A chat with natural/electronic.system.
Italian duo natural/electronic.system. have been a force within techno’s underground since 2004, gaining respect through their much revered podcasts for cult websites such as mnml ssgs and Smoke Machine, as well as their international dj sets, including at Labyrinth in Japan. After a mesmerising set at the Patterns of Perception opening party at OHM in April, we are pleased to have natural/electronic.system. provide the next instalment of our mix series.
We caught up with Antonio Giova and Valerio Gomez de Ayala to have a brief chat about the mix, their inspiration and how they started to collaborate as teenagers back in their hometown in southern Italy.
Firstly, thanks a lot for putting together such a compelling mix. How was it recorded?
Thanks to you guys for inviting us to make a mix! As you probably know already, we are now based in different cities (Antonio in Berlin and Valerio in Rome). When we can’t spend time together physically to prepare a mix, we usually start by putting together a track selection, then we begin to try to mix the tracks in our home studios, speaking about the sequence or how the flow of the mix should be. When we come up with an organic sequence of tracks that fully satisfies us, the mix can be recorded using turntables and CDJs.
Was there a specific concept or idea behind it?
This mix was inspired by the time spent with the Patterns of Perception crew for the party we had in April at OHM in Berlin. We really felt at home, so we felt totally free recording this one… everything was flowing in a very natural way.
Before our event at OHM. You are known for being extremely careful selectors. Do you follow any particular process when choosing records?
It’s more related to our personal taste and musical vision, emotions, images evoked in our minds, vibrations… you know, when you expose your body to some sort of audio signal you can provoke different responses. You could say in the end that we just select tracks that make us “vibrate” in the way we like…
You have now been collaborating for more than 10 years. How did you meet in the first place, and what made you start DJing together?
We were in the same class at high school in Portici, our hometown near Napoli. At that time I (Valerio) was collecting records and I shared this exciting thing with my good friend Antonio. He loved it and together we started to buy and listen to a lot of different stuff and that was probably the time when we shaped our current musical aesthetic. The rise of the internet at that time boosted our curiosity and granted us access to an endless flow of musical information. I mean, not everyone is so lucky to have great record stores in their neighborhood or stores with the music we were interested in. Then in 2004 we decided to found the natural/electronic.system. duo. Our first gig ever was at the Old River Park between Napoli and Caserta, it’s a pretty famous place in our area. It was a 12 hour long Easter event and we played a 2-3 hour DJ set on a very small stage but a lot of people enjoyed the music!
Photo courtesy of mnml ssgs. Your name implies a strong influence by nature. How did it become a key theme in your sound? Are there any other major sources of inspiration?
Nature and art have always been our main sources of inspiration. We come from a country where you are surrounded by history, art, amazing landscapes and great food everywhere. Our education was based on these things that are inseparable from nature… it’s in our blood, in our roots, in our local traditions and we try to bring a bit of this flavor into our music.
You are first and foremost known as DJs and only recently released your own music on vinyl (Body 2:2 Mind on Tikita) for the first time, receiving a stellar review by Resident Advisor. Is production something we can expect to become a bigger focus for you?
We have been into production for a long time, but to have a competitive studio to work in you need money to spend. We both have a day job to pay rent, records and equipment and we work on music mostly in our spare time so that’s mainly why the process was slow. We were also aiming to create a particular “n/e.s.” sound in the studio… we wanted to bring something “new” or at least something that sounded different from the rest. Not stuff that sounds the same as all the music going around. So over a couple of years we came up with some interesting things and yes, for sure, we will concentrate much more on musical production in the future.
This seems to be a pretty exciting time for natural/electronic.system. What else is on the horizon for you both?
Yes, indeed. We have some pretty exciting gigs coming up, like on August 28 we play an ambient event at the Funkhaus in Berlin with a beautiful lineup with artists we really respect. Same story for the Parallel festival near Barcelona early September, which is in its first edition but is very promising: an open air event in the forest of Spain with a very well selected line up… this will be a lot of fun for sure! Production-wise we are working closely with Karim from the Tikita record label. We have a solo EP coming up soon on that label and are working on some material for other labels too.