Luca Cazal: To Infinity & Beyond
Luca Cazal is probably better known to you as Luca C, a frequent collaborator with some of the underground house scene’s most revered acts. Soon to play at Mission in Leeds on September 21st, as well as singing with Brigante, he is also part of the famed Hot Natured live act with Jamie Jones and Lee Foss amongst others. Now though he is going solo and has just released his first EP on Crosstown Rebels. Recent times have seen him play all over the world at just about every club and festival worth its salt. Not bad for someone who grew up listening to the Italian version of MTV, which at the time was playing a sort of poppy Italo disco and house sound. Those rather uncool first forays into dance served Luca well though, and now he is one of the most celebrated names in modern house, despite only starting to produce on his own in 2010. We caught up with him for more…
What was the last record you bought? Why did you buy it?
It’s a record from 2 years ago called Back Yard Impressions and it’s on the Swedish label Junkyard Connections, I just checked, this was my last order on my Discogs list!
I bought it for the Mr. Tophat & Art Alfie track on it, it’s called King Hassam, I really like these guys lo-fi Disco/House sound. I’ve been following them and their label Karlovak for a while.
I know you’re based in London too. How do you find the scene here these days? Still vibrant or not what it was?
People often say that something is not what it used to be when they feel attached to a certain time of their lives. Times change and people move on, new people come along and all of a sudden there’s a new scene. It goes in cycles, it happens with dance music, indie, metal and every other genre you can think of. London has always been a great place for music so there’s lots of different scenes, constantly moving, evolving.
I don’t go out in London much these days as I’m away playing gigs most weekends. People tell me there’s a lot going on but when has that not been the case in London?
Definitely. Can you tell us a bit about your long association with Crosstown Rebels? How did that association come about?
I’ve been releasing music on Crosstown Rebels for nearly 3 years now, it started off when Damian heard a very early demo of my track ‘Infinity’ that was played to him by Ali Love at some after party in New York. I had been seeing Damian around for years but by that point we hadn’t yet made a connection.
I remember being in Ibiza at the time and one day I woke up and found a text in my phone saying “Hi it’s Damian Lazarus, I heard your new demo. I have to have this track for Crosstown”. I thought, that’s a bit strange, I’ve never even met the guy and how does he have my phone number… He was quite persistent so in the end I let him have it.
So have you left Infinity Ink behind then? How did you and Ali first hook up in the first place?
No not at all, we were working in the studio just 2 days ago and have another studio session tomorrow. We have tons of new material ready to go we’ll be releasing 2 EPs in the next months with different collaborations and remixes.
Ali and I have been making music together for nearly 12 years, we met in East London through common musician friends.
What has been your proudest moment with Infinity Ink? How do you think you’ll look back on those days in years to come?
There have been many, I think one of them was our show on the Hot Creations stage at Lovebox Festival 2 years ago, that summer ‘infinity’ came out and it was everywhere. It was the first time I had DJ’d in front of more than 6.000 people. There ware probably around 8000 people and everyone was singing the words to our tracks!
I’ll always remember that summer ‘as the first time I got a taste of what it’s like to be a full time touring DJ on the international circuit, I got thrown in it at the deep end. Luckily I had made my experience of touring years before when I was playing in bands so it wasn’t too much of a shock. It usually takes people some time to learn the surviving skills required.
As a DJ, what do you see as your role? How has this changed over the years?
My role is to play music that suits the situation I’m in at that particular time and to make whoever is in front of me dance to my selection of tracks, I think this is and has always been the role of a DJ.
For sure. Are you DJing more now that you’re on your own? How are you finding the transition?
I’m still performing as Infinity Ink as well as on my own and with my Luca C & Brigante project so I’ve got a variety of different projects to keep me busy!
I can imagine. What have been the biggest changes to affect you since you first began working in the electronic music scene?
I haven’t been working in the electronic music scene for very long, probably about 4/5 years but I’ve been working in music for many years. There have been many changes in the way music gets presented to people mainly to do with the internet, Youtube, Facebook, Soundcloud all the online music platforms.
In dance music the biggest change I’ve noticed in the past couple of years is the fact that major labels have started signing dance records and house based pop hits have been flooding the national charts, this is something that used to happen a lot in the late 80’s and 90’s and hasn’t really happened since.
Yeah it’s interesting to see house influenced pop records storm the charts. So what was your first introduction to electronic music all those years ago?
I remember going to clubs in Italy in the mid nineties during my summer holidays in Tuscany and on the Adriatic coast, the sound was a mix of tribal house and New York house most of the times there would be someone chatting on the mic over the DJ, or a live percussionist. People liked that sort of thing at the time. I don’t favour electronic music over other types of music, it’s just what I found myself making and playing in this particular time of my life.
You clearly have a great penchant for song-writing. Where does that all stem from?
I started recording my own compositions when I was 13, I had a cassette recorder and I used to record myself playing the piano every day. I was just jamming using the few chords I knew and improvising lyrics and melodies, for a few years that’s how I used to spend most afternoons instead of revising for school, that and playing football in a car park.
I guess the fact that I grew up listening to The Beatles and other classic songwriters when I was learning how to play instruments made it so that I always wanted to create something similar to that and write songs.
What constitutes success for you as an artist these days? Sales? Charts? Gigs?
Recognition and respect from the music lovers and being appreciated artistically by people I look up to.
So how did it work with the Mariri EP for example?
I played Mariri to Damian in Tulum in Mexico in January and he liked it straight away. When I got back to London in March we worked out a release schedule and started thinking about remixes, Stacey Pullen was my first choice for that track, obviously he had no idea who I was but apparently he felt really inspired by the original version and that’s why he agreed to do it, needless to say I was over the moon. He smashed the remix too as expected!
You seem to have made plenty of trips to Ibiza this summer. How’s that been?
I was there a lot in July, I played DC10 three times, twice for Paradise and once for Circoloco, it was amazing as always. I played on the terrace for the first time which it’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I had a great time playing to a full main room for my second gig ever for Circoloco.
Cool. Going back to your productions. Are you a hardware or software man? Have you adapted to new technology over the years? Or are you still old-school in your approach?
I’m definitely a hardware man, since I first started making electronic music I’ve used only analog equipment, I use the computer as a recording platform and for editing.
I never really work with soft synths. I’m not against it, I’m just used to expressing myself in a certain way using devices that suit my creative process more than others, also I’m not very good with computers in general, so the less I have to use them, the better.
Tell us about your latest EP and the inspiration for it…
The title track ‘Mariri’ was sketched in Peru near a place called Iquitos in the middle of the Amazonian rainforest. It’s my second home and a place I’ve been going to regularly for the past 3 years.
It’s based on a recording I made there of an old chant. The lady singing is called Clementina and she is part of the Shipibo tribe, with this chant they summon the life-giving force of the rainforest to come and heal the body and the spirit.
The other two tracks were written in my studio in London, ‘The Bullfrog’ was a jam with my good friend Mark Jenkyns on an 808 and a Korg ‘volca’ synth, it was recorded pretty much as one live take.
Memory Man is a song by my good friend Daniel Gallagher (Bl_nk Sp_c_s) his uncle was the late Rory Gallagher the 60/70’s Irish guitar legend, Daniel is also an outstanding guitarist and songwriter, we used to play in bands together but hadn’t made music together in years, it was great working with him again.
What big challenges did you face with this EP? Can you talk us through some of the collaborations too?
I didn’t really face any big challenges with this record, it came together very organically it was inspired and driven by nature and friendship. Nothing is going to be challenging when you have those two forces on your side.
Finally, what else can we look forward to from you in the near future?
The launch of mine and Brigante’s label Double Drop in October. We’ll be re-releasing our first ever record ‘Lucio’ which has now become a very sought after record amongst vinyl collectors. It will be re-mastered and packaged in a very special sleeve with original artwork taken from a painting by Brigante’s father. A collaboration with Roisin Murphy is coming out on Hot Creations also in October, and an original 12’’ on Double Drop again with Brigante.
Luca Cazal’s Mariri EP is out now on Crosstown Rebels. Check it out below.