Interview with EDM Finger Drummer Rick Fresco (Italy); WATCH THE VIDEO! @rickfrescolive @beatmkr @beatport @thelittleidiot
Check THIS out and keep reading. Go ahead… The words will still be here when you return.
Feel me? I think Moby would approve, so I added him to the Twitter blast. Just cuz. Hit me if you hear me, brother 🙂
No one will argue that technology has blown our musical capabilities wide open, but it’s what we actually DO with it sometimes that really dazzles! Referred via Facebook to the above promo live version of Rick Fresco’s “Jesus Was A Rocker,” I proceeded to lose my collective musical shit. Did that actually just happen? There’ve seen some wild live PA’s and plenty of Kaoss Pads in my day, but nothing this impressive since a chance encounter with the great KJ Sawka on a tabletop drum set.
That being said, we just had to get in touch with this guy. He’s based in Italy, so we can only hope to see him perform live but, if he keeps going the way he seems to be, let’s hope we get Rick Fresco over to the states in the very near future. I got in contact with him via email to get introduced, and figure out exactly how he does what he does.
G- What’s up, Rick, and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today. I guess I’ll start by asking what the heck is that thing you’re tapping on in the video? You rig a Nintendo Advantage joystick or something?
R- Yo Greg! What’s up everyone! That thing looks very “arcadey” doesn’t it? I put my hands on it just to tap it, though… I never hacked anything. That’s a special “Midi Fighter Pro” made by Dj Tech Tools and given to me by Ean Golden in person. It’s actually a grid-based midi controller, like many others around, but the choice of those arcade buttons instead of the usual pads makes the real difference when fingers need to speed up!
G- I guess so! That’s a mighty little track you’ve got, and it was wild seeing it performed like that! How did you first get involved in the electronic music scene, and how long have you been performing?
R- I bought my first midi controller back in 2002 and started to mess around with early versions of Reason and Ableton Live. My first gig was a minimalistic live session I managed to put together with a friend of mine around 2003. Yes, live! I started djing at a later time.
G- Dig it! Since Italy is pretty far away from NY, can you tell our readers a bit about where you are from… How is the EDM scene, and what’s really popular in Italy right now?
R- I’m from the beautiful Tuscany, and I live in a small town between Arezzo and Florence.
Speaking of music, i’d say most of Italian people are not very open-minded when it comes to new sounds. Tradition is so pop-oriented that cool things are filtered by their mainstream versions. That makes Italy slower than the rest of the world.
There are obviously exceptions. The Italian EDM scene is slowly evolving thanks to many underground realities of djs and producers who always offer interesting things.
G- When did you personally start your instrument and did you get formal training? Did you begin as a DJ prior to live production? Can you give us a run down of your equipment?
R- I basically studied music for my entire life. I studied clarinet and piano back at college, and played some guitar and bass in a lot of different local bands.
My finger-drumming path began with a Novation Launchpad and a performance I put together for a contest hosted by Dj Tech Tools last year. This is the video that started it all (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5y4bZaLMsIQ). I ended up winning that contest and my prize was a Midi Fighter 3D, a controller that totally changed my way of performing live and really defined what Rick Fresco is today. The 2 weeks I spent building that performance were my training.
I’ve been DJing with the BAD IDEA project for the last 3 years, changing a lot of different setups. We’re currently using a Vestax VCI-400 to control the core functions of the set in Traktor Pro, and a Midi Fighter 3D for effects and live cueing. For my solo live performance, I’m currently using 2 Midi Fighter 3Ds and a NI Kontrol F1 within Ableton Live.
G- Can you give us a few examples of any bands or artists in particular that influence your style? Who do you typically like to listen to, and are there any acts you think we should know about?
R- I listen to a bunch of different things, from hip hop to heavy metal, from the oldest disco to the most recent tropical bass stuff. The artists I follow the most right now are Koan Sound, The Loops of Fury, and Nero, but I regularly listen to older pearls like Telefon Tel Aviv, Prefuse 73, Jackson and His Computer Band.
Actually, if there is an artist who constantly inspires me and that everyone should always learn something from, that is my beloved friend Phonat! You should definitely check it out if you don’t know him already. He truly his one of the best producers out there!
G- Do you get to perform a lot, and how are the responses at your shows? Any tour experiences to share or upcoming?
R- Actually, my solo project is a pretty new thing, so I’ve only had a few local performances. The response was great though! People seem to be very interested to learn what’s happening around my fingers. I do get to perform a lot with BAD IDEA, my crazy bouncing electro bass digital duo project.
G- Right on… That sounds like a good time, too! Do you currently have any releases right now, or are you working on anything in particular at the moment? Do you have any interesting partnerships or news on the way for Rick Fresco in 2013?
R- Hell yeah! The full track “Jesus Was a Rocker” from the promo video above is gonna be released as a free download in early 2013 by BEATMKR Records. I’m super stoked about this, as BEATMKR is a new born record label based on controllerism and live talents. The label features amazing artists such as AMP Live, Ean Golden, and Mad Zach! So, 2013 is certainly holding some cool news and collabs!
G- Nice! That’s a sick lineup of talent… Tour, please!!! What can you tell us about your tunes? How do you come up with this stuff, where do you find the inspiration to write, and where do you generally get your samples? What programs do you use?
R- I’d say most of the inspiration comes from rhythmic patterns and ideas by rock prog bands like Dream Theater or PFM, which I like to transpose into an electronic language. But I also love old funky disco stuff and always try to combine multiple sources of inspiration.
As for samples, they really come from everywhere! Most of my tracks contain combinations of old vinyl cuts, movies or commercials samples, and, of course, lots of analog and digital synths!
I used to build everything up programming complex Ableton Drum Racks or NI Machine sets, but I use only Ableton Live to perform.
G- Right on… Quite an education we’re getting today! Do you have a favorite song you have ever written? If you were to give 1 song to someone who’d never heard your music before, what track would you give, and why?
R- That’s a tough question! I think I’d choose a track composed back in 2008 called “Backward Walk,” which was never published or uploaded anywhere. I wrote that song during the worst 4 months of my life while I was on a bed recovering from a bad car accident, so it’s something very far from the stuff I write today.
But I think there is a lot of hope and need for life that you can breathe from that track… There is actually a lot of me in it. Maybe someday it’ll go public… who knows?!
G- Wow that’s crazy… I hope to hear that if it gets released at some point (hint hint)!
So who do you look up to in the EDM/controllerism game? Is there a particular producer, or are there any bands or artists, that you hope to share a bill with in the future?
R- I’d say the finger-drumming legend Jeremy Ellis. That guy is a fucking genius!
G- Right on, and how about telling us about the craziest or most memorable show that you have played to date… Where was it and what was it like?
R- I’ve shared the stage with many great DJs and artists like Reset!, Elisa Bee, Pink is Punk, Frank Sent Us, and Phonat, but the most memorable show ever was the 1st season closing night of my local party “Lamette Bene” (http://www.lamettebene.it) That was like a family onstage, blowing up more than 1000 minds! Awesome!
G- Awesome! So, as an artist who is still building, and as a producer who is doing something that very few people know about or understand at this point, could you maybe offer some advice to the young, up and coming producers and fingerdrummers around the world who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician?
R- My experience teaches me a simple and old truth that, especially after this year, I find more true than ever: NEVER GIVE UP AND NEVER STOP TRYING!
Experimenting is the key… Stop trying to achieve someone else’s sound. The world is full of copycats, and EDM is more saturated than ever by the same sounds cooked in different genres, so don’t be afraid of creating something that you never heard before!
If you really believe in what you do and put your heart into it, someone will notice that sooner or later… believe me!