.

Is this a dance floor focused album?

I hope that some brave DJs around can find a way to mix some parts of the album during their set!
I’d love it and in some way I feel that it’s possible, but honestly I think we are talking about something that is better to enjoy in a moment of introversion, or as an alternative to a movie, or maybe after clubbing to travel a little bit more? I don’t know.

2020 has been a strange year for most of us. What lessons have you learned from these past few months?

That is better not to release concept and too much cerebral albums during lockdowns (laughs!)

Jokes aside, there’s a lot of things that I started to think before this happened, to respect nature and being less and less impactful on the planet.

I’m just saying that we all have to learn, grow up, to respect people and nature, based on everyday routine, what is better and what is worst, for us but overall for a big community we are all part of.

Things that we learn in dangerous or extreme moments like this tend to disappear once returning to normal, and I’m seeing this and I suffer a lot.

It’s not correct to look out from your home and think “Wow, so much silence, I’m breathing fresh air and I’m happy that without people around there are a lot of bunnies and birds happy to live their life…” This has to be normal, but it’s disappearing just now, I see it, the famous good intentions that disappear.

As I told you I was thinking and learning to respect nature, more and more, before this happened, and I’ll try not to forget just because now it’s time to restart.

What kind of new activities did you discover during these lockdown months?

As a new activity I’d say cooking, first of all; or better, I use to cook every day but I started to do a lot of things that I used to buy like bread, pizza or biscuits and so on… Italian genetics!

Other things are not new activities to be honest, I use to do indoor gardening because I don’t have a real garden so I plant seeds, chilli, avocados, basil flowers and so on.

I’m not very good at finding time to read properly, so I started and finished some books or online readings about musicology, and now I’m studying granular synthesis based on Microsound by Curtis Roads for prospective application on future projects.

Do you think you were more or less productive in the studio during this period?

Very less productive for myself.

I think it’s more because I just released Evolve, it completely emptied my head and I’m scared to repeat myself stylistically. I preferred to focus on studying and being suggested by new music or other artistic fields.

I can’t understand if I was less productive for this reason or for being locked in my home for months. For sure having both situations together didn’t help!

What is your favorite meal?

If I feel there’s love inside the meal, that’s my favourite. Better if vegetarian!

Also I love proper Chinese cooking but it’s hard to find here in Italy of course. It’s all about fresh ingredients, cooked simple and made for sharing. Love the way they see meals as a means to stay together and have fun.

And I’m completely in love with Baozi, they remind me of my passion for manga and anime when I was a kid.

What is your favorite drink?

Red Italian wine, especially from Tuscany or Piemonte regions.

And Gin & Tonic! I Love Gin & Tonic.

What is the first country you’d like to visit once you can travel again?

I’d like to visit Iceland again. I’m thinking a lot about its beautiful silences and landscapes, I hope to have the possibility to return there soon, it changed my mind once, and I want more.

What else do you have planned for 2020?

I just released a rework of “Pluk” by Dusty Kid, for the Ten Years of his album A Raver’s Diary; Also I had the pleasure of being part of a beautiful compilation made by the Berlin-based neoclassical label 7K!, it was released on May 29th.

Now I’m waiting for the test pressings for the vinyl release of Evolve, hopefully in September/October.

I am also searching for other artists that want to be part of my label NeMu, and this is one of the things that I wanted to do in the next few months.

And also I’m working on a quadraphonic sound installation for a beautiful contemporary art exposition in October, again in collaboration with Benni Bosetto.

Vito Gatto’s Evolve LP is out via NeMu and available on Bandcamp

Connect with Vito Gatto: Facebook | Instagram | SoundCloud