From his humble beginnings in Italy, Manuel de la Mare has always been interested in Music. Proficient in guitar, keyboard, flute, clarinet and sitar, he is also has a doctorate in Music, Cinema and Theatre. A chance meeting with fellow Italian house producer, Alex Kenji sparked his interest in house music and Manuel has set about delivering a series of genre defining club bangers. Manuel, following in the footsteps of Italian super producers like Mauro Picotto and Mauro Piu, is pioneering a fresh and totally unique sound by fusing elements of several genres together to create a tough, dance floor friendly club sound. We caught up with Manuel in London to ask him a few burning questions.
Hi there Manuel, thanks for agreeing to talk with us at This is Progressive. How are you today? How do you find London?
All good guys, it is surprisingly sunny in London. Warm weather, is very beautiful here during the summer.
So tell us about growing up in Italy. You were involved in music from a young age, who were your influences musically?
I was listening a lot of different stuff, rock, metal, jazz, Beatles, Frank Zappa, Alice In Chains, Miles Davis, Pantera…
How did you meet Alex Kenji and at what point did you start working together?
I met him when I was 15… long time ago. We had a friend in common, that was in my class at school and was playing with Alex in a death metal band. We were always hanging out together and we played also in some local rock bands, then Alex started making some electronic music, at that time I think I hadn’t a computer yet! Well he started telling me that I should try making electronic music and here we are. Before start touring worldwide we went through many warm up in local clubs and all kind of stuff in order to buy synthesizers and other tools for making music.
What was that studio like then? Bet you’ve both made some changes since. Did you have a favourite piece of equipment?
I always used logic since I started making electronic music. I was using a very very slow pc haha! I think my first synth was a MS10 from Roland. And I’ve to say is still one of my favourites. At the beginning I was using an old hi-fi sound system from Pioneer, I still have it in my mom’s house. And most considerably in my old studio I had a bed of course: the so called bedroom studio! Alex is still collecting synths, he has the most wanted old school pieces that any collector will go mad for, while I almost sold them all, now i have only a moog, a virus and an M3.
Do you think that early success was due to your musical training or was it just right place, right time?
Both me and Alex always wanted to live with music and we always worked VERY hard for making our dream come true. We have a well trained ear for spending all our life listening to music and shaping our taste for what sounds good and what is not. When we started there was not so easy learning like now. I had to go and look for books on how to master music and stuff that now is a click away from me. We had a friend, Gio MBG, that taught us a lot about house music but we still had to work a lot for doing something that we liked. You may have seen that Simpson’s episode where Bart had a permanent shadow on the wall for spending too much time on the tv, we did the same in front of our pc monitors.
Mauro Picotto famously took elements of Trance, Hard House and Techno to build a new style in the 90s. The result of that fusion, it could be argued, was the development of the hard dance sound which followed. What would you like to be your legacy within dance music?
I always like to change, as you may know in the past years I was nominated/awarded in such different categories deep house, then techno then best remixer, I did a few very edm tracks too and I still have many ideas to be recorded on tape before start thinking about any legacy.
Which do you find more fulfilling – DJing/Performing or Production?
I like both I can not really have a favourite.
Would you ever consider joining the performance element and production together to form a live show like Swayzak or Guy J for instance?
I did some experiments in the past, but even with the modern technology is impossible to make a good live show. You can make a GOOD-FAKE live show or a BAD-notFAKE live show and I’m not up for any of these.
Lets move on to touring. It can take a toll on your mind and body, how do you like to relax?
Guess what? I relax making music! Well I’m very organised while I’m on tour and my manager Ben King always does a great job for making my life easy and my tours go smoothly. So I don’t accumulate too much stress, I sleep or listen demos while I’m flying to destination so I’m fresh and ready to go when I arrive at the venue.
You’ve travelled extensively since those early days in 2010, anywhere you particularly enjoyed going?
I started traveling a bit earlier actually but anyway, a place that I love is Japan, is a totally different world and is incredible in all the aspects: technology, food, great people, parties, everything!
How about places you haven’t been to yet. Anywhere on the wish list?
I don’t know why but I would love to visit Madagascar sooner or later, but I’ve big doubts I will ever have a a gig there!
When you are preparing a set on tour, what goes through your mind?
I want to see people dance. And so I choose music. Something with positive energy, many music elements, and good groove.
And for podcasts and radio shows, do you take a different approach to music choice?
Oh well yes, and it is almost a problem because I often play very different music from what I do while I’m in a club. I prefer to play a bit more experimental music, something that I just like to listen and is not necessarily made for dancing.
Got any good track tips for us? Whats currently rocking your Top 10?
I like a lot Luthier, they are a duo from brazil and they make such beautiful tracks. One of my favourite from them is this: Ellie – My love is (Luthier Remix), they are also released on my label 303lovers and now they are working on a new remix for a track that I did with Luigi Rocca and John Acquaviva.
Knowing what you know now, what one bit of advice would you give yourself if you had to start over?
“Manu don’t do 100 different styles, people want to put a label on the artist a few people can just listen and enjoy”, but I can’t follow that advice even now I’m a extremely eclectic and moody.
Haha, and finally, any future plans you would like to share with us?
We spent last year working a lot on 303lovers label parties, we did this summer our first festivals and label nights and all was very exiting! Now we are planning 303lovers residencies in some great clubs, still a lot of work to do but I enjoy also the process of organising this stuff, visuals, merchandise, concept ideas for the gigs and much more.
Thanks for taking the time to chat Manuel, best of luck with everything.
Thank you all at This is Progressive, was a pleasure!