"Most of the time there is a deep melancholic feeling that I constantly live with. It’s not depression or whatever, it’s just a bittersweet feeling that I often find myself in and which I’ve learned to wallow in. It can be expressed and pictured in various ways, and I believe it’s quite a leitmotif in my productions"
Carlo Whale creates music that works in all settings and transcends genres. His openness to a wide range of sound is what has both made him a widely loved favourite, but also someone who operates in his own parallel musical world. We had a chance to talk to him, so enjoy your reading and check out his latest releases.
First off, happy new year! Can you tell us how and where you welcomed 2021?
Happy new year to you too! Well, unfortunately we didn’t have the chance to properly celebrate here in Italy, due to the Covid restrictions. Basically, we weren’t allowed to go anywhere outside our house on NYE, so I spent it with my family and video calling friends. Has been the earliest NYE celebration I’ve had in ages…
Where have you been hunkering down during lockdown and what new skills have you learned?
In my home here in Cagliari, in Sardinia. I’ve been reading a lot, both music-related stuff and not, watched a lot of production tutorials and, not gonna lie, a lot of Netflix of course. I’ve dug deeper into sound design theory, I read a specific book about that, and found it very interesting.
Where can we find you right now? How did you start off your day?
Still at home in Cagliari! Ahah Not so many places to go at the moment, unfortunately… I woke up pretty early this morning, washed my face and had an espresso, an orange juice and some biscuits. Breakfast is really important for your nutritional balance, you should never skip it!
Can you tell us a little bit about your background? Where are you from / how did you get into music? Was it all internet based?
I’m from Sardinia, which is one of the Mediterranean biggest islands. I’m born and raised in Cagliari, the capital city, at the south bottom of the island. I love living on an island, the climate is marvellous and the nature is astonishing. Sometimes it can be tricky especially for logistics, and also the lifestyle here is not like being in a big city or whatever, but still like it!
Getting into music was definitely not internet based! I’ve been into music since I was young of course, and at that time the internet was anything but what it is today (and modem used to make all that interesting sounds and you knew that once you were connected your home telephone would stop working). I was listening to CD’s and cassettes at the time, then an MP3 reader came and illegally downloaded, poorly ripped songs. Was kind of poetic, after all.
Who have been your main inspirations (Both musical and in ‘life’)? And how have they affected your sound?
I’d say Bebe Vio. She’s the best living example of the meaning of “never give up”. She had terrible meningitis as a child, lost legs and forearms due to the infection, miraculously survived and won several Olympic medals as a fencer. Now she’s clearly a symbol. I wouldn’t say her story had a specific
impact on my sound, but definitely on the way I think about how things work.
Tell me about your initial step into music production: what, or who, spurred your interest into the world of electronic music?
It was all my brother’s “fault”! He’s the elder and when I was like 17 he was already jamming on Ableton - I think it was version 5 or 6 back then. Once I found out what he was doing I was instantly hooked and I couldn’t let it go. It became a game for nerds, way before any artistic ambition.
How would you define your sound?
Deep and Melodic. Whether it’s technically Progressive House, Melodic Techno or whatever genre you want to call it, the melody is the root. Then comes the sound, it has to shroud you when you listen. Then you can talk genres, moods, soundscapes and everything else.
What do you want to convey with your sound?
Most of the time there is a deep melancholic feeling that I constantly live with. It’s not depression or whatever, it’s just a bittersweet feeling that I often find myself in and which I’ve learned to wallow in. It can be expressed and pictured in various ways, and I believe it’s quite a leitmotif in my productions. You’ll find more chilled and laid back tracks and others more banging and dark, but the common denominator will always be this feeling.
What can you tell us about your track "Mar Nero"? How was it born? What was your production criteria?
I started off with the main melody riff, as I often do. I was lucky enough to find the perfect lead sound almost immediately and the combination of the two blew me away. Of course I had to tweak it a little bit in order to let it fit with the other elements that I was building around it, but I simply couldn’t get that razor-sharp riff out of my head. The rolling bass does the rest. Too bad I don’t have the chance to try it on a dancefloor right now, I’m dying to see the reaction.
Your music appears to be tied to locations, landscapes and moments - what else plays a pivotal role on your music making process?
Yeah landscapes and moments above all. Mainly because to me they’re deeply connected with a specific state of soul, as I was mentioning before. I rarely think about people, no one in particular at least. But it happens that I get inspired by random sounds or patterns that I hear around. I believe it’s crucial that you don’t rely on your inspiration to just one source, because it might run dry eventually. I like to keep myself curious.
What has a label like Oddity Records contributed to your career? What do you value most about this label?
Oddity is a very well-established label and I’m proud to be on board for the fourth volume of their great compilation “Odd Echoes”. My relationship with the label has just started with ‘Mar Nero’ but I definitely hope there will be more to come. Labels are still essential for electronic music artists, not only for the key promotional role they play, but also because labels are very recognizable style wise and it’s good for an artist to be able to link himself to a certain style and aesthetic. It helps the artist to express himself on different levels, starting from music of course. Having your music released on such a respected label like Oddity is great for an emerging artist like myself, because it’s like some kind of quality stamp your job is awarded with.
What is your current production setup, and which instruments are essential to you?
It’s quite basic, to be honest. I work on Ableton 10 Suite, which had some great improvements from the earlier versions and I make almost everything in the box. As a software instrument I use Serum and Diva a lot, and I have a Prophet Rev2-8 as a hardware synth, that I love: it’s very very versatile and I make most of my lead sounds out of it. I’ve been thinking about getting some other piece of hardware but haven’t decided which one to choose yet.
Are you the type of producer that can create music on the fly, or do you need to be rooted in a studio?
I’m so rooted I don’t even own a laptop… I didn’t even ever try to do stuff on the fly, I know myself and I know I need to be quiet in my studio in order to get things done. If it happens that I have an idea while I’m around, I just hang on to it until I get home, but it happens rarely. I do actually get inspired by the outside, but I bring that moment or that feeling with me, and then I work on what that memory brings out.
I feel that the underground scene will continue to persist. Do you think we can go back to ‘normal’ events and festivals?
We’ll reach a stage when things we’ll be back to “normal”, it’s just a matter of time. Sure it will take a while and some habits might change, especially when it comes to big crowds – not only in music, but in every kind of event and gathering. There's a bright side in this, because I’m already seeing the flourishing of smaller events, maybe in unusual settings, with more essential productions (less led walls, less Co2 cannons, smaller stages and all that kind of stuff), which is definitely where underground electronic music belongs. I’m convinced that we’ll have an advantage, compared to other music genres that are inevitably linked to bigger crowds and productions.
How have you had to adapt as a result of recent circumstances?
Well, compared to the pre-pandemic it didn’t change so much when it comes to my routine. It sucks because everything happened in the exact moment when I was starting getting gigs around, and of course I had to cancel them all. I kept my regular job that I was thinking of leaving and started working from home like a lot of people. I have slightly more time to make music, but I definitely miss clubs, I think having that kind of interaction with people is vital for inspiration. I’m getting a little bit bored lately, as we don’t have many chances to leave the house and could definitely use some new impulses now. This is just another downside of the whole situation. We all need some fresh air at the end of this, I think.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
I have music ready for a good half of the year now, and I’m currently working to fill in the other half. I feel the urge to produce and release some big fat EP. In the last year, most of the releases were VA or compilations. That’s understandable, no one was playing gigs and sales dropped dizzily, so it makes sense for labels to concentrate the efforts on something that minimizes the risk. It’s good for the artist to be featured alongside other great artists of course, but at some point, it feels like being part of someone else’s story. Now I feel the need to tell some stories on my own, from beginning to end. I’m currently working on those stories.
Do you have any final words of wisdom?
Don’t forget to eat breakfast!
And wear your face mask when required, don’t be a jackass!