Paolo Pellegrino discusses how “Lento” with Alessandro Calzolaio came about, how he started his career as a DJ, his studio set-up and more.
Aditya – Hello, we’re glad to have you for this interview. How was the first quarter of this year for you?
Paolo Pellegrino – Hi guys, the pleasure is all mine! Let’s start with a good question! :) Taking a small step back I would like to say that I ended the year with 2 big collaborations released on Spinnin Records “Rio Rio” with Hugel and then “Bounce Around” with Prezioso, Lizot and New Word Sound. This allowed me in the following quarter to collaborate with Blasterjaxx on the track “Elegibo” and then with Piero Pirupa on the track “Asereje”. So I’d say he’s off to a strong start.
Aditya – ‘Lento’ is your latest release that came out last week, an absolute tech house club banger. What was the creative process behind this tune?
Paolo Pellegrino – “Lento” is an idea born with Alessandro Calzolaio, that I met a few years ago. He developed the initial idea, I finalized it and then I decided to involve Stefy De Cicco who, in addition to being a friend, had talked a lot about a collaboration together. The track is very strong, it’s a remake of a reggaeton hit by Nfasis, a Dominican singer. It generated a lot of interest, was released on We Next /Sony Germany and was licensed in the US on Ultra Records. It came out on Friday the 17th, we’re not superstizous and we challenged fate, it’s called “Lento” and it started off “slowly” but we’re hopeful, also because only two weeks earlier I’d come out with “Asereje”.
Aditya – Firstly, how did you get started as a DJ, and what inspired you to pursue this career?
Paolo Pellegrino – I started very young, when vinyl was still being used and CDJs didn’t exist. I made my club debut in my city while still being a minor. I sneaked in everywhere and, also thanks to this, I started playing in other cities. I was lucky to meet the right people or maybe I was good at getting noticed; the fact is that I have always managed to do what I wanted.
Aditya – You have some notable collaborations under your belt, how did that begin? Could you walk us through the collaborative process with Vinai & Blasterjaxx?
Paolo Pellegrino – First of all, you have to believe in it and treat music like a job. It’s important to understand that alone you don’t get very far and that success requires teamwork and respect for roles. The “Artist”, in fact, is a “Company” to all intents and purposes and, as such, is made up of indispensable figures for growth and for achieving the objectives set.
In my case, a few years ago, I started a working relationship with Vanni Giorgilli, which later turned into a deep friendship. It is he who pulls the strings and manages contacts with international artists and major record labels. He believed in me and took charge of the “Paolo Pellegrino” company. The collaboration process is very simple, I have an idea that I develop and send it to Vanni. If the final work is solid, Vanni starts working on the track, sending it to his partners and looking for a high-level artist to propose the collaboration. In the case of i Vinai and Blasterjaxx, for example, they liked my ideas, so we worked together on some changes, organizing studio sessions to finalize them.
Aditya – You have quite a studio setup with some analog gear. Could you describe your studio setup?
Paolo Pellegrino – For my audio chain I chose analog compressors that immediately give a nice character to my music, brands like “Vertigo Sound” and “Empirical Labs”, to then add color with the magical “BlackBox hg-2 ”
Moving on from a mastering eq “Bettermaker” from the limiter, to then convert everything with my “Prismsound Converter”
I have a pair of Dynaudio bm15 A speakers, a FireFace sound card. As Daw I use Ableton and as software/vst I really like Kontakt, Nexus4, Serum and Massive.
Aditya – You are known for your multi-genre productions, which is your favourite style of music to produce and why?
Paolo Pellegrino – Yes, indeed I have produced tracks with different genres but there is a logic behind this choice. Tracks that only came out as Paolo Pellegrino, such as “74-75”, “Circle” and “I Don’t Wanna Know”, all follow the same style. When it comes to collaborations with other artists, the genre changes and adapts to that of the artist I collaborate with.
My favorite genre is just what I do, that is not always being the same but giving space to my imagination and inspiration of the moment.
Aditya – Following the question above, how have you honed your production skills?
Paolo Pellegrino – I have honed my production skills having as main point that dance music is always music that plays in different genres, and I produce just that: a little more pop, a little more aggressive, but the goal is always to create tracks that DJs can play in clubs . But the real ability, in my opinion, lies in producing in such a way that the tracks can also be supported by the radios and, above all, in Spotify’s editorial playlists.
Aditya – Do you play any instruments? Do you think learning to play a music instrument is necessary for production?
Paolo Pellegrino – I have the basics to play some chords to get an idea of what I want in a production, but I also think a good result is given by a team of people with specific skills, I always have a musician in the studio. Knowing how to play an instrument helps but in the world of DJs who have become producers like in my case what really matters are ideas.
Aditya – What upcoming projects do you have in the works, and what can fans expect from you in the near future?
Paolo Pellegrino – For my fans, in addition to following me around the venues where I will play, I have a lot of new music to share, including an unreleased one and an “adaptation”, that is a remake of a base of an already famous track but with an unreleased singing. Both are very interesting and belong to the pop/dance genre. I also have some tech house tracks, but we are waiting for clearance for some and confirmation of collaborations for others.
When working internationally, you always have to keep timing in mind, for example an artist you could collaborate with already has releases planned and therefore you need to find a way to fit the releases together. “Bounce Around,” for example, came out a year after it was finalized.
Aditya – Lastly, would you like pineapple on your pizza?
Paolo Pellegrino – Absolutely not! As a true Italian, the perfect pizza is tomato, mozzarella and a basil leaf