By: Markos Papadatos, Senior Editor

Chat with Italian musician Giuseppe Ottaviani about trance music, Paul van Dyk, future plans and “Live 2.0.”

What do you love most about trance music?

Giuseppe Ottaviani: I love how trance is able to carry high energy and a huge amount of emotions at the same time. I’m originally from classical music and I found in trance the same ability to manipulate people’s emotions with its melodies. Unlike other genres which have a more specific target in terms of the location where the music played and the kind of audience, trance goes extremely wide being suitable for clubs, festivals, the car, your iPod, home hi-fidelity, etc. and the audience goes from 15 to 50 years old and this is just because it’s real music that we are talking about. It’s something that can be stuck in your mind for a very long time and it will bring back memories when the years pass.

How is the “pure” type of trance you play different from the overall sound of trance so popular nowadays?

Giuseppe Ottaviani: I think the term ‘pure’ stands there to identify a genre that has not been messed up with other completely different styles. A few years ago, the term ‘pure trance’ would have made no sense at all because trance was still trance, but suddenly trance producers started to walk towards the new and fashionable type of music, mixing the genres together and creating such a big confusion to the people who were expecting to hear trance from a certain producer / DJ when attending a party but instead they were getting a totally different sound. People started to call trance whatever they heard and here is where the ‘pure trance’ movement came out. Someone says that pure trance it’s the sound of 2001 but that’s absolutely not about. Trance evolves just like any other genre of music without the need of being blended together with other different styles. Personally, I wouldn’t combine jazz music and heavy metal and call it ‘jazz 2.0,’ if you know what I mean. That said, I’m not a 100% purist. I like to be influenced by other music and other artists but making sure to only get the inspiration from those elements that I think suit my style and making sure not to loose my identity while delivering something new and fresh, and of course sticking to trance music.

How did the “Live 2.0” concept for your tour come about? Can you please be specific?

Giuseppe Ottaviani: Well, I’ve been performing with pretty much the same setup or say the same way to play for over 13 years and I thought I would need to make some changes trying to refresh my show and bringing it to the next level. Now I’m moving from ‘performing’ live music on stage to ‘creating’ live music on stage. Live 1.0 basically was making music in the studio and performing my music onstage with keyboards, laptops and MIDI controllers. My performance was based on stems, so I was running a big chunk of my production as background while I was playing the main melodies on my keyboard while controlling a set of drums, filters and effects. The final result was close enough to the original song but with that live touch that made the song different in every show and with the possibility of improvisation to make everything sounding even more unique.

Now the new Live 2.0 setup has a different approach and has got two different sections. One section is what I call the “DJ section” where I put all my productions, remixes, mash-ups and even music from my label GoOnAir. The other section is the “Live section” and this is where I have the software and the sounds that will allow me to quickly create a raw production on-the-fly. To be specific, I have a total of 8 channels: 1) Kick drum, 2) Percussion loops, 3) Cymbal, 4) Bassline, 5).Mid-range bassline, 6) Leads, 7) Pad/Strings, 8) Piano. This is based on loops, which means I will play and record each sound and then loop it. Once all the sounds and melodies have been created and are in place, I will perform the track straight away during my show. I will live the moment, recording and playing whatever it comes to my mind.

I get most of my inspiration while playing in front of the crowd and I usually write music when I’m back to the hotel or on the way back home. Now the idea behind the Live 2.0 is not to wait until I go back but just write the music while onstage and perform it right away.

I think that combining all those live elements with my productions and performing new “freshly-made” tracks every time will give some special touch to the show, something that people can only experience when attending my shows and in every gig I’ll be able to deliver something completely new and unique. As a side note my new setup is nicely packed into a suitcase which will allow me to pack my stuff in five minutes and fly to the next show! Check this out:

Above all it should be fun!

What do your plans for 2016-17 include?

Giuseppe Ottaviani: Definitely my new artist album. It’s been already more than a year since I started to work on it and I’m almost there, though I need some more time to finish it so I don’t have a release date yet but I’m really excited about it. In the meanwhile I’ll keep delivering new single releases and the next up it’s called ‘MUSICA’ to be released on March 14th on Black Hole Recordings. I also have two big remixes lined up for the next months and an official cover from a famous UK TV series to be released a bit later on…but I’ll tell you more next time.

You describe yourself as having “never been a DJ.” Are you not DJing when you’re onstage? If not, how exactly are you performing?

Giuseppe Ottaviani: No I never been really a DJ, I always played live since the early days and for playing live I mean playing a real instrument onstage (a keyboard in my case). Also, I only play my own music which includes my remixes and other stuff that comes out from my studio, but 90% of the music I play is my own production so it sounds more like a “concert” than a typical DJ set.

Why are your “non-DJing” performances better than the typical straight-up DJ show?

Giuseppe Ottaviani: Nobody says my performances are better or worse than a DJ set, but definitely different. I’m an artist and it’s just my art that I’m delivering onstage. And what makes me proud of what I do is that I don’t have to play the chart top 10 tracks to keep the crowd going but it’s mainly my music which as I said before includes my own productions, remixes and all the exclusive music I create for my shows.

Have you ever played in Greece? If yes, can you talk about your experiences there?

Giuseppe Ottaviani: Oh that’s nice! Yes I’ve been there few times and I was lucky to have few days off in Athens (which I love so much). It was a pretty good crowd I remember, not huge masses though, and it’s been a while since my last visit. It would be great to come back in the near future.

What motivates you each day, as both an artist and as a human being?

Giuseppe Ottaviani: Passion for the music is what drives me more than anything else. Music was my hobby before turning into a full-time job and I would make music even if it wasn’t my job at all. But it’s not only about music. An even bigger piece of the cake is given to my family: my wife and my two kids.

Where do you see electronic dance music in the next five years?

Giuseppe Ottaviani: From the very underground to such a big popular scene, electronic dance music has evolved a lot in the past 20 years and it’s just getting bigger and bigger thanks to this strong sense of global family and membership that has developed during the past decade. I see a bright future, and I’m talking about dance music in general, not only about trance music of course.

What advice do you have for aspiring DJs and electronic producers?

Giuseppe Ottaviani: When personally doing some A&R for my label GoOnAir, I noticed that most of the producers tend to simply copy or I better say being “strongly influenced” by what’s high in the chart, trying to recreate those exact sounds and arrangement but loosing creativity in this way. It’s true that every label has a specific sound but within that sound you can be very creative anyway and you could, or actually you should create your own sound and identity. Nobody says it’s going to be easy, especially now that the competition is extremely high due to the easy access of technology, but it’s worth trying to be noticed for doing something different rather than doing the same things as everyone else.

What’s it like being so relied upon by the great Paul van Dyk? Can you give a bit of history about the two of you? Why is it that you work so well, and so frequently, together?

Giuseppe Ottaviani: Paul van Dyk is basically the man who discovered me back in 2001 when I was part of a duo called NU NRG. We released the first track “Dreamland” on Paul’s Vandit Records and it was a big success and got straight into the top 40 German dance chart. The reason you can see tons of stuff between me and Paul is because I’ve been an exclusive artist on his label for 12 years and I did a lot of remixes for him and we had lots of collaborations as well. Despite the fact that I left Vandit and joined Black Hole Recordings three years ago, we are still pretty close when it comes to the music and we just continue to collaborate and make good music together.

Do you ever think about your legacy and what that would be? What do you want it to be?

Giuseppe Ottaviani: I’d love for my music to last in people’s memories for long time, just like music from artists I love is stuck in my head since my childhood. I believe trance has the power to do so.

For more information, visit www.giuseppeottaviani.com.