Q & A WITH LAROSA
⤑ Can you tell us a little about where you’re from? What was it like growing up there and what guided you toward the electronic music scene?
I’m originally from Long Island about an hour or so outside of NYC. It’s a fairly small town with little to no exposure to electronic music. Luckily, I was raised in a household of music with a variety of instruments scattered throughout the house; An antique Bösendorfer piano and few Les Pauls, Fender Strats, and Martin acoustics which I fiddled around with tabs online to teach myself guitar. My father was in a band and brought me up on Classic Rock, Blues, and Southern Jazz Fusion (Allman Brothers, Carlos Santana, ZZ Top, Blue Oyster Cult, Eric Clapton, and of course, Led Zepplin). The first instrument I learned was the Double Bass and I joined the Percussion group in elementary school. I am in no way a pro instrumentalist and would probably suck if I picked up a guitar now since it’s been a few years. I didn’t really get into electronic music until I picked up a pair of CDJs and Technics MKII’s when I was 20 years old. I started DJing with open format but eventually ‘graduated’ into electronic and house after a few memorable nights in the city. Pacha and the early Blkmarket, Verboten, and Resolute parties were what really influenced me into the underground side of things.
⤑ Who are some of your biggest musical influences? How do those influences reflect on your personal sound?
I read a great book a few years ago - ‘Making Music’ by Dennis DeSantis. He talks about ‘Active Listening’ where you sit down, close your eyes, and listen to a track in ‘layers’, paying attention to the details of every part - kick/bass/percussion/melody, etc. With that being said, ‘personal sound’ is the key word in this question. I really respect the artists that have shaped their own sound in ways that you can just tell that it’s their work once it starts to cut through the mix. Tracks from East End Dubs and his Social + EEE imprints always stand out with his protruding low end kick + bass relationships, Sweely’s syncopated house sound with jazz flavor behind it, iO (Mulen)’s infectious grooves with his originals along with his Voy, MOi & Disk alias’. You can always point out a Sakro track with his signature hat patterns, Gene On Earth’s exquisite sampling and just how he built himself through his own Limousine Dream imprint. It crazy to see how far he’s come from his earlier days as Yooj. Some other names I’ve been on top of are definitely Michael James & Nolga, Niko Maxen, Monika Ross & Maik Yells, Kepler, Nick Beringer & Diego Krause, Mbius, Matpri, AWSI, and Rigzz. I think in my last few releases, it’s evident that I’m leaning towards a more higher tempo, groove-based style but I still don’t think I’m fully there yet with my ‘own’ sound. It will come, you learn new something every day as an artist
⤑ You just had 2 stellar releases on Friday (May 29th, 2020). Both on very reputable labels. Can you tell us how those releases came about and talk about your creative process behind them?
Yup, I just remixed a track called ‘Sect’ by Hart & Neenan on Do Not Sleep. It was a great pack with Sidney Charles on the remix of ‘Patience'. I had a release with Kareem Cali on Sidney’s label Heavy House Society back in March and the label manager, Graham, reached out to me during that time and asked if I wanted to hop on the Hart & Neenan pack. Naturally, it just made sense as a follow up. I’ve known Darius Syrossian for a few years and he’s done a great job building the DNS brand over the last few years so it was an immediate ‘yes’ from me.
I also just released an original on What NxT which I am super proud of. I did a remix for Rich NxT last summer on Avotre and kept in contact with him since then. I made it a goal to get a track to him and get on the next What NxT VA. The Fuse sound has always been my top inspiration for me and Rich is a key player in that group of guys. I really love what his mission has been with What NxT by exposing some great up and coming artists. It’s getting some good support so far so I really hope it leads to the ‘next step’ for me in that Fuse direction.
⤑ What would you say is your favorite, most essential piece of gear in your studio?
Definitely my Elektron Rytm. I got the first Rytm back in 2015 and upgraded to the MK2 in 2018. It is the most versatile drum machine in the industry in my opinion. The flexibility of going between Analog and Digital, the use of Overbridge to pair with your DAW for for more control over automation, direct resampling, and the fusion of sounds between your traditional 808 & 909. I would say my Critter & Guitari Bolsa Bass takes the clear second place. I picked one up off of Reverb after seeing Rich NxT play with it in one of his videos and loved the sound. Pretty simple machine - I used it for the bass line in my Hart & Neenan remix. On the software side would definitely be anything Native Instruments and the whole sequencer collection from Alexkid.
⤑ What are 3 “dream labels” you’d like to release on in the future? Why?
As I stated previously, the Fuse direction is something I’m definitely aspiring for so Infuse is on the drawing board along with Slapfunk, and Burnski’s Aesthetic or Constant Sound. Burnski is another producing wizard and I feel like Aesthetic/Constant is the sound I’m going for. Slapfunk is such a classic label in my opinion. Samuel and Julian really shaped that Dutch sound with all those guys (Anil, Benny, Locklead, Caycedo, Pascal, Ferro, etc.) providing real bangers over the years.
⤑ How do you think the COVID-19 crisis will affect the nightlife community once places start to re-open again? Would you say it's been easier or more difficult to stay focused in the studio given all the world’s current adversity?
In my honest opinion, I don’t think it will be the same for a long time, at least in New York. I think you’re going to see a lot of people migrating out of here and that makes me sad. New York is typically the first stop for international DJs coming to the United States and that has made a huge impact in the way New York is looked at for music in general. Best case scenario, we will see way more open air events. Who doesn’t like a good day time party, right? As far as being in the studio goes, with work cut back, it’s been easier to get some new ideas together on the drawing board but with all of this uncertainty going on it does tend to put a toll on the mind. I may be looking into a relocation soon. Change is good, sometimes.
⤑ What can we expect from you for the remainder of 2020 and beyond? What are you most excited to do once things go back to “normal”?
I really hope things go back to ‘normal’. It would be nice to play in Brooklyn outside before the summer ends. I have a few remixes lined up for the next few months and another VA scheduled towards Q4 so that will give me some time to focus on more original tracks. I think 6-12 releases is a good number to strive for without going completely in the dark. Too much music released can be over saturating and people could get ‘bored’ of you. That’s just me though.
⤑ Can you give any tips or advice to aspiring producers looking to refine their sound and release music?
That’s a tough one because I still feel like an ‘aspiring producer’. I have been producing over 10 years and I still feel like I'm “not there” yet. I would say to definitely do something with music every day. It doesn’t necessarily have to be sitting down to write a full track but learn a drum machine or synth inside out, dig and organize your music and sample packs like a madman (Side note** - if you are a producer or DJ and not organized at all… good luck), and listen to other stuff and go to live shows outside of your focused genre (that’s where the ideas will really start to flourish). Give yourself 4-6 hours on a track, bounce it, and move on. The last thing you want is to make a really cool groove and wind up five hours later with an 8-bar loop. Listen back to it in a car or generic headphones (this is mainly where people will listen to you), and take notes in your phone (“need crash at 2:30”, “shorten this break”, “need more tension in break 2”). Go back the next day, make your tweaks, and bounce again. Then send it out to a select few people who are comfortable with giving you constructive criticism (don’t take it personally either, that will be the death of you as a producer). Lastly, just put it out there. I have signed music from years ago that I listen to today and ask myself “what was I thinking?”. I think all of that is part of you developing as an artist. If you stay in this game for lifetime, it’s kind of a nice feeling to look back 10 years and see how far you’ve come.