New Label Series #4: Holotone

Holotone | Skywire

New Label Series for CDM is about pitching emerging record labels or platforms which seem promising and unique. Every piece features an interview with label founder(s) and sometimes also with releasing artist(s) and with my own observations as well as questions, I try to grasp the main interests and key qualities of each imprint. The fourth article from January is dedicated to Holotone.

I interviewed Daniele Antezza about Holotone about 8 month after our previous interview for DJB about his platform Undogmatisch (read here). The original article includes an exclusive Holotone Mix for CDM by Alexander Stone. — Friday

Daniele Antezza Holotone | Skywire

Apart from his work as a half of Dadub and his mastering output with Artefacts Mastering studio, Daniele Antezza produces personal and spiritual musical experiments under his Inner8 moniker. Recently, the producer has founded his own imprint called Holotone, which refers to nothing less than the holographic principle from string theory.

Antezza isn’t just pulling in some already established artists or limiting himself narrowly to genre. Instead, with Holotone, he has created a space for musical ideas outside current club trends, embracing experimentation, innovation, and outstanding sound design skills. For a closer look at Holotone’s musical direction, you can have a listen to Inner8’s new EP Tetramorph, the first record of Holotone, which will be released on March 21st and which features a collaboration with Japanese-born, Thailand-based artist Koichi Shimizu.

If you’re in Berlin on January 30th, you can attend the Holotone showcase at Kantine am Berghain. Apart from Inner8 himself, the event will present live sets of GRÜN and Ina Ynoki from Dromoscope, Sofus Forsberg and Alexander Stone, and DJ sets by Linus Gabrielsson and S13 alias Secret Thirteen’s founder Justinas Mikulskis. In our interview, Antezza is delving into the metaphysics of theoretical astrophysics, explains why art should bypass the cognitive traps of our hyper-mediated era, and describes the label’s foundation and possible future directions.

CDM: Where exactly does come Holotone from?

Holotone is the association of 2 words: “holo”, which comes from my fascination with the Holographic Universe Principle (which briefly assumes that we can conceive our universe, at macroscopic level, as a 4D video display made of subatomic pixels of information), and the English word “tone”. The Holographic Universe Principle was announced about 40 years ago. Recently, a team of researchers at Fermilab (America’s particle physics and accelerator laboratory), is studying the holographic theory using a machine called “Holometer”, which is:

    “…a new kind of instrument designed to study the quantum character of space itself. It measures the quantum coherence of location with unprecedented precision. Laser light passing through an arrangement of mirrors will show whether space stands still, or whether it always jitters by a tiny amount, carrying all matter with it, due to quantum-geometrical fluctuations. We call this new property of space time ‘holographic noise’.” (https://holometer.fnal.gov)

The primary aim of the experiment is that if holographic noise will be proven, we’ll be in front of an element that should help the accuracy of the holographic conception of our universe. It is exactly the “holographic noise theory” that gave me the intuition to name my label “Holotone.” From my point of view, the sound can be metaphorically compared to something which can show to our consciousness that reality is often not what it seems to be, exactly as the holographic noise could hypothetically reveal the holographic nature of our universe.

When I looked at the name “Holotone” for the first time, I thought it meant “holistic tone.” Is a holistic approach, that “the whole is more than the sum of its parts,” something you adopted?

This is a really interesting point of view, I must say. I like to refer to the holistic approach as something that interprets the whole as “other” than the sum of its parts, rather than “more.” So, according to this specification – yes, the holistic approach has played an important conceptual role in leading my imagination to conceive Holotone, especially from an aesthetic point of view.

You have a new EP, released on your new label with new vision. Did you have in mind what you want the EP to be about and how the four tracks should relate to each other before you started working on it?

Even if the concept behind Tetramorph EP is something I was thinking about for at least one year, while the four tracks have just recently produced — I haven’t worked on the sound composition following any conceptual frame. When I produce my music, I usually let my instinct be free to explore the realm of creativity. So, when I feel that I created something that I consider artistically meaningful, I look for a conceptual framework to boost and enrich the narrative I want to express.

I feel that the sound of Tetramorph EP is very different from my solo debut album, where I basically collected sketches conceived during past few years. This time, I rather wanted to achieve more homogeneous, fresh and mature level in my sound design, so I used a hardware setup controlled by Ableton Live and I worked following a “live rec” approach. I guess it’s because of this reason that I haven’t linked any specific theoretical concept to the creation of my recent sound experiments.

In ‘Self Determination’, the first track from Tetramorph, you use a field recording of a marketplace from the Middle East. It reminded me of your first LP, where you also use field recordings from East, particularly India. Where do the samples in ‘Self Determination’ come from and why do you like using the authentic Eastern influence in your music?

The direct link with my debut album is absolutely true, because “Self Determination” is the first track I produced after that. It represents my first attempt to experiment with new production techniques, trying to keep my aesthetic coherent with what I have done so far.

The sample is taken from field recordings made in Africa during the 70’s by the musicologist David Fanshawe, and the one I used is supposed to be recorded in Egypt. Regarding my Eastern music influences, I really do not know where they come from, because it’s an element that comes out naturally when I compose my sounds. I just know that when I’ve listened to that music for the first time, I felt such a deep emotion. I was literally enchanted and blown away by the percussion grooves and by the hypnotic power of it.

The fourth track of the EP called ‘Aufhebung’ is made in collaboration with Japanese sound artist and producer Koichi Shimizu. How did you two meet and how was working together? Will he be releasing some music of his own on Holotone as well?

I got in touch with Koichi Shimizu a few months ago because of a mutual friendship. He sent me his album “Otolary” released for his own label Revirth, which I found really beautiful because of its ability to express a complex sound design using a meaningful and elegant artistic language in an impeccable way. In that period of time, I was working on the Holotone launch and on my Tetramorph EP, so I proposed Koichi to make a track together: he accepted and we were sharing our sounds via Internet until Aufhebung took form, fusing our aesthetics.

It has been a fruitful collaboration, because I really like his approach. He will be the author of the second Holotone EP and we’ll share the stage in Bangkok and Tokyo for the Holotone Asia Showcase in February. I hope to jam live with him when I’ll be in Thailand.

What about Undogmatisch? It’s your former label and a platform through which you organized event in Berlin. Is it still alive, or did you make “Aufhebung” with it to create new space for a new project?

I decided to leave the project Undogmatisch a few months ago, because at one point it became incompatible with my job organization and I really don’t know how and if the project is evolving at the moment. Holotone is not an evolution or transformation of Undogmatisch, because I wanted to create something totally new and easier to manage, so I did not make any kind of “Aufhebung”.

What I want to do now, apart from my usual work for Artefacts Mastering, Dadub and Inner8, is to stay focused on my activity as a label manager. After the Tetramorph EP, I will release Koichi Shimizu and other artists, and I’m honestly really looking forward to it. Holotone is basically a record label, and I will sometimes organize label showcases in Berlin and hopefully all around the world.

According to you, Holotone’s mission is to communicate “using an unmediated language (art) to express the complexity of our hyper-mediated world”. Would you elaborate on this? And are there some specific patterns or ways you use in your music production for expressing such a complicated topic, such as self-generating sounds or repeating beat structures?

I think that art has an intrinsic power to bypass our usual cognitive frameworks, due to its timeless dimension, an aspect that risks to disappear if we conceive art as a form of business or to celebrate the artists’ ego. If you think about music, for example, it just “recently” in the human history became a matter of mere entertainment, because earlier, it used to be used as something close to rather mystic-cathartic dimension than related to coolness, hype and career.

Even though the conception and the creation of a piece of art often implies a certain degree of complexity; the magic of art lies, in my opinion, in its ability to communicate something to a human being using a non-mediated language, triggering feelings, emotions, thoughts and actions useful for what I call an existential liberation path.

We’re all living in the era of media and globalzsation, so the information, the knowledge and also our view of the world is mediated in each aspect, for many reasons actually. In my opinion, the main one is related to the dynamics of power and domination of our society. To translate all this into an aesthetic domain, I have quite the same vision as you do, because when the use of certain techniques like generative sounds and algorithmic composition is able to create a meaningful piece of art, it means that we might be able to talk a direct language, bypassing all the cognitive traps of our era.

In the interview from the last year, you mentioned you’d like to get rid of Ableton in your production as Inner8. Have you managed to do that, and has your setup for recording and playing live changed since 2015?

After that interview, I continued to work on giving my production techniques a new dimension, and I can now correct my sentence saying that for my live performances, I’d like to get rid of the laptop in general, not just Ableton Live. My recent set up is much more hardware-oriented, even though I will never abandon certain techniques achievable only by the use of computers, like spectral synthesis for example. Ableton still plays a fundamental role in terms of control source, e.g. what you can get with a few clicks. A good Max4Live patch and a MIDI controller is simply priceless in terms of creativity.

At the moment, the main difference from my 2015 set up is that instead of devolving just effects management over to hardware machines, this year I also included beats and synth, so Ableton triggers just few loops and manages all the MIDI routing and the real time MIDI controls. My approach does not follow the vexata quaestio about digital/analog, because my aim is to create music using the best characteristics of both domains, often hybridizing them. The reason why I like to perform Inner8 live sets avoiding a prominent role of the computer is because it helps me to carefully choose the alternatives I need. The theoretical infinity of possibilities of a computer has too often risked to block my creative flow, at least from a psychological point of view.

On your Holotone showcase and label launch night in Berlin, you will play next to Sofus Forsberg from Mindwaves Music, Grün and Ina Ynoki from Dromoscope, S13 and few fresh names who have Holotone as their label in brackets: Alexander Stone from Italy and Linus Gabrielsson from Sweden. It seems like you were choosing the artists for Holotone very carefully. What were the most important things about each artist that made you decide whether they’re suitable for Holotone?

Yes it’s true, I’ve carefully chosen the artists I invited to play for the 1st Holotone Showcase in Berlin, and I’m actually very excited to share the stage with all of them, because of the high quality level of their acts and because of the friendship and respect we have for each other. They all have represented specific and precise meanings in my artistic path during the last years in Berlin: I’ve always admired Sofus for his ability to express deep and true emotions with his complex systems of music production, Grün and Ina Ynoki for their revolutionary approach to sound and live performance, and S13 because of his impeccable and unique taste and for his integrity as an artist and a curator.

Alexander Stone and Linus Gabrielsson, even though they’re unknown names, have both a deep background in music production, audio engineering and sound design. I’ve shared so many ideas and visions about music, world, universe and existence with them, plus endless talks about sound design. So when I got the idea to organize this Holotone Showcase, I thought about involving them immediately. I’d like also to mention Cubert (Martina Scala), a very talented visual artist who’s supporting Holotone with all her skills, and sYn (Federico Nitti) who’s working in Australia at the moment, but he’ll join the project as he’ll be back to Berlin.

The first thing which I really look for when selecting artists for Holotone is the ability to use an artistic language free from any trends and hype, because I want authentic visions. Another element I admire is the ability to express the beauty of art through an intelligent sound design. In general, I like anarchist approach.

And last but not least – what are your plans with Holotone and the artists mentioned above?

My plans are to release quality music and to organize showcases to share the visions behind Holotone with people. Regarding the artists I invited to the label launch event, I really hope to release their music in the near future.

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