Logo design: Yasin Sandik (ysndk)
Photo: Haris Nukem (http://www.harisnukem.com)
Anti-Foundation welcomes Producer and DJ Samantha Togni. Samantha’s dedicated work in development and production of amazing new tracks is an inspiration. We caught up on the eve of her new single release "Queen Nemesis (feat. Janset)" (iTunes) which is accompanied by a stunning new music video (YouTube) out now on Doner Music.
In a brief interview we bounced questions back and forth, all while exploring her world and lifestyle within the excitement of the UK dance music and club scene.
"My music, it’s a development of my past and a constant mutation of all the energy and sounds that I experienced within different scenes, but also an attitude, a feeling, a cult."
A-F: During your lifetime have you always felt a connection to expression in music? How did the idea of expression with music first appeal to you?
ST: Music has always been a massive component of my life. I remember back home in Italy I used to travel for hours to see a band and go crazy to find a record, I love the passion and the commitment that comes with it. I played piano for many years, I also played the drums, and in my last year in Italy I used to be in a Hardcore Punk band. My music, it’s a development of my past and a constant mutation of all the energy and sounds that I experienced within different scenes, but also an attitude, a feeling, a cult.
A-F: How often from day to day do your creative instincts cause you to take action to record or play music?
ST: I make music everyday, if I don’t make music I research, if I don’t research I study ways to improve what I do. If I am not at home I find myself making notes everywhere I am and recording weird noises of ideas that later on will become handy.
"I believe that mind is so powerful and so are the tools that we can use to produce music"
A-F: Do you ever feel a hesitation to create? If so what usually gets in the way? What type of encouragement for creative expression have you received in your life?
ST: I believe that mind is so powerful and so are the tools that we can use to produce music. It’s good sometimes to step away form a project but it’s also good to play around with it and put yourself in the prospective that there’s always an input out there. If I am stuck I find a sound I like and I record it for an hour or so, I then re-listen to it, take what I like from it and work on it.
In The Studio Old Queen’s Head, Touch The Wood UK, 2014
"the more I am in a good mindset, the more I tend to create and give life to ideas"
A-F: What are some of the things you find to be propellant to your art? Many artists experiment with a range of perspectives from negative to positive, perhaps romantic. Are there particular themes you think you would gravitate toward? Do you feel what you create should reflect realistic life experiences, development of fantasy, or perhaps an interaction of both?
ST: To each song I take different approaches, sometimes I want to describe just a fragment of a feeling, sometimes I want to describe a whole story with inspirations coming from different places. What I have learnt form my experience is that the more I am in a good mindset, the more I tend to create and give life to ideas. I like to reach realistic life experiences through fantasy and the other way round.
"Music is my way to give voice of subjects and thematic that are precious to me."
A-F: Music can shape our conscious reality perhaps for the better or worse, help us see through a situation, or take us someplace we’d like to be. Are there places you want music to take you? Does your focus develop via the mind and in reality?
ST: Music is my way to give voice of subjects and thematic that are precious to me. My up and coming debut EP and single are a fusion of community/folk stories (I was obsessed with Ancient Greek when I was a child), discovered with a modern twist, directed towards a message that it’s strictly connected to our society.
A-F: When did you first decide to DJ in a public place, was this destiny manifest, or merely circumstantial?
ST: It happened organically and it felt so natural.
A-F: Let’s talk about your current involvement in the UK dance music scene. Tell us a little about your current DJ residency, what type of music do you feel the audience gets into? What aspect of this scene do you derive most inspiration from?
ST: I have started DJing before I started to produce music, I think for the music I do it’s necessary to know what gives people energy and experience it yourself. I have been holding my residency at Roadtrip & The Workshop for over a year now, recently I have also started DJing at a new club night called Dollarbaby, the night has been growing so fast and quickly, Lady Gaga showed up as well to party after one of her gigs! Pretty big! It’s very interesting to observe what people like and what are the vibes and beats that keep them going, it definitely helped me a lot when it came to choices in my music.
"I prefer when I cause romance on the dance-floor."
A-F: Is there a romanticism involved in the club scene you explore? Do you think it’s necessary for club music to explore the romantic, or do you see celebration, and the energetic, as a more fitting theme? How would you describe what you and others are dancing to at clubs? Do you feel that today’s online collective culture define the spirit of these themes, or is it more about interpersonal relationships?
ST: I preach good energy that turns into love for sure. One can use it for his/her own persona or share with others. But I prefer when I cause romance on the dance-floor.
A-F: What platforms for creation are you most motivated and inspired by, do you prefer DJ inspired production styles, or the idea of craft by sound design, beats, etc., in their raw form?
ST: I use both. But when it comes to using samples, I would shape the sound and change things around to make it personal and unique.
A-F: Production-wise what interests you most at the moment vocals, beats, melodies, sound design? Does the technical engineering aspect of music production interest you? Many new music creation tools are designed to be seamless, and allow the artists mind to be less focused on parameters and more engaged in the art. Do you find this to be helpful or limiting to personal development as a producer? Alternatively do you find this beneficial perhaps creating a new paradigm to artist’s connection to electronic music production?
ST: It’s quite hard for me choosing one. At the moment I am focusing a lot on vocals by editing them, sampling, etc. I think that we are pretty lucky to have achieved such standards with music creation tools that make workflows smoother and leave more time and space to creativity.
"I like collectivity and I like when people from different creative fields get together and create something"
A-F: In prior interviews there's been a focus on your connection to the fashion world. How has fashion been an inspiration in your creative life? How much of an interest in fashion do you maintain? Do you remain connected to the art of modeling? Do you find a similarity to modeling and being a DJ?
ST: Fashion has always been for me another way to express myself, I've always been very connect to that world. I have been lucky enough to DJ to several fashion week parties and for many fashion brands, and also create music for shows. Modeling just happened, I never really went to castings or looked for an agency, I have always been surrounded by amazing creative people that decided to get me involved because they liked my energy and look. In my first video for my debut single “Queen Nemesis” I decided to get several fashion brands involved, to show that side of myself and that big part of my art. I like collectivity and I like when people from different creative fields get together and create something. It’s something that I would like to carry on through the years.
A-F: What do you think about techniques involving found sound and sampling? Do you find this to be cheating creative process? To what extent would you restrict or allow yourself the use of sampled content in your own productions.
ST: I use sounds and presets and I make them mine but tweaking things around and make it personal. At the same time I do sample things myself and create myself. I think they are both as important and a great way to open your mind to different possibilities and way to express your art. No cheating involved.
A-F: How important is live development, improvisation, and interaction to your performance? Do you like inviting the audience into your creative process, or feel your process should be somewhat private and illusionary?
ST: I think it’s essential to give your performance that extra mile. I love remixing on the go, using sounds, acapellas, and go crazy with everything in front of me that I can use. I am obsessed with technology and I constantly look for new ways to make my sets sound more personal and unique.
"I have my usual websites that I check weekly, tutorials and blogs are an absolute bless."
A-F: You mentioned your interest in the production side of music creation, that is to say the final arrangement, polish, and subtle stylistic tuning of the work. How do you approach challenges in this realm, do you work at challenges as they arrive, or do you actively research techniques you could integrate in your creative process?
ST: I am constantly working on something new, challenges come on the go but you need to keep your mind out there and come across new methods. I have my usual websites that I check weekly, tutorials and blogs are an absolute bless.
A-F: Do you worry about making the right choices with your creative production setup? At what point do you decide something isn’t working for you? Do you find accepting limitations within your setup frustrating and therefore necessary to immediately correct? Or do limitations create a clarity in maintaining the framework of your original creative vision?
ST: I currently use only one DAW, Logic Pro X, I have loved its interface since I first tried it and never felt the need to change it. I integrate mainly VSTs from Native Instruments and Rob Papen, I have found myself having everything I needed for my creative process (after trying many) and I have always stuck to them, constantly trying to perfection their use. You never stop learning new things.
"I left home when I was really young and travelled a lot I managed to come across so many different backgrounds and different people with such different taste in music."
A-F: Your interest in various production styles is refreshing to hear. Do you find your own unique experiences to be more valuable and relevant to that of being reliant on others to guide the art of your productions? Are you finding it empowering to be in complete control of the direction your music?
ST: I believe that my experience has been hectic and rich when it comes to music. I still listen to the same bands I listened when I was 16 and I still get the same energy I use to get when I was that age from it, this 100% influence my style when it comes to production. I left home when I was really young and travelled a lot I managed to come across so many different backgrounds and different people with such different taste in music. This really opened my eyes and made me become the artist, always ready to stick up my middle finger up when people try to give me any restriction when it comes to music. I am so not into being put in a box.
A-F: Often the state of electronic music can take on cliché production styles based on trends. It’s important that individual artists explore instruments and production techniques themselves creating their own unique signature styles. However from the perspective of fashion, perhaps it's part of the story to explore styles and techniques currently at play. Is there anything you're hearing in others work that you are interested in experimenting with?
ST: Being an up and coming producer, I think that inspiration is essential. I make sure that once a week I take few hours listening to records and I note down ideas on a piece of paper that work for me. Then in the following days I’ll get back to my notes and I project them into my stuff. It’s important to keep your creativity up, always.
A-F: Amazing! Thank you for taking time away from your schedule to speak with us and share your perspectives with our community.
We at Anti-Foundation celebrate and derive much enthusiasm by witnessing artists like Samantha reach their goals while presenting so much talent and potential within the music scene. We’ll be checking back with Samantha in the months that follow and suggest you tag along. Meanwhile turn it up and believe in Samantha along with developing and experienced artists just like you.
Follow Samantha on Facebook: Official Samantha Togni