This week’s Global Vibe Radio mix comes from Italian Live artist Fabrizio Rat, known for transforming grand pianos into synthesizers to produce hypnotic, powerful techno soundscapes.
For the occasion, Fabrizio recorded a live mix in his studio using all-analog equipment, featuring all-original music that is mostly unreleased. The mix showcases Fabrizio’s sound as well as his incredible skill as a live artist.
The equipment used includes the Korg MS20, Acoustic Prepared Piano, Modular Synth (mainly Makenoise and Vermona modules), Roland SH101, Roland TR909, Elektron Analog Rytm, Roland JUNO 60 , DSI Prophet 08, RE201 Space Echo, EVENTIDE Space and a Mackie mixer.
Following two EPs, ‘’La Machina’’ on Optimo Trax and ‘’Technopiano’’ on Involve Records, Fabrizio released his first album of hybrid techno, with an innovative sound palette. “The Pianist” combines the acoustic sounds and weird harmonics of his prepared piano with the acid loops of the TB-303 and the beats of the TR-909.
“I want to play like these machines that I love, to translate their exactitude and imperfection with my human nature, to open up new paths, and play with our errors. The repetition process let me enter another dimension, a state of trance where the physical effort disappears, and control is not necessary any more, I just need to be carried away by sound, with a bit of luck.”
Unsurprisingly, it’s in front of the dancefloor, in clubs or festivals, that Fabrizio plays his live sets. With the right hand he plays repetitive rhythmical patterns while the left one handles the machines and manipulates the piano strings. His goal is to reach “the trance, to project on the dancers the hypnotic state of my right hand moving on the piano.”
Download the mix for free HERE and read on for our exclusive chat with Fabrizio Rat.
Ciao Fabrizio, grazie mille for the mix. I am even more thankful to know that this is a full live analog mix. Can you tell us a little bit about the creative process that went into putting this together, the equipment you used, etc?
Thanks for having me! Yes this is not what we would normally call a podcast. It is a mix of my own original material recorded from the studio. I improvised on the different synthesizers, drum machines, and on the modular, recorded the ideas that came out and then mixed them together. I’ve used a Korg Ms20, an acoustic piano, a modular synth (mainly Makenoise modules), Roland SH101, Juno 60 , TR909, RE201 Space Echo, Analog Rytm, Prophet 8, Eventide Space.
Does this mean everything we are listening to right now is completely Fabrizio Rat original?
Yes. And practically everything is unreleased apart from “Listen to me” which is just out on my last EP on Involve. It is a different version in the podcast here though, more improvised.
What you do is unique, transforming grand piano into electronic music and techno in ways I have never seen anyone else do. How did this idea of combining a classical instrument like this with the more “underground electronic” sound come about?
This idea is in my head since forever I guess, but it took long time to develop and to reach the form you see now.
I wrote a letter at about 15 years old, telling to my girlfriend that I wanted to do techno music using acoustic instruments, put them in the dancefloor music. Since my teenage years I have been interested in both electronic music and acoustic/classical instruments, however at that time I would separate things too much. Now everything comes together in a natural and logical way, at least for me.
Through the years I developed a personal way to play the piano, based on preparations (putting object on strings), harmonics (touching the strings with one hand while playing on the keyboard with the other one), repetition, endurance, regularity. ‘My’ piano is certainly not the romantic instrument. It is a hypnotic machine, percussive, violent and obsessive, that’s why it fits perfectly for me the powerful sound of techno.
I, of course, did my homework on you, but would love to hear your own story from you. How did you first discover music and begin playing instruments?
I started at 4 years old, I had a Catholic education, I ‘d go to the church and when back home I would play back on a little keyboard the melodies heard before. My parents are not musicians at all, but they thought that maybe it was worth to try to make me study music. They have always encouraged me, with all my contradictions, abrupt changes in musical styles and genres and that is quite extraordinary to me. I studied classical music, and at the same time worked on electronic production and also played jazz and improvise.
My teenage years were like this: I’d go to school in the morning, work in a techno music studio in Turin with DJs and other producers in the afternoon, write a fugue in the night… But I’d hide to the classical professors that I was producing electronic music, they would not have understood. For me everything was quite logical, and things were completing each other. Anyway, I needed them all, and enjoyed them all. In 2008 I moved to Paris where I started to really mixing these musical worlds together, at first by creating different bands and projects and then with my solo work.
What was it about playing music that captivated you then, and do you feel the same way now?
It is the quest of the unforeseen. It is absolutely the same energy which makes me create music today. I look for things which I could not imagine before, call it accident or chance. I throw the dices, generate material by different means, and see what happens. Sometimes magic combinations come out, so I need to be able to recognize and develop them. It is really a game. Actually, the best game ever.
Also, I am always fascinated by the incredible power of music to bring us far from reality, into weird and strange worlds, to get completely lost inside them. Those moments, are what I live for.
Is there an instrument you would love to still learn someday?
Each new electronic instrument I buy needs time to learn, and I find that learning process often very interesting. So yes I am always learning a new instrument, be it a new module, another synth , program a new sequencer, a software.
Given your background training, how do you describe your music to someone who doesn’t quite know you can use a piano to make the kind of music you make?
It is quite easy to define, it is techno, even if I use an ‘unusual’ instrument to do it. And it is sonic exploration, I want my music to be functional to the dance but at the same time never leave the research aspect. It has to be accessible and experimental at the same time.
Given the instruments you need to play out, what kind of venues do you end up performing in?
I play 99% of my gigs in clubs or festival, it is not so hard to set up, and I have also a version of my live set with a Korg Ms20 instead of the piano, if a piano can’t fit the venue because of his dimensions. It is the same concept, I play the sequences on the synthesizer with one hand and handle the machines with the others. The Ms20 is my fetish synthesizer, I play it since a very long time, and it is as fun as the piano for me.
Do you have a more “compressed” live set up that enables you to play in conventional techno clubs?
Absolutely, I use a Korg Ms20 instead of the piano as explained above, and it works the same way of my piano live, playing the patterns all long by hand while handling the machines with the other one.
Do you think your live set-up will change someday, or do you feel you’ve got it down with what you use now?
I always change little things, but now the set up is good to me, I am free to improvise and I can play complex music live. What I change constantly is not the set up but the music, which must reflect all the things I experiment and try out in the studio, and is evolving every day, every gig.
Recently you’ve had acts such as Shlomo and Phase remix your work. Do you have any other collaborations in the pipeline?
Yes… but I can’t yet talk about it have to wait a little…
You’ve been touring outside of Europe for a while now. Where would you like to play that you haven’t yet?
I would love to play in the U.S. (I played there with my bands but never with my techno live set ) and also Brazil and Mexico. And it is always a big pleasure to go back to south America to Colombia and Argentina. I really love the scene, the people and the parties there.
Outside of music, what do you like to do? What are some of your hobbies?
I produce music all the time and I am addicted to that so this leavse me not much free time. I also do some music videos sometimes.
I am very fond of old movies, especially the Italian, French and American ones from the 50 60 70. I used to be a frequent visitor of art-house cinemas in Paris, and still see so many films from that era.
What’s your favorite Italian dish?
Do you like other foods outside of Italian?
Actually…. no. I am not very interested in gastronomy and don’t want to spend too much time on that. I eat because I have to.
When is your next vacation? Where do you plan to go?
I always go on holiday to some little islands around Sicily, and I have recently discovered one which is really magical. I think I will always go there from now. I am an obsessive guy.
Tell us something about you we don’t know!
I love jellyfishes.
Thank you ciao!