Aeroplane on His Sound: "I Love Pop, I Love Underground Dance, So I Will Do Both"
He's not even concerned with floor fillers. In fact, he's aiming for nothing short of cosmic disco rapture, taking his cues from the '70s prog rock giants like Pink Floyd just as much as Italo-disco masters like Giorgio Moroder.
The epic musicality of De Luca's productions is apparent in 2010 debut long player We Can't Fly, which garnered rave reviews from both the mainstream music press and underground EDM critics. In other words, he's found that rare balance between pop accessibility and underground cred.
But fluff aside, Aeroplane's product is still disco, which means he's here to make you boogie. And that's exactly what he intends to do when he stops by Bardot on the first leg of his current North American tour on Saturday.
Crossfade: What can you tell us about the electronic dance music scene in Belgium? Has it informed your sound in any way?
Aeroplane: Belgium has a big heritage in dance music: industrial, new beat, hip-house, techno... Belgium was always at the top and even invented some of these genres. So it results in a big variety of clubs and parties and record stores. So obviously it influences you in a way.
And how does your Italian heritage play into it? Were you aware of Italo disco growing up?
My Italian roots... well, it's the Hi-NRG and Italo pop of the mid to late '80s. All the Italian superstars, produced by Italo disco producers. Probably the reason why I love cheesy and melancholic melodies.
You're a classically trained pianist. When did you first start playing with electronic music gear and how did you go about developing the "cosmic disco" sound you're known for today? Were there specific artists or records you were listening to that inspired that direction?
I learned piano in a music school. I can't remember who said first that I was classically trained but I'm not a classical piano player. I basically just picked what I needed to write songs. I was more interested by harmonies and chords than virtuosity. Electronic music started when I was 16. About the cosmic sound, I was more trying to make an electronic version of Pink Floyd, or Alan Parsons Project. I didn't really know back then there was such a thing as the "cosmic" sound.
There's a definite pop sensibility to your work. Is it your ultimate ambition to enter the pop market or will you continue catering to underground dance music audiences in the long-term?
Why did you and your former Aeroplane partner Stephen Fasano split up? How did that impact the creative process and Aeroplane's sound moving forward?
Because Aeroplane was becoming more my project than our project. In that respect, it didn't really change the way I work. The main difference is that I have more experience now than five years ago, and that would be this way with or without the split.
Legend has it that you once requested a guitar solo from David Guilmour and, on another occasion, vocals from Talk Talk's Mark Hollis. You obviously think very big when you're in the studio. Do you usually have a clear idea of what you want a track to sound like before you produce it, or does the sound take shape during the creative process? How do you normally approach a track from inspiration to completion?
I didn't request, but it was a list of collaborations we would have liked to have, and I started with the ones I really really wanted. So Gilmour and Mark Hollis. I still dream of Mark Hollis singing on a track. I still dream about Gilmour too actually. Before I produce things, I can hear the finished song in my head. Then translating it to the real world is a really difficult and painful process. I write on a simple piano -- it needs to be good enough without production. Then the deeper I get into composing, the more I can hear the other instruments. Then I hit the gear -- synths, drum machines, etc.
Your last release was the mix album In Flight Entertainment. What do you consider the value of releasing mix albums these days with so many DJ mixes and podcasts being uploaded to the web all the time, including your own monthly mixes? What makes In Flight Entertainment stand apart?
Nothing really. That was the whole challenge. On paper it's just a mix. It's only the listening experience that will make it different. Also the main thing was that none of the tracks were released before, so it was 100% exclusive material, which doesn't happen often in SoundCloud mixes -- even in mine. I sometimes have two or three exclusives, but that's it. It was also a big project for Eskimo, as some of the tracks will be released as 12-inches with remixes and stuff.
What do you have going after your current North American tour? Will you be returning to the studio to work on original material and are there any forthcoming releases on the horizon?
Yes! I finished my new studio before I left on tour, so when I'm back, I'm locking myself in it and you can expect a lot of new music -- and some surprises!
Bardot Miami is a very cozy space providing uniquely intimate performances for fans. What do you have in store for fans during Saturday's performance?
I love small clubs -- they work with the music I play. I build up my set to go from head-nodding to people jumping. It will be a mix of old school and early house, with disco and (I hate this term) nu-disco and a lot of new new stuff. And of course Aeroplane remixes and tracks.
Aeroplane. Saturday, February 4. Bardot, 3456 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The party starts at 11 p.m. and tickets cost $15 to $18 plus fees via showclix.com. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-576-7750 or visit bardotmiami.com.
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