Generating emotive tunes comes easy since 2005 for this deep, dark underground protagonist from Buenos Aires. While offering up releases through labels Jetlag, Bonzai, Sudam and Deepsessions with gob dropping EPs such as Believers, Floating and Memorandum respectively; The Man In Dark Suit also goes by another name we know as Frangellico, has had genre-bending Progressive in his strides over the last decade, who sticks to old school electronic histrionics painted on a futuristic music canvas.
One can’t really define his soundscapes, sometimes the message is difficult to decipher, take for instance his TRIPPIN radio mixes as vessels of ‘go to this guy’ for sinister atmospheric stories, as dark as the inside of a sooty stove pipe and then some. As I settle down to chat with Frangellico, we discuss his upcoming releases on heavyweight labels that are scheduled for this year, plus he gives us his breezy take on the underground dance music scene with unassuming grace.
Hi Julian, thank you for taking the time to chat with us at Decoded Magazine. We hear you happen to be an accomplished piano and guitar player plus gave yourself formal training in classical music in your formative years. Do you think that gives you an edge and certain advantages when you get into the studio for your tracks?
Hello and thanks for this interview. Yes, I took music lessons from the age of 12 for 3 or 4 years, it was in an art school so was not only about music, but gave me the fundamentals for piano and guitar playing and also some general idea of harmony rules, sand composition, which surely helped me a lot when I started on electronic music production.
Is it safe to say that you started dabbling in production, much before taking up DJing?
I’m sure I took music production more seriously a lot earlier than DJing. Even though I used to mix tunes for fun at friend’s house parties, it was really producing tracks which lead me to the world of DJing.
Was the Argentinian club scene conducive to your growth as a musician in your early years and if you could share with us your earliest influences if any?
Since I started listening to progressive house, techno, tribal and even trance music, my big influences obviously come from the likes of John Digweed, Sasha and Hernan Cattaneo. As I got more and more hooked by that sound I started to listen to as many artist’s as I could, but was clearly bowled over by Hernan’s sounds and remains the biggest influence for me. Having the chance to see him playing in small clubs back in 2000, the way he read the crowd and his music selection really left a big mark on the way I approach my music.
What did you start making music on and what are the gear changes you’ve made over the years since then?
I’ve always been a software guy, I started on a PC which was falling apart and I didn’t actually know what I was doing, I was so hooked on music that all I wanted to do was to try to understand how those sounds came alive.
I was on FL Studio until 2014 and then moved to Ableton Live which I’m using now with NI Maschine, a couple of controllers and keyboards. Even though I’m always looking for a new set up, I feel like changing tools and how your approach to the work changes is interesting and shows up different results, not just always “walking by the road you already know”.
Your thoughts about The Man In Dark Suit vis a vis your other alias Frangellico, how did they come about, and the moods behind both concepts?
The Man In Dark Suit is an alias I took some years ago trying to focus on Progressive sounds that were mainstream back in 2004 or so, but with touches of new ideas. Fortunately the first cut “Sooner Or Later” got some early support from Hernan Cattaneo and some other DJs in the progressive scene.
You have an uncanny likeness and feel; most people would associate with Moshic? Not many artists go that way. Do you enjoy this monopoly, in terms of how few do the sounds you do?
I’ve been told that, and of course, I like it. Moshic is not only a great and generous person but an amazing artist and musician, so for sure this comparison is a great compliment to me. As I said before, I always try to get my sounds to evolve even if it’s impossible sometimes to escape from yourself. I constantly try to add new flavours to my music and surely Moshic’s sound has been a huge influence to me too.
Any favourite club you enjoy playing in your hometown, La Plata?
My native city is not that big in terms of electronic music, but fortunately, we are next to Buenos Aires, the capital, where there’s a lot of great clubs and have had the chance to play in some of them but Club Bahrein would be my pick for my favourite venue.
Which labels do you think suit your vibe at best?
That’s a hard question since in my sessions I always try to keep the energy going in different styles so I feel represented by the sound through many different labels, but at the moment Sudbeat, Perspectives Digital, Lost & Found, Microcastle and Sex on Wax are my pick.
What are you working on right now, any projects we should know about?
I’m in the middle of moving house, so been kind of slow on finishing stuff this past month, but I’m working on a remix for Massive Harmony which will be out in September I think and finishing 2 new EPs which still haven’t been signed, I have been using some of these tracks in my latest Trippin shows and live gigs. I’m also working on two remixes of classic tracks which I think I will give as a free download later in the year.
Do you have an ideal DJ setup?
I don’t think I have one, no. I started DJing with CDs back in the day; a pair of old Denon players, then I moved to Ableton Live which gives me a lot of flexibility and space for imagination, I change the way I use it very often, but lately with all the tech advances that Pioneer CDJs have got I’m back to using them also. I think I will always keep trying new things.
Tell us about your ‘Trippin’ mixes, what’s the flavour and idea behind it, is it your creative expression in the here and now, in terms of music that’s exciting you?
Yes, Trippin is something I put a lot of love on. After I gave up on monthly radio shows and started my own podcast on my Soundcloud page I realised that this was a real channel of communication through the music to the people that follow me. I try to show on every Trippin episode what music is to me, which is a musical journey, a kind of story told by the sounds, otherwise I feel like it has no sense at all.
What’s your DJ schedule like in the next few months?
I’ve been playing gigs here in Buenos Aires; I’m scheduled to play at Tucuman at Club Chess and next month probably at the coast of Mar del Plata.
Are you an on the fly performer, or do you plan your sets beforehand?
I play totally on the fly, that’s what I like about Ableton Live, you can have loads of music and with the FX and loops tools just mix them in different ways every time and of course also depending on how the night goes.
Lastly, do you think underground dance music has aged well, are you happy with where things are going?
I think the real underground scene is very hard to find these days, but what’s most important for me is the spirit in it, keep things real in terms of creativity. It’s very easy to find top ten DJs and their tracks, drop them at gigs, this is not art to me, it’s just a kind of copy of someone else’s expression.
Fortunately, the electronic scene is growing and growing year by year and there’s loads of great quality music, that just needs to be searched, expend long hours listening to new and unknown artists that are making music, I think that´s the way to keep the underground spirit alive.
It was great to chat with you. We at Decoded wish you all the best in your future endeavours.
Huge thanks for that lovely chat and hope to see you all very soon. Hugs from Buenos Aires!