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In conversation with Clap! Clap!

The artist and his “musical paintings”

The long adored Clap! Clap! (AKA Cristiano Crisci) is a musician/producer we have been forever admiring. When the opportunity came up to interview the interdisciplinary artist, excited feels like an understatement and the warmth and joy that came out of this interview was immediately clear. Crisci has been bringing together styles, genres, atmospheres and sounds for years now, and known as one of Italy’s most ‘daring’ producers he always pulls something undiscovered out the bag. This year, Clap! Clap! Has released his new album Liquid Portraits and feels like a major new step for Crisci’s artistic journey, and the evolution we anticipate in the future. For some fun chit-chat and a little insight into the artist’s mind keep on reading!

Hey there! First of all, how are you doing during this crazy time?

Hello! Thanks for having me! I think I’m quite lucky because I have a terrace and a big part of the studio is in my house, so I’m spending these quarantine days making music and chilling out on the terrace! I’m a nerd, my life didn’t change that much with lockdown! 🙂

You’ve been on the scene for a while now, but could you tell us a little bit about yourself as an artist and your journey to becoming Clap! Clap!?

Yes, I took some time to study a bit more on the project and to find the best way to give myself a goal of not repeating what I’d done before, making my music different from previous releases, while also trying not to lose my own style. The Journey to become Clap! Clap! started 12 years ago with my first solo project ’digi g’alessio’. I had come from different musical adventures like electronic music projects ‘a smile for timbuctu’ and punk/jazz bands like ‘trio cane’ and I was very excited to try to express myself through music with a solo project. One of the first releases of that project (The Rain Book) was focused on sampling Ghanaian and Guinean tribes. It was very rough and there was not enough research into the concept, so in the years after I improved the project in its message, in its sound and in its concept into what is now Clap! Clap!

Your sound has certainly changed throughout the years; what vibe would you say you are now on and what drew you to it?

I think I could say that it’s a bit less frenetic and eclectic. It’s a little bit more melodic. I spent the last few years studying sound engineering to give my sound a different quality and this affected the way I produce as well. I’m sampling less and using more from my own field recordings, and I’m using fewer sound layers than in my previous works. So I would say that I’m always in the ethno-electronic world but with a more softer, sometimes jazzy mood. I can’t recognise what actually brought me to this kind of change, but the closest feeling is the constant strong desire to invent something new and never repeat myself.

The new album is so mesmerising; what were the intentions behind the music?

‘Liquid Portraits’ is like a collection of different ‘musical paintings’ each one representing the fluid connection from memories and senses that each one lives everyday.My intention was to express this connection in music. Memories are my main inspirational source. Dishes, smells, images. In the last few years I collected so many good memories and felt a strong inspiration, so the intention was to put those into my new productions.I wanted to be a bit more delicate, without losing the rhythmic factor which is pretty important in the music I produce.

On the album, is there a track which sticks out to you most- a story behind its conception?

‘Blue Flower’ is one of my favourites on this last album. It’s a portrait of a flower that I dreamt about. It represents the connection from this image and a bad experience that I had days after I had that dream. I was producing that song in those days and that experience affected its composition. I started producing it doing a strong percussive pattern with a fat beat on it. That song was oriented to be finished as a ‘dancefloor track’ like ‘Mandragora’ or ‘Kif in the Fif’, but all of what happened put me into another mood and so I started recording pianos and melodies on that pattern. I was really pleased with the end result! It started from a concept and an idea and it finished in another place but always following a real and genuine inspiration. Always true, never forced.

You haven’t been shy to collaborations, how was it working with different artists with differing talents and backgrounds?

It was amazing and I can’t wait to collaborate again with more! I have always collaborated with a lot of different artists from different ages and cultures! From Paul Simon to very young producers, old school producers, Jazzists, punk drummers, old school sound engineers, and it’s also interesting to share ideas together to try to invent something new! Humbleness is a solid pillar and is necessary for every kind of collaboration, for me it’s like the spark that makes the singergy start! Another great thing is that I always learn something new, or at least different when I collaborate with someone!

In the past you have also contributed music for movie soundtracks and documentaries, how different is this experience of creating on a personal level?

It’s a bit different. When I produce music for an album I have a concept and an Imaginarium in my mind, when it’s a soundtrack I have it clearly filmed in front of my eyes. It’s a different approach, in soundtracks I ‘help’ to express a mood which is already strong with images. I create atmospheres that I may never create for an album tune. Also, the production process is quite different! It’s not always easy to find the right tempo which fits with images cuts and sometimes I play straight with no tempo, and this method made things a bit more complicated when in post-production phase after. By the way, I LOVE to produce without a tempo or a click! I think it helps to dig more deeply inside the inspiration room!

We are coming super close to the release date! Any apprehensions? Excitements or nervousness?

YEEE! I’m super excited! I can’t wait to share what I made with the listeners!

I can’t wait to hear and see more of what’s to come in the future! Do you have any goals or plans in mind going forward?

Yes, I’m working on other projects as well! To make a balance with this recent more melodic work, I’m building up a percussion ensemble with many elements, we are writing some crazy rhythms and I can’t wait to record what we’ve been doing!

‘Liquid Portraits’ out today!

Listen here.

Words by Grace Powell