Coffee break with Toto Chiavetta
With an upcoming EP release, ‘Magnus’, on Mule Musiq, we managed to grab a coffee with Italy’s Toto Chiavetta and ask him some questions we’ve been burning to ask. From his music to his daily habits, now's the time to learn more about this special producer and his signature sound.
You have a very unique style, different from what we usually hear. How did you manage to develop it? Were you inspired by someone in particular?
I really can't tell how I developed my style because I made no dedicated effort into creating it. When I produce music, I only chose elements which I really want to hear in a specific moment. I can’t stand listening to the same parts of a track countless times if I don’t really enjoy them. So, in an early stage of a given production, it’s all spontaneous.
No one really inspired me. However, I would say early Kenny ‘Dope’ Gonzalez's beats had astrong impact on me.
Since your style is unique, is it difficult to find tracks to be mixed with yours? Have you ever thought about doing a live set for this particular reason?
Yes, I struggle but with passion. There are very few producers whose productions I really like and I find it hard to play music which I do not feel 90%.
I did think about doing a live set but I think it is kind of too late because there are already so many good live acts. It wouldn’t be interesting for me if I cannot be innovative and add something more.
You have an upcoming release on Mule Musiq, ‘Magnus’ EP. We feel that you tried to explore different styles with each track, and worked with different elements from your previous releases. What is the story behind this EP?
Actually i would rather like to keep the story for myself :).
Sometimes producing is simply about being exposed to new elements and sounds until I ‘hear’ a voice saying: ‘this is it’ or ‘could be it’. This is what happened with those tracks and my new EP.
You’ve already released twice on Innervisions, an EP and an album, which is not a small deal. What is your relationship with the label and how did it happen?
I was contacted on a social media by Innervisions, and from there my relationship with the label has been healthy. It’s very professional and I love it.
Also what I really like about Innervisons is that when I submit tracks to them, they always choose to release my personal favorites, and this happened even with unexpected tunes. They surprise me positively with their choices.
You have a showy tattoo around your right elbow, what does it represent?
It represents the facets of life. Once I was with Frank Wiedemann and his very young son took my arm and said: ‘Look, a waterfall!’. I liked his interpretation.
What does a normal day in your studio look like? What can we find there?
Lately, I mostly make music as soon as I wake up in the morning. I listen to what I’ve produced during the day before I go to sleep. I repeat the same routine until I consider that a track is ‘ready’. This process, for a single track, could last months, especially because I retouch the mixdown and the editing many times. I also work on multiple projects at the same time.
I have a small proper studio but, lately, I’ve become bored and sick of this environment - at a certain point it felt like a prison - so now I also make music with a laptop and 3 headphones. I change room almost everyday. Obviously, when I need to record something specific I go back to the studio.
Your tracks are especially clean and elaborate. Are they the result of a lot of thinking, and do you use any specific gear to make them?
When I start creating a track, the only thing I have in mind is how the track should eventually sound. I already have a clear idea of where I want to put specific elements in the stereo and frequencies range.
I choose the various elements accordingly, keeping in mind their role. The track can end up being any style. On top of that, I spend many hours retouching the mixdown, even if I am quite satisfied with it. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I never fully like the result.
At times, the style of a track doesn’t bother me, as long as the sound I hear satisfies my ears, despite the notes or melodies. This may change in the future though.
Where do you side in the eternal war between analog and digital?
Digital is more accessible but I definitively use analog emulators on almost each channel of a project.
What do you think about the electronic music scene in Italy today? There are many talented artists, but it seems that both producers and DJs work mostly abroad. Is it true for you?
I respect the work of most of the Italian DJs and producers.
In my case everything started and is still happening in a small and quiet town in Sicily. Music comes from silence after all.
In my opinion, it is not where you produce music, but the music you produce that opens doors. Obviously there are cities which are more interesting than others for music or opportunities, but I think that you need to have quite a mature musical identity to fully benefit from them.
That said, of course now I travel to meet people and discuss music and collaborations, and I may want to move abroad in the future to make things simpler.
As a DJ, it's absolutely true that most of my gigs happen abroad.
Is there track of yours that has a particular meaning?
Analog Suite. Not because I think it is my best track, but because I produced it while I was dealing with a rough time. It made me happy when I found out the reaction from people – it made me realise that I hadn’t gone through that time in vain.
Do you have hobbies apart from music?
Honestly, I mostly sleep but I also like to drink wine and watch Formula 1, which is a perfect technique to fall asleep. I also like to go to the cinema. Besides that, I have not true interests.
What would be your dream job if you hadn’t succeeded as a musician?
I graduated in law and attended a master degree in International Trade Law but always disliked that ’environment’ as such because deeply, it didn’t feel right with me. I’ve always wanted to make music, and today I am lucky enough to make a living out of it. My dream job: Formula 1 driver.
Are you pleased with you career so far? What are your plans for the future?
Yes I am, but I still want to achieve more. I have so much more to give. At the moment, I would say I am very satisfied with the music I am producing (probably to be released in 2019).
The only particular plan for now is a collaboration with one of my favorite producers. Time will tell.