Gian Battaglia 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.
Hey Gian, thank you for answering our questions. I'd like to start by asking you about your technical approach to creating music. What gear do you normally wear?
I find it very difficult to sit in my studio and just bang out a track. I need to be much more calculating. I will sit at the piano late in the evening and mess around with scales and signatures and then record melodies and hooks as MIDI – that way when I go into the studio I have the freedom to upscale the idea. The way I look at it is the idea stage on the piano is like building the skeleton and the studio stage is where the flesh, heart, soul and personality is added to make a living and breathing piece of music.
Equipment that features on my latest album is the Moog Subsequent 37 and the Moog Grandmother. The power and depth those pieces yield is phenomenal. I often pass synth stems through my Revox B77 tape machine as well, as this can help add some grit to the already lush signals generated by the Moog’s. As well as this, there aren’t many records I have worked on in the last couple of years that don’t feature the Roland RE-101 space Echo.
What aspects does the equipment you use that you like bring to your production?
The equipment plays a massive part as it has taken me 10 years of trying out different synths and drum machines, keeping what works for me and my sound and moving on what doesn’t. Coming from a sound engineering background I prefer to try and work outside of the box when possible and really enjoy a hands-on approach to processing audio externally, so passing things from the DAW out to tape and through FX pedals really helps keep the ‘in the box’ workflow down to a minimum as well as keeping me engaged throughout sessions. When working inside the box I often look toward the Universal Audio plugins. With that said, I try to use all my equipment, both hard and software to harness warm and silky elements and stems, which are then brought together to create warm mixes rich in texture and depth.
Your "Why Won't you love me" is having a very good impact. What were you inspired by to create it? How do you turn your inspiration into a mechanically produced track?
I think mood plays a massive part of how a composition begins its life. The day I sat to write this track I remember feeling disillusioned toward the music industry – that middle ground for an artist is where it becomes easy to feel like you are not loved.
I feel like the underground scene will continue to persist. Do you think we can go back to "normal" events and festivals?
Absolutely! I think the ‘illegal’ scene did indeed continue for the first part of the lockdown, before fines etc became increasingly harsh. In terms of events and festivals I think it’s a case of ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ so people will have missed being in clubs and at events so much, I think there will be a renewed excitement and passion for it. A serious chunk of new music has been created over lockdown as well so I think the scene will be rich, if not richer than before.
How has your sound evolved since you started?
My compositions are much more paired back now and less linear and formulaic. I like to add elements of performance into compositions as well these days, as this really helps bring the track to life and feel less rigid and quantized. Throughout Insert Silence, the album of which Why Won’t You Love Me is taken from, a lot of the stems were performed and recorded on the synths and left as one take. An example of this is the swell at the end of Why Won’t You Love Me, where everything comes to a head. I also allowed dropped piano notes to remain when that occurred throughout the album. I love music that is raw, rich in peaks, swells and troughs.
How is your sound evolving? What artists and genres do you enjoy mixing right now?
I have stripped back in terms of my compositions, I used to tend to throw the kitchen sink at each track and then wonder why it lacked essence and direction. My sound is now evolving to become more refined than it was previously. I imagine the refining process is going to be somewhat of a continuum throughout my evolution as a composer, in the sense that I will keep adding and pairing back from productions in my quest for authenticity and message portrayal, probably by only keeping what needs to be in a track in order to allow the music to speak for itself, breath and not become too tricky in the production stage. I am deeply in love with the genres of electronica, neoclassical, old skool hardcore, house and ambient – all of which tend to thrive when kept somewhat minimal. I really enjoy vinyl mixing house music, and that mechanical feel of a purring Technics 1210, at the very point when you have the beat matched is something I find deeply cathartic.
How do you feel your music influences or impacts your listeners?
As a composer you are always aiming to connect with the audience, whether it be to evoke a mood, feeling, to make them dance, or to make them feel comforted. I want to take my listeners on a journey, where they feel and experience that plethora of emotions, as well as feeling they belong and contribute to a scene, lifestyle, and movement. I am big on authenticity, so I also want my listeners to get the perception of that when they hear my compositions. I hope my music is as impactful across multiple situations, such as when played whilst partying or listening on a commute to work.
What other projects are you working on right now?
I have recently been working on an ambient ‘music for studying’ piece as well as some mood music for film – both of these projects can be heard here
What makes you happy?
Aside from the obvious twiddling of knobs and pushing of buttons (take that as you will) dinner with family and friends and cooking. Anything to do with amazing food, when you can feel the love that has gone into the creation of it.
Do you have any final words of wisdom?
For music producers: Don’t try to follow trends, be truthful to yourself when producing and break all of the set in stone production rules – I think doing those things can really help maintain the enjoyment in producing music as well as incubating creativity and most importantly allowing you to impart your DNA into your music, therefore achieving that all important authenticity needed for your music to communicate with your listeners. For all humans: Don’t be a dick.