Born out of the ashes of the seminal German minimal house label Force Tracks, Resopal, is home to old school revisionist Jackmate, students of house Luomo and D. Diggler, as well as any number of squiggly acid revival tracks. Resopal is also home to Billy Dalessandro.
Who? Listen to his records and a good guess might be that Billy Dalessandro is the nom-de-plume of another German Chicago-infatuated househead -- but you would be wrong. Dalessandro is actually the real deal -- he actually lives in Chicago!
With tracks picked up by DJs as different as John Digweed and Matthew Dear, Dalessandro's sound is not easy to pin down, but as his acidic Dalessandro vs. Gaiser 'Come With Me' doubleheader makes clear, here is a producer with a respect for the sounds of his hometown but with an eye on the future.
Resident Advisor recently sat down with Dalessandro for a chat.
People are often surprised to hear that you’re from Chicago. Why do you think so?
I’m honestly not too sure. I used to live in the middle of Tuscany, Italy for a while, and it was around that time that I hooked up with Force Tracks. Plus, outside of [Chicago’s] Kompute Musik, I’ve mostly worked for labels that are based in Europe. It could also be my particular style of writing that misleads people – I guess it’s probably a number of factors. Perhaps people don’t research. Although if they really wanted to find out, all they would have to do is ask. In the meantime, let’s take a moment to get the record straight: Billy lives in Chicago.
You’ve recently released your second full length album 'Starcity' for Berlin-based Resopal Schallware. How did that come about and how does this release differ from and/or improve upon your first full length for the label?
'Starcity' came about like every other project I do - I sit in my studio, compose what I feel, and then send off the demo. After that, it either works, or it doesn’t. In this case it did. “Midievalization” was my first album, and it was a cross between dub tech-house mixed with some Chicago flavored beats. When I say "Chicago", I mean the groove is always going, for the most part. The drums are still heavy and dancefloor oriented, while the rest of the elements have that fluffy dub feel to it - lots of chords, reverb and delay.
With 'Starcity' I wanted to refine my style a bit and really throw out a mix and variety of styles that I am familiar with, as well as show where I've gone in the last three years - hence the variation from dub style, to very pushy acid flavors...and all the way to downtempo with vocals. Even my track 'Cynthia' is a cross between melodramas; trip-hop beats fused with drum & bass. All in all, though, it's an improvement based on growth. Production-wise, I try to step it up for myself every time I write something new; it's an ongoing learning process for me. Does it always happen? Sometimes yes, sometimes no - but I am simply happy if everyone else enjoys the music. I try to please multiple genres for the most part - maintaining a club feel and dance floor use, as well as something you can groove to while at your boring office job.
A number of your productions have appeared on compilations – more specifically, the John Digweed and Matt Dear Fabric discs – what was your initial reaction to this, and can we expect more of your work to appear on Fabric releases?
Making it onto another DJ's compilation is just one of those things that happens on its own – once the production is out there, it’s out of your hands and it either happens or it doesn’t. There’s a lot of good music out there and we all produce differently, and there are probably 200 or more DJs for every producer, so that really bumps the odds. You never know who's going to chart your stuff, and in this case it's worked out for me and I'm happy with the particular DJs that have acquired my music for their compilations. In a way it's respect, and in another way I feel I've done my job - especially in regards to Fabric, a very cool company that I hold in high regard. In the end I simply do what I do best, so hopefully things keep up the way they are currently progressing.
You recently finished up a mini tour of Europe which included stops in Portugal and, of course, Germany. What do you have coming up on the live performance end of the spectrum?
Seeing as I am not currently associated with any official booking agency, I am sort of taken on for gigs by request. Luckily, I have outstanding support in Europe from labels working under Kompakt, such as Soniculture. DJ Expander (Ilidio Chaves, a member of Kompakt’s booking roster) is always into my music. He's a really outstanding DJ and just all around great person to know. I always show up with new stuff for him; something nice and fresh because his people know how to party, so when I’m out there I like to let things loose. Coming up next is Club Nitsa in Barcelona on May 27th with DJ Expander and then Lisbon on June 3rd for their annual Sonic Fresh Festival. I'll play live at both dates. After that we'll see, but there are always things in the works.
Speaking of performing live, what do you prefer: going on tour or working on new material and/or remixes in the studio?
Working in the studio - whether it's new productions or remixes - is one thing. Going on tour is an experience in itself really. It's almost like having a great job and going on vacation at the same time, but really it's hard to actually compare the two - like comparing apples and oranges. One isn't necessarily better than the other; I see it more as my productions being the gateway to my performances. They both are related to each other in some sort of way, the music obviously - but in my studio I work, and when I play live I really am expressing myself and who I am on the spot. Things can happen spontaneously live, and you will also hear music that will probably never be released. Funny too, because I would love to DJ more, but everyone requests that I play live!
One final question: What does the future hold for Billy Dalessandro?
In terms of kickin’ electronic music, I plan to keep ramping up my goals and will continue to support the community of good techno for a long time to come. I'm also working more with my most wonderful vocalist, Idris Goodwin, for our downtempo projects. I'm in a transitional period. I feel everyone is beginning to get caught up in genres so I want to try and stay within my own 'realm'. I've got new ideas and new aspirations. This is a hard industry, as we have minimal support (no pun intended). Also, I have come to a very significant conclusion to my next phase of work. I, along with two very good friends of mine, will be kicking off our own record label, based here in Chicago. The label is entitled Siteholder Records and you can look forward to some serious electronic club music for serious users. Hopefully we will have this launched no later than the summer, 110% made in Chicago…stay tuned. Finally, I thank everyone for their continued support.