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Aether Recordings was founded in 2020, a label borne out of the early pandemic lockdowns. Now on to their 21st release, introducing the highly talented Luca De-Santo.
After a much-needed hiatus, Luca makes an emphatic return, with a refreshingly original and evocative serving of melodic techno. The lead track ‘Straight To Orbit’ is an anthemic number. It starts with a delicate introduction before bringing in a groove-fuelled bassline coupled with galactic bleepy arp builds, rounded off with a soulful vocal cut interspersed throughout this euphoric number, set to send fans into…orbit!
The B-side ‘Mainline’ is arguably another lead track, with a high tempo from the off. The production is underpinned by its driving bassline, marry this to the hypnotic vocals and the delicate yet progressive lead melody which builds throughout. The result is a ‘lost in the music’ moment for dancefloors around the world.
Label owner and artist Sam T. Harper remixes ‘Mainline’. Sam’s take focuses on the synths while combining them with a tension-filled melodic bass harp. The result is a hauntingly beautiful progressive number.
Luca De-Santo’s return is a real statement of intent with two lead tracks and a stunning remix, all delivering different yet equally euphoric results.
Luca De-Santo’s‘ Straight Into Orbit EP’ is out on 26th August 2022 on Aether.
Luca De-Santo may sound familiar to some, this rising star emerged back in 2015 when he rapidly gained wide recognition for his signature melodic techno sound. From holding multiple residencies and hosting his own events company in his hometown of Glasgow before venturing out to play the likes of BPM Festival, Warehouse Project and Amsterdam Dance Event. He landed two Beatport top 20 records after signing to Carl Cox’s Intec Digital. Then the pandemic hit in 2020 bringing his career to a halt, but Luca is more than excited to be releasing music again in 2022.
We were lucky enough to sit down with the inimitable talent that is Luca De-Santo to find out more about his personal journey over the past few years, and talk about his new direction and EP on Aether Recordings.
Hey Luca, thanks for joining us today – now some people may be familiar with you from a few years ago as one of Carl Cox’s “Ones to Watch” but then you took some time out and now you’re back with a fresh and new sound. Tell us a little bit about your story so far…
Hey, the pleasure is all mine honestly. Yeah, that was a crazy time for sure and what a start to my music career. I signed 2 EPs with Carl Cox and Jon Rundell’s Intec imprint and this really propelled me forward into a positive space. I gained so many amazing fans and friends throughout this time whilst also getting the opportunity to play some unbelievable gigs. Being involved with such a reputable group of people helped me deepen my understanding of the industry, marketing, and networking and really up my game. I had assistance from some truly amazing people throughout that time and now years on, I would like to take this opportunity to thank them.
Both EP’s on Intec reached the top 20’s in the Beatport charts and for a while, one of my tracks was the number one seller on Intec’s discography which in itself is a huge achievement that I am still to this day very proud of. We poured everything into the Intec releases with tailor-made music videos, bespoke PR campaigns and a video of Carl Cox himself filmed live from his back garden giving my EP a push. I still love going back through my socials and watching all of these incredible moments from time to time, amazing cherished memories for sure.
Following up on the EP’s on Intec I signed a few big tracks to Spektre’s imprint Respekt Recordings and reputable American label Funk n Deep, both of which did really well on the Beatport charts too. After playing the Warehouse Project in Manchester for Drumcode, BPM Festival, Amsterdam Dance Event and going on tour with the almighty Spektre around the UK I truly felt like a real part of the industry. Throughout 2017, 2018 and 2019 I continued to work in the studio, promote and play in my own home town of Glasgow which I really love to do. In February of 2020, I was in conversations with promoters from Palermo in Italy and we had just confirmed my first booking there which I was really looking forward to as I felt it would open up all important European connections. Of course, this had to happen just as the Covid pandemic came down on us all and it was all cancelled, what a horrible time that was.
Like everyone, I had a rough start to the pandemic with no real motivation to make music due to the mental situation we were all battling. After a long six months, I found myself again and decided to use the extra studio time wisely to really decide what direction I wanted to take, I am sure many of my peers and fellow artists can relate. After some careful decision-making, perseverance and A LOT of new technical learning inside Ableton I have arrived at where I am today, championing a new more progressive and melodic sound. On reflection, I had a whirlwind of a start to my career and I am super thankful for that, but now is the time to push myself to the next level. I am in a really positive place with music, producing a sound that makes me get off my seat and dance in the studio and I guess that’s what this is all really about isn’t it? That’s the story so far, long but meaningful!
This new release is very different from your old stuff, we’re absolutely loving it – what was the inspiration behind the ‘Straight Into Orbit EP’?
Thanks, positive feedback is great when releasing a new sound. The inspiration came from frustration, to be honest. Approaching the latter stages of the lockdown I started to really miss the rave and just generally being on a dancefloor, happy with other like-minded people. I have always really liked the idea of the solar system paired with euphoric music and I just kept getting this thought in my head that the first rave back would be epic and when I was writing the melody paired with the Reese bass in the break on the A-side I was getting those exact euphoric, spacey vibes. This is when it hit me that “when we go to our first rave back the DJ will take us straight to orbit” and I just had to use it as the lead title.
What was the process of making the tracks for the EP in the studio?
With all of my music, I work mostly within Ableton making use of a multitude of VST plug-ins I have procured over the years. On both tracks, like most producers, I started laying down the kicks and sub-bass to give me that driving foundation and when feeling the initial groove I decided on a nice mid-range BPM to keep it driving but also dancefloor friendly. I always design and write my bass within either Diva or Serum, both amazing plug-ins for the melodic and progressive genre. After I was happy with the low end I moved into the drums, obviously keeping it minimal for that simple and clean progressive vibe. When choosing hat combinations it really is crucial to get the layers correct and of course, ensure you pick samples that fit with the vibe you’re going for. Next, I always move on to a vocal as I feel it glues together the low end and drums while guiding you in the direction that you want to take your melody. With these tracks, I wanted to stick with euphoric style vocals that hit just at the right time to inject that uplifting feeling into the dancefloor. The melodies for both tracks are what I spent most of my time writing and perfecting, multiple attempts and some frustrations later I had my end result which I am more than happy with now. I tried to keep the main breakdowns interesting by using only a few of the elements but kept it driving back towards that all-important main drop with various automation and build-up techniques. Overall, I think it took me about a month to really get these tracks to where I wanted them to be but as every producer knows, it is worth it in the end.
What advice would you give to anyone who is just starting out or thinking of getting into music production?
I absolutely got myself into a bad place with my music career after such a flying start only to be cursed with the pandemic. It took me almost the whole two years of the lockdown to give myself that metaphoric ‘kick up the arse’ and get back into it. Learning from this and my overall career so far the advice I would give is absolutely get involved and stick with it, be persistent and good things will happen. Creative individuals will often carry the world on their shoulders, this is something I am hugely guilty of. At the end of the day, you can only influence what you can control and things like studio time, PR, social media, networking, friendships and upskilling yourself are all in that category so give them all lots of attention and you will make progress. Above all, be nice, appreciate people’s time and support each other in this wildly enjoyable industry we are in.
What artists are you digging right now? Any names we should be looking out for?
My favourite established artists right now are Cristoph, Massano, Artbat, Franky Wah, Dosem, Tale of Us, Innellea, Kevin De Vries and Camelphat. They are all absolutely influencing the current and future sound of the melodic and progressive genre and it is a joy to watch.
In terms of artists and people who have done amazing establishing themselves over the last couple of years, I would say Stephen Kirkwood (my brother from our hometown of Glasgow), Leo Lauretti, Nils Hoffmann and someone who I have found recently and I can’t stop watching, Nico Morano. All of the artists here and above go from strength to strength almost on a daily basis and are all excellent role models who keep the industry moving and evolving.
Someone worth noting that has exploded to absolute stardom lately and is a massive talent at blending genres is Brazilian artist Vintage Culture, a great artist and one I enjoy following very much.
Who are your biggest influences in music?
Right now my biggest influences in terms of artists are Carl Cox (still), Artbat, Camelphat, Massano and Cristoph (modern-day god of prog). I feel when I am producing I always find myself listening to their tracks for little references and structure. The way they produce is so unique and each track is full of little golden nuggets of guidance to bring into my own productions.
External to the music industry, my biggest influences are my friends, my family and the many fans that have stuck by me for years. It’s all of you that encourage me to keep going and keep the party alive!
What are your hobbies outside of music?
My two hobbies are hitting the gym and going out on my motorbike. Both of which clear the head and keep the motivation levels high for the studio. I was never a fan of the gym but after feeling pretty unfit and low in January of 2022 I joined a gym and it is the best decision I have ever made. It is true what they say it keeps the creative juices pumping. Probably another recommendation I would make to new artists is to look after your body, it helps!
If you could party with three people dead or alive, who would they be and why?
Oh, this is a hard one for sure as I have partied with some fairly interesting and eccentric individuals during my career haha!
1. Cristoph – Proper Geordie lad and never mind the partying, I want to stand behind the decks and witness him dropping unreleased gems, the dream!!
2. Both of the Camelphat lads (Mike and David) – We all know the Scousers love a party but also given the opportunity I would slide a USB full of unreleased tracks in their bag (while buying them a beer of course).
3. Carl Cox – I have had the opportunity to meet the king once backstage at Awakenings, crazy day. I just feel his energy and kindness would be a vibe with a few beers and sharing music thoughts. I still hope to get this chance one day!
What’s in store for the rest of 2022 for Luca De-Santo? Any exclusives for us?
I have roughly 12 tracks all finished that I have started sending to my next lot of target labels so I am excited to see how that progresses. I plan to continue to build my social media presence and my Spotify through the rest of 2022, smash my upcoming content around this current release and then get a couple of meaningful releases scheduled for early 2023. I have decided to give away 2 free downloads between now and Christmas to give my fans something they can download and keep so watch out for them.
On the gig front I am on the Glasgow gig circuit again picking back up some old residencies and I have a couple of good bookings down south coming up which I am buzzing about. Above all I will keep grafting and crafting my new sound in the studio and of course, enjoying every minute of it.
Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today, hopefully, we see you out and about soon!
Thanks a lot for having me, some challenging questions but it brought back some old memories so thank you for that! Cya!
Artist: Luca De-Santo
Title: Straight To Orbit EP
Label: Aether Recordings
Release Date: 2022-08-26