Rising stars of one of the hottest labels around, Life & Death, Clockwork are undoubtedly ones to watch for 2013. Ahead of their set at Loft Studios this Friday to mark the forthcoming release of their debut LP 'B.O.A.T.S', we caught up with them to talk musical background, their affection for London and life as part of Life & Death…
Hi guys, so youll be in London on 22nd February for the release party of your debut LP – Based On A True Story. How did you find the process of writing and recording the album, and why the name?
We knew from square one it was going to be a challenge. That is why we took our time and really focused on doing something that we would be happy with and proud of without thinking of deadlines or putting any kind of pressure on ourselves. As far as the name is concerned, we wanted to give it a meaningful title that would relate to how the album was structured. It seemed like it kind of told a story when listening to it so we thought wed go with B.O.A.T.S (based on a true story).
The LP is coming out on one of the labels of the moment, Life and Death. How did you become involved with the label and whats the atmosphere like around it?
We met Manfredi in Milan three years ago after dOP had asked Manfredi for a remix of their release on Life and Death from us. We already knew Matteo and Carmine but never thought we would end up working together. We also all get along real well, inside and outside of the studio. Other than appreciating them all for their artistic minds they are all amazing people to have as friends too.
What were you both doing before you came together to form Clockwork?
When we started the Clockwork project to be honest we werent really taking it too seriously as it wasnt something that was paying the rent, or paying anything actually. Federico was working in advertising whilst also DJing in New York, whilst Francesco had just graduated in Music and Arts Management in London and was making music for commercials and short movies, so not really giving the Clockwork project too much importance.
As a duo, how did you get to know one another and who does what when it comes to producing music?
We met around ten years ago through some friends in common but never actually worked on music together before Clockwork. We dont like to give ourselves roles in the studio as we like to jam in recording sessions without narrowing down our possibilities, but we later found out that combining our ideas in one single peice seemed to work quite well. It generally starts out with Francesco jamming away on some keys or drums and Federico jumping in from time to time.
Your breakthrough EP, It's You Again, came out on Hot Creations in 2011 – how did you come to meet the Hot Creations crew and do you think you will be putting anything else out on the label in the future?
We had been working on Its You Again on and off over a couple months, and one day we thought it would have been cool to try and see if someone would actually sign it, and they did. Federico had met Lee and Jamie whilst living in New York so sending it to them seemed to be a good idea. And were really glad we did. Having said that, we have to admit we grew a bit tired of that particular musical orientation and have moved on to something quite different that we feel characterizes and defines us in a better, more fitting way, but who knows? We love those guys so its not totally out of question whether we still might be working together in the future.
With both of you hailing from Italian extraction, do you feel connected to the musical history of the nation, specifically the golden era of the late seventies and early eighties when Italo Disco ruled the waves?
Not a single bit. We never were fans of Italian music whether electronic or pop. Francesco started studying percussion at the conservatory at an early age and was very much more oriented to jazz and rock from overseas until his adolescence, Federico discovered electronic music in his teens which brought him his passion for DJing.
You list breakbeat as an influence and also a descriptive term for the music you make – what era of breakbeat are you particularly into and can we expect some breaks on the LP?
Francesco: I think got into Breaks in my early teens. Being a distinctively drum oriented genre it immediately caught my attention. What really intrigued me was how driving the drum patterns could be although they werent really varying much at all. As a drummer I immediately started listening and taking in as much as possible, that was when I decided I wanted to start fooling around and making music rather than just reading and playing what someone else had already written. I have to say it was a pretty decisive step in my musical upbringing. As far as the era is concerned, I like most of the stuff from the early 90s to the more modern garage and breaks. But some of my favourites are Dj Crystl, Zed Bias, Burial, Kahn and Synkro. Altough breaks purveyors would probably knock me out for saying this, I still think modern breaks are valuable and inspirational material in todays scene and that is pretty much where we took most of the influence for the album to be honest.
Federico: The music we are making today is definitely a combination of both old school and modern breakbeat. When it comes to me, Breakbeat today is more inspiring than the traditional 4/4 beat. With the LP we wanted to combine instrumental hip hop we generally enjoy listening to everyday, to modern breakbeat all the way to some 4/4 elements. Having said that, I cannot define breaks as my main influence but artists like: A Tribe Called Quest, Oddisee, James Blake and J Dilla are all in my favourites list.
Beyond touring to promote your LP, what are the plans for the next step in the Clockwork story?
We have quite a bit on our plate actually. We have been working hard on our Live set that we will be doing for the first time at this years Elita festival in Milan, as well as a special Live performance with our good friend Thomas Feriero (Avatism) at Sonar by Night this year.
When your interest in music was developing, who were the musical acts and artists that you most looked up to and whos influence has been most important in the development of your own musical style and sound?
Francesco: Nearly all the artists that influence me have hardly anything or at most very little to do with the music I make. A more than fitting example would be Austin Peralta. Pure, natural, raw talent at such a young age. Seing any young musician excel in what they are doing has a strong impact on me, and its even more appealing if theyre also making amazing music as Austin was. As far as the musical style is concerned, it was only until I got into Four Tets stuff after having started making music that I decided to carve out my own productional style.
Federico: Daft Punk and Radiohead were definitely the two main bands who first caught my attention in electronic music.
The launch party for your LP takes place at Loft Studios, a really interesting space situated in North West London and used by day as a photographic studio. How well do you know London as a city and what are your favourite spaces that youve played in around the world to date?
Were quite fond of London and somehow feel to be sentimentally attached to it. We both lived there previously for academic reasons and therefore both know quite a bit about it. In these last 2 years we had the chance to travel a lot and play in many good venues but our favourites still have to be Fabric and Panorama / Berghain.
With collaborations with the likes of Tale of Us and Avatism already under your belt, who would you most like to work with on a collaboration in the future? Also, if you could get your hands on the stems of any track from history to produce a Clockwork remix, what track would you choose and why?
Wed love to have the chance to work / collaborate with James Blake at a certain point in our career. Weve been following his musical rising and we have been totally blown away by it, he truly is an inspiration to us. If anyone has the stems to Chilly Gonzales – Solo Piano LP please be kind enough to send them over.
Finally, having been on the scene for less than two years, with a rise thats been pretty meteoric – what are the best experiences youve had so far and what are the things youd do differently with the knowledge you now have?
We dont really like to reminisce, but maybe, taking our time in certain specific occasions would have been ideal when kicking off the project, as when we started everything was pretty mixed up and we didnt really know what we were doing. Now that we consider ourselves to have (musically speaking) matured a little, wed definitely produce some records differently, and some we would not have produced at all, but we have no hard feelings, as whatever we previously did got us where we are now and we can only be proud and thankful for that.
Clockwork play alongside Thugfucker and DJ Tennis at the release party for their debut LP 'B.O.A.T.S' this Friday at Loft Studios. Tickets and further info over here.