Italian-mainstay Francesca Lombardo speaks with us from a little village in France, where she discusses her relationship with Damian Lazarus‘ Crosstown Rebels, an imprint she has called home for a large part of her career.
Over a period of seventeen years, Damian Lazarus’ Crosstown Rebels has evolved into a world-renowned institution, garnering global audiences thanks to a consistent schedule of quality releases. Quintessential to the label’s success is the Spirits series, with each edition acting as a musical bastion to showcase the talents of both established and breakthrough artists alike. Now, after much anticipation, the world-renowned compilation will see the light of day once more in the form of Spirits IV, the fourth installment in Spirits’ ever-evolving saga. A mixed version of the album will also be included in the release, as a digital bonus track.
“The Spirits series is a very important platform for incredible new club music, often created by up and coming artists. The tracks are tried and tested over a twelve month period by myself at parties and no stone is left unturned to ensure the absolute quality of every cut on the album. Deep, twisted and beautiful music for the dancefloors of tomorrow.” – Damian Lazarus
Twelve tracks long, the Crosstown Rebels compilation includes records from both prominent and rising artists alike, featuring appearances from not only from Francesca Lombardo, but also Andrea Oliva, Pete Tong, Made By Pete, Matador and many others. Damian Lazarus discovers a new artist to create the artwork for each Spirits edition, this time inviting enigmatic NYC illustrator Josh Courlas to do so.
Echoe-founder Francesca Lombardo showcases her decade-long production experience in “Freak On Sea,” her contribution to Crosstown Rebels presents SPIRITS IV providing a dubby-leaning club cut that features progressive key changes throughout.
We caught up with her to talk about the release and what it means for her to be in the Crosstown Rebels family.
Ciao Francesca, it’s a pleasure getting to speak to you today. Where in the world are you these days?
Hello! And thanks for having me. These days I am in France in a small village next to Paris with my family.
How did 2021 begin for you and what hopes do you have for the year?
2021 began in the studio for me. Due to some life events, I wasn’t able to write any music the last couple of months of 2020, and I am happy to be able to spend most of my days writing music at the moment, in my favourite environment.
Talking about 2021… congrats for your contribution to the Spirits series from Crosstown Rebels. Can you tell us about your track, when you produced it and what the title means?
I wrote the track in the summer during the Beirut explosion events. That’s where the name “ Freak on Sea” comes from, it is how I named the explosion that brought such sadness by killing many people, leaving many homeless and destroyed a big part of the city.
Your relationship with Crosstown Rebels, and boss Damian Lazarus, goes back many many years. How did it start and what does it mean to you to be involved with the label still to this day?
Damian and I met in Miami back in 2011, by sitting at the same table in the back stage of Nikki beach. We started to talk and I shared some music with him later on. He loved what I was doing and asked me if I was able to send him more music. After a few months of working in the studio I was able to send him my first release Changes EP that helped me launch myself as a Crosstown Rebel new family member. Damian is a very important figure in my life, a mentor, a friend and I love being back working with him for Crosstown Rebels, it always felt like my family.
Your production resume includes many fantastic labels, including some of the world’s most respected and revered ones. I have three questions for you here. Firstly, how do you still keep inspired to produce music after so many years of producing music at such a high level, and what do you do if you ever lose inspiration or find yourself with “writer’s block”? That counts as one question by the way!
Thanks for the nice comment! I do like to evolve when I write music and I guess that’s what keeps me inspired. However I do lose my inspiration at times, and the only way for me to get it back is either by practising yoga and a bit of meditation or sometimes just by leaving the room for a few days and do something else, not related to music.
How do you know and decide which label is right for you to release on and has this decision process changed over the years?
I tend to try and release my music on labels which I like and follow generally and I get inspired by them. I also have my own labels who are the perfect platform to release my music on.
Last question here on the subjects of imprints. You’re a record label owner yourself, so can you give advice to aspiring producers on how to get signed up for labels in 2021?
I always thought that the best way to get signed by labels would be to get out there and meet people in the music industry to introduce yourself before sending your music. Sadly in 2021 this isn’t much the case, as there are no many events happening, so I suggest do your research and hit the right people, I am sure there is a way around it. Also send your music to artists and djs, and not only record labels. There is chance these people will play your music in their mixes, radio shows or streamings and that’s a way to promote yourself and your track and make things easier for it to get signed.
What else you do have planned musically in the months to come beyond your contribution to the Spirits series?
I have a collaboration with Purple Disco Machine, a remix of a track by Gab Rhome and other projects I am not yet able to talk about. Anyway, there is a lot to come for sure this year! I am very excited to see how things develop from this point onwards, also considering the amount of time I have in my hands to work on Music due to the virus.
Lockdown and the pandemic have given us time and space to devote our attention to new and old hobbies. Is that the case for you also?
Actually yes! I have started a diploma course to learn how to become an organic skin formulator. I have always loved the topic and always invested in beauty products also because of my lifestyle, being a DJ. It’s nice to have two things you like to do that are not really related to each other, and I am starting to enjoying practicing making skin products more and more.
What is one of the main things you hope to do once the pandemic is under control and lockdowns are lifted?
I am hoping to start touring again as a DJ full time! I am hoping to be able to travel as I did before, meet all my friends and colleagues around the world again and have a laugh with them as we used to do till early last year! I miss my life so much!
I also want to tour my live show and be able to have a full exciting tour of my new album with my band behind!
Thank you Francesca, can’t wait to see that live band tour happening for you!