American producer Vincent Capuano, known to mates as Vinz, conjures up techno under the alias of V1NZ.
He's remixed Wyndell Long and Virgil Enzinger, has cut tracks for labels like Proper NYC, Naked Lunch and Elektrax, and some people would have you believe that this cat is one of the real faces of future 'proper' techno. I'd agree with 'em, but I'm biased - I always did have a hankering for this style, Vinz is a really nice guy, and he's currently doing a remix for me as well.
Anyway, disclaimers aside, here's a nice little fireside chat we just shared:
I've been into your stuff for just over a year now, but when I did a quick check of Discogs it indicates that you started production releases in 2009 - correct or not?
"My first actual release was the 'Basic Human Behavior' EP released through Proper NYC back in September 2008."
You're also DJing now as well - how long have you been doing that?
"I started off strictly producing tracks but around a year ago, after messing around with Traktor, I started to experiment and was really overcome with excitement. Instead of mixing together sounds to create a track, I was now mixing together tracks to create a set - which eventually started to become a real blast when I mapped out all of the effects, looping utilities, etcetera, to my XONE 3D. Since then I have played at several events over here. The nearest city with an actual nightlife is Montreal and I'm currently speaking with several cats up there regarding parties/clubs/festivals that I aim to become involved with."
How'd you first get involved in this music?
"This goes back to the mid '90s. At the time New York City was experiencing an explosion in the rave scene; it was less about clubs at the time and there were mainly free outdoor parties spread out across the city. We would head out on a Friday night to Roseland Ballroom to attend a party which would run until 6am or so. Then we would drive over the bridge into Queens and set up the generator, turntables and speakers in a random park, under a random bridge, in a random neighborhood.
"Witnessing, hearing, and feeling the vibe and the sounds emanating from the speakers totally blew my mind. I began visiting record shops and picking up mix tapes so I could start to hear more and more techno. As I listened I become very interested in producing my own beats and grooves. I worked three jobs the summer of 1996, bought myself a Roland R-70 drum machine, and began laying down patterns and such.
"For me production is a very personal thing; I tend to sit in the studio and write tracks straight from my heart and mind. It is a great way for me to output my thoughts and feelings in relation to what is going on in the world and my life in general. A very artistic approach I take - sort of like painting a picture.
"DJing for me is equally as enjoyable yet in a different sort of way - in this case the ability to shape and build a specific feeling and lay it on a crowd and have the chance to interact with people on the dancefloor is really special. I love the feeling obtained by twisting knobs, pushing buttons, and mixing together several tracks at once... It's a wonderful thing to hear, feel and witness the effect that the music has on people."
The stuff on Elektrax and Android Muziq has been quite mad (I love it, of course). How would you describe your output, and do you differentiate between these two labels?
"Elektrax is a harder-edged sound, heavier and faster than the sound of Android Muziq. I get a lot of my influence from techno artists of the '90s such as Jeff Mills, Steve Stoll, The Advent, Surgeon and others. I use elements present in that style of techno and apply it to my Elektrax productions as well as the tracks I create for Android Muziq. For Android the application of these bits is deeper and more on the minimalistic tip. It's fun to produce more than one kind of techno."
Where exactly were you born, and what's it famous for?
"I was born in New York City, which is the city that never sleeps. I guess it's not surprising that I turned out to be the person that never does."
You've remixed Wyndell Long, Virgil Enzinger and Max_M. Any other upcoming remixes I should know about?
"Well I've also remixed for Miro Pajic, R-Play, A. Paul [Naked Lunch], and several others, and in addition there are some upcoming remixes coming out I'd like to mention - one of these is for DJ DeH on Foot Fetish Records, another for the BCR Boys on Proper NYC, a bangin' remix for Brad Lee, and the 'Robota' remix for someone we both know which is going to be wicked!"
How do you approach the remixing process and how do you go about personalizing it with the V1NZ stamp?
"In production I'm still what many would consider old-school in that I use Logic as my primary sequencer. Most of the artists I've spoken with have jumped on the Ableton bandwagon these days but I feel that the sound quality and organic feel I get with Logic gives my productions a unique sound. When remixing though, I do use Ableton. For remixes I will take the parts given to me and drop them into Ableton; I then rewire Ableton into Logic, and add my own blend of percussion and synths from inside of Logic - while allowing Ableton to handle all of the time stretching of the parts.
"Logic and Ableton are at the center of it all but I also have a nice analog modeling synth by Novation on the hardware tip and I'm using a large number of VST/Audio Units plugins for effects and sounds. I've become a big fan of the WAVES Renaissance Compressor and drop it on inserts, sends, as well as the master bus. I also use IKMultimedia's T-Racks mastering suite which provides some really nice tools to get that final touch on a track. A really sweet soft synth worth mentioning is SURGE by Vember Audio - it has this warm feel to it, which is something I have not found in other tools. One of the most important pieces of gear that constantly grabs my eyes attention in the production process is my rack-mounted spectrum analyzer by Behringer. I don't use it to shape the sound but rather as a visual tool/reference to help me keep my mix-downs tight."
Which part of your studio is the most vital facet?
"Black lights, blue lights, red lights, and other tripped-out visuals help very much. Making music for the club, I need to feel as if I am in that club."
How do you stay motivated in an industry with few financial rewards these days?
"As I mentioned when I lived in New York City I was surrounded by quite a scene for dance music. Going out and being amongst the music was a big motivation for me. After moving out of the city, into an area where electronic music and clubs are given relatively little to no attention, I immediately needed to find a new form of inspiration. Traveling north to Montreal and attending after-hours events is a big motivation - I can head up there for a weekend, return to the studio, and get a lot done as a result of my experiences there. I've met many cool DJs, promoters and clubbers up there and it really is a blast to visit that city."
Which current crop of artists and labels are grabbing your attention?
"The new talent that is turning up on Android Muziq is very exciting, with one artist in particular: Octave from France. He's a production machine, with brilliant minimalistic gems delivered on a near weekly basis. The new label out of Argentina, Subsequent, is sure to bring a bangin' dose of harder techno in this coming year. Then if we head over to Germany there's Mirko Scheider and his label Foot Fetish, which seems to consistently deliver solid techno that has been turning up all over the charts on Juno.
"I still listen to the veterans as well - in effect Jeff Mills, The Advent and Surgeon. Recently I've been introduced to Casual Violence out of the UK, and let me tell you he has got some wicked, dark productions out there as well. I could go on forever, but lastly I'd like to mention two more labels: Naked Lunch and Labyrinth are really great sources for tasty techno."
If you were pressed into a corner and forced to confess under great duress, how would you define the sounds/styles you're currently making?
"Simple question. Here goes: Healthy doses of proper percussion, crisp and defined - yet subtle and intricate - combined with eerie, melancholic synth scenes and a twist of darkness, topped with just the right amount of boom."
What's upcoming for V1NZ in 2010?
"One big one I would like to mention is the upcoming V1NZ vs. R-PLAY 'Blackjack' EP, which will be my first ever vinyl release. It's coming out on Android Muziq this June. Also I'd like to mention an upcoming release for Subsequent Records, the new label in Argentina run by Luis Ruiz - it's Subsequent 04, Experimentool, featuring V1NZ and A. Paul. 'Experimentool' is a collaboration between Mirko Scheider of Foot Fetish and Jimmy T. Kindt. A. Paul is the label owner of Naked Lunch, and one of the most well known DJ/producers in the techno scene today. My track on this release - called 'Recovery Process' - is a real banger - and a lot harder than the other stuff I've been creating lately.
"On the DJ-tip I'll be turning up from time to time on Daz Furey's 'El Exilio' radio show on fnoob.com. The show is currently being streamed on Sunday afternoons and evenings. I was asked to be a part of this and I gladly accepted, with my first mix broadcast on March 21st."
You've released through labels like Elektrax, Android Muziq, M_REC, Antiritmo, and Naked Lunch. What's it been like working with these people?
"It's absolutely wonderful. One of the best things that has come out of my involvement in the music scene are the abundance of relationships I have developed across the globe. It is really great working with all of these guys; I think I may need to move out of America." [laughs]
What else are you up to?
"Well I'm currently helping out Simon [DJ Hi-Shock] doing A&R for Android Muziq - that's really been a blast working with the label. As an artist I think I've also learned quite a bit while holding this position!"
CDs are a disappearing facet of the music industry, and a fair amount of people in electronic/dance music circles are cutting back on vinyl these days because they say it just doesn't make back the money invested. How do you feel about this?
"Well there're still a fair share of DJs who use the CDJs and avoid Traktor and Serrato. Of course they buy their tunes the same places that digital DJs do, so I guess they can be lumped together as one, but vinyl production these days has become quite expensive for labels - although it really depends. We've had vinyl releases on Android Muziq that have sold out in a matter of a week. I think vinyl is a wonderful thing, and it will survive - something about having that physical product in your hand with artwork and all. To me it has much more meaning and value than an mp3. We are still respecting vinyl over at Elektrax. Not every release is pressed. But there have been and will continue to be vinyl releases for sure."
Is vinyl a dinosaur - or just becoming more of a select option?
"It definitely isn't dead - there're plenty of DJs still using the vinyl and there are certain clubs especially in Europe that only allow DJs to play the vinyl. One thing worth pointing out is this: If you go to Juno and search vinyl for techno, most of what you find is techno. If you go to Beatport and search digital releases for techno, I would say about one out of every 20 tracks you listen to is actually techno. It seems that vinyl has more respect for sound quality in general and genre in as well. Cassette tapes have the ability to die, and I feel this has already been happening. But vinyl, nope. Vinyl will live on."
Either way - is digital download really the future of music?
"We can't ever predict what the future will bring. Hundreds of years down the line music might be an artifact of our bloodstream... perhaps we might be downloading tracks directly to the human body. [laughs]. As for now it seems to be the primary source of electronic music for DJs. But remember - there was a time where the only way you could hear true underground electronic music was through buying vinyl."
How do you foresee techno and electronic music in general developing over the next 12 months?
"I think dark techno is on the rise, and I think eventually the click-clack minimal will be replaced by true minimal in the form that it was when it was born: Steve Stoll, Robert Hood, Surgeon, Jeff Mills, and so on. I'm not saying that the sound will go back to what it was then, but production quality is on the rise, so new sounds and new sculptures of the founding forces will prevail."
Lastly - how do you like your mushrooms cooked?
"I tend to saute them with some olive oil, white wine, garlic, lemon, and oregano."