Interview: Frank Riggio


Frank comes from a background of sampling, heavily influenced by jazz, old soundtracks and sometimes drenched in a exotic flavor. The new releases are a departure from this style and is (even more) concentrating on the technical aspects of sound design. The sound of the EP’s are inspiring collages, a hybrid of wonky beats fused with crispy layers of sound design. We talk about the struggle of musicality versus technology, gear, techniques and MUSIC!

DK: You still use acoustic sounds, tell us something about the process involved getting those (obscure) instruments and foley sounds.

FR: I experimented with some acoustic stuff that will appear on my upcoming trilogy LPs. The use of the obvious acoustic sounds wasn’t the main purpose for the double EP, I wanted them to be more or less hidden in the mix, it’s still quite shy. Although there are many acoustic melodies played by guitar, flute or others instruments. They all are finished and completely synthesised by the morphing & vocoding technics. Like in the track “Dud” or “Poor Gear Panoply Ears”, it’s all about acoustic instruments that end up being not really acoustic in the process, ┬ámore organic but with technology. I like the beauty of the acoustical/human imperfections, that organic feeling, so that was a real pleasure to find them warped in a new way, an electronic way, that was natural things vs digital things. I also used some tiny acoustic foley sounds, both drums or weird instruments played by me and other musicians. I’ve been influenced by Diego Stocco and started to build customized instruments too, I used some on the EPs, but again, that was just some experimentations, I reserve it for my upcoming new LPs.

DK:What kind of software/hardware do you use when mangling and treating the acoustic sounds with fx
FR:A bunch of wicked plugins like Ohm force, a couple hardware filters like Sherman or Clavia. I wanted to add huge textures to the sounds, so I trashed, filtered & distorted everything using plugins like customized morpher/vocoder or simple distortion effects, both hardware & sofware. I wanted something that itches my ears. It was about layering, usually I simply played the same melodies for 4 differents elements (acoustic or digital) on 4 different slice frequencies, then I merged them to create just one, and sometimes I repeated the process twice. I was impressed by the result most of the time, like in the middle of the track “Derozen” I really like that kind of texture, agressive but really crystalline. I failed at times for sure, but that was really fun to do, like an acrobat who misses his attempt, it’s still interesting to watch.

Frank in his home studio

DK:How much time do you spend on programming and other non musical activities versus making directly music.
FR:50/50 I would say. I did spend half of the process searching for great textures first before assembling all the elements together in order to be comfortable while producing the music, I mean the beats and melodies; I had the ideas & textures, it was just a question of moods & melodies afterward. So yeah, definitely 50/50, I love both parts, the math and reflections first then the most important thing after all: composing for emotions.

DK:How much influence does technology have on your sound? What come’s first, the technique or the idea?
FR:I’m passionate about technology, I love to try new things all the time so I guess it has impact on my production style, but really, I want to express something emotional and musical first, I want the listeners to be involved in their own imagination and I’m not sure technology is about emotions, it’s “just” tools! don’t you? ┬áThe ideas comes first for sure. Nowadays I think I know how to use technologies in a right way. Like I said, I use technology as tools first, I don’t want my intelligence and body to be the tool of the tools, if there’s any sense in that. Technology just helps me illustrate my ideas.

DK:Any tips about resources you have been studying lately, that might prove useful for us to check out too?
FR:Yeah; try to create your own technologies and work-methodologies, don’t use technology as it must be used, like the developer want you to use it. Chain elements (effects), build your own vocoder using a very simple existing building block for instance. I built a lot of very personal morphers using simple existing plugins/vst’s for the double EP, it seems difficult to do, but it’s not. It’s all about chaining elements in the right way, the right context & order, and trust me it’s very limitless. There are so many different ways to reach sonic & original textures. Don’t save too many presets either, that somehow influences your creativity negatively, Presets facilitate that you easily repeat yourself . Keep it in mind. Be inspired and always look for new things, just explore the possibilities. Use your brain.

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