Giuseppe Ottaviani is one of the most prolific Trance producers in the game. With dozens of singles and remixes, two studio albums and a truly innovative and unique live show, Ottaviani is not your everyday producer. I'm hesitant to even say he's a DJ, as he does much more than mix two tacks together; he creates, modifies, improvises and performs his tracks from the beginning to the end of his sets, giving each performance a certain one of a kind experience. His label, GO ON AIR Recordings, supports diverse artists from all over the world, giving Ottaviani yet another way to influence the music world.
Only the Beat caught up with this legendary producer (or performer, or composer, or visionary; there are too many titles that apply to Ottaviani) to discuss his newly revamped "Live 2.0" setup and where he hopes to take his music and fans in 2016 (be on the lookout for a new album!). We even get into some of the nerdier and technical details of his setup and process, a rare inside look into the tools used to create his productions.
Only the Beat: What are some key differences between live 1.0 and 2.0?
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 change 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. What I did so far with my Live 1.0 basically was making music in studio and perform my music on stage 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 with 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 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, mashups and even music from my label GO ON AIR. 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 eight channels: 1.Kick drum, 2.Percussion loops, 3.Cymbal, 4.Bass line, 5.Mid-range bass line, 6.Leads, 7.Pad/Strings and 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 what ever it comes to my mind.
OTB: What hardware fits "squarely inside the box?" What are your necessities for 2.0?
GO: All I need is packed into a classic aluminum suitcase plus two laptops standing on the left and right sides of the case.
Every single piece of hardware in there is vital for my performance. The Akai APC40 mk2 is the one I use to control Ableton Live. It controls all the different VST instruments and the midi going to my Roland System1 synthesizer. I use it to record in real time what I play from the keyboard and to launch all the recorded clips to build a track live. Then my Roland MX1 mixer allows me to cue and to mix all the channels coming in from my two laptops and from the System 1 in a very smart way. In fact the MX1 is not simply a mixer but it’s more like an instrument you play with, thanks to all its effects and sync capabilities. Last but not least I have another two midi controllers: Samson MD13 is a small launch pad where each pad triggers a different effect to help me during the transitions; the Samson MF8 acts like a classic DJ mixer EQ, gain and filters.
Introducing Giuseppe Ottaviani Live 2.0
OTB: What sets you apart from a traditional dance music DJ? There are lots of producers who also DJ their own tracks. What makes you different from even them?
GO: A DJ plays a pre-recorded track; you can apply effects, loop parts, mix two songs together but you cannot modify the track you're playing, you can't change the melody/riff of it or change the structure of the track for example. In the case of my Live 1.0, playing that melody from my keyboard allowed me to improvise whenever I wanted to and eventually change that melody with a completely different one or performing a track in a different way from the original version because I had full control on the original production. Now, the new Live 2.0 takes it even further. Now I don't create music in studio and perform it on stage, but I create new tracks on-the-fly right on stage and perform them straight away. It's like bringing my studio there in front of the crowd.
I'm obviously talking about raw material and certainly not a full production but still good enough to let people say "what's that ID track Giuseppe played last night?"
Giuseppe Ottaviani new Live 2.0 debut at EDC Mexico
OTB: Where did the live 2.0 concept come from? What inspired you to pursue live performances in a genre dominated by traditional DJs?
GO: I've never been a real DJ and always performed live since 2002 when I played my first gig as a professional musician. For some reason I always thought there were already too many DJs and I wanted to do something different, something I could be recognized for. Now the idea behind the new Live 2.0 it’s quite easy. 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. Then I thought it would be nice not to wait till I go back but just write the music while on stage and perform it right away. There’s nothing more inspiring than this for me. When I make music in studio I tend to visualize that big crowd in front of me. So how about having that big crowd in front of me for real?
OTB: Will there be any live collaborations or improv? Live vocals?
GO: Not at this early stage but it's a possibility for the near future especially after the release of my next artist album.
OTB: Who are some of your musical heroes and inspirations?
GO: My hero is obviously Paul van Dyk, he's the man who introduced me to the music business and I'll always be grateful for his support over the past 14 years. Inspirations? Well I tend to change people I get inspiration from quite often. At the moment one of my favorite is surely Deadmau5. I know he's not a Trance producer at all but I can feel a tiny bit of "trance-y" sounds into his productions, just enough to make me addicted to his latest album.
Giuseppe Ottaviani Presents GO On Air 187
OTB: I really like your tracks that I've heard so far! Darker sounding than most trance I've heard....is that intentional?
GO: Well it depends which track you've been listening to so far. I'm a producer and I like to make a wider range of music, while sticking to my own sound of course. You can definitely find some darker production, something more open and uplifting, something a bit more chilling and lot’s of vocal tunes for sure. But again, everything stays within the range of trance music so it’s not like being all over the place but I definitely like to offer more than one single type of sound.
OTB: Any new singles or even an album on the way for 2016?
GO: 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 mean time, I'll keep delivering new single releases and the latest is called 'MUSICA' which was 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...
OTB: What else is in store for 2016-2017?
GO: Watch out for something called "Slow eMotion"!
I have to admit, Giuseppe Ottaviani blows me away with what he is capable of on stage. I frequently try and push artists to tell me what they think the next step in the live performance of dance music will be and most tend to focus on the visuals alone, discussing aspects such as Eric Prydz holograms or Armin van Buuren's motion sensor armbands (which I thought for the longest time were just a strange aesthetic choice). But with Ottaviani, you're watching a musician create the music we love on the fly, taking what is in his head at the moment and putting it in our ears instantaneously. When you think about it, it's almost magical. You're getting to watch a master at work; watching the raw ingredients of the next big track come together in front of your eyes.
Thank you Mr. Ottaviani for your time and we look forward to his next show and of course what he has in store for all of us over the coming year!