Stefano Ritteri has spread his talents far and wide across the music industry over the past two decades. Including appearances under his previous moniker Solo, he has had residencies at Fabric and Rinse FM, released music on Get Physical, Dirtybird and countless other labels, and even composed music for TV and advertisements, most notably the English Premier League. Now the Londoner via Rome is dipping into the label game with his new label Viaggio Recordings alongside his close friend Musta.
The label is simply another form of expression for Stefano as he plans to release more than just music but also art, instruments and even rolling papers. The first release is logically a brand new EP from the man himself. Mutana is an EP set for release on 12” vinyl on December 7th and features three tracks which represent not only Stefano’s personality, but also the changes he has made in his production techniques over the past few years. They seem to perfectly represent his eclectic style of mixing as well. He has perfected a seamless blend of house, techno, and world rhythms over these three tracks nearly as dexterously as he does in clubs around the world on a weekly basis.
The title track is a testament to these diversified tastes as it combines live percussion with sampled rhythms and analogue synths. “Mutanda” has everything from swirling LFO’s to fuzzed out guitars. The drums build and build as layer upon layer is added to the hectic mix. It all accelerates to a drop which sees vocal samples taking the fore, floating above the compressed madness before exploding back into the gritty hysteria of before. More samples are introduced and teased throughout as short dips and tricks keep the track chugging along to nearly six and a half minutes.
You can read our full interview with Stefano below discussing the new label and some of the process behind the new EP. Mutanda is out on December 7th in record stores and online retailers.
In the past you have incorporated a variety of software in your production process (Cubase, Ableton, Maschine). Did you maintain this diversity on the new EP?
Yes, I love to change methods, inspirations and devices I use to make music. The excitement of having something new makes me want to experiment and try different approaches , so over the past 20 years of music making I bought , sell, exchanged and dreamed of so many synths and drum machines and softwares. I went thru phases of “everything out the computer” to “ I don’t need any machine, software is the way to go “ .. from these extremes to anything in between, and when I listen to my records I recall the “phase” I was into when I made it, and what machines or softwares inspired me to write such record.
I love your video demoing the Volcas for Point Blank Music School. Have you used any of the newer models such as the FM, Sample or Kick? If you had the chance to design the newest Volca, what would you aim for?
Thank you! No I still use the 3 OG, the classic ones, but I am keeping an eye for a more developed sampler… my dream would be to have a Sp1200 emulation in Volca format.. I have put it in this years letter to Santa.. ,let’s see!
Your edits for Africa Seven contain some serious grooves. How does your editing process differ from regular production or even remixes?
To be honest there is no difference in my head, I approach every song with the same plan : to tell a story. I normally spend the the first few hours of the day sampling records , or making a patch with the modular synth.. I look for something that excites me and creates a sort of a storyboard in my head. Sometimes it’s a proper short movie, and if a friend is hanging around in studio while I am jamming , ( which happens a lot ), I would describe the scene I see in my head while I play record sounds.. it gets often very funny.. specially after some drinks and smokes..
What was the primary motivation behind starting Viaggio Recordings?
Me and good friend Musta decided to start Viaggio to release music that doesn’t necessarily fit in a specific genre.We both love obscure samples, and since we live in different countries ( he lives in beautiful Sardinia island, where is always summer! ) , we often Skype to play each other ideas and new songs. So one day we just said “ why not!” and decided to setup Viaggio, with the help of an amazing designer and painter, Michele Bagnod. Three italians on a mission!
How did you get contracted to write the soundtrack for the Premier League and what was that process like? Are you a football fan? If so, who do you support?
I was playing some gigs in Asia, and on my last day in Hong Kong a friend, who works in a big music agency, called me saying that there was a big project they wanted to involve me into , if I could be next day at the agency. They didn’t say what it was on the phone, so I was very excited.I flew back to London that night and went to the meeting directly from the airport, with a bucket of coffee and lots of questions. They explained to me that they had approved the main theme for the Premier League but they needed a producer and engineer to work on different versions for tv, stadiums, radio.. it was a big big deal for me, and as soon as I accepted I locked myself in their studio for 2 weeks straight ,and worked on all these different songs. There was a lot of pressure and very tight deadlines, but I loved the project very much, and since then I collaborate with this agency as a producer or engineer, and it gives me a break from making bizarre dance music all the time. I don’t follow football much anymore, but I went to watch a few Premier League games to hear one of the songs played at the beginning of the match. It still makes me so happy!
Last year you re-built your studio and sold some gear. What has been the most important piece of gear you’ve used in the making of this new EP and how has this process differed from previous efforts in your old studio?
Oh I build-rebuild-rewire-rethink-remove…the studio all the time! For this particular Ep I have used a very minimal setup, pretty much every sound has been made with Organelle, which is an amazing instrument. It’s a small computer that can become anything: a synth.. an effect.. a vocoder.. in fact in “mutanda” I even sang in it to make the sexy vocal (mutanda means “panties” in italian ).
Is that you playing guitar on the title track?
yes , it’s my old fender guitar plugged directly into Organelle, it sounds so low fi and cheap.. I loved it instantly and thought it fits perfectly the mood of the song.
There’s this great combination of wonky synths and organic percussion on the new EP. How do you draw the line between these two styles when combining them on a track?
I play lots of percussions on my records , I like to combine “polished” sounds with the dirt that comes from the samples I get out of old vinyls..sometimes I get carried away in doing percussions or synth solos.. specially if my friends are in studio with me. I often end up wearing stupid outfits and jamming to make them laugh.. some of the recordings will never be released.. thank god!
Any ambitions for a full length record in the future?
Most definitely! I’d love to make a conceptual album. As soon as I can think of a suitable theme I’ll get working on it!!
Any teases on upcoming releases on Viaggio?
Viaggio number 2 is ready.. it’s a fantastic record by my partner Musta, and we got a remix by one of my favourite people in the world: Kincaid. Besides this, we are working to make Viaggio more than just a record label. Michele Bagnod is producing some original prints for us , and we will sell them together with very useful things, such as rolling papers .. and perhaps a Viaggio electronic instrument..Big things ahead!!
Interview by Nicholas