Electric Sheep – An interview with Direct Y

Science fiction has always garnered an intense admiration from electronic music and especially electro. Dystopian futures where machines dominate the landscape with the unsympathetic charm of indifference make a perfect springboard for music created on machines. It came as no surprise then that Direct Y chose this imagery on his debut Electric Sheep and I was eager to get a further insight into this artist after a review last week. After a few email exchanges the mysterious Italian producer agreed to an interview and so it gives me great pleasure to introduce…


Can you give us a short introduction to who you are and how you got involved in music?

My name is Fabrizio, I’m from Rome and I make beats at night. I’ve always had a particular attentiveness to music, like many of my peers I used to play guitar when I was a teenager, imitating the artists I loved. But all this changed when I began listening to electronic music. There was a big difference from the “classic” instrumental music and the electronic stuff. Artists like Aphex Twin and Autechre, introduced me to new elements in the creative process, something I’d never heard before. When I was about 20, I lived in a neighbourhood called Ostia Lido. There was a little underground electronic scene and I started making a kind of techno music with some friends using computers or grooveboxes, playing it live at home or at “do-it-yourself” parties. It was a very direct and simple approach, but I started working with sequencers and synthesizers and from that moment I was hooked. It was just the beginning and now Electronic Music is an important part of my life.

In a previous email you told me that you had to learn a lot about the processes involved in producing and releasing an album. How did that a-ha moment arrive when you realised you’ve hit upon something good?

It probably was a natural conclusion. About 3 years ago I decided that my stuff had to have the same “depth” of the music I listened to. In terms of production, It wasn’t only about the idea or the arrangement of a track, there was more to learn (and to experience) about mixing, EQing, compression, stereo imaging and other things that are really important in creating a good record. This approach changed my sound a lot and I realised that it could also be suitable for other producers or DJs. So I started a Label with my friend Ivan (aka AHK), Nodezero Electronics. From that moment I’ve always tried to improve on the finer details of music production, and I’ve been learning ever since.

What is Rome like for electronic music at the moment and does it naturally nurture burgeoning artists?

Rome is a big multicultural city where many artists grow, but it is hard to find a real music scene where Producers, DJs and Labels support each other. There are some organizations that manage clubs where you get the opportunity to listen to a good artist, but it’s all about the business. The problem is the lack of spaces where you can interact with an audience and the reason behind this is not only related to club owners or the lack of opportunities for people to start their own events, it is also reactionary to the City’s administration and its lack of interest in new artists and young people. I have been fortunate enough however to meet some artists that have become good friends.

The tag line for your EP is: “Do androids dream of electric sheep?” What does that mean and how did you attempt to capture that sentiment in music?

Some sci-fi movies are inspired from Philip K. Dick’s novels. Blade Runner is one of these. The movie is considered the precursor of cyberpunk genre, where Nexus-6 replicants have a particular attachment to life and there is a discussion around human/machine relationship. The movie is based on the novel “Do Androids dream of electric Sheep?”. Reading the book, I found many interesting societal aspects that you can’t find watching the movie, like the role of animals around the story or the “empathy boxes”, instruments used for connecting people into a collective consciousness as a sort of religion. I was completely lost in the world created by the author, such that also my music was eventually influenced. I don’t know the exact reason, but science fiction is deeply rooted in electro music and most of the artists are passionate about the universe, robots and future societies. I’m just part of this intergalactic plan.

I’ve already described what I thought of the album in a review. Is there anything you think I might have left out that’s imperative to the Direct Y sound?

You made a great review, I can only highlight that you exactly described my personal research with the words “It’s firmly secured in the present and it is exactly what electro is supposed to sound like in 2014”. Sometimes producers tend to imitate other artists just because they think there are clear defined rules for certain genres of music, dictated by the common elements present in many productions. Using this method you can create a quality record, but you lose a distinctive edge to the record. I think that you can add a personal touch to electronic music in many ways. It’s just about breaking rules that don’t exist (or maybe exist, but you can risk a little). It is important for me to produce something that sounds new, while keeping elements and techniques that represent a certain style or genre.

What’s next for Direct Y?

I can’t stop making music, this is certain. I hope to find a way to play my music around the globe and I’m trying to make my Label a reference for quality music on the International Market. I would like this to become my only job in the future, but I have to be very patient and work very hard.