Part of the new wave of Italian house auteurs including Simoncino and Steve Murphy, Milanese maestro Fabio Monesi caught my attention last year with his hardware house odysseys evoking the spirit of Chicago, Detroit and New York but with an open ear to the future.
Though his ‘Wilson Records’ stable initially released records by artists on the deeper side of the house spectrum including Alex Agore, Deymare and Washerman, it was in fact the label’s fifth release that caught my attention with Fabio raiding the vaults of influential Italian house extraordinaire Enrico Mantini (aka MBG marvel ‘Deep Choice’) – revealing long lost tracks from his distinguished discography to the house masses and newer generation…
More recently Fabio has released EP’s on Wilson by Chicago house heavyweights Gene Hunt and Jordan Fields plus Venetian virtuoso Steve Murphy. As the label has taken a more raw and primitive direction capturing the acid-induced essence of Chicago, I was keen to hook up with Fabio especially as London Town is now his base and I heard he has remixed one of my own favourite house track obscurities – ‘Do It Again’ by Shinichiro Yokota originally released on Soichi Terada’s Far East Recording imprint a proper house UFO! Fabio invited me to his studio for a chat and though I had the intention of talking about his label, projects and latest release on Wilson (adding some true British grit to proceedings with ‘The Deeper Side Of London EP’ – already a bestseller on Juno cop a copy now!), he is a proper hardcore hardware enthusiast so thought it was only right for him to share some studio confessions…
Though naturally not revealing all his secrets, here Fabio presents his gear guide giving us an insight into his production prowess…
ROLAND R-8 MK II
This one has a special place in my hardware repertoire as this happens to be the first drum machine I ever owned. I could give so many reasons for why I like it, for example, it has so many drum sounds, even going to emulating the 909 and you can expand on its sound-bank with the additional memory cards. I started using it five years ago and just as it so happens, you’ll be able to hear it in my first production piece that was released as ‘All Star’.
I was going to release this (All Star) to launch my own ‘Wilson Records’ label but Nicholas and Nick Anthony Simoncino liked the track so they released it via the House Sounds Recordings imprint instead.
Although I used the R-8 MKII a lot for my earlier releases I haven’t really been using the drum machine as much recently. I've just been on the TR-909 lately. However seeing as the classic sounds of the 909 are just everywhere at the moment, I will start using the R-8 soon enough, as it has a much more interesting palate of sounds that gives a production a rather unique feel.
This is a 16-bit classic sampler that was originally released in 1996, the first one I ever bought. I used this one in many different tracks and a great many of the vocals & drums I've used have been sampled through this kit. I love this one as the sample rate is variable between 22.05 kHz to 44.1 kHz and it has a different sound to that of a standard sampler like the Akai. Although I understand, the Akai is a more well-known sampler and an 'industry standard', I wanted to try the less-celebrated counterpart, E6400. My track ‘Millionhands’ on Skylax Records is a good example to see where most of the track parts have been sampled using this.
This is the king of samplers and it has been used in many classic hip-hop productions. This one is the evolved form of the S900 released in 1986, as the internal memory can be expanded from 750 KB to 2.25 MB, it became the choice sampler for many hip hop and house heavyweights including Dr Dre, DJ Premier, A Guy Called Gerald and Todd Terry, just to name a few… This one is still my favourite machine in the studio just because it has a proper 'rude' and primitive sound.. and as a plus, for the drums I think it has the best sound, by far. I have used this piece of kit on my track, ‘Djago’, which is on my latest release for Wilson Records – ‘The Deeper Side Of London EP Part 1’
Ok let’s talk about synths… I’ve had this one for about five years now and this was my first synth here. I bought it primarily for the classic organ sound which you can hear in Robin S's 'Let Me Show You Love’, strangely enough I never did use the organs! But I did play about with the M1 for the Bassline, which you can hear in the aforementioned ‘All Star’ track and for the odd, external file I upload on it. This one in particular is my favourite as I can manually expand on it, enabling me to play different instruments on the same machine. I use this in almost all of my productions for example ‘Duke Mama’ on Skylax where both the drum parts and the synth came from the Korg M1. Also the tracks we just discussed, ‘All Star’ and ‘Millionhands’, you can hear its use in there as well.
AKAI MPC 2500
This is a sampler but I have never used it as a sampler as I just don’t like it. I use it as my main sequencer instead of software like Ableton as this is another way of controlling the machines and being more 'pure' so to speak. I will be going on the road soon with my live set and this will be the central ‘brain’ of it along with my Roland TB-303 and TR-909.
When I made the transition from the computer to using this machine a few years ago, as it so happened my tracks became less complicated yet more effective.
REEL TO REEL TAPE RECORDER
All of my tracks are recorded directly through a reel to reel tape recorder to achieve the purest sound possible. I’ve had this item for about three years and have been using it increasing more so. If you take a listen to Wilson Records 07 and onwards, you will able to hear a difference to the previous EPs on the imprint. I don’t like external compression so I’m trying to do everything in my studio as much as I can without the help of some outside engineer. Since I don’t want to compromise the dynamic of my music it can be really useful to glue the mix without the help of an external compressor.
At nearly 40 years old, this classic monitor is by far my oldest piece of hardware in the studio. Originally conceived as a domestic hi-fi speaker, this piece of kit gained popularity with the professionals, a few years after who saw its potential as a studio monitor. It became an industry standard and was still being produced up until around 2001 – all my tracks have been mixed and mastered on these monitors. I love them, ever since I started making music, I found my own sound with the NS10's – I couldn’t live without them!
Fabio Monesi’s ‘The Deeper Side Of London EP’ on Wilson Records is out now in choice record shops. Watch out for him unveiling his live set soon exclusively using hardware – further details to be announced via his TSA-Artists page.