'Doing music is always a challenge and I always try to do better.' Dragosh - Interview & Mix
- Published on Monday, 04 September 2017 17:53
From house to techno to tech house to minimal, few artists in the contemporary realm can lay claim to being as diverse and eclectic as Romanian artist, Dragosh. Now living in Milan, the prolific producer has had his works featured on some of the globe’s foremost labels, with Moon Harbour, Desolat and VIVa just some of those who’ve featured his always unique sound. He’s been busy of late too, with releases in the works for the likes of Memoria, as well as a recently debuted live show that turned heads recently at Berlin’s Club der Visionaire. We caught up with the man in question recently as he talked us through some of his recent endeavors to go alongside the great mix he provided for us…
How are you Dragosh? How has your summer been?
Hello and thanks for having me. The summer was just great, I had some nice gigs in Switzerland and in Berlin and took some time out to relax for myself also. So I can’t complain.
We noticed you grew up in Bucharest but moved to Milan as a teenager. What promoted the move?
At the time I had to start high school, so my mother decided to bring me to Milan to better my future opportunities. So it was a family decision more than anything, I guess.
Was settling in Milan tough? How influential was music in your life back then?
To be fair it was actually pretty easy, the language isn’t so tough to learn! Musically it was a change, but I soon started to listen to a lot more Italian music like LucioDalla, Mina and many others. In Romania, I had been more focused on hip-hop and 90s electronic music. Finding a large Italian background in music definitely helped me to better understand other genres too.
So both countries influenced your music a lot then?
Well, yes. The Romanian side of me is probably more into ‘underground’ house, whereas my Italian side from Milan is probably more into banging music as well as more melodic, easy listening stuff.
When did you start producing music and where did your first release come out? How do you think your sound has progressed since back then?
I started producing pretty early actually;when I was around 16/17 years old. My first vinyl release actually came out on VIVa Music, Steve Lawler's label. But before that, I also had a track released digitally called ‘Cut’, a really minimal, banging one. From there I soon delved in to more tribal house stuff and other genres such as techno and tech house. The point is, I never know how my music will change because I like to keep doing what keeps me happy at the time. Sometimes it’s sad, sometimes it’s dark, but I usually just send the music to labels and see what fits. Naturally I don’t send house to techno labels, but you get what I’m saying I’m sure.
When working on a track for a bigger label, do you feel extra pressure? Or do you usually just mail them what you’ve been working on and take it from there?
Working with pressure is not creative for me. I always do tons of tracks then choose the best ones for that label and send their way. Normally I send lots of tunes and let the label choose. I prefer this way. The only bad thing is that sometimes they don't reply at all when it’d be nice to have a yes or no and some feedback. But I’ve recently started my own label, WEorUS as I understand it's hard to keep up with all the demos. Plus this way I can put out what I like. Luckily I also work with two friends on the label, so shout out to the DWM PROD guys!
What’s the idea behind the label then?
The main plan for WEorUS is to release good music from artists we really appreciate. We've been stuck for a while because of some issues but we will soon release the third release. We are not planning to release a lot, it will be more focused on the music we’re feeling.
What do you think is the most challenging aspect of being a producer these days?
Big question! Probably the management aspect, something I’m really bad at. But these days you need to know how and where to market yourself when you have strong music. So probably dealing with the public relations side of things, yeah.
Do you have any formal music training? Do you think this is important these days?
I think it’s very important and better to have studied music at a formal level, but sadly it’s not an opportunity I ever had. But never say never, it’s still something I’d like to do. Here in Milan there is the Conservatorio, which offers lessons for beginners. So I’d love to take those classes one day.
You’ve produced on some of house and techno’s biggest labels. What do you consider your big break?
I still think it’s yet to come. Doing music is always a challenge and I always try to do better and focus not on the big break but on the music. If I do that, the break will come…
You’re a producer who’s just as comfortable producing minimal techno as you are house and techno. Do you think too few producers take risks with their sound these days and almost prefer to be pigeonholed as a ‘deep house’ DJ, a ‘techno’ producer etc.?
I don't like to be pigeonholed so that's why I try not to stick to one thing. It's more fun to let the creativity flow and to release only the things I feel have to be released. I've done everything from super jazzy to super acid techno stuff and breakbeat, but I don't want to release everything I do. And yes, it's a big risk because it can get confusing sometimes but I like to take this risk. When people, friends, label owners tells me "yes it's a different kind of music but it has your unique sound" that’s a big thing for me! That’s what makes me take risks.
You’ve been playing a lot with Dana Ruh at her Brouqade & Friends party recently. How did that relationship first come about? What have you learned from Dana over the years?
Yes, and this is probably my biggest experience in music to date. I’ve know Dana personally since 2013 when she invited me to play. But before the label night we hung out in her studio and had lunch and dinner so we bonded a lot. I've a good connection with Dana from the very beginning because we agree on most things musically and are focused on the same path and only ta;k when needed. I’ve learned a lot from her and the way she focuses on things is inspiring. Probably the biggest one is to not view a project in the short term, to stay focused and to bide my time.
You’ve been playing live recently. How did it go?
Yeah, I did it at Club der Visionare in Berlin and also at Circolodegli Illuminati in Rome (again with Dana) and both times worked really good! I'm planning to do it in other places soon and as a solo artist also. Transporting the gear isn’t easy but it’s a very fun way of playing music and seeing people’s reactions when you do something on stage is priceless.
What’s next for you that you’re really excited about?
I'm really excited for my next few releases and I have about 5 in the works for the next while. I’ll release on labels I’ve released on previously and labels I haven’t, such as Memoria Rec, CurteaVeche, Otaku Records and more. So certainly exciting times release wise.
Aside from music, what keeps you busy?
My day job! I'm an Optometrist here in Milan and it's pretty intense sometimes but also fun. My wife keeps me busy and happy but also helps me keep my feet on the ground! I have an artistic attitude to most things in life, to be honest…
Can you tell us 5 tracks that are really killing it in your sets recently?
Absolutely. HenrikBergqvist’s “Spin”, Conceiled Project’s “Pattern 3”, Onirico’s “Echo”, S.O.N’s “Untitled A (S.A.M Remix)” and Disuasiv’s “Project M”.
P.S.: Look out for Dragosh’s next release on Memoria, which is about to drop soon.
Thanks for your time and the exclusive mix
Words by Zac